Srisha Rajasekar

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Fantabulous | Inclusive | Innovative

Getting a degree while life is happening isn’t always easy. How have you faced and overcome some of these challenges?

Embarking on the challenging journey of graduate studies has immersed me in a complex interplay of research pursuits, coursework obligations, and personal commitments, demanding an intricate dance of time management, unwavering dedication, and a resilient spirit. Balancing the demands of advanced academic endeavors with the intricacies of life requires a delicate touch, where the pursuit of knowledge collides with the realities of personal and professional responsibilities. The rigorous exploration of research topics necessitates a profound commitment to scholarly pursuits, while coursework provides a structured foundation for comprehensive understanding. Amidst this academic tapestry, the need for relentless time management becomes paramount, as each moment is valuable and demands purposeful allocation.

Navigating the labyrinth of graduate studies is a transformative experience, one that not only shapes intellectual growth but also demands adaptability, perseverance, and the ability to maintain focus amid multifaceted challenges. Yet, it is precisely in this delicate balance that the seeds of personal and academic triumph are sown, laying the groundwork for a future where knowledge, resilience, and dedication converge to shape a well-rounded graduate experience.

 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?

As a graduate student at Northeastern University, my decision to join this vibrant academic community was driven by several compelling factors. Firstly, Northeastern’s renowned faculty and cutting-edge research initiatives aligned seamlessly with my academic interests and career aspirations. The university’s commitment to experiential learning, co-op programs, and interdisciplinary collaboration provided a dynamic environment that promised not only theoretical knowledge but also practical insights and real-world applications. Since joining the Northeastern community, the opportunities presented have been manifold. Engaging in rigorous coursework has deepened my understanding of my field, while participating in research projects has allowed me to contribute to meaningful scholarly work. The access to state-of-the-art facilities, libraries, and collaborative spaces has enriched my academic journey, fostering an environment conducive to intellectual exploration and growth. However, like any academic pursuit, challenges have been an inherent part of my experience.

Balancing the demands of coursework, research commitments, and personal life has required meticulous time management and prioritization. Navigating the complexities of graduate studies, including the pressure to contribute meaningfully to research and maintain high academic standards, has been both demanding and rewarding. Nevertheless, the supportive and inclusive nature of the Northeastern community has played a crucial role in mitigating challenges.

Collaborative efforts with fellow graduate students, mentorship from faculty members, and the availability of resources such as workshops and counseling services have all contributed to a holistic graduate experience. In essence, my journey as a graduate student at Northeastern has been a transformative and enriching one, marked by a blend of academic rigor, research opportunities, and the cultivation of a supportive community that encourages both personal and intellectual development.

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

My experience at Northeastern University has been a revealing journey, uncovering my academic strengths, adaptability, and personal resilience. Engaging in challenging coursework and collaborative research projects has expanded my knowledge and demonstrated my ability to navigate complexity effectively. Experiential learning, particularly through co-op experiences, has emphasized the practical relevance of my studies and fueled a sense of purpose in contributing meaningfully to my field. On a personal level, overcoming the inherent challenges of graduate studies has showcased my determination and commitment to continuous growth. Interactions with mentors and fellow students have underscored the value of collaboration and mentorship, fostering a sense of belonging within an intellectually vibrant community that prioritizes collective progress. Overall, Northeastern has been a transformative chapter, refining my academic and professional goals while unveiling the depth of my capabilities and the importance of meaningful connections.

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

For prospective students considering higher education, particularly at Northeastern University, I offer the following advice based on my experience as a graduate student.

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

As a graduate student specializing in regulatory affairs, my interest in this field stems from a profound fascination with the intersection of science, policy, and industry. The dynamic nature of regulatory affairs captivates me, as it involves navigating the complex landscape of regulations to ensure the safety, efficacy, and compliance of products within various sectors, such as pharmaceuticals or medical devices. This pursuit is motivated by a genuine desire to contribute to public health and safety by facilitating the efficient and ethical development of products.

The evolving regulatory environment presents an exciting challenge, and the prospect of understanding and influencing regulatory frameworks is a driving force.

Moreover, the opportunity to bridge scientific advancements with regulatory compliance aligns with my long-term goal of fostering innovation while upholding the highest standards of safety and efficacy. In essence, my motivation lies in the impactful role regulatory affairs plays in shaping the future of industries and ensuring the well-being of individuals worldwide.

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

Upon completing my graduate studies in Regulatory affairs, my aim is to apply the comprehensive knowledge and skills acquired in both the public and private sectors. In the immediate aftermath of graduation, I aspire to secure a position in a regulatory affairs role within a pharmaceutical or medical device company, where I can actively contribute to the regulatory processes involved in bringing innovative products to market.

Over the next five years, I envision progressing in my career, potentially taking on roles of increasing responsibility and leadership within regulatory affairs. This trajectory aligns with my goal of not only ensuring compliance with regulatory standards but also actively shaping and influencing regulatory strategies. Additionally, I plan to stay abreast of emerging trends and changes in regulatory frameworks, contributing to the adaptation and optimization of regulatory processes within the organizations I work for. Ultimately, I see myself playing a pivotal role in advancing regulatory compliance and contributing to the successful and ethical development of groundbreaking products that positively impact public health.

