The Spirit of Giving: From Co-op Student to Donor 

Alumni Spotlight: Jim Nolan, BA Business & Administration ‘71

by Natalie Bowers

Few understand the value of co-op education quite like Jim Nolan.  

As a graduate of the College of Professional Studies, BA Business & Administration ‘71, and lifetime career in commercial real estate, Nolan encourages everyone to embrace the practice of philanthropy. His guiding principle is simple yet profound, “engage in giving back in any capacity possible, no matter how small, because every act contributes to a greater good.”   

Nolan’s formative years were influenced by his parents’ strong family values and his father’s military career, which involved multiple relocations around the globe and exposed him to many different cultures. He graduated high school at a small school in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, which was mostly populated by expat students, children of employees of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Embassy and Joint American Military Mission to Aid Turkey (JAMMAT).  

He said, “Coming from the military mindset, I never understood the world of business; I didn’t know there was such a thing as business, and I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was. There is no ‘profit motive’ in the military, there are just missions and objectives. You do whatever it is that needs to be done that day.”  

When it was time to submit college applications, Nolan aspired to pursue a career in teaching, influenced by the positive impact of his high school English teacher, Mrs. Vick. His mother’s best friend in Ankara was the daughter of Herb Gallagher, the Athletic Director at Northeastern University at the time. Both she and her husband were Northeastern graduates and their experience with the university inspired Nolan to apply to the School of Education. Despite never having set foot in Boston before, he was accepted.  

His first visit to Boston coincided with the start of his first semester as an English major in the Northeastern University College of Education. He said, “I boarded a plane from Turkey, arrived at JFK airport with only $50 in my pocket, purchased a bus ticket, and got off at Copley Square.” He then settled into the dorms located at 129 Hemingway Street, Boston. Upon his arrival, he was greeted with two military footlockers containing everything he owned.  

His parents agreed to pay for tuition and board, but Nolan had to earn money for everything else. During his freshman year, he secured a few small jobs, washing dishes at the girl’s dormitory and with Northeastern’s building and grounds when needed. By combining earnings from these jobs, he was able to cover most of his college expenses, graduating with a loan of just $1,200, roughly equivalent to $25,000 in today’s dollars. 

The Co-op Experience 

In his first year at Northeastern, Nolan met with his co-op coordinator to arrange a work experience. The challenge for the coordinator was that the job had to be related to education and provide room and board. Jim was open to opportunities, and the coordinator recommended he look at occupational therapist roles offered at Fairfields Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Newtown, Connecticut.  

“It was a beautiful campus, no gates, every building was a colonial five story building,” Nolan said, remembering his time there. He recalls arriving at the hospital, heading to the administrative building to get the room key, and settling into an 18×12 wide room with a sink and bathroom down the hall. “I unpacked feeling a little strange and went downstairs to the basement rec room. I saw other people there, they were acting a little rambunctious, and I said, ‘holy moly they put me in with the patients.’ But they were the orderlies!”  

Nolan’s next experiential work opportunity was with the Aetna Life and Casualty Company in Richmond, Virginia. Again, Nolan met with his coordinator and focused his job search on Virginia, as his parents were relocating from Turkey to live there. While with Aetna Life, he received free room and board, as well as laundry service. After two co-op periods with the company, Nolan realized his interest in business and finance and transitioned out of the College of Education to University College, now known as the College of Professional Studies. He switched his major to Business Administration and Management and added two additional years at Northeastern to complete his degree.  

“Giving is a joyful experience. If you are at Northeastern, you have got to be immersed in the programs that are offered and take every advantage that is thrown at you. Then give back.” 

Jim Nolan

While he caught up with his new major, Nolan held other positions with the Employers Commercial Union, the Security Insurance Company, the US Post office and Bradley’s Stop and Shop. As he moved closer to graduation, he again called on the assistance of his co-op coordinator for advice and job recommendations. He was recommended to take the Civil Service Examination and apply with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  

He spent the next seven years in a variety of positions and responsibilities with the FDIC, the last two years serving as the Assistant Liquidator of American Bank and Trust company in New York. Finally, Nolan decided it might be time to go out on his own. 

Going Out On His Own. 

After his tenure with the FDIC, Nolan spent the next three years as the Head of Real Estate Acquisitions for a Miami-based company, First Capital. He then had a brief stint as President of MDC Equities in Denver, Colorado. It was in Denver that Nolan met his future partner, and together they co-founded United Trust Fund (UTF), a privately owned real estate investment firm headquartered in Miami. His partner had a connection with a large state retirement fund to provide capital for property purchases, while Nolan’s role was to purchase, manage, and sell the investments. His partner famously said, “You buy the properties, and I will find the capital,” and that is exactly what they did for the next six years, building the name and brand of United Trust Fund (UTF).  

Starting essentially from scratch in 1982, Nolan and his partner grew the company to institutional status. To enhance the company’s capital structure, he hired an investment banker in New York. Deloitte and Touche were engaged to conduct a three-year back audit, and an investment offering was prepared. Nolan remarked, “I learned all of this through my Northeastern co-op experience and my time with the FDIC.” A list of 100 institutional prospects was made, and within one-year, Metropolitan Life closed on a 20% interest in UTF.  

Nolan successfully built his business while raising his three young children and volunteering his time as a Northeastern alum, attending local college fairs, and actively engaging in numerous nonprofit organizations. 

Philanthropy 

Nolan’s own family’s value of giving, coupled with his award of the Joseph Mullin Scholarship in his last year at Northeastern, gave him a strong sense of the importance of giving back.

Before he was able to give money, Nolan volunteered his time. He represented the university in the local college admission process, attended college fairs, and met with prospective students to promote Northeastern and its co-op program. He continued in that role for ten years, covering Florida and other parts of the southeastern part of the country.  

Eventually, he established the Nolan Family Scholarship for students with learning challenges, starting with a donation of $25,000 and aiming to increase it to $100,000. He has not only achieved this goal but has been able to contribute even more to the fund. 

At a dinner in Miami, Richard Freeland, then-president of Northeastern, solicited Nolan to serve on the University’s Board of Incorporators which he served on for more than ten years, actively engaged in the Admission Committee, the Student Affairs Committee, the Building Committee and finally, serving five years on the University’s Financial Affairs Committee.  

His breadth of involvement reflects Nolan’s dedication to making a meaningful impact on service and leadership. “When I had time, I gave time; and when I had money, I gave money.”, he said.

“Northeastern co-op provided experience and work ethic for my future and that fueled my desire to give back”

-Jim Nolan

A Mathematician in Foundation Year

Spotlight: Fareed Hawwa, PhD, Assistant Teaching Professor

Fareed Hawwa, Assistant Teaching Professor, enriches his students’ learning experience with his extensive real-world financial expertise. A significant career in the finance sector preceded his time at Northeastern University in Foundation Year, one of a variety of pathway programs offered by the College of Professional Studies (CPS).

Hawwa began his career as an equities trader in New York City. He also occupied other roles such as analyst, partner, and head of trading at a financial firm in Chicago, before transitioning to his current position at CPS. In these various professional capacities, he had to hone his knowledge of mathematics and apply it to his management of both technical analysis and risk management methodologies, utilizing logic and quantitative analysis. He led trading operations and strategic initiatives for funds valued at $250 million in assets under management during this time. The experience of managing a high-net-worth portfolio helped him acutely understand the mechanics of money. He now shares this knowledge in the classroom.

History

Hawwa’s upbringing took place in Rhode Island. During his high school years, he participated in wrestling and garnered attention from a coach at New York University (NYU). Enrolling at NYU, he devoted himself to the sport, recognizing its rigorous demands. Hawwa frequently undertook the arduous task of cutting weight by up to ten pounds in just a few days to meet the requirements of specific weight classes, demonstrating extraordinary discipline of both body and mind while maintaining his academic performance.

During his time at NYU, he made the decision to major in mathematics. Expressing his sincere affinity for the subject, he said,

“While some find math boring or difficult, for me, it brings joy.”

Fareed Hawwa

Approaching the completion of his bachelor’s degree at NYU, Hawwa knew that he wanted to obtain a doctoral degree in mathematics.

He decided to attend Louisiana State University (LSU) for his master’s and PhD degrees. Halfway through his studies there, Hawwa was awarded a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellowship, contingent upon his commitment to teach each semester while pursuing his doctoral studies.

“There were six times I looked for flights home because I was going to quit; it took a lot of discipline to stay the course.”, he said. But Hawwa realized that he had to want to put in the work to get the result. “This realization really shaped me as both a jock and an academic”, he said.

In the initial year of his graduate studies, he taught mathematics at a local alternative high school, an institution for students facing suspension within the public school system.

“The students had different challenges, and I witnessed some unfortunate situations, such as students being summoned to court during class time. I always assumed that all students desired to attend school, but that isn’t always the reality.”

Fareed Hawwa – Reflecting on his Experience

In addition to teaching, Hawwa also resumed wrestling. His unwavering commitment to the sport propelled him to a coaching role for the NCWA LSU wrestling team.

During the next two years in his doctoral program, he continued to coach wrestling, and he also transitioned to teaching undergraduate courses on campus.

He expressed satisfaction with this shift, stating, “I had the opportunity to engage with students who possessed a genuine interest in mathematics and were able to be fully vested in their academic journey.”

In the course of his time at LSU, Hawwa was a three-time recipient of the Mathematics Department Teaching Excellence Award for his work with students.

Career

In 2010, after successfully defending his PhD dissertation, Hawwa moved back to New York and bartended before landing a job at a trading firm. Shortly after this, he got an offer to join a hedge fund in Chicago as an analyst, later becoming partner and head of trading.

Hawwa describes his time at the hedge fund as exciting. While the role was challenging, the substantial salary served as an attempt to rationalize the extensive hours and the inevitable sacrifice of work-life balance inherent to such demanding positions. Despite the financial compensation, he came to realize that mere pursuit of monetary gain was not his primary motivator.

In March 2018, Hawwa left the firm and took a year off work. He took time to look inward and got certified in transcendental meditation. “These pursuits helped me to identify my true passion of teaching”, he said.

Foundation Year

In 2019, now back in Rhode Island, Hawwa applied for jobs and seized an opportunity to teach within Northeastern University’s Foundation Year, a program that serves students in the city of Boston in transitioning from high school to college. Administered by the College of Professional Studies, it offers rigorous academic coursework within a supportive cohort environment during students’ initial college year. Completion of the Foundation Year enables students to progress into a degree program at Northeastern University. The program’s design aims to maximize student potential, offering small classes and individualized advising. Additionally, the cohort model fosters a strong sense of community, supplemented by provisions such as textbooks, technology access, and a dining plan providing meals on campus throughout the year. The program boasts a 92% average matriculation rate for students who successfully complete the program and meet progression standards and continue at Northeastern. Many of these students successfully graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Hawwa was hired by Foundation Year to teach a variety of math classes. The very first class he taught, Foundations of Math, started a few weeks after he was hired. He has since taught other classes, including: College Algebra, PreCalculus, Calculus 1, Calculus 2 recitation, and most recently, Personal Finance.

As a pragmatic and empathetic educator, Hawwa places a high value on fairness and respect in his interactions with students. He maintains accountability among students while being mindful not to place undue pressure on them.

He emphasized, “Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, if a student didn’t have their camera on, I didn’t press the issue. I like to employ a deeper concentration on the subject matter itself and what support they require from me.”

As Hawwa taught his math classes that first year, his colleagues at CPS got to know him better. They learned that he used to work in finance and he started to attract financial questions from them, like how to change allocation in a 403b retirement plan to maximize return, how to open a Roth IRA account, or whether they should purchase cryptocurrency.

Seeing that Hawwa was becoming known for his professional expertise, Director of the Program, Martha Loftus, suggested that Hawwa teach a course around financial literacy.

