Annual Scholarship Reception a Huge Success!
With over 225 students receiving upwards of $300,000 from 52 scholarships – there was much to celebrate at the College of Professional Studies’ annual Undergraduate Scholarship Reception.
With the crackling anticipation of alumni donors eager to meet the recipients of their scholarship funds – and students so excited to greet and thank their benefactors all in attendance, the gathering has all the earmarks of a supportive community rooted in a legacy of achievement and of people helping people reach new heights.
The celebration included inspiring remarks from two benefactors, Mani Sundaram, MS’99 and Meena Ramakrishnan, CPS’06 who each offered compelling reflections on their experience supporting financial aid:
“Sponsoring six CPS students has been a source of immense gratification for us. We love the concept of creating a pathway for students and community colleges to gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials to align themselves with what’s going on in the industry, secure excellent jobs and build strong career trajectories.”Mani Sundaram. MS’99
“We felt it was the right opportunity to do our part because we had been given challenges back then so both of us are delighted to be part of this program and we wish all the students here all the very best in your lives.”Meena Ramakrishnan CPS’06
Mohamed Abougalala, Information Technology, Class of 2024 rounded out the program with a personal account of his journey to CPS from Egypt. Mohamed shared his experience arriving at CPS, saying, “The moment I stepped onto campus, I felt a sense of belonging.”
Whether a student, alumnus, donor benefactor, staff member, academic advisor, or faculty member – the annual Scholarship Reception fills the tank on good vibes with warmth and an expansive sense of the goodness and remarkable capacity of the College of Professional Studies to positively impact lives, to advance opportunity, and to building a community rooted in a culture of giving back.
If you have any questions about the undergraduate scholarship program at the College of Professional Studies, please contact Mary McCarthy, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Funds, at [email protected].
View photos from the event here.
Beyond the classroom
Discover How Three Dedicated CPS Professors Empower Underrepresented Entrepreneurs
In 2021, visionary CPS professors Francesca Grippa, Youngbok Ryu, and Carl Zangerl leaped at the opportunity to further the College’s founding principles: meeting Learners where they are and going beyond the classroom to deliver opportunities.
After the country found itself in a second civil rights wave in 2020, politicians and public leaders scrambled to produce fiscal resources to eliminate race-based discrimination and level the economic playing field with a fervor not seen in over 60 years. Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS), a legacy champion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion well before it was trending, found itself in a position to receive external support for something it had always upheld.
Grippa, Zangerl, and Ryu were well-positioned and eager to take full advantage. Through their individual experiences teaching Learners and seeing the challenges they faced as they applied education to improve their lives and communities, the Professors each had their own understanding of where additional resource provision would prove beneficial.
The US Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation both opened bids for a five-year and three-year grant opportunity to support diverse small businesses and after securing funding in 2021, thanks to these Professor’s passion for their work, The CPS Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship was born. Its sworn mission of ‘contributing to economic development and community resilience by promoting inclusive, equitable innovation and entrepreneurship and assisting small businesses in addressing their technical and managerial challenges’ laid the groundwork for a three-pronged service platform for small businesses; it included: the Inclusive Entrepreneur Fellowship Program, Technical and Managerial Assistance and Procurement Research on Supplier Diversity in higher education.
About the Lab:
The Lab assists both historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs whose business models are centered on giving back to their communities and businesses with strong missions to help disadvantaged communities. It largely provides small, minority-owned (Black, Brown, women, LGBTQ+, Indigenous) businesses in Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island with resources they can use that to improve their business operations, evolve their business models, increase market reach, or tackle other challenges, and ultimately improve their communities.
We asked how the Lab fits with CPS’s overall offering. Francesa Grippa, Executive Director of the Lab, said with her soft and rich Italian accent [she hails from Lecce, Italy], “Because we give opportunities to improve lives through learning; because we engage Learners in real business challenges to provide that experiential aspect; and because we care about inclusive prosperity beyond the classroom, we want to genuinely give Learners the tools to be successful, not just dole out diplomas and send them on their way. For us, going outside of the program model and reaching outside the classroom to support these Entrepreneurs is a perfect fit and exactly where we need to be.”
Inclusive Entrepreneur Fellowship Program & Technical/Managerial Assistance
The Fellowship Program hosts annual cohorts of small business owners – some of whom are existing CPS Learners or recent Alumni – who receive support, mentorship, and training to grow their venture, learn how to respond to RFPs, or negotiate contracts. Fellows have the opportunity to tap into Northeastern University’s vast entrepreneurial ecosystem including research centers and institutes, start-up labs, and potential funding resources. Qualifying applicants have to be in business for at least three years. The program is a la carte, not curriculum based, and true to the CPS mission of fostering the development of lifetime learners, focused on meeting Fellows where they’re at. Now in its second year, the current cohort is scheduled to graduate this September.
An entrepreneur’s experience
Fellow Alumni Gayl Crump Swaby has experienced first-hand what the Lab can do. She is president of the mental-health provider New Generation Consultants and as an experienced counselor with a master’s degree in social work from Boston University and an Ed.D. in child and youth studies from Nova Southeastern University, her expertise combines rigorous scholarship with years of real-world experience. Particularly in her work with children, Swaby says, “My purpose has become my passion.”
As an entrepreneur, however, she felt she still had a lot to learn.
“The business side of running a business was not something that was taught in school,” she says. “I didn’t have a lot of those skills and I wanted to get a deeper dive into looking at financials and business models. How do I finance it? Anything and everything related to managing a small business.”
At the Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, she found exactly what she was looking for. Over the course of her fellowship, Swaby gained critical knowledge of negotiating contracts, setting fees, managing expenses, and working with subcontractors—all knowledge and skills she could apply directly and immediately to her professional life. She also learned strategies for increasing sales and practical techniques for boosting her leadership skills. Along the way, she earned the badges that now adorn her LinkedIn profile: Building Blocks of Strategy, The Finance of Funding, and Commercializing Your New Venture.
“The program helped me to really begin to scale my business up and think about what it means to be a small business owner,” Swaby says, “especially being a Woman of Color—and how difficult it is just getting access to resources and being able to break through barriers. The fellowship program helped me to think about not only not letting those barriers get in the way but the ways in which I can remove those barriers or get the support to remove those barriers.”
The research arm of the Lab is a persistent powerhouse; its work is close to the heart of Youngbok Ryu, who leads the effort on Supplier Diversity. Census analysis projects that in 2045, the US will have a complete demographic shift, placing people who identify as white in the minority – this affects all sectors. “The Higher Ed sector represents billions of dollars of spending each year. Our hope is that Supplier Diversity can be one way to close a significant socio-economic gap,” Ryu says.
The research team has so far published two impactful reports on the subject.
The goal is to expand the Supplier Diversity research beyond New England and really engage not just owners of vendor companies, but also bring in the Procurement professionals who have the authority to implement institutional changes needed to remove internal barriers faced by smaller players, the same businesses that are most likely owned by Black, Brown or other minoritized people. The work in this area has the potential to be game-changing for the Higher Education sector and create an effective blueprint for how to implement this change.
Grippa notes that faculty across Northeastern have begun to recognize the program’s effects, and she is hopeful that momentum will continue to build for the Lab and the entrepreneurs and students it serves. She said, “Our efforts have been contagious, and we have been able to forge new alliances and collaborations that will help us to achieve even greater success in the future.”
Learn more about the Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship: https://nl4ie.sites.northeastern.edu/ie2-fellowship/
Read the Supplier Diversity reports: https://nl4ie.sites.northeastern.edu/supplier-diversity/
Submit a request to the Lab for Business Assistance: https://nl4ie.sites.northeastern.edu/business-assistance/
LAB on Boston Chamber of Commerce’s website: https://bostonchamber.com/thought-leadership/growing-into-larger-contracts-northeastern-and-drb/
Mass. colleges fall short of the goal to expand minority contracting: https://www.wgbh.org/news/education/2022/06/06/mass-colleges-fall-short-of-goal-to-expand-minority-contracting
2nd Annual Webinar on Supplier Diversity in Higher Education
The Northeastern Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship’s webinar on June 22 will highlight the preliminary findings of a survey of procurement professionals in higher education. How are they translating words of institutional commitment into action? What are the drivers of greater supplier diversity? And what steps can to be taken to sustain progress?
Joining us to share their perspectives are Nicole Obi, President and CEO of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, Jerry Epps, Director of Vendor Diversity at Babson College and member of the Lab’s Advisory Council, and Roy Anderson, lecturer and former VP of Global Procurement at MetLife.
To register for the webinar, click here.
CPS Student Awards Round-Up
The College of Professional Studies is proud to announce its students who’ve been recognized with a variety of prestigious university awards. These awards not only celebrate our learners for their extraordinary academic achievements but also for their commitment to the values and mission of Northeastern University. This year’s winners come from both our undergraduate and graduate programs and represent a diversity of majors, backgrounds, and continents. Congratulations to all our 2023 student award winners!
Six students from CPS were inducted into the Huntington 100 for 2023. Sponsored by the Office of Student Life, the Huntington 100 recognizes students for their service, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, global engagement, and impact on the campus community. The award honors distinguished juniors and seniors from all Northeastern campuses for their achievements and embodying the university’s mission. These students represent what Northeastern is today – a selective institution with a global network, rigorous academic programs, experiential learning, and positive impact.
The following are the CPS learners who were inducted to the Huntington 100 on Tuesday, April 18:
- Rama Doddi, CPS’24
- Shakir Khalid, CPS’22
- John Ruggieri-Lam, CPS’23
- Hari Haran Sivaramakrishnan, CPS’22
- Azi Sohrabi, CPS’23
- Ryan Westmoreland, CPS’24
We’d also like to congratulate CPS senior John Ruggieri-Lam, (pictured above with CPS Dean Radhika Seshan) who was also a winner of the Compass Award from the Northeastern University Alumni Association.
The Compass Awards program recognizes exemplary students from the senior class who have demonstrated a true dedication to a core set of values: leadership, volunteerism, academic integrity, and commitment to Northeastern.
Experiential Learning Award
The Experiential Learning Awards recognize outstanding students who have successfully integrated the classroom with real-world projects in three main categories: Co-op Excellence, XN Excellence, and Humanics. Students selected for these awards are nominated by their co-op employers, XN project sponsors, faculty, or staff. These learners have demonstrably gone above and beyond in their educational journeys through professional work, research, and service on seven continents — learning how to transform ideas into impact and become global citizens with successful careers.
Experiential Learning Group Award (Group)
Course/Co-op: Informatics Capstone Project
About the Project: The student team assisted a Massachusetts-based travel tech startup to develop an app for both Android and iOS platforms to generate personalized experiences for users. The team developed the app from scratch and made further visual and user interface refinements on the front end using a React framework. Students employed knowledge from full-stack app development with an AWS deployment environment.
XN Experiential Excellence Award
Winner: Taylor Faraca
Project Title: “Therapeutic Hunting and Its Success” Working with the company Homeplace Ministries
About the Project: Taylor’s project entailed assisting HomePlace Ministries with their veteran and wounded soldier rehabilitation projects. She specifically assisted in the implementation of an emotional therapy program to assist veterans who were suffering from mental health and anxiety issues as a result of exposure to toxic fumes from burn pit vapor. Emotional therapy also has proven applicable to veterans and soldiers dealing with survivors’ guilt.
Winner: Rebekah Duan
Experiential Learning Information: Rebekah has engaged with multiple experiential learning projects and experiences during her time at Northeastern, helping to manage two student-run websites (Husky Communications and Inspire & Influence). She is the president of a graduate student group called Husky Communicators, which focus on website and social media management, event planning, and writing on campus. She also has contributed to an XN team developing a public relations plan for a nonprofit company- Universal Promise.
Co-op Excellence Award
Winner: Nidhisha Bhalla
Co-op: Regulatory Affairs Associate for Neuro Spinal Innovation Inc.
