2024 Excellence in Teaching Award Winner: Anthony Alsayed

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Leadership | Enthusiasm |Progress

As a faculty member, what were some of the reasons you chose to join the Northeastern community?

I was looking for a new challenge and a new career chapter. By happy chance, I found a faculty opening with the NU-Toronto Campus. Before applying for this position, I visited the NU website where I learned that Northeastern is a global research university and a recognized leader in experience-powered lifelong learning.

I was also attracted by the university values and the organizational culture and felt inspired by its leaders and the mission that was based on practical training and research. At NU I have more room to do more, produce more, become more, and learn more.

Tell us a little bit more about you. What are your interests? What motivates you?

Teaching is my life’s top priority. I enjoy brainstorming with colleagues to come up with the best creative ideas. I find immense joy when my students exhibit tangible signs of learning in my classroom. Connecting academic concepts to real-life, practical situations is acutely gratifying. At NU, I became a progressive academic and educator where I found that teaching is not merely a profession—it’s a way of life for me.

“Teaching is not merely a profession. It’s a way of life for me.

Anthony Alsayed

What advice do you have for others considering higher education, either as a student or as a career?

I prefer to share my favourite proverbs instead of giving direct advice. These three renowned proverbs continually fuel my teaching passion and leadership skills:

These timeless words of wisdom resonate deeply with me, guiding my approach to education and inspiring me to create meaningful and immersive learning experiences for my students. Also, I strongly believe that a harmonious team is a true strength that helps to make better and more innovative decisions.

What other passions do you have outside of teaching?

Outside of my work, I’m a family man. I like to spend quality time with my family and our pets, practice a healthy lifestyle, keep myself fit, and attend the gym several times a week. I’m also a chess player and enjoy volunteering in the community to train new generations on chess strategies. Also, I am dedicated to ongoing personal and professional development.

How would you describe yourself to others?

I’m a multi-specialized professional with more than 25 years of experience in the medical and healthcare field, clinical and academic research, academia and teaching, as well as strategic management and healthcare leadership. I was fortunate to be trained in various academic institutions, different countries, and languages (I speak English, French, Russian, and Lebanese). I’m a multicultural individual or global citizen.

My greatest achievements: I have been able to incorporate my research results into practice and in my workplaces. For example: Stimulating my student performance and skills by using simulated activities and practicing stress-free teaching-learning methodology. I would describe myself as an extremely organized professional, positive, enthusiastic, goal-oriented, resourceful, and quickly adapting to new situations or changes. I am an excellent team player and I enjoy working with talented people, but I also excel working independently with respect to work ethics, behavioral management, and with strong leadership skills.

It is a privilege to be part of Northeastern’s commitment to using education as a catalyst to address global health challenges. It’s a great honor for me to become a member of the esteemed faculty, to have the opportunity to contribute to the university’s academic mission, and to achieve more under our NU’s tremendous leaders.

Brittni Allen

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Humanity | Transformative | Equal Opportunities

What were some of the reasons you chose to join the Northeastern community? Since joining, what have been some of the opportunities and challenges you have experienced?

I chose to join the NU family because I was very excited and intrigued by programs designed to help more students access educational opportunity. I’ve always had a passion for helping other to reach their goals and this position aligned perfectly.

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

I’ve been put in a position to make positive change and encourage others to get their degrees by supporting them with wrap around services. I’m inspired daily to achieve success, big or small! Being able to motivate the students and keep them on the right trajectory is gratifying.

What advice do you have for those considering higher education — either at Northeastern or elsewhere?

Higher education presents the opportunity to grant a competitive edge over others in the market. It is also a place where you have the opportunity to network and grow professionally. Northeastern offers an amount of support that I’ve never seen before! I absolutely love it here!

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?

My favorite hobby is to DJ. I’ve been djying since college and it’s truly a passion of mine! I also love to go fishing with my family. It’s always enjoyable to bond and get some action!

Inspired and Inspiring

Pictured above: The Women Leaders in Global Health conference in Rwanda.

Earlene Avalon was thrilled. In her first trip to Africa for the third annual Women Leaders in Global Health conference, not only did she meet Zoleka Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, but also leading international health equity hero and Partners In Health co-founder Paul Farmer. The First Lady of Rwanda and Her Royal Highness of Jordan were also guest speakers.

The conference, held from November 9–10, 2019 in Rwanda, celebrated women in leadership roles and connected leaders from around the world to work toward gender equity in the field of global health.

Avalon, Assistant Professor and Lead Faculty of the Health Management and Health Science programs, first got involved with the conference when, as a volunteer at Brookline High School, she brought a group of students from the school’s African American and Latino Scholars program to the Global Health Film Festival in London in 2017. There she met Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the former Minister of Health for Rwanda, and they kept in touch. Binagwaho invited Earlene to lead a mentoring session at the conference, held at the University of Global Health Equity where Binagwaho was Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive.

Avalon was particularly moved by Zoleka Mandela’s personal story about surviving breast cancer, and its implications regarding healthcare inequity. “Her discussion was really on access,” she says. “Mrs. Mandela shared that because of her privilege she had access to various lifesaving healthcare services. She challenged that audience to think about what that means for women and their families who do not have the same resources she does in terms of access to cancer treatment. That was really powerful to me,” Avalon says, “because a lot of those same issues are currently being played out here in the United States in terms of who has access to what treatment. It can be financial, it can be race, it can be gender, it can be geographical diversity – so there were definitely a lot of similarities there.”

Avalon’s mentoring group included recent medical school graduates, seasoned physicians and members of graduate programs in other clinical disciplines, all of whom were particularly interested in global health and leadership. “Many of the women are already practicing clinicians across the globe, but they wanted to get into healthcare leadership and policymaking. They want to be part of the decision-making process,” Avalon says. “And so I provided insight in terms of how I was able to move up through the ranks in healthcare, and suggestions they might want to consider as they continue to advance and develop their careers.”

Since the group included women from all over the world, “it was fascinating just to hear about some of the cultural differences of women practitioners and healthcare leaders, and some of the challenges they face in their respective countries in terms of either their gender, their ethnicity or even class,” Avalon says. “We took time to get to know each other, to understand some of those unique differences.”

Avalon created an online community for the group to continue to connect after the conference was over. She likes to use the term “mentoring circle.” “We created our own ‘support village’ for each other, because often [these women] felt really alone or isolated. The further they advanced, the more isolated and alone they became,” she says. “Knowing they have this supportive group of women throughout the world who are caring for them – who are cheering them on – who are rooting for their success – has just been tremendous.”

After returning home, Avalon thought about ways to bring her conference experience into the classroom. She believes it’s important for students to be aware of the work their professors are doing outside the university walls. “Often students see us as educators, but not necessarily see us in practice. So I’m always trying to bring in those real-life experiences,” she says.

Sharing these experiences with her Northeastern undergraduate students, Avalon believes, will encourage them to broaden their view of public health to a global perspective. “Expanding our understanding of some of the health implications on an international level can really help us look at what we can do to improve our communities,” she says. Reflecting on how Partners In Health was created, she adds, “People from all different disciplines have to work together to improve our world and make it a better place for future generations. That’s one of the things I’m hoping to teach my students.”

She also helps her students look ahead to their own futures. “Oftentimes, you’re in the midst of going to school, or working or raising a family, and it’s hard to imagine the possibilities out there,” Avalon says. “As an educator, I’m always trying to help students imagine where they could be in five years, 10 years, 15 years as a result of using networks and connections – and more importantly, stepping outside their comfort zone to learn new things and explore new opportunities.”

Avalon’s students are grateful for her encouragement. As Health Management student Leala Tanous enthused upon learning about Avalon’s involvement in the conference, “This is so inspiring! It feels good to know someone who makes such a difference in our world!”