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
- Sponsor: Kathleen Egger, Learnwell
- Project: Talent Acquisition Strategy
- Award: Co-Curricular XN Award
- The project with LearnWell served to support the human resources unit with the primary function of growing talent acquisition with home instruction tutors. Del Alamo presented tangible quantitative and qualitative goals, one of which was to grow the number of teachers hired in 2019. Through the course of her Experiential Network project, she was successful in hiring 16 teachers and provided a deep dive analysis on recruitment engagement and best practices to attract talent.
Abhishek Jaiswal—Master of Professional Studies in Analytics
- Employer: Allison Ruda, Northeastern University as an Analytics Solutions Advisor
- Co-op Award
- Jaiswal designed a database architecture that not only supports—but fundamentally accelerates—Northeastern’s ability to make powerful connections between industry needs, learner goals, and academic content and experiences. Abhishek worked to understand the curriculum design principles and program development approaches, as well as the human and technological processes and systems needed to support them. He then brought this knowledge together with the technological and analytical skill sets he is honing in the Analytics program to develop a functional database prototype and Tableau visualizations.
Sanchi Jain—Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs of Drugs, Biologics and Devices
- Employer: Jeffery Pistor, Paragon Bio Services Inc. as a Quality Assurance Co-op
- Award: Co-op Award
- Jain created a quick search MS Access Database for Change Control records which improved employee efficiency by conserving 70% of their time consumed in finding paper records. Jain generated, analyzed and tracked the trends of raw material management process of the company, streamlined it and improved the process by 20% and digitized paper records. She conducted a 3-day Internal Audit of Facilities and Engineering department and drafted an Audit Report.
Suwarna Kale, Weipeng Zhang, Yiyi Zhang, Jaspreet Kaur Sawhney—Master of Professional Studies in Informatics
- Sponsor: Sebastien Mannai, ADS
- Project: Cloud Development
- Award: XN in Curricular Group
- Each of the students contributed their unique skills to help the company develop advanced and comprehensive IT solutions, including AWS Cloud infrastructure architecting, Internet of Things device set-up, data storage and management, data streaming, analytics, and visualization (dashboard). Each of them worked on different perspective of the project (Weipeng even applied his earlier computer hardware training), but jointly they delivered a project that represents the cutting-edge IT applications.
Amanda Nolan—Bachelor of Science in Health Management
- Sponsor: Dedham Medical Associates
- Project (self-developed): Improve Health Information Management/Electronic Health Record System to improve overall efficiency
- Award: XN at Work
- Nolan scheduled meetings with numerous individuals in different departments to learn more about some of the challenges others faced when entering and accessing information in the electronic health record (EHR). Nolan not only identified challenges to the timely entry of vital medical information into the EHR, but also valued the ripple effect it had on the provider/patient relationship.
Molly Chase—Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication
- Sponsor: Andy Short- Improbable Players
- Project: Digital Marketing Strategy
- Award: XN in Curricular- CMN 6940 Projects for Professionals
- Chase developed a set of recommendations for this innovative nonprofit which wanted to leverage its digital outreach more effectively. Her project addressed three key components of a digital strategy. The first component was to improve the web content by effectively and creatively telling the stories of actors, in an effort to attach relatability and empathy, and by better showcasing what Improbable Players does. The second component was to increase audience awareness of Improbable Players through various social media outlets and content. The third component was to experiment and take controlled risks with e-mail marketing in order to engage the donors and prospective partners who are on the current mailing list. Her final report to the client was exceptional in terms of depth of research, creativity, and practicality of the implementation steps. She fully incorporated the consultative process that is embedded in the capstone course and developed a strong relationship with the sponsor.
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
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 program, Dr. 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: