Oduenyi Uga

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Opportunities | Innovative| Legendary

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

Balancing full-time work with pursuing a degree at Northeastern presented a multitude of challenges, particularly as I navigated the demanding currents of school anxiety and the immense pressure to succeed. The journey wasn’t just about managing time; it was about managing my expectations and mental health as well.

The desire to excel was so overwhelming that it sometimes hindered my academic performance, leading to the difficult decision to retake certain classes. This experience tested my determination, but it also taught me invaluable lessons about perseverance and self-compassion.

Northeastern’s culture of independence and flexibility was both a challenge and a blessing. While it empowered me to take charge of my educational journey, it also meant learning to set realistic goals and boundaries for myself. I found strength in resources provided by the university, such as counseling services and academic advisors, who helped me develop strategies to cope with anxiety and workload management. Ultimately, by embracing this new culture of flexibility, and with a steadfast determination not to give up, I was able to move forward, one step at a time, towards completing my degree.

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

I am currently pursuing a degree in Digital Communication & Media because I am deeply passionate about understanding and enhancing the way messages are conveyed in our increasingly digital world. My motivation stems from a desire to help people see the bigger picture, to unravel miscommunications, and to bridge gaps through various media platforms. I have always been intrigued by the psychology of how humans think and communicate.

Combining this interest with my love for design and media/journalism, I saw an opportunity in this degree to refine my skills in delivering impactful messages effectively. This field allows me to blend creative expression with strategic communication, enabling me to craft content that can influence, educate, and connect people across diverse backgrounds.

What has your journey here revealed to you about yourself?

My journey at Northeastern University has been a profound revelation of my own capabilities and passions. It has underscored the belief that there truly are no limits to what I can achieve when I seize opportunities and commit wholeheartedly. This experience has taught me that with determination and the right mindset, I can navigate any challenge and transform aspirations into tangible outcomes.

I’ve discovered a deep-seated love for research, recognizing it as the bedrock of innovation and progress. Through countless projects and assignments, I learned that diligent research not only enriches one’s understanding but also lays the groundwork for groundbreaking ideas and solutions. This journey has instilled in me a confidence that I am capable of remarkable achievements, and it has fueled my desire to continue exploring, learning, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

What advice would you give others like yourself considering higher education?

My advice is rooted in the power of self-belief and the pursuit of passion.

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

After I graduate, I plan to significantly expand my digital and creative agency ; vibez and company, and continue to enhance my presence in the music industry. My goal is to deeply immerse myself in the media world, not just as a participant but as a key influencer and collaborator. I envision myself working closely with various brands, leveraging my capability to create impactful media campaigns that resonate widely. By combining my expertise in digital communication and media with my growing influence in the music industry, I aim to foster partnerships that not only elevate the brands I work with but also inspire and engage audiences on a global scale.

Five years after school, I see myself at the forefront of media innovation, having established vibes and company as a powerhouse in digital and creative solutions. I imagine myself as a recognized figure in media, known for my ability to translate complex ideas into compelling narratives that capture the imagination and drive meaningful action. Through my work, I hope to inspire individuals and communities to see their potential and encourage them to strive for greater heights, contributing to a more connected and vibrant world.

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

Outside of my academic and professional life, I engage in a variety of hobbies and passions that bring joy and balance to my life. One of my primary joys is music; I love writing songs, which allows me to express my emotions and experiences creatively. Alongside music, I’m an avid journaler and reader, finding solace and inspiration in the written word. Nature also plays a significant role in my life. I enjoy taking photographs especially during my travels or even local explorations around the city, capturing moments of beauty and tranquility. These excursions into nature help me to recharge and maintain my mental well-being.

Traveling is another passion of mine, especially exploring new cultures through their culinary arts. I love cooking and often experiment with creating different dishes from around the world, adding a vegan twist to traditional recipes. This not only satisfies my palate but also aligns with my health and ethical values, making each meal an adventure in itself.

Is there anything else you wanted to say that we didn’t cover?

I’d like to emphasize to everyone listening that no dream or goal is unattainable. With determination and the right mindset, anything is possible. When you truly commit to your vision and persist through challenges, the outcomes can be incredibly rewarding. I want to inspire others to never limit themselves or their aspirations based on the doubts of others or the fear of failure. Additionally, I extend my deepest gratitude to Northeastern University for its instrumental role in my journey. The university has not only fostered my academic and professional growth but has also reinforced my belief in myself. It’s crucial to be part of an educational environment that does not let negative forces define your trajectory but instead values and supports you in becoming the person you aspire to be.

My time at Northeastern has been transformative, and I am profoundly thankful for the faith and opportunities the university has provided me, allowing me to pursue my dreams without reservation.

Chin-Hua Pan

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Enriching | Surprising | Life-changing

The college experience brings highs and lows, challenges and opportunities. How have you navigated those experiences?

As a student, one of the biggest challenges I faced was the language barrier. In my first year, I often found myself in class situations where I didn’t understand the questions, even if I knew the answers. This feeling of frustration made participating difficult.

To overcome this, I actively sought out resources. I participated in workshops offered by the school to improve my language skills, and I took advantage of the tutoring services available. This combination of focused learning and extra practice helped me significantly improve my ability to understand and participate in class discussions.

What has your journey at Northeastern University revelated to you about yourself?

Northeastern University has been a journey of self-discovery. One of the most impactful lessons came from a professor who taught me the concept of “faking it till you make it.” This idea, initially surprising, has been truly life-changing. It instilled in me the power of confidence, pushing me to step outside my comfort zone and embrace new challenges.

Embracing this newfound confidence, I actively sought out new experiences at Northeastern. I didn’t shy away from unfamiliar territory, and the resulting achievements further solidified my belief in my abilities. This journey has instilled a deep sense of self-confidence that I know will propel me forward in the future.

What advice do you have for others considering higher education?

I would say: “Don’t be shy to seek resources, and it’s never too late to invest in yourself.” If there’s a dream that must be realized, then it’s worth pursuing for a lifetime.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

My passion for UX design ignited while working as a UX developer at a startup in Taiwan. However, due to limited UX-specific programs and resources available there, I decided to pursue a UX-related degree in the US to further develop my skills and advance my career in this exciting field.

After graduation, I’m eager to leverage the strong American UX design industry to gain valuable experience. Five years from now, I envision myself working as a UX Designer or UX developer here in the US. This will allow me to combine the skills I’ve gained at Northeastern with cutting-edge practices in the UX field, ultimately positioning me for a successful and fulfilling career in this dynamic industry.

Outside of studies, what do you like to do for fun?

Beyond academics, dance fuels my joy. From K-pop’s vibrancy to hip-hop’s power, it’s a way to express myself and unwind.

Suqi (Eileen) Wu

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Professional |Collaborative |Opportunity.

What experience has had the most impact on you?

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

Balancing life and school is never easy. What challenges have you faced and what have you learned from them?

Balancing study and work-life during co-op program was incredibly hard. Learning how to manage my schedule and still deliver high quality work was difficult, but these are skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life.

What advice do you have for those considering pursuing a graduate degree?

How has your experience at Northeastern impacted your ideas about your future?

My enthusiasm for experience design was ignited during my first full-time role at Dr. Panda, an educational app developer. Collaborating closely with the UX team, I witnessed the transformative power of design, driving remarkable sales growth. This motivated my transition to a career in UX design and inspired me to pursue the major I am currently in.

Since being here, I’ve grown my interest in the field of SaaS software design and am growing into a confident designer who not only excels in product design but also takes the lead in driving projects forward in the SaaS software field.

We are all more than our careers or our lives as students. What inspires you beyond your studies?

I have a passion for photography, and over the past two years in Boston, I’ve captured countless moments. It brings joy to my life and helps me appreciate the people around me even more.

The National Association of Educational Procurement and The Northeastern Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship Announce Educational and Research Partnership

The National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP) and the Northeastern Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship announced plans to collaborate on a range of research and educational initiatives in support of supplier diversity in higher education to expand access for diverse small businesses to the higher education marketplace.

Figure 1: Francesca Grippa, Executive Director of the Lab and CPS’s Associate Dean of Research 

According to Francesca Grippa, Executive Director of the Lab and CPS’s Associate Dean of Research: “Our collaboration with NAEP reflects a shared commitment to equitable and sustainable procurement practices in higher education, which is a driver of economic growth in our local communities.”

Building on the research conducted by the Lab on ways to expand access for diverse small businesses to the higher education marketplace, the organizations will explore additional areas of research of interest to NAEP member institutions.

NAEP and the Lab will also work together to develop educational resources for both procurement professionals in colleges and universities and diverse small business owners that leverage each organization’s unique programmatic attributes.

“It’s a great pleasure to be able to highlight the impactful academic work taking place at our member institutions coupled with the excellence of their procurement teams. It’s my hope that NAEP’s collaboration with Northeastern can serve as a model for how to bridge the gap between academicians and procurement professionals at our member institutions and bring valuable insights and practices to the procurement community.”

NAEP CEO, Brad Pryba

The collaboration between the National Association of Educational Procurement (NAEP) and the Northeastern Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship marks a significant step forward in promoting supplier diversity and equitable procurement practices within higher education. Through joint research initiatives and the development of educational resources, both organizations are committed to fostering an inclusive environment that supports the growth of diverse small businesses and benefits local communities. As this partnership continues to evolve, stay tuned for more updates on our progress and the impact of our collaborative efforts. More to come!

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.

Oishika Hota, MS Media Innovation and Data Communication, class of 2024 Graduate

“There is a difference between knowing something and actually experiencing it.”

Oishika Hota

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.

“Whether it’s talking to a friend or a professional, sharing the burden of these winter blues can make a world of difference.”

Oishika Hota
Oishika Hota, MS Media Innovation and Data Communication, class of 2024 Graduate

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.

Northeastern Grad Student Puts Together Art Auction for Ukraine

Daria Koshkina, a Northeastern graduate student working toward her master’s degree in digital media with a concentration in 3D at the College of Professional Studies, curated an online auction, The Art Auction for Ukraine, in collaboration with Boston Cyberarts, Digital Silver Imaging and BarabásiLab at Northeastern.

The auction showcases artwork of Ukrainian artists and will benefit two non-profit organizations that provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians.

5 Ways to Get More Social Media Engagement

By Amy E. Smith. 

Amy E. Smith is a content strategist and information architect. She teaches two social media courses at Northeastern, and currently works for IBM. (Her opinions here are her own.)

Whether you’re a seasoned social media veteran or just getting ready to launch your first social media channel, how to continually engage your audience in a meaningful way is a challenge that we all face.

Here are some tips that will help you get started or get back on the right track to create and maintain vital and engaged communities.

1. It’s not Just About the Content 

Getting to know the communities you create via social media—who they are, what they like, what social media tool they like to use and how they like to use it—will help you build a strong foundation to effectively engage your audience.

For example, if you’re a baker, it’s safe to assume that your audience has visited your business or likes your product. If you’re a large high tech company, your audience is probably interested in learning new tech trends.

Having this type of insight from the get-go is important, because you’ll need to know the specific information your audience wants as you craft your messages. 

2. Social Media is Social 

Many organizations and businesses get caught using social media strictly for announcements and news. We need to step back and remember that social media is a conversation between you and your audience.

Build relationships with members of your community by connecting with them on a regular basis, seek out their opinions (see tip 4), chat about current events, and so on.

3. Add Value

Time is a valuable commodity. When you start a social media community, you’re asking members and potential members to spend their finite time engaging with you, instead of spending it elsewhere. 

Providing them with coupons or rewards is a good first step, but also consider sharing knowledge. Teach them something you learned recently, or something that will enrich their knowledge. Make sure what you share adds value to their lives, and you can bet they’ll keep coming back. 

4. Welcome Feedback 

Getting more engagement can be as easy as making community members feel like valuable parts of the network. Just as any other community, members like to feel like they belong, and their voices are heard. 

And the easiest way to get an opinion? Ask. Reach out to your community for their opinions on different aspects of your business, what they think about a particular product, or even their recommendations on improving services. You should also encourage community members to share their own knowledge and expertise with others – you should moderate the conversation, but you don’t always need to be the one to control it. 

5. Have Fun

Last but not least, don’t forget to relax and have fun. Ultimately, you want to enjoy engaging your audience and you want your audience to feel the same way. 

Do fun things that will not only highlight your services or products but also highlight or shine the spotlight on members of your community. This will make them feel welcomed and part of an exclusive group.

5 Tips to Improve Your Company’s Blog

 

By Derek Scheips.

Derek Scheips , MFA, is a faculty member in the Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication and Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media programs, and a content consultant in a variety of industries. 

Company blogs can be an effective way to humanize a brand and an organization. Blogs offer a chance to depart from the dreaded “corporate speak” of many traditional web site pages, so employees and stakeholders tend to get inspired to set up a blog.

And doing so is easier than ever, thanks to increasingly versatile templates.

But keeping a blog going with fresh and compelling content, not to mention keeping up with how most audiences now consume and share information, can pose complex challenges to companies of all sizes.

Here are some tips to keep a company blog on track and relevant. 

1. No Currency without Currency

People make immediate judgments when clicking on a blog. Most blog entries are dated, so if your posts are not both recent and frequent, their value will be called into question and may be skipped entirely.  Give employees who are your bloggers enough advance time to develop quality posts, but hold them to deadlines, otherwise the eventual posting may no longer be relevant.

2. See It, Be It 

Blogging evolved from personal essay and memoir, and a finely crafted post with text and carefully selected links can still be compelling if informative or entertaining enough. But study after study shows that today’s audiences are far more likely to search for, click to, and experience content that has a visual aspect. If few people are visiting or staying with your posts long enough to absorb them, embedding pics, video clips, or other dynamic content choices can bring your blog new life.

3. Let Some Air In 

 Although promotion of a brand, its products and services, and even the people behind them, are to a certain extent expected (it is a company blog after all), delegate most of that sort of thing to its proper place (such as the newsroom) or formats (press releases) on the main web site. For repeated viewing, your blog can’t just be endlessly navel-gazing.

Encourage your employee bloggers to research and comment on bigger issues in your industry or the marketplace, and thus add value to a wider audience. Most of all, let people comment on the posts. Sure, there might be some negative feedback sometime, but transparency is the golden rule of social media, and the process can help you generate other posts based on questions and comments that come up this way, and all together may drive insights that improve the entire business. 

4. Promote, Measure, Plan…Repeat

As suggested above, practically everyone is gung-ho at the start of a new blog, and it can be time-consuming for a team of bloggers to simply keep it filled with current material of interest to key audiences. The bad news? There are even more steps if you truly want the blog to catch fire and become something that keeps the conversation going online and hopefully offline (if you want it to have some effect on your business).

Besides the bloggers, your other employees need to keep up with the blog topics, contents, and share new post within their networks. Someone else needs to be monitoring and measuring the performance of the blog. And still another person or team need to think about using that data and feedback mentioned above to map out the future of the blog entries, and to continuously improve the blog as a whole.

5. Hey, Where Did Everybody Go?

 If you are taking most of the steps outlined above, yet see clicks or viewership trailing off, you very well may be getting tripped up by perhaps the most challenging obstacle of all: the very nature of social media and overall audience preferences, as it evolves.

Though blog posts were once the fun, informal alternative to boring old corporate web copy, even when well done, or enhanced with some of the multimedia mentioned above, it’s now a reality that many viewers will inevitably view blog posting as kind of an “old-school” format to have to surf over to, when they could instead view or participate in microblogging on Twitter, view 6-second videos on Vine, look at pretty pictures on Pinterest, or linger on other visually oriented networks such as Instagram or SnapChat, or even get curated and ranked news on similar topics to your blog’s from Reddit.

Yep, your company, as well as your bloggers and employees, may need to have accounts on many of these emerging channels, if only to remind the thousands on them daily that your company blog exists and that it is worth the time to visit and experience.