Co-founder, Y2Y Harvard Square
Thesis Title: “Through No Fault of Their Own”: Responses to Homelessness and the Framework of the Deserving and Undeserving Poor in Harvard Square 1983-2007
What Now: Co-Founder, Y2Y Harvard Square, the nation’s first student-run shelter for young adults
What Next: Homelessness and Housing policy and advocacy
Follow Me: @sgreenberg129 (Twitter)
I remember the two moments, both in the fall of my junior year, when History & Literature started really making sense to me. The first was in my junior tutorial, when I was struggling to come up with a topic for my section of the syllabus. I was determined to branch out my interests, and study something outside of the urban America, housing and homelessness realm that I found interesting both in the classroom and as a director at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and student leader at the Phillips Brooks House Association. I brainstormed topic after topic until my tutor stopped me, and reassured me that there was nothing wrong with pursuing the topic about which I was so passionate. On the contrary, he said that he always saw the magic of Hist & Lit in the ways in which we could each make it matter to, us. I chose homelessness as the topic for my third of the syllabus, as well as for my senior thesis, and they were consequently two of the most fulfilling and engaging academic experiences of my life. The second moment is when my professor for Stories of Slavery and Freedom, Tim McCarthy, talked to us about the importance of stories. Stories matter, he said, because they provide us with a voice of the people that, so often missing from our history textbooks, are critical to the legacy every society leaves behind. Empowered with the buzz that started building in me my junior fall from these two experiences among many others, I had the privilege to work with my co-founder Sarah and many others in identifying an unmet need for safe shelter for youth experiencing homelessness in Greater Boston, and opening Y2Y Harvard Square. Though I now write grants instead of papers, and map out organizational strategic plans instead of close reading primary sources, the fundamental truths of Hist & Lit have stayed with me--none more so than the truth that the voices and stories that our society listens to the least are often the most engaging, and the most worthy of our full attention.