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.
Innovation Day 2023
Innovation Day is an exciting day-long symposium that invites full-time and half-time Faculty and Staff interested in building new programs and new learner services that are in line with the College’s strategic aims, to submit ideas to enhance our programs and learner experience at scale.
NOTE: This event is for the College of Professional Studies (CPS) Faculty & Staff only.
Click here to register.
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.
How CPS Helped Raissa Talehata Turn a Concern About Food Waste into a Full-Time Career as a UX Climate Designer
Raissa Talehata, who just graduated from CPS with a Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media in 2022, remembers giving a presentation to her classmates in Australia during her junior year of high school about food waste in Solo, Java, Indonesia. She did not know then how researching food waste problems would become a permanent fixture in her own life. The damaging 2015 wildfires in Australia and her shock and dismay at the huge portions served at Boston restaurants were things that deeply motivated her interest in food waste. These experiences, coupled with her education, eventually led her to develop an app prototype that enabled consumers to manage their food inventory and reduce waste.
Raissa initially attended the University of Melbourne, Australia, for a bachelor of commerce degree in accounting and finance. She then received her first master’s degree at the Hult International School of Business in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Intersectionality of Business, Communications, Design, and Global Social Issues
For today’s consumers, Raissa realized she needed to expand her skill set beyond business and finance and focus on emerging technologies, user experiences, and interactive design. She found what she needed in the College of Professional Studies graduate digital media program. She said that, “My faculty mentors Cynthia Barron, Tania Schlatter, Carl Zangerl, and Edward Powers, made huge impacts.”
In 2020, Raissa was planning on doing a co-op in the summer, however, that experiential learning experience had to be postponed because of the pandemic. Instead, she learned of other experiential learning opportunities: one being the creation of a virtual public relations (PR) agency called Husky Communications overseen by faculty member Ed Powers. That summer, Raissa and other students developed a digital product and website for the virtual PR firm. Their work included interviewing stakeholders, developing a brand, conducting user research, creating digital content, and designing solutions. She also worked on website designs for Inspire & Influence, a blog for Northeastern’s communication, digital media, and human resources professionals; and for NU Media, an innovative platform to showcase student stories, innovations, discoveries, and achievements with internal and external audiences.
Benefits of Experiential Learning
Experiential learning gave Raissa immediate work skills and the confidence to define and identify business problems, develop creative solutions, and solve complex challenges. These projects helped her land her current job as a UX Designer at a local design firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“Being a part of the Husky team was a stepping stone for me, as it not only sharpened my technical skills but also developed my soft-skills that could be easily transferable to all different types of businesses – it gave me the competitive edge,” said Raissa.
She also won two awards during her graduate studies: the Northeastern Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Experiential Learning and the CPS Experiential Learning XN Excellence Award.
Raissa has many titles in her current work. She is a web developer, a user experience (UX) designer, and a climate designer, the last is defined as a person who devotes her creative talents to working on the climate crisis.
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.
“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.
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!