Harvard kicked off a small but ambitious experiment this week that it hopes will become a new “third stage” of university education. For the student-fellows in the program, most in their 50s and early 60s, the goal is a second-act career in a new stage of life.
The 14 fellows have rÃ©sumÃ©s brimming with achievement ”” including a former astronaut, a former senior official at the United States Agency for International Development, a physician-entrepreneur from Texas, a former public utility official from California, a former health minister from Venezuela and a former computer executive from Switzerland.
They gathered at Harvard on Thursday to begin the yearlong program intended to help them learn how to be successful social entrepreneurs or leaders of nonprofit organizations focused on social problems like poverty, health, education and the environment. Their interests include sickle cell anemia, women’s education in Africa, health care quality and water conservation.
The opportunity, the fellows say, is to pick up new knowledge, skills and professional relationships in a new realm. To Charles F. Bolden Jr., one of the fellows, it has the potential to be as life-changing as his selection to join America’s space program nearly three decades ago. “The Harvard program feels sort of like that,” said Mr. Bolden, 62, a retired major general in the United States Marine Corps and a veteran of four space shuttle missions.
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