“Someday that’s going to be me, walking across that stage!”

October 12, 2012

Voices from Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies Fall 2012 Graduation

As graduates of Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) were waiting to proceed into Matthews Arena for the Fall 2012 graduation ceremony on Saturday, September 29, several graduates shared their experiences, plans after graduation, and advice to current CPS students pursuing their degrees:

“I kept in mind a great piece of advice: ‘Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right,’ “said Philip Williams, Bachelor of Science in Leadership graduate, describing his mindset about pursuing an accelerated degree completion program at the College of Professional Studies while working full-time as an analyst in the cable industry.  Williams described the power of studying in a cohort with students all over the country, more than half of whom traveled to Boston to attend graduation together.  His memories of the experience include many late nights studying and frequently missing out on hours of sleep, but that is not enough to dissuade him from higher education.  Next stop, a master’s degree.

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“I was drawn to the subjects in this very intensive program.” That’s how Marilyn Wee, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting Management at Northeastern’s center in Singapore, described her decision that led her to completing the program in just 12 months.  In celebration of completing her degree, Wee flew to Boston to march in the Fall 2012 graduation ceremony, reporting that she didn’t sleep the night before graduation for fear of oversleeping and missing the big day!

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“Everything was applicable.”  That is how Houri Ohanian described the way her coursework fed into her full-time job at Monster.com while she pursued a Bachelor of Science in Management in the Fast-Track program.  Ohanian, who worked as a Sales Operations Analyst, worked hard at night and on the weekends in order to graduate in 18 months while working 50+ hours a week.  Her advice to students interested in pursuing this degree while also working full-time? “Do your homework and stay on schedule – catching up is hard to do!”  Her hard work has paid off – she’s already been told by her senior director of operations that she will advance in her position.

And luckily for Ohanian, she had a companion throughout her 18 months of school…her sister!  Anayis Kebabjian also worked full-time at Monster.com with her sister, while pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Management in the Fast-Track program.  And while she was working full-time and going to school, she got married and had a child!   She is now a full-time mom with plenty of responsibilities, but is planning on getting back into the workforce in the near future, explaining, “One of the main reasons I chose this program is because I would like to start my own business one day.”

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“Someday that’s going to be me, walking across that graduation stage!” said Bianca Lauren Trindade, recounting the story that brought her to the College of Professional Studies Fall 2012 graduation. Trindade told how she was working as an EMT in 2007 when her ambulance team was assigned to be the emergency medical responders on hand for Northeastern University’s commencement exercises at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.  As Trindade watched the graduation unfold she made a plan to return to school, ultimately earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs .  Her goals include a master’s degree, and a career change to higher education.  Trindade shared that her best memories of the College of Professional Studies were the relationships she formed with “wonderful professors,” faculty members who responded to questions on assignments, discussed ideas with her and with whom she still stays in touch.  Reflecting on the challenge of completing her degree while working full time, Trindade said, “It was attainable, although at times it was hard.  It was the best decision I ever made.”

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“The College of Professional Studies opens doors and provides opportunities for students of all backgrounds,” Elizabeth A. Cabrera explained, in describing her choice of Northeastern to pursue her degree, and her appreciation of the diverse student body.  Cabrera earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with honors and before she marched across the stage to receive her undergraduate diploma, she had already enrolled in the Master’s of Education program.  During her studies, Cabrera worked full time in the mental health field and foresees continuing to work in the community after she completes her master’s.  Reflecting on her Northeastern experience, Cabrera praised the faculty, the campus, library and gym saying that they were a “safe harbor” as she pursued her studies.  Looking back on juggling work and school Cabrera noted that it is “absolutely essential to create structure, create routines, make time for your studies and have support” among family and friends throughout the program.

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“Courses like sound editing were something that I could use immediately in my job,” said Chris Canfield, who received his Master of Professional Studies in Digital Media at the College of Professional Studies Fall 2012 graduation.  Canfield was able to see the “direct benefits” of his coursework in his day job as a video game designer.   It took three years for him to graduate, but as of a month ago, he is now a lead developer at the company where he is employed.

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“I saw direct benefits while I was in school and working, and quickly,” said Timothy Farmer, a respiratory therapist from Austin, TX, who received his Master of Science in Respiratory Care Leadership degree.  Farmer came all the way from Austin for graduation, along with four students from his cohort who’ve been virtually working together for the past two years on projects and through discussion boards (they pursued this degree 100% online).  Graduation day was the first time they were meeting face-to-face, and after graduation they were celebrating over lunch with one of their professors.  “I was skeptical at first about doing my classes online, but I found that it was a better environment to reflect and explore the material I was learning, in a more in-depth way,” he said.  And fortunately for Farmer, his employer advanced him in his career right after he graduated, so it was time and effort well spent.

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More about graduation 

To read about the College of Professional Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on September 28, 2012, visit: A celebration marking the completion of studies at the highest level. 

To read about the 2012 College of Professional studies graduation speaker visit: Graduation speaker, author Dennis Lehane, demonstrates how a career is shaped by life experiences 

View the archived video from the fall 2012 graduation ceremony.

The College of Professional Studies celebrates two graduations, fall and spring, in keeping with the College’s flexible approach to education offering an array of options to students including part-time and full-time studies, Fast-Track, online, and hybrid formats. Graduates earn diplomas in 61 different degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. To learn more about graduation, visit: http://cps.neu.edu/student-resources/graduation/index.php.


Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.