About the Co-op: The purpose of the Regulatory Affairs co-op was to assist in the preparations and filing demands for regulatory approvals of the products of NSI as it pertains to the overall goal of Neuro Spinal Innovation Inc. The candidate had the opportunity to experience various global regulations by providing support on different projects.
The Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Doctoral Work
The Dean’s Medal for Outstanding Doctoral Work is the highest honor awarded by the College to a doctoral graduate. It was established to acknowledge exemplary academic achievement and to recognize demonstrated creativity. The process for determining one or more recipients involves evaluating the nominated candidate’s thesis dissertations based on the following criteria: the degree of comprehension, innovation, and creativity; the scope and importance of the work to a field of study; and the caliber of writing.
This year CPS will honor three Dean’s Medal recipients at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony in Boston on Thursday, May 11.
Katie Spencer White, DLP
Thesis Dissertation: Equal Justice Under Law: Eviction Reform and the Experience of Justice for Pro Se Defendant Tenants
Katonja Webb Walker, EdD
Thesis Dissertation: “I Need People”: Mentoring as a Strategy to Support Black Doctoral Student Success
Stacie B. Simko, DPT
Thesis Dissertation: Physical Therapy for Students with Autism: Survey of School-Based Physical Therapists
Congratulations to this year’s winners — they truly embody the mission of CPS to push boundaries and expand academic work across relevant and important disciplines.
At every academic degree level – bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral – students from our College were recognized this year for their extraordinary achievements and commitment to the values of Northeastern University. These learners epitomize what makes us so proud of our CPS students. Congratulations to all our 2023 award winners!
2023 Graduation Speaker Tony Gomes has invested in future STEM grads
Always proud of his Husky roots, Tony Gomes, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer for Cloud Software Group, and the 2023 CPS commencement speaker, recently made a generous gift of $500,000 to the College to establish the Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza Associate-to-Master’s (A2M) Scholars Fund.
Starting in the fall of 2023, this fund will support a cohort of low-income students at CPS’s Boston campus with an accelerated pathway from community college to an advanced college degree and a subsequent career in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
This gift will build upon the successful A2M STEM model that is already transforming the lives and careers of underrepresented students.
The Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza A2M Scholars Fund will utilize Northeastern’s global network and signature experiential learning opportunities while promoting academic diversity, catalyzing a transformative educational experience, and increasing access to careers in the STEM.
The fund will award between six and ten scholarships per year for the next three years, with students being eligible to have scholarships renewed each year to ensure the cohort progresses smoothly through their academic journey. The students supported by this fund will be known as the Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza Scholars.
With this gift, the couple hope to increase diversity in the work force and provide students with a strong foundation on which to launch their careers in STEM.
A Deeper Look at Northeastern’s A2M Degree Program
To address the growing need for diversity and talent in the workforce, Northeastern University established an Associate-to-Master’s degree (A2M) program in Spring 2019. In this accelerated pathway, learners earn an associate degree at a partnering community college, followed by a bachelor’s and master’s degree in STEM from Northeastern. The A2M model is highly scalable, highly replicable, and ready to be deployed across all of our Northeastern campuses.
In addition to providing structure and support for eligible low-income students as they work towards their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the Northeastern A2M program model also prepares learners for success by providing valuable research experiences, paid internships, industry and peer mentorships, specialized advising, and other tailored academic, career, and social supports along the way.
Northeastern’s first A2M program was in Biotechnology and, to date, has served more than 150 students, with more than an 82% retention rate at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. The learners are diverse: 61% are first-generation college students, 66% are under-represented minorities in the field, and 66% are female.
The A2M program reflects Northeastern’s commitment to enabling educational equity and diversity while complementing our strategic aspirations to enable underserved students to pursue a master’s degree and reach their professional goals.
How you can make a difference
All of us here at CPS are incredibly grateful to Tony for his gift, and the vision he has behind it is one that is written into our Husky DNA. Only, we can’t do it alone, even with amazing alumni like Tony Gomes. To help us make the Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza A2M Scholars Fund a permanent offering at CPS, we ask that you please consider a philanthropic investment. We at CPS invite you to join Tony and us if you believe the best way to change someone’s life is through the opportunity to receive a world-class education – while also instilling Northeastern’s distinctive approach to life and learning.
We ask you to share your excitement and enthusiasm about a Northeastern education and consider giving to or establishing a scholarship fund for future Huskies yourself.
It is through your generous support that we can make an enduring difference in the lives of promising but traditionally underserved students, building a bridge to higher education enabling learners to fulfill their full potential.
If you would like more information about scholarship opportunities, please contact Tara Esfahanian [email protected].
Taking the hate out of high school sports – “We live for empowerment.”
Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society and the state of Massachusetts have recently partnered on a new initiative to address hate and build a healthy, inclusive culture in school sports.
It was recently announced that Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society was chosen to partner with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association ( MIAA), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts School Administrators Association (MSAA), along with a host of other educational and non-profit stakeholders to conduct a series of 13 regional statewide trainings to help superintendents, principals, and athletic directors prevent and address hate and bias in school sports. The trainings began in March 2023, and are being delivered in a two-day facilitation curricular format at various locations across the state. The trainings are open to all school districts at no cost to attendees.
“People turn to us because we have a 39-year history of credibility in the training space specific to helping people embrace skill sets and toolkits to prevent violence, unpack unconscious bias and stop the proliferation of toxic speech,” explained Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern. “We, at Sport in Society engage people in the conversations requisite to embrace their change agency to effect and sustain a culture of inclusive empowerment. In essence, through our trainings we provide people a pathway to walk the walk of doing real work, with and for real people, that leads to real outcomes with respect to creating a positive, normative culture for themselves and the communities in which they live.”
These current trainings are the next phase of “Addressing Hate in School Sports,” which began with a statewide conference in 2022, after an uptick in reported bullying, harassment, and hazing incidents across Massachusetts. The initiative spearheaded by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell is designed to provide for the equity and well-being of children by combatting bullying and harassment in schools. By engaging people through their dialogic pedagogy, Sport in Society, helps to empower school superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches, and other school personnel with the tools they need to address hate and to build a healthy, inclusive culture in school sports.
“Our pedagogy, our curriculum, and our safe-space approach are all designed to help vested stakeholders create the positive normative change that is equitable, inclusive, and impactful. We never enter a space or approach the work with a lens of legislating behavior, we want to create a safe space where we can facilitate a conversation and help drive change,” said Lebowitz. “We are a social impact entity that strives each day to create engagement, empowerment, and true collective betterment.”
This includes equipping participants with real-life techniques on how to identify, respond to, and eradicate unconscious bias and toxic speech. To achieve this, the Center will incorporate a “train the trainer” model, with the goal of equipping attendees with the skills and understanding necessary to embrace and learn the curriculum and bring it back to their districts to embed it within their school culture.
Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society
Founded in 1984, the Center uses sport as a social justice platform to make the world a better place by supporting athletes, organizations, and emerging leaders.
“These issues aren’t endemic to a particular community, it’s an epidemic in our larger society,” adds Lebowitz, who sees the role of the Center and Northeastern as powerful change agents. “I believe that Northeastern is an incredible social impact institution,” explained Lebowitz, “and part of what makes us impactful is we’re able to embrace the communities in which we live and help the people who live there to meet their own challenges with the wealth of their lived experience.”
In an age of heightened political divisiveness, and with the Center’s primary curricular focus on the importance of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), Lebowitz understands that initially, some participants may enter the space of training with hesitancy. But given the keen expertise of the Center’s trainers, the response of the participants statewide has been overwhelmingly positive, and school districts have been clamoring for more training not less.
“I received an email from someone who attended a recent training, and they said they went into the room on the first day with a reluctance that measured a “negative five”. Essentially, they didn’t want to engage at all around the subject area of DEI,” recalls Lebowitz. “Yet, once they were immersed in the safety room that the trainers create, they were full and active participants and they said they left the training registering a “positive 10”.” They and their school district have since asked for additional training.
It is this individual impact, by someone simply showing up to learn, that the Center and Lebowitz believe can create systemic, sustainable change.
Lebowitz remains reverent of the amazing global platform of Northeastern and CPS. “At the end of the day, if we didn’t have champions, we would just be an entity with a cause,” notes Lebowitz. “It is the championship of Northeastern and CPS that empowers us to effect change, engage with the people we impact, and allows all the partners and stakeholders we reach in our trainings to open themselves to the possibilities and discover the intellectual promise that positive change holds – that’s the impact that really matters.”
In addition to this new partnership, the Center for the Study of Sport in Society has developed a curriculum and delivered training to Major League Baseball, for the NFL, at the South African World Cup, to every branch of the US military, for the NFLPA, to every major college conference, to police departments, community groups, and non-profits, to over 140 high schools in Massachusetts in partnership with the Attorney General and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, and to hundreds of other high schools; locally, nationally, and internationally.
Click here to learn more about the Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and how you can become involved. https://www.northeastern.edu/sportinsociety/about/
Northeastern at AACRAO
The AACRAO Annual Meeting is an opportunity to learn, network, and advance higher education. Professionals from a variety of higher education disciplines gather together at AACRAO’s Annual Meeting to engage and discuss the ever-changing landscape of higher-ed.
Collaborate with a worldwide, higher education network as it comes together to explore, engage, and learn. Each year higher education professionals face new and unique challenges in their work and AACRAO’s Annual Meeting is the place to find solutions to those challenges.
Biotech Students Move From Associate to Master’s to Employment
Linde Foundation award will ease challenges faced by learners in the final year of their studies
Amid a national workforce shortage, Northeastern’s unique Biotech A2M Scholars Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), offers accelerated pathways for students from their associate to their master’s degree in biotechnology. The NSF grant supports students in the Biotech A2M program who start at Middlesex Community College in Bedford, MA, where they earn an associate degree with courses designed to map onto the Biotechnology bachelor’s degree at Northeastern. Students then go on to earn their MS in Biotechnology within the College of Science with one additional year of coursework. An additional philanthropic gift from the Herb and Maxine Jacobs Foundation offers tuition assistance during their master’s studies at the Northeastern University College of Science. These robust scholarships bring the out-of-pocket cost to zero for these learners with demonstrated financial need, and who are eligible for federal Pell grants.
Bridging the Gap
While the Biotech A2M program has been extraordinarily successful in terms of retention and graduation rates, evidence has emerged that learners face unique challenges in their final year of studies as they seek to finish their degree and start a career.
A new grant from the Linde Foundation is set to help these students connect with employers, bridging the gap between school and jobs. The Linde Foundation grant funds the new “Degree to Career” program, helping learners finish their degrees and transition to employment in their chosen fields while also teaching soft skills essential to career advancement. Additionally, the Linde Foundation provides scholarship support for students in their last year of study, ensuring learners are able to complete their degrees without the cost of tuition as a barrier.
“The A2M programs create accessible pathways to in-demand fields with high-paying jobs,” says Dr. Liz Zulick, Director of the Lowell Institute School and Associate Dean for Research, Innovation, Discovery and Entrepreneurship at Northeastern University College of Professional Studies. “This new grant will help biotech students stay on track in their crucial final year, supporting their transition from academia to industry.”
Path to a Career
The Biotech A2M is designed for full-time, domestic students, so far serving 154 learners. Over 66% identify as underrepresented minorities in STEM, 61% as first-generation learners and 66% as female. The average age is 29.
Zulick notes that many students must work full-time while attending classes and completing coursework online and at night. Nevertheless, the Biotech A2M program boasts impressively high rates of retention and job placement. While the retention rate nationally for a Bachelor of Science degree for STEM students is 56%, according to STEM Education Data and Trends 2014 the A2M degree pathway so far has retention rates that exceed 82% at all three degree levels. And 97% of those who have earned bachelor’s degrees are now working full-time in the biotech industry or have continued on to the next degree in the pathway.
Building on the success of the Biotech A2M program, the A2M4Tech program, with support from by the Akamai Foundation, was established in 2022 to serve the same function for students seeking careers in information technology and computer science.
