Category: GCP Staff

Staying Sane

Welcome back, all!  It seems like yesterday we were saying good-bye for Winter Break and here we are trying to keep our New Year’s’ resolutions.

As classes get underway, GCP wants to make sure you keep your health and happiness a priority this semester by introducing a “Whole Person” series.  The Program Managers have developed a number of events, to run the entirety of February, to benefit your sanity and well-being.

Here at GCP, we know that Spring semester is short, very short; and without a plan in place, you can fall victim to illness, depression and well, just an overwhelming feeling of panic. “What will I do after graduation? Where will I leave next year?  How will I ever finish my work?”  Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae, but rather make the time to work on your mind, body, and spirit!  The answers will follow.

Events are open to all GCP properties.  Hope to see you there!

GCP Whole Person Wellness Series_ Mind Body Spirit




Meet the NEW GCP Team

In the last month the Graduate Commons team has doubled in size! We are thrilled to announce the arrival of two new professional staff members and our continued expansion within Harvard University Housing.

ThTara headshotat’s right; the Graduate Commons Program is expanding again! For the fall 2014-15 academic year GCP will begin programming the Garden Area of Cambridge—including a newly renovated community center at 29 Garden Street. To lead the programmatic efforts in the Garden Area, Tara Bartley joined the Graduate Commons team in May 2014. She will be working closely with 10 Community Advisors, 4 Resident Assistants in the Cronkhite Graduate Center and our Family Coordinator, Julie Hodges.

Tara has a BA in Political Science from Merrimack College and an MA in Higher Education with a concentration in Student Affairs from Boston College. Originally from Maine, she enjoys spending time by the ocean with a wicked good book and an ice coffee. She has an affinity for all four legged friends, especially golden retrievers. Tara is also an avid traveler and is currently planning her next adventure to Eastern Africa!

medium_Andria MirabalJoining the GCP team this week is Andria Mirabal, who will be the new GCP Coordinator for Riverside Properties, including Akron, Cowperthwaite, and the remaining Mount Auburn Group residencies. Andria looks forward to collaborating with her fellow Coordinators, CAs, RAs, and a Post-Doc Programmer, Brittany Charlton, in the facilitation of events and programs.

Andria recently completed her Masters in Higher Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her interest in student affairs and support services developed throughout the previous five years that she worked in undergraduate admissions at her alma mater, Princeton University. Andria continues to possess a passion with all things related to biology, which she studied as an undergraduate, and will happily engage in conversations pertaining to animal life, evolution, and of course, cats. When not working, Andria enjoys running, taking or teaching Zumba, and any type of dancing. Hailing from New Mexico, Andria loves spicy food and is ever ready to try a new restaurant or type of cuisine. Ask her about green chile some time!

JohannaRounding out the Graduate Commons Program Coordinator team, Johanna Martin-Prener who coordinated the Riverside area for the last two years will be transitioning to Peabody Terrace. Johanna is excited to meet the residents of Peabody Terrace and continue providing engaging events for the community. She is excited to work with the talented CA team, our wonderful Faculty Directors, and Bernice Dy, the new Family Coordinator for Peabody Terrace.

Johanna has a BA in Psychology from St. Lawrence University and an MA in College Student Development & Counseling from Northeastern University. Hailing from upstate New York, she enjoys spending time hiking and camping in the Adirondacks. Johanna also enjoys traveling in her free time, and hopes to visit all of our National Parks!

LisaLeading the Graduate Commons Program is Associate Director, Lisa Valela. Lisa is responsible for overall planning and programming in all Graduate Commons properties, totaling nearly 1500 residents and their families. She works closely with HUH’s Property Management and Leasing offices, as well as our GCP Team of Faculty Directors, resident Community Advisors and Program Coordinator. With a background in student housing & activities, Lisa acts as the student service contact for all Harvard graduate schools and provides invaluable Boston/Cambridge info as well.

Lisa has a BA in Political Science from Miami University and an MA in Education from Saint Xavier University. She loves to explore New England, attends yoga classes when she can, and is a fan of the local live music scene. She also loves to talk about her three nieces and her hometown of Chicago.

Now that you’ve meet the Graduate Commons team—it’s time to meet all of you. We will be hosting a number of events throughout the summer, including our NEW Cambridge 101 Orientation Sessions, and hope you’ll stop by and say hello!

We are Family!

During the past year, the Graduate Commons Program has added a new series of programming to compliment our existing structure:  Family Programs.  They are executed by Julie Hodges, a Peabody Terrace resident, who has transformed the former Peabody Terrace RA and Playroom Supervisor position into a much livelier job.  With monthly Family Friday Night events and several outings throughout the year, the GCP now serves our residents with children in much more engaging way!  Take a look at this week’s BEAT THE HEAT event:

Beat the Heat event

Beat the Heat event

Residents sharing their personal pools in the 90 degree heat.

Residents sharing their personal pools in the 90 degree heat.

Beat the Heat  event

Beat the Heat event

beat the heat 4

If you are interested in helping Julie plan or execute more events, please send an email to