A “College of Access”
“What we are essentially doing is incorporating a value for lifelong learning,” explains Erin Clair, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs. “This is a story of empowerment, because not all students are going to have a linear path and access to opportunity.”
Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) helps nontraditional learners achieve higher levels of education that open professional doors. This work is deeply rooted in the University’s founding principles of urban engagement and experiential learning and is set to have a ripple effect for individual communities and national workforce development goals.
CPS Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, Joe Brock, said, “Dating back to the founding of CPS’ (formerly known as University College), we have provided opportunities for working adults to complete their bachelor’s degree, meeting them where they are with educational excellence, and flexibility to enable their educational goals. This hasn’t changed over the years as we continue to expand and grow our partnerships with community colleges and organizations that focus on access for underrepresented communities.”
The college has amassed over 40 partnerships with community colleges across the country. Most are articulation agreements, which maximize credit transfer into Northeastern University and count towards a higher degree. But some of the partnerships exemplify more resourced options, include Middlesex Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Miami Dade Community College, where each comes with either public grants or philanthropic sources for scholarship and provides additional resources for students. This, coupled with the University’s unique placement as the number one University in coop experience [as listed by US News], becomes a compelling offering.
Clair’s team is responsible for the entire program that creates these partnerships, which began in 2017 when Liz Zuilick, formerly CPS Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and now Vice Chancellor of Strategic Planning & Projects, spearheaded a partnership between CPS and Middlesex Community College (MCC). The partnership, which is currently in its fifth and final year, received a $4.4 million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award scholarships to low-income and under-represented minority students in biotechnology who participate in an accelerated Associates to Masters’ Degree Program, known as “A2M.”
As an example of impact, in 2021-2022, the partnership with MCC served 40 students at the Associate’s level, 48 at the Bachelor’s level, and 14 at the Master’s level, with 92 distinct students. A total of 34 students graduated from one of these degree programs within the calendar year.
In 2020, Northeastern University’s President Joseph E. Aoun established the ‘Experience Unleashed’ strategic vision, which committed the University to a mission of equitable access across its global campus network. Part of this effort, known as the ‘Impact Engine’ initiative, formally adopted the A2M bachelor’s completion program as an approach to meeting its goal of ‘making the world a better, more equitable place through access to higher education’.
The University is currently working on replicating the approach at a faster pace throughout its global campus network, focusing on partnering with community colleges that are located in proximity to Northeastern campus locations. The hope is that many of these partnerships will grow to attract additional resources that will benefit students.
As testament to the college’s agility in making higher education accessible beyond barriers, the approach has taken many forms – A2M, eA2M, PlusOnes, and Pathways are all common names associated with it. The overarching focus is the same: to provide a “bachelor, and beyond, completion initiative” aimed to equip learners with whatever it takes to provide them with professional opportunities, while simultaneously removing barriers to higher education.
Who’s Behind the Effort
“Through the eA2M Model, we plan to reach learners in the regions surrounding our global campus sites. In addition to experiential opportunities, we offer funding support, support with childcare, and 1:1 student coaching that will help students navigate the complexities of college learning!” said Chris Cook, Director of Impact Engine, Professional Programs, who works to grow partnerships through what is referred to as the Experiential Associates to Masters (eA2M) model.
“We strategically align our programming to be in fields where there is high demand and pathways to economic viability. We know there is significant underrepresentation in high skill, high paying jobs, we intend to support incredible learners to develop those skills and access those jobs! This objective is tied to national workforce development and that approach is championed by Northeastern.”– Chris Cook
Oftentimes, the students who are taking advantage of these partnerships are first generation college students, the first ones in their family to attend college or university.
The partnership is supported by the $1M Federal grant awarded to the application that Avalon co-wrote with Francesca Grippa, Professor and Associate Dean of Research for CPS Undergraduate Programs. The provides 30-50 students scholarship opportunities in STEM related fields of healthcare, technology and biotech.
Avalon is herself a first-generation college grad who understands the barriers faced. “This can be a huge barrier, coupled with the fact that some students have to work full-time or are raising a family, all while pursuing their degree.” she said.
Each enriched partnership aims to be tailored to the socio demographic needs of the student body. In the case of Miami Dade Community College, the partnership aims to provide childcare to accommodate the need voiced by the prospective student body, many of whom are young mothers trying to gain professional opportunities through higher education. Wherever possible, the partnerships are funded by a third party like a state or federal grant that supports workforce development.
“This work is about building a pathway to prosperity not just for students, but also prosperity for the country because of this talented workforce that we know nothing about,” said Deb Jencunas, one of many CPS change agents at the helm of forging these community partnerships. As Director of Pathway Partnerships, Jencunas primarily works to build partnerships that support bachelor completion programs.
“Because they lack access to finance, they haven’t had the opportunity to develop professionally beyond high school or have greatly struggled to do so. What would our world look like if access wasn’t a challenge? That’s why I do this.”– Deb Jencunas
When asked why Northeastern University is so attractive to learners, Jencunas explains that CPS’s direct connection to industries and professional fields offer students an immediate benefit of a network.
Northeastern’s Alumni network is also actively supporting this model. CPS Director of Development Tara Esfahanian says, “Many of our donors are alumni, themselves once in the position of being first generation college graduates that were helped by this approach. They are usually eager and excited to give back in the same way they were given to.”
One of the most unique aspects of the funded partnership model is in the form of direct support from student academic support coaches called ‘CPS Navigators’, whose role is to walk each student through the process of onboarding into a program at Northeastern University.
Mary McCarthy, CPS Director of Strategic Partnership of Funds, seeks to activate philanthropic support from a variety of sources including federal monies, community college partnerships, corporate and foundations sponsorships, and the tremendous generosity of alumni and friends, to enable students to enter and excel in higher education.
“That support can come in many forms including endowed or current-use scholarship awards, in addition to wrap-around services that provide students with textbooks, laptops, and personnel support in the form of the Navigator role. A Navigator is a CPS employee whose responsibility is to partner with students to help them navigate the unique complexities of higher ed administration. CPS is pleased to have spearheaded this model for success, wherein A2M students have a steadfast ally in navigating the various hurdles of admissions, enrollment, matriculation, and degree completion. In different cities, student experience unique region-specific needs. The Navigator can be particularly useful in diagnosing the nuanced needs of a given region, allowing us to successfully clear those unique hurdles. While I have only been at Northeastern a short time, in my 26 years in Higher Education I have never witnessed a more robust and generous student support infrastructure.”– Mary McCarthy
Tahir Abbas is the Navigator for the MCC A2M Program Biotech who facilitates student transitions from Middlesex Community College into Northeastern University. His office is located within MCC and students can drop by to visit him.
Abbas helps at every stage of the process, from the application process all the way to placing them in a job internship and anything else in between, including aligning the student with financial assistance, helping with funding tuition, textbooks, or parking passes. Tahir also helps students determine their eligibility for financial support. For example, the MCC Tech program provides students with $5k per semester with a maximum cap of $10k per year. The typical out-of-pocket cost to students is $2-3k per semester. Sometimes, Tahir will work to find alternative funding sources to cover even that.
The navigator role is a major factor in the success of the whole approach. The value lies in specialized attention tailored to the needs of each student.
“If a student comes to me, I never send them away. Universities have complex financial aid and enrollment systems, but if students come to me, I help them figure that out. Once they trust me, they begin to believe they can accomplish bigger goals with this sort of support behind them.”– Tahir Abbas
Abbas related that the hardest part of the job can be quite labor intensive: delivering textbooks. “Sometimes our students are single parents, or pregnant, so I deliver to the house. And I don’t mind because it helps, and I like that.” Abbas continues, “The students are supposed to return those books at the end of the semester. In December, I will drive again to collect them!”
It’s all in a day’s work for the CPS team that is helping students achieve goals they never knew were possible.
The Student Perspective: The shock and confusion that comes with being new to America
Oishika Hota, MS Media Innovation and Data Communication, class of 2024 Graduate, talks about her experience as an International student
One of the great privileges I have been offered is that of exposure. Starting from school all the way to graduate school here at Northeastern, every step I have taken has expanded my world significantly. But nothing has done the job like moving my life halfway across the globe.
Coming from Mumbai, Maharashtra, the most populous city in India, a land known for its vast array of cultures, languages, and traditions, I thought I had seen it all. However, the U.S. presented an even more intricate mosaic of backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. In India, a fusion of varied traditions and customs maintains its quintessential Indian identity despite the diversity. On the other hand, the US displays an intricate mosaic, presenting influences from diverse corners of the globe, resulting in a distinctive cultural mix. I feel like I am part of a melting pot, and navigating this diverse tapestry is one of my favorite challenges as an International Student in America.
Whatever I knew about the U.S. before landing here was from my consumption of American pop culture. As a fan of chick flicks, Legally Blonde and Pitch Perfect shaped the way I perceived the American Collegiate experience. Apart from that, I had also watched enough TV shows and movies to anticipate a lot of what was thrown at me: the small talk, the food, and the cold weather. When Mindy Kaling made New York winters seem warm compared to Boston in “The Mindy Project,” I knew I had to be prepared. But there is a difference between knowing something and actually experiencing it.
For all the small talk America offers, I had a lot of trouble making friends — especially as a graduate school student, where forming a community in a class full of people from several countries is, to put it simply, hard. Overcoming these challenges required me to step out of my comfort zone. I began attending social events organized by the university and joining clubs related to my interests. It was nerve-wracking at first, but I pushed myself to strike up conversations, even if it meant starting with a simple “hello.”
I’m not a hater of American food, but there are a few dishes that just don’t hit the mark for me. Especially when they’re missing that spicy, flavor-packed kick that Indian dishes usually bring to the table!
While ingredients and restaurants can be found in Boston, the cost of materials and lack of variety ends up killing the taste. Even though I have learned how to cook, nothing beats the taste of food cooked in your actual home.
The cold, again, was something I was mentally prepared for, but coming from a tropical country, acclimatization did not come easy. I could finish bottles of moisturizers, but I did not understand why my skin was still dry, why I was still feeling cold after wearing my thickest jacket, which brand would protect me the best, and why it was so dark at 4:30 p.m. Despite the struggle, I found ways to keep pushing through. You find little moments of joy, like a warm cup of hot chocolate, a cozy night in with your favorite food and a movie.
With practice, my problems have changed. I feel better prepared for my second winter here, I am ready for the lull and sadness that comes with the darkness. It’s about acknowledging that this period is difficult, allowing yourself to feel it, and seeking support when needed. Whether it’s talking to a friend or a professional, sharing the burden of these winter blues can make a world of difference.
But at the end of all this, the hardest shock hasn’t been cultural, but that of the magnitude of my homesickness. Being far away from the close-knit family and the familiar comfort of home is a struggle. Learning to adapt to a new culture is by far not an easy task. The difficulty is what has sparked resilience in me and pushed me to explore this new landscape; to develop a new support system despite the cultural and the often not-so-edible reminders that I am in a country that is not mine.
Moving away from home has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it has also been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. It was a slow but rewarding process. As I opened up and made an effort to bridge the cultural gaps, the move didn’t seem so bad.
Looking back at the whirlwind of the last year, I’m giving myself a mental high-five. The hurdles and bumps were tough, but they’ve turned me into a stronger and wiser version of myself. And for that, I am immensely grateful.
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.
Welcoming Change: AQA and the CPS Evolution
When a college embraces the work needed to deliver learning opportunities that build a global network of lifelong learners, profound things happen. Leaders at the forefront of this work are causing a paradigm shift for the entire Higher Education community.
CPS embraces the unbundled approach to higher education, where traditional degree programs are broken down into smaller, more focused learning experiences offering learners greater flexibility and more numerous pathways toward achieving goals. As higher education struggles to pivot toward new course delivery and credentialing paradigms, CPS learners have quickly become the new majority; embracing them means embracing the future of higher education.
While other higher education institutions choose to ignore this reality or choose to view mixing-and-matching as a lack of degree commitment or academic ambivalence, CPS is charging ahead with innovative approaches to deliver opportunities that work for learners, meeting them where they are.
Allison Ruda, Associate Dean for Curriculum Strategy and Product Innovation, and the Academic Quality and Assessment team she leads are the Change Agents helping CPS faculty adapt to the ‘new learning economy.’ The academic quality initiative they are leading is helping the college own its forward-thinking, agile, and systematized mindset that embraces innovative teaching. The approach supports the college’s overarching mission of establishing a global network of lifelong learners.
To bring this focus to Faculty, and to cultivate a “culture of quality,” AQA has launched its first QUEST (Quality Unleashed: Empowering Skillful Teaching) series of virtual workshops, scheduled to last at least through December 2023 and its lineup of workshops covers topics from Chat GPT to conducting course design self-assessments.
The team behind the QUEST Series and other quality initiatives includes Mamta Saxena, Assistant Dean, Academic Quality and Assessment; Ori Fienberg, Academic Affairs Specialist and Lecturer; Barbara Ohrstrom, Academic Director, Online Writing Lab and Lecturer; Asim Javed, Learning and Assessment Data Analyst; and Jennifer Turrentine, Digital Learning Specialist.
Ruda says the team’s desire to shine a light on outstanding teaching, and to use QUEST as a platform to exchange ideas and diffuse effective practices has been extremely rewarding. To date, faculty members from every CPS division have been active partners not only in initiatives like QUEST, but in other aspects of the quality initiative, such as revising the CPS syllabus template to include more inclusive language, enhancing course readiness processes with the integration of new tools, and modernizing and enhancing the CPS’ use of Canvas. Many of these elements are on track to roll out more broadly in late Fall.
Before managing the AQA initiative, Allison was Senior Strategist, Program Design, with Northeastern’s Online Experiential Learning team (now EDGE). In 2013, she earned her doctorate from CPS’ Graduate School of Education. Through her varied tenure with the college, her passion for consistent improvement is evident. In 2007, when she was first hired by the university as an Instructional Designer, online programs did not yet exist at Northeastern. Since then, she has witnessed a complete revolution in how CPS’s faculty-empowered approaches placed the college in an industry leadership position, resulting in other universities fast copying their approach.
“Under Chuck Kilfoye’s leadership, NU Online began in CPS and ultimately created a strong model for online course and program development for other institutions to follow. With the level of expertise and commitment of our faculty, and the experiences we’ve gained over a decade of doing this work, I believe it’s possible—maybe even inevitable—that with continued commitment and elbow grease, we will continue to be pioneers in this space.” Ruda said.
Why is Quality Assurance important at CPS?
Looking at opportunities and challenges from new perspectives is the best way to meet new learner needs. The AQA team’s expertise is helping CPS think creatively about building a learning community where it becomes easy to have consistency and clarity in a way that ensures academic quality and student success while establishing CPS as a leader for the broader Northeastern community.
Due to the significant amount of technological change, unbundling higher education requires different processes than what was required even ten years ago. This work requires a significant amount of organizational adaptation and change.
In line with the mission of CPS, AQA’s work is centered on designing a modern and engaging digital learning experience that fosters a lifelong love of learning. While Ruda and her team are at the beginning of the work, the goal is to eventually get to a point where CPS is centered on ‘measurable quality.’
“Allison and her team’s work is the essential piece that will enable us to really drive our mission across the globe, in a way that delivers what learners need. By enabling Faculty to work within a defined system and with valuable supports in place, they will be able to create deeply immersive learning experiences that will positively impact learners in a palpable way.”CPS Dean Radhika Seshan.
When asked where she thinks CPS is headed in five years, Allison says, “We want to be the college and university that people look at when they wonder what the future of higher education is going to be. When people are talking about access to higher education and how it is changing to make itself more available and accessible, we want CPS to come to mind first. Because that is what we do.”
Allison holds a Doctor of Education in Curriculum, Teaching Learning, and Leadership from Northeastern. She also holds an EdM in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College.
Learn more about the QUEST Series.
The Mirror Effect: Adebukola Ajao Gives Back
A look at how the College of Professional Studies succeeds in its mission of meeting Learners where they are in their lives, helping them become leaders along that journey, and simultaneously enriching and expanding the quality of the vast Northeastern network.
Adebukola Ajao, CPS Alumni, Adjunct Professor, and Business Owner, was recently honored by Northeastern University’s 2023 Women Who Empower Innovator Awards. Northeastern University also spotlighted her in a recent article and she was the Special Guest Speaker at the CPS Town Hall meeting this July.
From a young girl growing up in Roxbury, Boston, just across the street from the Northeastern campus, to becoming an adjunct professor of Digital Media at CPS now teaching the next generation of CPS Life learners, Ajao has always championed the same mission and values that CPS upholds, in both her personal, academic and professional endeavors.
In her formative years, Adebukola was chosen for the Crimson Summer Academy, a highly selective program for low-income students enrolled in Boston Public Schools. As a result, she attended Harvard Summer programs, setting her on a path to valuing education as an avenue to opportunity. Later, while taking her undergraduate degree at Emmanuel College in Africana Studies and Politics, she became active in racial advocacy. It was during her undergraduate degree that she launched a Social justice coalition called We Are the Ones, which won an NAACP Next Generation Leadership Award. Around graduation, she became a freelance journalist who traveled the country to cover stories of racial transgressions against Black Americans; her work was picked up by the Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, and other well-known outlets. Having found her voice that resonated with people via digital media, her articles continued to go viral. Through this work, Ajao’s fascination with digital media was born, and she became mesmerized by the editorial process and the power of conveying a perspective in a way that people were able to hear on digital platforms.
Her passion for community, and her newfound fascination with the digital space, led her to discover and engage with the Northeastern University John D. O’Bryant African American Institute. Through the support she received at the institute, she was awarded the MLK Graduate Fellowship from the institute to enroll in the CPS Digital Media Graduate Program in 2018.
“I needed a program that was truly accommodating to my situation; I worked full time, over 40 hours a week, and I needed a program that could be flexible with that,” she said. “With the [CPS Digital Media Graduate Program] program, I could do what I needed to do and go to classes at night,” she said.
She graduated in 2020, the same year that the COVID-19 pandemic struck. When asked about the challenges of graduating in that climate, Ajao insists that there were more benefits than downfalls to launching her new skill set during a time when people needed to depend upon and understand the digital space.
“It was actually great to throw myself into consultancy during the pandemic because, for the first time, many businesses were forced to acknowledge the digital sphere as a means to reach their clients; it sort of worked in my favor,” she said.
She also said it was helpful that many of her classmates and teachers were not just students, but professionals. “Sure, I graduated in chaos. But it didn’t feel like I took a big hit. While enrolled in the program, I saw the camaraderie between teachers and students and I wanted that for myself. Most of my professors were executives in marketing and they shared their industry connections, and that was valuable to me. I felt like I spent so much money in my undergrad but that I needed to make my own opportunities after that. With CPS, the opportunities were baked into the program. CPS offered me real-life connections and so much more. I was willing to leverage the Northeastern network immediately and that was powerful.”
“My professors pushed, supported, and encouraged me. They led me to see beyond what I could see. While in the program, I got exactly what I had hoped for. I felt like I gained not only friends but also colleagues that I work with to this day. The instruction I received was so powerful; it was exactly what I needed to propel me forward; I gained a lot.” she said.
Ajao recalls one professor who was particularly impactful to her; James Gardiner, lecturer of Digital and Social Media. She said, “He changed the way I thought educators should be; he was always joyful and informative and had his way of demanding excellence without being overbearing. He made me want to achieve and that approach released my fear and anxiety and just let me focus on the learning.”
“Sometimes it’s obvious,” notes James Gardner, who remains a mentor and friend to Ajao. “Ade is a natural leader, bound for success. Coaching her and accelerating her path has been really gratifying. She’s going to make a difference in the world.”
And making a difference is exactly what Ajao is focused on. Today, she helps many businesses develop brands and get their name out to market through the provision of full-scale agency services. Her business has two arms: a consultancy called BDY Consult; the other named ‘For all things Digital’, a free open-source destination for small businesses. Her approach is to target bigger companies as clients while offering a sliding scale fee structure to smaller companies, with a particular emphasis on businesses that have a community, racial, or ESG (Environmental, social, and governance)-based mission.
Insurance Analytics and Management Virtual Information Session
We’ll be covering how an MPS in Insurance Analytics and Management can help you be successful in one of the most essential industries in the world with a forward-thinking, data-driven approach. You’ll learn how Northeastern prepares you to stand out and thrive in this rapidly growing field and discover a multitude of career paths available to you.
During the event, you’ll also:
- Hear from Yvonne Leung, assistant teaching professor; Connie Emerson, associate teaching professor; and more.
- Learn about the core features of our flexible insurance analytics and management program, including available concentrations and experiential learning opportunities.
- Discover the latest industry trends and emerging technologies incorporated into the program.
Date: July 10, 2023
Time: 08:00 AM to 09:00 AM
Event Category: Online
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/