Around The Yard: Sam Acker

Returning to for a third season, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" explores life away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrativeFor a full list of blog entries, click here.

For more student blogs from Harvard Admissions, click here.

Sam Acker
Feb. 15, 2017

It’s a brisk Tuesday morning in Cambridge as I walk down Garden Street. I pass the shuttle full of students from the quad, and make my way toward Radcliffe Yard. I turn into the brick walls and walk through the gate of one of my favorite places at Harvard. Once home to the classrooms of Radcliffe College, Radcliffe Yard now houses administrative buildings, education school offices, and the Schlesinger Library.

Life as a student-athlete at Harvard can be a whirlwind. Sometimes it seems like I am moving in so many directions, there is hardly any time to take a breath. I have created a ritual that enables me to step back from my day-to-day worries of papers due, readings, morning practice, and extracurricular responsibilities. Equipped with a latte, I walk into the Sunken Garden. The height of the walls blocks the busy sounds of the square and I enter into a quiet, peaceful space. The garden has a fountain that runs in the warmer weather, benches along the outside, and a large grassy area that is perfect for picnics. I sit for five or 10 minutes, and allow myself to relax and take in my surroundings.

As quickly as it began, my break is over and I head across the yard to Schlesinger Library, the site of my on-campus job. I was initially worried that my involvement in athletics wouldn’t allow any time to pursue a weekly job, but quickly found many flexible options that fit into my schedule and my academic interests. Schlesinger Library is a research library that focuses on the history of women in America, which ties into my secondary field in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Every day at work includes a new project that is exciting and challenging—whether I am transcribing a diary from the 18th century, or handling a new collection of audiocassettes from a famous activist. Several of my classes have visited Schlesinger to look at their extensive archives, and I have found Schlesinger to be a great resource for my final research papers. Working with these amazing materials has made me so grateful for the women who came before me, who paved the way to the privileges that are now available to me as a Harvard student and athlete.

After my morning shift, I pack up my belongings and walk across the Cambridge Commons to meet a friend in the basement of Annenberg for “Fly By,” the college’s solution to an on-the-go lunch break. It is in the moments like those I spend in the Sunken Garden that allow me to realize just how lucky I am to live and learn in this environment. My experiences at Harvard, through athletics, work opportunities, and further explorations have allowed me to see so many different sides of a college experience.