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?

Beyond my academic pursuits at Northeastern, I find immense joy and fulfillment in a variety of hobbies and passions. One of my favorite places on campus is the library, where I often immerse myself in the quiet ambiance, surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and the scent of well-worn books. Additionally, I cherish the liberating feeling of diving into a pool and swimming, a pursuit that brings me relaxation and tranquility whenever time allows. As a Yoga instructor at Northeastern, I derive great satisfaction from helping students achieve their health and wellness goals, fostering a positive and mindful community.

The very thought of the campus itself brings a sense of positivity, and I eagerly make my way there every day, appreciating the vibrant atmosphere and the diverse array of cool places to study and relax.

Whether it’s the library, the swimming pool, or the yoga studio, each facet of my life outside the academic realm contributes to a holistic sense of joy and well-being.

Experiential Excellence Celebrated—Students and Employers Both See Benefit

With experience-driven learning a cornerstone of a Northeastern education, the College of Professional Studies presented its annual Experiential Excellence award to 10 students in June. Students, and the employers and sponsors who supervised their work and nominated them for recognition, gathered with faculty and other academic leaders to celebrate the power of applied learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels. All student winners engaged in meaningful professional experience in the form of co-op positions (working full-time for an employer), a sponsored project in their course or capstone, or an experiential project at their current place of work. Students’ experiences were directly aligned with their academic work, complementing the body of knowledge in their chosen field with an industry-embedded perspective.

Notably, the Excellence award winners demonstrated outstanding commitment to the university partners they partnered with on experiential opportunity. These opportunities are broad and representative of the global reach Northeastern and its student benefit from. This year, the students’ work included planning and implementing a talent acquisition strategy for an education organization, strengthening digital engagement for an arts and advocacy organization, and creating and managing a quality assurance program in the regulatory affairs unit of a contract development and manufacturing organization, among other outstanding experiences. The common thread though all of the students’ work is their enthusiasm for their chosen industries and their demonstrated ability to connect their academic learning to practice in the workplace, ultimately producing incredibly valuable work for their sponsors and employers.

One award winner, Michel Jennings, is a spring 2019 graduate of the Master of Education in eLearning and Instructional design program. She traveled from Denver, where she attended the program as an online student, to participate in the awards ceremony and celebrate her new job in instructional design over lunch with Melissa Fristrom, leadership development consultant and CEO of Core Allies, Inc., Jennings’ project sponsor. In her project for Core Allies, Inc., Jennings turned a Career Transition Lesson Plan into a 10-class interactive course, essentially creating a new product and revenue stream for Core Allies. Fristrom praised Jennings’ strategic approach to the project: “She asked the right questions to help me be creative and innovative. She demonstrated a desire to understand what I was looking for as a business person.” Jennings notes that another ingredient to the success of the project was her own interest: “It helped that I was super-passionate about this topic.” Jennings said that the two reasons she chose the Northeastern Master of Education in eLearning and Instructional Design program were the opportunity to create an ePortfolio of her work, which she saw as critical to landing a good job upon graduating, and the opportunity to undertake an experiential project.

Indeed, Northeastern faculty and staff in attendance were moved by each award winner’s sentiment on the importance of experiential work alongside their academic curriculum; all students remarked on the lasting impact their experience has had on their professional skillset and career trajectory.

Following are the 2019 Experiential Excellence Award winners:

Mariella Hidalgo Del Alamo—Master of Science in Leadership

Abhishek Jaiswal—Master of Professional Studies in Analytics

Sanchi Jain—Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs of Drugs, Biologics and Devices

Suwarna Kale, Weipeng Zhang, Yiyi Zhang, Jaspreet Kaur Sawhney—Master of Professional Studies in  Informatics

Amanda Nolan—Bachelor of Science in Health Management

Molly Chase—Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication

For more information on experiential learning opportunities, please visit: https://cps.northeastern.edu/experiential-learning.

2016 Co-op Awards Ceremony

Excellence at Work

A Year of “Firsts” for Annual Co-op Awards; Eight Students Receive Awards

Honorees: Pictured (left to right): Chirag Rathod, Qi Qin, Zubi Ahmed Aziz, and Nicole Wild Merl.

Each academic year, approximately 500 Northeastern students take part in work placements related to their field of study through the College of Professional Studies (CPS) Experiential Learning program. At the end of each year,  the College honors select students at the annual Co-op Awards ceremony, based on nominations from employers. 

The 2015/2016 Co-op Awards, which honored eight students, saw a series of firsts: the first award winner from the Experiential Network program; and the first recipient from the University’s Charlotte campus.

Zubi Aziz (Master of Science, Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices) received a Career Development award for her co-op at Baxalta, a start-up biopharmaceutical company. Zubi was known as the “go-to resource” in the department, according to Patricia Carolini, the head of safety analytics at Baxalta, who described Zubi as someone with exceptional integrity, character, and professionalism. They were so impressed, in fact, that Zubi has been offered a full-time position at the company.

Shuli Ciu (Master of Science, Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices) also received a Career Development award after completing two co-ops at Cerulian Pharma, Inc., first in regulatory affairs and then in clinical operations. Tiffany Crowell, vice president of clinical operations, saw Shuli “grow from an observing student to become an active participant in clinical trials, working well in cross-functional teams.”

Pamela Darcy-Demski, (Master of Science, Corporate and Organizational Communication) received the new Experiential Network Award, designed to recognize students involved in short-term projects offered through a corporate sponsor. Pamela conducted a feasibility analysis on Massachusetts State Police Academy’s use of technology in training cadets, helping it transition to a more user-friendly cloud technology. Melinda Lovick, the e-learning coordinator for the academy, spoke of Pamela’s capacity to “exercise professionalism and poise and routinely go above and beyond.”

Jennifer Krajewski (Master of Science, Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices) was awarded the Integrative Experiential Learning Award for students who participate in a co-op in their own place of employment. In Jennifer’s case, this was TreeHouse Foods, where she led a cross-departmental initiative to update labels based on the release of the State of Vermont’s Genetically Modified Food Labeling Regulation—all outside of her normal duties at the company. Her new role increased her contact with staff from other departments. “This program set me up for some of the best learning experiences I have had at Northeastern so far,” said Jennifer in her acceptance speech. 

Kyle Moore (Master of Arts, Homeland Security) was one of two recipients of a Leadership Award for his work with the National Guard Homeland Security Institute. Captain Christopher Johnson, deputy director of the Institute, praised Kyle’s hard work on a small team of four staff members leading national and state-level initiatives. “People are better protected and better able to respond to disasters than they were before, thanks to work that Kyle did,” said Captain Johnson.

Nicole Wilde Merl, (Master of Science, Corporate and Organizational Communication), a student at Northeastern’s Charlotte campus, was awarded the Student Scholar Award for initiating a virtual co-op with Washington, D.C.-based public relations agency, Thomas Cooke and Associates. Nicole described her internship as a “true two-way internship” with faculty and Thomas Cooke equally invested in the project, which created a social platform to empower women to vote in 2016 and beyond through a project called WomenVotes.org.

Chirag Rathod (Master of Science, Project Management) was a recipient of the Leadership Award. Joe Flynn, Northeastern alumnus and director of inside sales for Akamai Technologies, credited Chirag for helping his company secure a $1 million deal, its biggest that year, and praised Chirag for leading by example, seeing the big picture, and coming up with creative solutions to challenges. “I never felt like an intern,” Chirag said in his acceptance speech. “I was always encouraged to participate in every team meeting and was given an opportunity to innovate and challenge the traditional way of working without having that fear of failure.” Chirag has since been offered the opportunity to stay on with the team full-time.

Qi Qin (Master of Science, Global Studies and International Relations) was awarded the Student Scholar Award for her work with Quincy Asian Resources. As an outreach specialist, Qi hired, trained, and supervised a team of eight bilingual undergraduate students and volunteers, and, in the words of Executive Director John Brothers, “the department‘s performance improved remarkably under her leadership.” She has now transitioned into the role on a permanent basis.

3 In-Demand Careers in Regulatory Affairs

By Stephen F. Amato, PhD.

A faculty member in Northeastern’s Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices programDr. Amato’s research has been published extensively. He serves on the board of directors for several organizations, including BioSignostix, the Medical Development Group, and the Association of Graduate Regulatory Educators. 

The ability to ensure that drugs, biologics, and medical devices are safe for use and effective for patients continues to be a very desirable professional skill set.

I tell my Regulatory Affairs master’s students that—regardless of where they work and the particular product line they focus on—they need to keep an eye on developing trends in the industry as a whole. Anticipating what’s to come ensures they’re prepared to move when the right opportunity arises.

Here are three career trajectories I see as “hot” right now and becoming even more in demand over the next few years:

1. Quality assurance professionals

Quality assurance professionals are responsible for making sure that companies’ quality management systems are designed properly—and adhered to. These experts see that standard operating procedures (SOPs) are always followed, and their role is especially in-demand because it’s cross-functional and supports all aspects of an organization.

2. International regulatory affairs experts

Increasingly, companies in the drug, biotech, and medical device industries are broadening their markets on an international scale. Professionals who are fully versed in the regulatory environments of other countries—particularly up-and-coming players like India, China, and Brazil—are highly sought after and that trend is expected to continue.

3. Electronic documentation specialists

While many Regulatory Affairs professionals are accustomed to submitting paperwork, more and more companies are now submitting electronic forms—such as the Electronic Common Technical Document (eCTD)—for product marketing approval. If you excel at using electronic systems and teaching others how to use them, you’ll be a valuable asset to any organization.

What Regulatory Affairs roles most interest you? Why?

Learn more about career paths in Regulatory Affairs: