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.
(HOS) Navigating Change: Transitioning to NEU
Join the Habits of Success (HOS) program under the Student Support Initiative as we begin our HOS Summer series! This workshop, Navigating Change: Transitioning to NEU, offers valuable tips for transitioning from high school and summer break to the new school year at Northeastern. Come to ask questions, make connections, or listen – we are excited to meet you!
(HOS) Introduction to Boston: Student Perspective
Join the Habits of Success (HOS) program under the Student Support Initiative as we begin our HOS Summer series! This workshop, Introduction to Boston: Student Perspective, provides helpful tips on commuting, NUID usage, museum discounts, and ways to explore the city. Come to ask questions, make connections, or listen – we are excited to meet you!
“I wanted the women to tell their stories” – Tracy Threatt
Northeastern graduate making female veterans feel less ‘invisible’ with help from the George W. Bush Presidential Center
CPS Alumn, Tracy Threatt, helps female veterans feel less ‘invisible’. She was recently named as a scholar in the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, and she embodies the college’s ethos of bringing opportunity to those she meets.
PMI and Northeastern University Launch New Partnership, More Opportunity and Value for Project Management Learners
Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is pleased to announce an exciting new offering from its existing partner, Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is offering a 30% discount on either the Project Management Professional (PMP) or the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification, as well as a discounted student membership to the organization and connection with local PMI chapters. These discounts are available to all Northeastern students interested in leveraging these valuable certifications to further their careers in project management.
An in-person kickoff event to celebrate the enhanced partnership is scheduled for Tuesday, May 23, from 2 to 4 p.m. and will take place on the Northeastern Toronto campus. Virtual attendance at the event is open to all Northeastern students throughout its global campus network. Registration can be accessed here.
The Northeastern CPS Master of Science in Project Management Program is accredited by the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC). In October of 2021, the Master of Science in Project Management accreditation was re-affirmed for the maximum five-year accreditation cycle (originally accredited in 2009) by the PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC), the world’s leading association for Project management professionals. Accreditation is achieved by meeting the GAC’s rigorous standards, which include an assessment of program objectives and outcomes, a review of onsite and online resources, evaluations of faculty and students, and proof of continuous improvements in the area of project management.
Adel Zadeh, Associate Teaching Professor of Project Management, says, “As CPS continues to focus on student success, this partnership brings tremendous value to our students and program and extends their impact across our global network. By aligning with PMI Global, students gain invaluable access to PMI’s vast resources, including cutting-edge methodologies, best practices, and a global community of professionals. This partnership bolsters their academic experience and equips them with the practical knowledge and credentials required to excel in real-world project management scenarios while standing out in a highly competitive job market.”
Project Management Institute (PMI) is the leading professional association for project management and the authority for a growing global community of millions of project professionals and individuals who use project management skills. Collectively, these professionals and “changemakers” consistently create better outcomes for businesses, communities, and society worldwide.
What is PMP & CAPM Certification?
PMI created Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification to recognize project managers who have proven they have the skills to successfully manage projects. Project Management Professional (PMP) certification represents an elite group of project managers that are valued and recognized by thousands of employers globally. It proves project leadership experience and expertise in any way of working, and it signals that recipients are highly skilled in people, processes, and business environment goals and objectives.
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification is a globally recognized credential that opens the door to opportunities at every career stage in the field of project management. The current CAPM certification involves taking an exam that tests your aptitude in: Fundamentals of project management and the role of project managers, Project management environment and project integration management, Project scope, schedule, cost, quality, and resource management, Project procurement, communication, stakeholder and risk management. The CAPM certification is a typical first step in building a career as a project manager.
Project Management Institute (PMI) resource page: Click here
PMI Global and Northeastern University Partnership Launch
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world’s leading project management organization. Now Northeastern students will be able to access discounts for PMI certifications, including Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).
This special event will highlight the collaboration between PMI and Northeastern, how to take advantage of the partnership, and showcase the advantages of PMI certification
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/