NU Graduate School of Education: Bridging Innovation and Education for Global Impact

Join us at our Graduate School of Education Community Event.

On Friday, July 26, we’ll be hosting our annual Graduate School of Education (GSE) community event—featuring a panel discussion moderated by Corliss Thompson, PhD, Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Education, followed by a reception where you’ll be able to meet and mingle with GSE faculty, students, and alumni as well as Boston-area educators and community leaders and members.

Our panel will explore innovation in the educational setting on a global scale. There will be time for audience members to ask questions and speak with the panelists. 

Event Details

Meet Our Moderator and Panelists

Corliss Thompson, PhD

She has been a full-time faculty member in the Graduate School of Education at Northeastern University since 2013 and has taught research methods, research design, and social justice courses.

Thompson has been involved with NExT, the Global Network of Experiential Educators, at Northeastern since its inception.

She is passionate about using culturally relevant and experiential approaches in her teaching and mentoring.

Alex Fronduto, PhD

He is an assistant teaching professor at Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Education in the College of Professional Studies. He holds a BS in Chemistry and Premedical and Health Studies, an MEd in Higher Education Administration, and a Doctorate in Health Sciences. His research spans lab-based sciences to educational methods, and he has extensive experience in enrollment management, including recruitment, staff supervision, operations, and marketing. He teaches courses on higher education and supervision, and also chairs and reads dissertations for Doctor of Education students. He is an active member of New England Association of College Admission Counseling and the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and he has presented at their conferences.

Chris Unger, EdD

He is a teaching professor in Northeastern’s graduate programs in education, including the Doctor of Education program. His focus is on learner-centered and agency-focused schooling, educational entrepreneurship, and support of change agents. With over 30 years of experience, he has worked on school, district, and state improvement efforts in the U.S. and South America, including at Brown University and Harvard’s Project Zero. At Northeastern since 2010, he supports doctoral students and promotes learner-centered learning communities. His expertise includes education entrepreneurship, experiential learning, school design, and networking.

Joe McNabb, PhD

He is a professor of the practice in the Graduate School of Education. Previously, he was president of Labouré College for eleven years and a commissioner for the New England Commission of Higher Education. He has served on various boards, including those of teaching hospitals and nonprofits. A founding member of the College of Professional Studies Faculty Academic Council, he is active on numerous committees and chaired the College of Professional Studies All-College Committee in 2023–2024. He has also served on the Northeastern University Faculty Senate and holds editorial roles, contributing to peer-reviewed journals and co-editing two books. He holds a BA from Boston University and a PhD from Northeastern University.

The Spirit of Giving: From Co-op Student to Donor 

Alumni Spotlight: Jim Nolan, BA Business & Administration ‘71

by Natalie Bowers

Few understand the value of co-op education quite like Jim Nolan.  

As a graduate of the College of Professional Studies, BA Business & Administration ‘71, and lifetime career in commercial real estate, Nolan encourages everyone to embrace the practice of philanthropy. His guiding principle is simple yet profound, “engage in giving back in any capacity possible, no matter how small, because every act contributes to a greater good.”   

Nolan’s formative years were influenced by his parents’ strong family values and his father’s military career, which involved multiple relocations around the globe and exposed him to many different cultures. He graduated high school at a small school in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, which was mostly populated by expat students, children of employees of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Embassy and Joint American Military Mission to Aid Turkey (JAMMAT).  

He said, “Coming from the military mindset, I never understood the world of business; I didn’t know there was such a thing as business, and I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was. There is no ‘profit motive’ in the military, there are just missions and objectives. You do whatever it is that needs to be done that day.”  

When it was time to submit college applications, Nolan aspired to pursue a career in teaching, influenced by the positive impact of his high school English teacher, Mrs. Vick. His mother’s best friend in Ankara was the daughter of Herb Gallagher, the Athletic Director at Northeastern University at the time. Both she and her husband were Northeastern graduates and their experience with the university inspired Nolan to apply to the School of Education. Despite never having set foot in Boston before, he was accepted.  