More Than Degrees
“Education not only provides a pathway to high-paying jobs, but also provides access to social mobility to our learners and their communities,” Zulick says. “Thanks to the National Science Foundation, the Herb and Maxine Jacobs Foundation, the Akamai Foundation, and now the Linde Foundation, we can create pathways designed for adult learners and their needs, allowing those who otherwise might not be able to afford the cost or time investment of a degree to enter the biotech and tech sectors.”
Biotechnology manufacturing is a rapidly growing industry that offers excellent career growth, but the sector faces both a shortage of skilled employees and a lack of racial and social diversity. In light of these factors, Zulick points out, the program is also a boon to employers.
“Importantly, these pathways also offer industry partners a talent pipeline that is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and income,” Zulick says, “which is an increasingly high priority for many employers. So, these programs are truly win-win.”
A Gift Across Generations
In funding a named scholarship, Jean A. Kovacs pays forward a debt of gratitude for the life-altering education she received at Northeastern
When Jean A. Kovacs, who graduated from Northeastern’s University College in 1983, left foster care in Wilmington, MA, at age 18, the career paths for a woman of her background looked extremely limited.
“As a female,” she told students and families at the 2022 CPS Undergraduate Scholarship Celebration, “you were either going to be a nurse or a teacher, or maybe you’d get a job as a clerk, typist, or a secretary.”
Kovacs started as a clerk-typist at a small company near Wilmington, and soon fell in love with the world of business. She knew she would need an education to rise in the field, and she started taking evening classes—marketing, computer science, accounting—at Northeastern’s Burlington campus. A few years later, thanks to the availability of evening and weekend classes, she finished her degree.
“I was learning things in class that I could then bring and apply at work, so it made the learning process so much more real for me,” Kovacs said. “My job got better, my work performance got better, but also the effort that I put into my classes got better, because I could see the application.”
“That,” she said, “is what I love about the College of Professional Studies.”
Decades later, the entrepreneur, venture capitalist, angel investor, and onetime finance major was present at the Scholarship Celebration to present the inaugural Jean A. Kovacs Scholarship, an endowment she established in 2020 to support female students interested in pursuing careers in business or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She has come a long way from those early days, and now she wants to pay it forward.
“My head and my heart go out to you and all the work you’ve done,” she told students. “My story is probably very similar to a lot of you.”
Among those in the room was Cynthia Thin, ’23, a finance and accounting management major and the first recipient of the Kovacs Scholarship. The daughter of Cambodian immigrants, Thin worked from a young age to support herself and her family. At 16, she recalled in the speech she gave at the reception, she was working seven days a week, even as she maintained her studies in high school.
One reason Northeastern has been such a good fit, Thin says, is that it has offered the flexibility her family needs. On a typical day, she’ll help her partner with his bakery until 7 a.m., arrive at the office by 8 a.m., work until 5 p.m. and then attend class in the evening. When she completes her degree next spring, Thin plans to enter Northeastern’s accelerated nursing program so that she can combine skills in business and healthcare to start her own beauty and wellness salon.
“I still have a lot of work to do before I can achieve that goal,” Cynthia said. “But I’m grateful to have mentors and role models to motivate me. As a recipient of the Jean A. Kovacs Scholarship, I have Jean as a role model now. It’s exactly the kind of encouragement I need. Thank you [Jean] for your generosity and example.”
Reflecting on her scholarship in her remarks at the reception, Kovacs said she was thrilled to meet Thin, and that the experience “sort of brings everything back full circle.” As she introduced Thin, she also offered her an invitation to continue the circle of giving.
“I’d also like to challenge you that in 20 or 30 years you’re up here because you’ve established the Cynthia Thin scholarship,” she said with a smile. “Congratulations.”
Gifts to support scholarships for CPS undergraduate students in any amount can be made by clicking here .
Small Business Owner Makes Big Move in Support of Ukraine
For more than ten years, College of Professional Studies alumna Natalie Kaminski ’06 owned a successful software company outside of Moscow. But when Russia attacked Ukraine earlier this year, the childhood she spent living in Ukraine spurred Kaminski’s decision to quickly help dozens of employees and the business move across the border to Georgia.
After a narrow escape, the company and its employees are making their way in a new home.