If you were on campus during commencement week, you likely heard the name Kathryn Harlan-Gran. At 19, Harlan-Gran was the youngest graduate in the class of 2017 and delivered the undergraduate address at College of the Pacific’s diploma and hooding ceremony.
In her three years at Pacific, she led myriad organizations and graduated with a mountain of honors, including the Elizabeth Griego Outstanding Student Leader Award, which left many people wondering how she could find the time to do it all.
Harlan-Gran says she doesn’t do it all. She’s very particular about how she spends her time, and it starts with setting goals.
“I’d say it’s absolutely imperative to have both short-term and long-term goals,” Harlan-Gran said. “And for me, that goal is I want to get a PhD. I want to get a PhD in English, and I want to teach college.”
Those goals led her to write for and eventually edit Pacific’s student-produced literary magazine, Calliope, as well as the online publication, Odyssey.
She was also president of the Omega Eta Epsilon professional language, literacy and culture fraternity, where she led fundraisers for children’s books and financial support for the Stockton Homeless Shelter.
Harlan-Gran credits her advisers, Courtney Lehmann, Cynthia Dobbs and Traci Roberts-Camps with taking a personal interest in her success.
“All of my advisers have been really fantastic, not only about helping me stay on track for classes and such but also making me aware of opportunities that they think would suit me,” she said.
For example, Lehmann told her about Calliope and helped her become familiar with the Humanities Scholars Program, which Harlan-Gran thought of as a think tank of young intellectuals and artists with different world views and experiences. She says the members there have become some of her best friends and provided a support system during her time at Pacific.
Harlan-Gran especially enjoyed the group’s excursions where they were exposed to theater, dance, art and music.
“It meant that my experience at Pacific wasn’t limited to the campus itself,” she said. “It went outside into the world as well.”
Pacific’s relatively small size also played a part in Harlan-Gran’s success because her instructors read and critiqued her papers; she didn’t just receive letter grades.
“It was crucial for me not to be just a face,” she said. “I wanted to be a whole person to my professors and my peers. I got that at Pacific.”
Harlan-Gran does have some concrete advice for time management. She relies heavily on to-do lists, but she doesn’t micromanage her schedule. She simply makes a list of everything that needs to be done on a given day and week. She says the key is to be realistic about how long tasks take.
“I put the day together like puzzle pieces,” she said.
Those pieces always include time for fun, which is how she keeps from burning out. She said she’s learned to make it a priority to take care of herself.
“If I don’t conscientiously make time to just breathe, then everything piles up and it becomes too much,” she said.
In fact, one of the biggest lessons Harlan-Gran said she has learned is when to quit. In the past, she took part in activities long past the time she found them enjoyable simply because she thought she had to finish everything.
“Some stuff I did just for the sake of doing it, and I couldn’t stand it. And that’s when I felt the most burned out,” she said.
Harlan-Gran will return to Pacific in the fall to finish her Spanish degree.
She is also applying to graduate schools at Stanford, Princeton and U.C. Berkeley.
“They’re very competitive,” she said. “This is the goal that I’ve been working toward, and I’ve done everything I can to set myself up for success. The rest is up to them.”