His first visit to Boston coincided with the start of his first semester as an English major in the Northeastern University College of Education. He said, “I boarded a plane from Turkey, arrived at JFK airport with only $50 in my pocket, purchased a bus ticket, and got off at Copley Square.” He then settled into the dorms located at 129 Hemingway Street, Boston. Upon his arrival, he was greeted with two military footlockers containing everything he owned.  

His parents agreed to pay for tuition and board, but Nolan had to earn money for everything else. During his freshman year, he secured a few small jobs, washing dishes at the girl’s dormitory and with Northeastern’s building and grounds when needed. By combining earnings from these jobs, he was able to cover most of his college expenses, graduating with a loan of just $1,200, roughly equivalent to $25,000 in today’s dollars. 

The Co-op Experience 

In his first year at Northeastern, Nolan met with his co-op coordinator to arrange a work experience. The challenge for the coordinator was that the job had to be related to education and provide room and board. Jim was open to opportunities, and the coordinator recommended he look at occupational therapist roles offered at Fairfields Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Newtown, Connecticut.  

“It was a beautiful campus, no gates, every building was a colonial five story building,” Nolan said, remembering his time there. He recalls arriving at the hospital, heading to the administrative building to get the room key, and settling into an 18×12 wide room with a sink and bathroom down the hall. “I unpacked feeling a little strange and went downstairs to the basement rec room. I saw other people there, they were acting a little rambunctious, and I said, ‘holy moly they put me in with the patients.’ But they were the orderlies!”  

Nolan’s next experiential work opportunity was with the Aetna Life and Casualty Company in Richmond, Virginia. Again, Nolan met with his coordinator and focused his job search on Virginia, as his parents were relocating from Turkey to live there. While with Aetna Life, he received free room and board, as well as laundry service. After two co-op periods with the company, Nolan realized his interest in business and finance and transitioned out of the College of Education to University College, now known as the College of Professional Studies. He switched his major to Business Administration and Management and added two additional years at Northeastern to complete his degree.  

“Giving is a joyful experience. If you are at Northeastern, you have got to be immersed in the programs that are offered and take every advantage that is thrown at you. Then give back.” 

Jim Nolan

While he caught up with his new major, Nolan held other positions with the Employers Commercial Union, the Security Insurance Company, the US Post office and Bradley’s Stop and Shop. As he moved closer to graduation, he again called on the assistance of his co-op coordinator for advice and job recommendations. He was recommended to take the Civil Service Examination and apply with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  

He spent the next seven years in a variety of positions and responsibilities with the FDIC, the last two years serving as the Assistant Liquidator of American Bank and Trust company in New York. Finally, Nolan decided it might be time to go out on his own. 

Going Out On His Own. 

After his tenure with the FDIC, Nolan spent the next three years as the Head of Real Estate Acquisitions for a Miami-based company, First Capital. He then had a brief stint as President of MDC Equities in Denver, Colorado. It was in Denver that Nolan met his future partner, and together they co-founded United Trust Fund (UTF), a privately owned real estate investment firm headquartered in Miami. His partner had a connection with a large state retirement fund to provide capital for property purchases, while Nolan’s role was to purchase, manage, and sell the investments. His partner famously said, “You buy the properties, and I will find the capital,” and that is exactly what they did for the next six years, building the name and brand of United Trust Fund (UTF).  

Starting essentially from scratch in 1982, Nolan and his partner grew the company to institutional status. To enhance the company’s capital structure, he hired an investment banker in New York. Deloitte and Touche were engaged to conduct a three-year back audit, and an investment offering was prepared. Nolan remarked, “I learned all of this through my Northeastern co-op experience and my time with the FDIC.” A list of 100 institutional prospects was made, and within one-year, Metropolitan Life closed on a 20% interest in UTF.  

Nolan successfully built his business while raising his three young children and volunteering his time as a Northeastern alum, attending local college fairs, and actively engaging in numerous nonprofit organizations. 


Nolan’s own family’s value of giving, coupled with his award of the Joseph Mullin Scholarship in his last year at Northeastern, gave him a strong sense of the importance of giving back.

Before he was able to give money, Nolan volunteered his time. He represented the university in the local college admission process, attended college fairs, and met with prospective students to promote Northeastern and its co-op program. He continued in that role for ten years, covering Florida and other parts of the southeastern part of the country.  

Eventually, he established the Nolan Family Scholarship for students with learning challenges, starting with a donation of $25,000 and aiming to increase it to $100,000. He has not only achieved this goal but has been able to contribute even more to the fund. 

At a dinner in Miami, Richard Freeland, then-president of Northeastern, solicited Nolan to serve on the University’s Board of Incorporators which he served on for more than ten years, actively engaged in the Admission Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Building Committee and finally, serving five years on the University’s Financial Affairs Committee.  

His breadth of involvement reflects Nolan’s dedication to making a meaningful impact on service and leadership. “When I had time, I gave time; and when I had money, I gave money.”, he said.

“Northeastern co-op provided experience and work ethic for my future and that fueled my desire to give back”

-Jim Nolan

Faces of CPS

Faces of CPS: Get to know the many diverse people who make up our CPS community 

Faces of CPS: Mohak Jani

“I’ve encountered various obstacles, including time management difficulties, financial constraints, and adapting to a new cultural and academic environment as an international student. I am inspired by the prospect of continuous learning and personal growth that comes with pursuing an advanced degree. “

Connect with Mohak: Instagram 

Faces of CPS: Rhiannon Jacobs

“One challenge I had to overcome while pursuing my master’s was balancing a full time job in addition to a full course load. Being able to successfully manage my time coupled with my interest in the subject matter and applicability to my career allowed me to be successful in both areas.”

Connect with Rhiannon: InstagramFacebook

Faces of CPS: Jhanvi Patel

“This two-year journey took work. Life isn’t always the same and easy as well. Being an international student away from home and family is the starting hurdle of the journey, a new country, new place, and new people made me intimidated by my decision but the strong will to achieve something special by achieving a degree was so strong it overpowered all my worries and always fuel my hope and courage.”

Connect with Jhanvi: LinkedIn

Faces of CPS: Hairani Armaya Doremi

“From a young age, starting at 15, I began working in Indonesia to support my family. Among my peers, I stood out as the one who abstained from alcohol while working as a DJ—a role that harmonized with my abilities to sing, dance, and host events simultaneously. This multi-talented nature set me apart and posed the challenging question of excelling in multiple disciplines at once.”

Connect with Hairani: InstagramLinkedInYouTube

Faces of CPS: Vandna Mehta

“My advice is to dive in wholeheartedly. Education is more than a set of courses; it’s a catalyst for transformation. Be prepared to work hard, be open to learning, and be ready to grow not just as a professional but as a person.”

Connect with Vandna: LinkedIn

Faces of CPS: Dayana Alsamsam

“Dealing with personal challenges is incredibly tough. Being far from family during hard times is one of the biggest challenges I have endured. This experience is molding me into a more resilient person; definitely a growth journey.”

Connections: LinkedinInstagram and Youtube

Faces of CPS: Attrayee Chakraborty

“As a first-generation international student, I didn’t have many connections in the healthcare industry in the US. By attending conferences, workshops and leading the student chapter of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) at Northeastern as the secretary, I established a great network of professionals aligned to my field of study, along with fostering a community for future international students interested in working in healthcare. “

Connect with Attrayee: LinkedIn

Know someone who would make a great Face of CPS?

If you know someone whose profile should be included here, definitely let us know! We’d love to profile them!

Please email your nomination, referring the person you think would make a great Face of CPS with a brief explanation of why you think they’d be a great fit.

Faces of CPS: Chin-Hua Pan

Hailing from Taiwan, Chin-Hua Pan, embarks on a life-changing odyssey at Northeastern, transcending language barriers with confidence and fueled by a passion for UX design.

Embracing this newfound confidence, I actively sought out new experiences at Northeastern. I didn’t shy away from unfamiliar territory, and the resulting achievements further solidified my belief in my abilities.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Sudhamshu Vidyananda

My journey at Northeastern has helped me to be more resilient, adaptable and to move from my comfort zone. I learnt more about my strengths and how to face the world in a more disciplined way.”

Hailing from Mangalore, Sudhamshu Vidyananda, is embraced by Boston, epitomizes resilience and innovation in his Northeastern journey.

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Kartika Ahire

If I have to reflect on the journey at Northeastern, I will say that Resilience, Connections, and Adaptability skills helped me understand myself more.”

Hailing from Nashik, India, Kartika Ahire embraces the diverse and collaborative spirit of Northeastern, forging a path of resilience and adaptability in pursuing Regulatory Affairs, while finding solace in Boston’s vibrant culture and natural beauty.

Connections: Instagram

Faces of CPS: Godfred Afriyie Owusu

Hailing from Ghana and making Boston home, Godfred Afriyie Owusu exemplifies unwavering determination at Northeastern, transcending obstacles with a stubborn commitment to his dreams, fostering innovation in project management.

Your dream about what you can make out of Northeastern should be higher than the obstacles you will face while at Northeastern or elsewhere.”

Connections: Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter

Faces of CPS: Harshal Randad

Hailing from India, Harshal Randad emerges as a transformative force at Northeastern, embodying resilience and seizing opportunities while mastering Project Management, driven by a vision of global impact and continuous growth.

Northeastern University stood out to me for its exceptional course structure and Co-op program, which were among the many factors influencing my decision to attend.”

Connections: Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Swapnesh Tiwari

The varied experiences at Northeastern, especially as a student ambassador, including interacting with a diverse student body and participating in global experiences, teach adaptability.”

Hailing from India, Swapnesh Satishkumar Tiwari navigates the complexities of academia at Northeastern with reflective insight, leveraging collaborative learning and resilience, carving a path toward healthcare innovation and professional success.

Connections: Facebook

Faces of CPS: Alessandro Zampi

I liked the Northeastern brand (even though I knew very little about the university) and I liked the subjects it is known for. I also liked what the mascot represents (intelligent, energetic, hardworking).”

Hailing from diverse locales like London, New York, and Boston, Alessandro Zampi won 2024 Staff Excellence Award. A current graduate student in Analytics and Staff Operations Analyst, his dedication enriches both academia and operations.

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Suqi (Eileen) Wu

Hailing from China, Suqi (Eileen) Wu embodies innovation and creativity. As an alumna of the 2023 MS Digital Media program, she excels as a Product and UX Designer, shaping impactful user experiences globally.

The co-op program and the experiential learning opportunities, I made lots of friends and became a more professional designer because of this experience.”

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Minfang Wu

Hailing from China, Minfang Wu unfolds her Northeastern University journey, overcoming barriers, pursuing analytics, and aspiring towards tech excellence.

The Northeast offers numerous chances, both in terms of career and geographical advantages. As a student, I appreciate this type of learning environment.”

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Anthony Alsayed

I was also attracted by the university values and the organizational culture and felt inspired by its leaders and the mission that was based on practical training and research.”

Hailing from Toronto, Anthony Alsayed is the recipient of the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Award, bringing his expertise as a part-time lecturer, enriching students’ learning experiences.

Connections: Linkedin and Facebook


Faces of CPS: Sanover Tasneem

As a first-generation student, I needed financial support for my education and getting an on-campus position was tough. Applying and securing a co-op was also a big hurdle. Overall, CPS has given me a lot of opportunities to showcase my abilities and use the skills from my past work experience in India. I have just been so grateful for all the good things supporting my life and education here.”

Hailing from Jaunpur, India, Sanover Tasneem is a first-generation college student who now calls Boston home, pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Analytics, she is graduating in June 2024.

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Vivek Vaghasiya

Hailing from Gujarat, India, Vivek Vaghasiya is pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Informatics. He is graduating in May 2024.

My journey at Northeastern University has been a revelation, showcasing my resilience and adaptability. After graduation, I aspire to secure a role in data analytics or cloud computing, leveraging the skills acquired during my master’s in professional studies in Informatics. In five years, I envision myself in a leadership position, driving innovative solutions and contributing to the advancement of technology in a dynamic industry.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Jennifer Chavez

Hailing from Boston, Jennifer Chavez Umana is a first-generation college student balancing full-time work, her coursework at school, and personal growth.

My journey at Northeastern has shown me that I am capable of so much more. I can handle things that I never thought I was able to. Even then sometimes I feel like I still won’t be able to make it through but somehow I always push through.”

Faces of CPS: Christian Cartagena

Being a Northeastern student has been an inspiring journey. Each completed class shows I am not only a step closer to my goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree but also an achievement added to my collection.”

Hailing from Boston, Christian Cartagena is a first-generation college student pursuing finance, navigating challenges, and finding joy in Boston.

Faces of CPS: Brittni Allen

I chose to join the NU family because I was very excited and intrigued by programs designed to help more students access educational opportunity. I’ve always had a passion for helping other to reach their goals and this position aligned perfectly.”

Hailing from Miami, Brittni Allen is a first-gen college student thrives at Northeastern, driven by her passion for equal opportunities.

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Srisha Rajasekar

Hailing from Singapore, Srisha Rajasekar shares her dynamic Northeastern University odyssey, merging academic excellence, regulatory fervor, and personal fulfillment.

The evolving regulatory environment presents an exciting challenge, my motivation lies in the impactful role regulatory affairs plays in shaping the future & ensuring the well-being of individuals.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Oduenyi Uga

Hailing from Boston having Nigerian-American roots, Oduenyi Uga, shares a transformative journey at Northeastern University, overcoming academic challenges while thriving in the digital communication and media realm.

My journey at Northeastern University has been a profound revelation of my own capabilities and passions. It has underscored the belief that there truly are no limits to what I can achieve when I seize opportunities and commit wholeheartedly.”

Connections: Linkedin, Instagram, and Youtube.

YearUp/Roxbury Community College Opportunity Scholarship Recipient, Jennifer Chavez

“My journey at Northeastern has shown me that I am capable of so much more. I can handle things that I never thought I was able to. Even then sometimes I feel like I still won’t be able to make it through but somehow I always push through. My family is a huge support system for me and I know that I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

– Jennifer Chavez

Our network spans across the world. Where are you from or where do you consider home?

Home to me is Boston, MA and I am the first in my family to attend college.

Getting a degree while life is happening isn’t always easy. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face and how have you overcome them?

I am working full-time at a pharmaceutical company, going to school at Northeastern, trying to experience new things in my life and strengthen my relationships. I find myself constantly trying to figure out what I prioritize most in my life. To overcome this I have been learning to overthink less.

What advice do you have for others considering higher education — either at Northeastern or elsewhere?

I recommend them to fully focus on school, especially if they are not working in an industry that matters to them. I think having that sacrifice would make my life easier so I could put all my focus on school. I also recommend having a good mentality that is more focused on discipline than motivation, because motivation comes and goes and sometimes you don’t want to do it anymore.

Discipline is a mental battle but it is a form of self-love for a person’s future self.

Why are you interested in the degree you’re pursuing? What motivates you?

I am interested in the current degree I’m pursuing which is business management, because I have always aspired to be a leader. I like working with people and how to help them reach their goals. Ever since I was young I helped my mom manage the house by helping her with organizing her bills and helping her keep stock of what was in the house. This helped me gain responsibility and helped her because she was working so many hours.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate? Where do you imagine yourself 5 years after school?

I am hoping to keep working in the pharmaceutical industry but instead of working in the lab as an engineering technician, I am hoping to work in a more business-focused role.

In five years, I hope to be in a position where I am a manager or even a director in a field like supply chain or project management.

We know you are more than the person who shows up at Northeastern — what are some of your hobbies and other passions? Where do you find your joy?

Some of my passions and hobbies include going hiking and trying new things. One of my dreams is to travel the world and visit as many national parks as possible. I find joy in spending time with family and loved ones, I take my quality time with people seriously. I just want to be able to experience the world in a way my parents were never allowed to.

Embracing Failure: Diaries of a DLP student

Student Profile: Lindsey Starnes Duch, ‘24 Doctor of Law and Policy

Lindsey Starnes Duch, ‘24 Doctoral Law & Policy student, is the Vice President of Health Policy and Innovation at ALG Senior, the ninth largest senior living operator in the United States. She was recently recognized as ‘Health Policy Leader of the Year’ by the Heart of Charlotte annual awards, an event hosted by Northeastern University and Tryon Medical Partners that recognizes individuals who make a positive impact on the Charlotte community.

The award acknowledged Starnes Duch’s work caring for the region’s senior citizen community during the pandemic. She was solely responsible for the research, implementation and execution of almost 600 COVID-19 vaccine clinics from 2021 through 2023.  

Her current role at ALG Senior includes working with lobbyists to help make shifts in state policy as it relates to senior citizens. Relevant issues that bring her to the state capitol include expanding Medicaid, resident reimbursement rates (the number of care hours awarded by that state to pay for residents’ care), and most recently, starting a Medicare Advantage plan for assisted living facilities, the first solely Individualized special needs medical plan for seniors with special needs.

“By definition, if you live in assisted living, you have special needs, but prior to this plan, you were just in a peer insurance-based Medicare plan. ALG Senior is not a provider partners insurance company for this plan. So, let’s say we have a woman who lives in a building and her doctor comes in and says she needs to go to the hospital; prior to 2024, she would have had to leave the facility to go to the hospital and we’d have lost control over her; we don’t know when they will release her or how long they will keep her. Then she gets sent to a skilled nursing facility just for IV management, and while she’s gone, she is exposed to illness/COVID-19 and we’ve caused her all this trauma from being removed from her familiar place until she may eventually not even come home. Now, because we’ve added two new layers of oversight, we can now look at that doctor and say, ‘we’ll do this all in the facility, we’ll give her treatment here, we’re not moving her.”

– Lindsey Starnes Duch

This work took seven years to get approval from U.S. Department of Insurance. Part of the team that spearheaded it underwrote proposals for the model and she is now the cog between a trifecta of physician groups, the insurance company, and the operations system, making it happen.

History & Mentorship

Starnes Duch was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. As a child, her father was an accountant with a demanding schedule. She remembers that, growing up, being together was important. She said, “My father traveled a lot, but when he was home, he was home.”

Starnes Duch grew up attending UNC-Charlotte basketball games with her family. In high school, she participated in dual enrollment, a program that provides opportunities to take college-level courses and earn credit toward future college degrees. She entered UNC Charlotte as a Sophomore. She said, “When I got to college, I realized that you can take as many hours as you want if someone approves it, so I took 21 hours each semester.”

Starnes Duch graduated with a double degree in History and English in just two years. With degrees coming from two separate programs, she found herself managing two different advisors, one in each department, adding an additional administrative element to her educational experience that she credits to her current competencies.

It was during college that Starnes Duch married young and had her first child at 20 years old. Nearing graduation, she knew she wanted to teach, so she became a high school teacher for six years.

Divorce from her first husband imposed the realization that a teaching salary was not going to be sufficient for a single mother providing for her children. She said, “I chose to get married early, and then I grew up. The divorce was scary, but it also allowed me to lean into who I am, who God made me to be instead of living with the choice I made at 18.”

