Brusly native finds purpose, perspective and joy while earning a degree from Harvard University

Cortez Deacetis

Badon: “Your grades don’t measure your worth or define the person you are, and there’s more to a learning experience than the grades you get.”

BRUSLY, La. (BRPROUD)— Earlier this month, we were introduced to a West Baton Rouge native who recently graduated from Harvard University.

It turns out that Jade Woods was not the only Harvard University graduate from West Baton Rouge this year.

Dara Badon hails from Brusly and went to school in WBR from Pre-K through 12th grade.

That includes stops at Port Allen Elementary School and then the “Brusly schools—the Elementary Kittens, the Lukeville Lynx, the Bobcats that used to be out along the winding levee road, and our three-claps worthy Panthers,” according to Boden.

Badon’s time in WBR was formative as she learned how to always try her best and see what she calls the bigger picture too.

A’s were always the goal and no one put more pressure on herself than Badon.

The recent Harvard graduate explains what she learned with the help of her dad and time.

Good grades were always the priority for me. I was taught at a young age the very important lesson of always doing your best in all the things you do, and in school, my best was an A. Little me really took that line of logic to heart and put it to practice, and I’m really proud of all those A’s still, but I also now recognize just how much pressure I was applying to myself in order to meet this goal and continue this streak. My Dad would sometimes joke and say, “I would almost be more proud of you if you got a B,” and at the time, it would confuse me and make me a little upset, but I now realize what he was ultimately getting at: your grades don’t measure your worth or define the person you are, and there’s more to a learning experience than the grades you get. I’m so thankful for those A’s, and that work ethic, and the challenges, because ultimately, I wouldn’t be the same me if things had been different, but I’m also very thankful to have grown to see the bigger picture, too. It’s funny how it took me getting to Harvard to slow down a bit—though the stress was very real there, too—and I actually made that first B in college! I was very proud and had done my very best, it felt pretty awesome.

The time spent close to home gave Badon memories for life including marching in Mardi Gras parades with the band, the Sugar Fest as well as gumbo nights and zydeco with family and friends.

As her time in high school whittled down, Badon applied to seven schools. One of those schools was Harvard University.

Harvard pushed hard for Badon to attend the prestigious university.

The school gave Badon the chance to visit, free-of-charge.

As the WBR native puts it, she “knew from the moment I stepped foot onto campus that it was the place I wanted to be.”

Along with her studies, Badon was in the Harvard University Band where she wrote, and designed halftime shows.

The recent Harvard graduate also spent time as an Executive Director at CityStep.

CityStep is a not-for-profit arts education group that provides free arts education to Cambridge middle schoolers and, through these arts, which span music, theater, visual arts, and primarily dance, work to teach performance skills and instill values such as collaboration, confidence, and having fun!

Badon would complete her studies in History and Literature which is the oldest department at the school.

That included a look through various genres of literature and literary documents including newspaper articles, poems, theatrical works, popular music of the era, and much more.

The WBR native honed in on Black American art, culture, education, and innovation.

Badon says she “was able to find as much joy as I did enrichment while completing the degree, this including the writing of my senior thesis.”

Badon also earned a minor in Educational Studies while at Harvard University.

Cambridge became a home away from home for the West Baton Rouge native.

Badon said that her favorite thing about Cambridge, especially for the people back home, is that the weather is surprisingly like Louisiana! Equally as ever-changing, but there are just more options in Cambridge to choose from!”

Badon took part in her graduation ceremony on May 26th.

So what is in store for the recent Harvard University graduate?

For now, Badon is going to stay in Boston and be the Administrative Assistance for Dance at the Harvard Dance Center as well as the Assistant Director for the First-Year Arts Program.

Badon does plan on pursuing a graduate degree in her future.

When asked about what she would tell anyone who thinks they can’t attend Harvard University, Badon simply says, “It is possible.”

Badon concluded by saying, “if you’re hoping Harvard to be a part of your success—and joy, which, in more ways than not, it was to me—please do not rule yourself out or take yourself out of the race in advance!! If you never apply, you’ll never know, and you’ll close the door before it can even think to open.”

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