Life After Harbor
Harbor alumuni further their education at colleges and universities in New York State and beyond. Other graduates turn toward the water for advanced knowledge, becoming captains or deckhands aboard local vessels. Some graduates have even returned to Harbor School, working with underclassmen or acting as teaching assistants in career and technical education classes. No matter their chosen path, Harbor alumni are making their mark on, in, and near the water.
Harbor alumni enter the workforce and start careers in a range of fields, including the maritime industry, education, engineering, and design. We caught up with two graduates from the Class of 2009 who helped us tell their stories.
Hassan Barksdale ’09
GROWING UP IN BEDFORD-STUYVESANT, Hassan Barksdale was sure of one thing — he did not want to go to his zoned high school. As the time to apply to high school drew closer, Hassan and his mother browsed the Internet for other options. After stumbling upon Harbor School and doing a bit more research, they were hooked. Hassan recalls letting his imagination run free with the possibilities. “When my mom told me that Harbor had sailing and off-site classes, I was amazed,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is something I’ll definitely try.'”
Despite little exposure to boats or water before attending Harbor School, it did not take long for Hassan to know that a life at sea was his future. His first sailing experience was a day-trip on the schooner Lettie G. Howard through the school’s partnership with the South Street Seaport Museum. “I thought it was pretty cool, and I enjoyed sailing from then on,” Hassan recalls. “It’s relaxing, without a constant racket, as opposed to a power boat.” By his sophomore year at Harbor, Hassan knew that he would pursue a maritime career. “I was never the type who could stay in an office all day,” he says. “I like to get out, travel, and engage in physical activity, so working on the water was the best thing for that … and for me.”
A variety of internships throughout his time at Harbor School cemented Hassan’s determination to work on the water. He worked on a documentary film on Newtown Creek with Riverkeeper and as a deckhand for New York Water Taxi. Still undecided about college by his junior year, Hassan took advantage of Harbor School’s many college trips. When he visited SUNY Maritime and talked to friends who enrolled there, he knew that he had found his next school. Now a graduate of Maritime, Hassan is still not sure what the long-term future holds, but is happy to have a steady job in his chosen field, employed as a deckhand on big seagoing tugs operated by the Atlantic Division of Kirby Offshore Marine. For now, his work is keeping him on the move … and out of an office.
Natalie Bloomfield ’09
OFTEN A TRAILBLAZER, Natalie Bloomfield likes to be involved in everything. During her freshman year at Harbor School, Natalie, along with five other students, was chosen to participate in a challenging outdoor trek, “Mountaintop to Tap,” which traced the NYC water supply from its source in the Catskill Mountains. The students joined their counterparts from Sidney High School in upstate Delaware County for this educational adventure, organized by the Stroud Water Research Center. Natalie was the only freshman to canoe, camp, and hike her way through the program. “That was my first time actually doing a hiking trek that involved being outdoors for three weeks,” she recalls. “We pretty much lived outside, so it was different from anything I’d ever done.”
During her sophomore year Natalie was accepted to The Woolman Semester, a California-based independent-study program normally reserved for juniors and seniors. Thanks to this experience, among her many others at Harbor, Natalie knew exactly what she wanted when it came time to apply to colleges — a small school with an environmental focus, where she could shine and make a difference. She was granted acceptance to College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, and granted a full scholarship.
Natalie is on a path to a career that combines two of her greatest interests — education and the environment. On breaks from school in her native Brooklyn, she volunteered in the College Confidence program, which helps at-risk, college-bound youth with the application process. Natalie credits her years at Harbor for knowing just what they need. She admits, “I got all the support I needed from my advisor, so I know I need to pass that on to others.” As for her commitment to the environment, Natalie says, “If I’m going to live in a place, I really want to protect it because it’s just so sacred. And it’s not just for my own being; it’s for generations of children to come. We have to stop thinking that other people will fix it. We all need to play our part.”