Charlie Trefzger, ALG’s CEO, gave Starnes Duch an opportunity to work for him, albeit unknown to her father at the time, who was also the company’s CFO. She spent her first six weeks there learning her way around the company and attending every meeting she could find, whether it was HR, clinical meetings, or dietary planning meetings. Then she met with Trefzger and reported her findings, including areas for improvement. He told her to go and fix it. This experience awakened a deep interest in the field that led to Starnes Duch’s aspirations going from getting a paycheck to having a career. Caring for the elderly, she realized, was her calling.

Starnes Duch began the work by helping the marketing department get operational systems in place and she also streamlined vendor relationships until she found her home in the clinical department. Working with Dr. O’Neil, the CMO, Starnes Duch learned how complex the field of gerontology truly is. “I fell in love with taking ideas from our medical officer and making them realistic in this impossible environment that is assisted living.” she said. Shortly after, she went back to college, George Washington University (GW) this time, and obtained a master’s degree in gerontology.

“I didn’t really want to focus on gerontology; I wanted it to be a little more translative”

After completing her master’s degree, Trefzger encouraged her to prioritize her education even further. She started to shop programs and had a conversation with her advisor, Leonard H. Friedman from the Milken Institute School of Public Health, who told her that while she can pursue a second master’s degree, obtaining a PhD would deliver the professional gravitas she was after. This resonated with Starnes Duch, who began looking into doctoral programs that would fit her current life and existing obligations as a mother and full-time professional based in Charlotte.

She googled “doctorate programs for assisted living” and one of the first things that came up was the Northeastern University Doctor of Law and Policy program. She immediately thought, “this is the knowledge base Dr, Friedman was talking about, and I don’t have to move to Boston to accomplish this!”

In the thick of the pandemic, July 2022, Starnes Duch entered the Doctor of Law and Policy program. She also gave birth to her third child during her in the program. “You can be tired when you’re dead!”, she jokes.

“Having such a strong mentor was the kingpin. The trust that my mentor Charlie puts in me and the expectations he has of me are equal. Without him, I wouldn’t be here; there would be no ‘Doctor’ in my title.” she said.

Merits of Failure

Starnes Duch doesn’t take the act of failing personally or professionally with negativity. She firmly believes that making a mistake is not a personal setback; It is more a byproduct of experimentation. “Innovation cannot happen without failure. You cannot get better if you don’t plug in something incorrectly. If you take it personally, it will set you back,” she said.

“In our industry, when you’re doing work that effects other peoples’ lives, there are some days you just need to postpone things that aren’t life or death for your own balance. It helps that I have a great support system at work and home. But I found out I can’t do it alone and it’s fine. And failing is also fine! Let’s fail faster so we can identify exactly what was wrong and let’s fix it. As a leader, showing your team that you fail too is powerful because it shows that you are taking chances, and if you never fail you won’t take chances and your team will never take chances,” powerful because it shows that you are taking chances, and if you never fail you won’t take chances and your team will never take chances,”

– Lindsey Starnes Duch

The DLP Program

Starnes Duch, whose experience with the program has been mostly virtual with occasional trips to the Boston campus, describes her experience as being supportive, adaptive and ‘pliable in nature’.

“Program leadership does a great job hearing feedback and saying, ‘We can’t change this immediately, but we can tell you how to accommodate going forward’. They are also extremely adaptive, which was an important attribute in the pandemic.” For example, in 2022, the program suffered a supply chain problem, causing a month-long delay in delivery of core textbooks. The solution that the program team came up with was to manually scan copies of entire books, hundreds of pages, and upload them for students to access. The program carried on.

The program requires all new students to have their first encounter with Northeastern University in person. This sets a personable precedent for the individual student to forge relationships not just with professors but with peers. “This absolutely set the tone for me. The cohort culture has been different for me because I am a traditionally independent learner. But I now realize that having a group of peers that intimately know the stress level you are going through, and who are going through it with you, is the key to success. In my very diverse cohort of 15 students located across the country, we have lost only one person to medical leave – we haven’t lost anyone else because they couldn’t do it or they felt alone or unsupported.”

“You still need to advocate for yourself; if you’re having problems with a professor interaction, you’re an adult and you have to get it resolved. If I don’t particularly love a professor’s personality, or how they deliver expectations, I don’t take it personally, I adjust my approach and focus on delivering to that because the goal is higher than my satisfaction in the process. If I or another student raises a concern, the program leaders are great at addressing that. Collectively, we have all kept our eye on the prize.”


Asking what advice she would impart to doctoral students, Starnes Duch says that they need to find a person or professor in the program they connect with ‘communication style wise’. She said, “If you have a personal connection, then bombard them with questions. Send them snippets of your writing, tell them what you’re thinking with analytics, and as soon as you’re assigned your board, keep using them because it will alleviate the stress.”

“Now that I’m almost done, I’d say if you’re starting the program, pick the research area you want your focus to be, but don’t limit yourself to what you think your research should be. You’re going to struggle against what your head is telling you to do and what your heart wants to research and you’re going to need your heart to finish. Be open to changing your intended path.”

“Your choices do define you but they don’t limit you. I’m still a mom, I’m still a past teacher, I have all those experiences but they didn’t limit me.”

Mock Interview: Workshop Series

Join our new Workshop series “Mock Interview.”

Every Thursday from 2-3pm EST, we’ll delve into the intricacies of interviews, unveiling effective tricks and preparation strategies for any interview scenario.

Engage in interactive settings as we dissect the overall interview experience, discuss common interview scenarios, and share insights on what to do during critical moments.

We will try to practice Questions to ask after the interview has endedIt would be great if you would bring your resume at the time of the workshop.

Call for Proposals: “AI for All” Week, April 1-5

The What.

The Offices of the Provost and Chancellor are organizing a weeklong series of lectures, interactive sessions, and trainings designed for our undergraduate and graduate students across the network to introduce and enhance their knowledge of AI and its many application areas.

“AI for All” week will begin Monday, April 1st with a plenary session. From Tuesday, April 2nd through Thursday, April 4, we want to provide a rich menu of offerings that students will select from across multiple domain areas during 60-80-minute timeslots. While we anticipate most of these will be in 2 sessions from 6:00-9:00 pm Eastern US time, we also encourage events at campuses in other time zones that may be at more appropriate local times. The week will end Friday, April 5 with a closing event to reflect on the sessions and discuss future activities around AI for the university system.

Call for Proposals

We invite faculty and student groups to submit a short proposal to deliver one of the sessions held during the Tuesday through Thursday evening time slots (or at other times, if appropriate). Proposals should describe experiential sessions that will help our students learn about different aspects and applications of AI, showcase faculty expertise and research directions, and student groups engaged in AI-related activities, particularly emphasizing AI in practice. Session content should be 60-80 minutes and can include multiple formats such as collaborations with industry partners and external experts, panel discussions, and hands-on activities.

We will select proposals for sessions that:

Proposals are due by Friday, Feb. 16th using the proposal link. We will route all submissions to the appropriate academic dean, and if the proposer is located at a regional campus, we will also route them to the respective regional dean for review.

Proposers will be notified by Monday, Feb. 26th whether their proposal has been accepted. For those sessions selected, we’ll work closely with the proposer, the academic dean, and the campus dean to ensure scheduling and modality preferences are coordinated.

Please feel free to contact Becky Collet ([email protected]) if you have any questions.

Writing your Problem of Practice & Application Support

This session is designed to help you choose your own problem of practice and write about it in your application to Northeastern. Every student in our program chooses a problem of practice and uses cycles of investigation to find innovative and systematic solutions to create change in their workplace and/or community.

Find more online events: Here

What Can You Do with an EdD?

Learn how a Doctor of Education can help you further your career, advance within your organization, and create meaningful change within your community. You’ll also learn more about Northeastern’s career design services and how they help you prepare for your future career moves.

Find more online events: Here

Discover Northeastern EdD

Join us for the unique opportunity to hear from our education faculty who teach in our global campus network. We’ll discuss the program curriculum, balancing work and school, developing a problem of practice, and more.

Find more online events: Here