“Fareed’s exuberance for helping others better understand their personal finance was clear when he started at CPS. The fact that he did so with industry experience was an added benefit. We’re always looking to add new courses to the Foundation Year curriculum, so it made sense to add Personal Finance and draw upon his energy, knowledge and commitment to the subject. Financial literacy is an important skill for everyone. The Foundation Year holistic model of student success prompts us to always be thinking of ways we can help students thrive in and out of the classroom”

– Martha Loftus

In his Personal Finance course, Hawwa shows students skills like how to read a stock chart, and he explains the dangers and benefits of compound interest. For many of his students, the discussion he has with them about the importance of a healthy FICO score is the first time they are introduced to the concept.

Hawwa says that teaching is ‘the highest honor of [his] life. It’s taught [him] a lot about humility and empathy.’ He said, “some students have told me that the way they viewed personal finance before they took my class was stressful, but now that they understand the basics, they are able to rise above it and pursue financial success.”

“Math is like life. In math, you need humility, or it’ll eat you up.”

Fareed Hawwa

Fareed’s Money Management Top Tips

Faces of CPS

Faces of CPS: Get to know the many diverse people who make up our CPS community 

Faces of CPS: Minhyung Jung

True to my expectations, I was able to take diverse and specialized classes at Northeastern and gain hands-on experience collaborating with real companies.”

Hailing from the bustling streets of Boston, Minhyung Jung unveils his odyssey through Northeastern University, navigating the labyrinth of academia as a first-generation graduate student.

Connections: Linkedin, Instagram and Youtube

Faces of CPS: Kristin Chan

Hailing from Boston, Kristin Chan illuminates her Northeastern University voyage, balancing the rigors of academia with full-time employment, while championing community engagement.

Whether it’s addressing social issues, celebrating diversity and cultural heritage, or providing access to resources, the people I’ve met at Northeastern are inspiring change-makers.”

Connections: Instagram

Faces of CPS: Chin-Hua Pan

Hailing from Taiwan, Chin-Hua Pan, embarks on a life-changing odyssey at Northeastern, transcending language barriers with confidence and fueled by a passion for UX design.

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.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Sudhamshu Vidyananda

My journey at Northeastern has helped me to be more resilient, adaptable and to move from my comfort zone. I learnt more about my strengths and how to face the world in a more disciplined way.”

Hailing from Mangalore, Sudhamshu Vidyananda, is embraced by Boston, epitomizes resilience and innovation in his Northeastern journey.

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Kartika Ahire

If I have to reflect on the journey at Northeastern, I will say that Resilience, Connections, and Adaptability skills helped me understand myself more.”

Hailing from Nashik, India, Kartika Ahire embraces the diverse and collaborative spirit of Northeastern, forging a path of resilience and adaptability in pursuing Regulatory Affairs, while finding solace in Boston’s vibrant culture and natural beauty.

Connections: Instagram

Faces of CPS: Godfred Afriyie Owusu

Hailing from Ghana and making Boston home, Godfred Afriyie Owusu exemplifies unwavering determination at Northeastern, transcending obstacles with a stubborn commitment to his dreams, fostering innovation in project management.

Your dream about what you can make out of Northeastern should be higher than the obstacles you will face while at Northeastern or elsewhere.”

Connections: Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter

Faces of CPS: Harshal Randad

Hailing from India, Harshal Randad emerges as a transformative force at Northeastern, embodying resilience and seizing opportunities while mastering Project Management, driven by a vision of global impact and continuous growth.

Northeastern University stood out to me for its exceptional course structure and Co-op program, which were among the many factors influencing my decision to attend.”

Connections: Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Swapnesh Tiwari

The varied experiences at Northeastern, especially as a student ambassador, including interacting with a diverse student body and participating in global experiences, teach adaptability.”

Hailing from India, Swapnesh Satishkumar Tiwari navigates the complexities of academia at Northeastern with reflective insight, leveraging collaborative learning and resilience, carving a path toward healthcare innovation and professional success.

Connections: Facebook

Faces of CPS: Alessandro Zampi

I liked the Northeastern brand (even though I knew very little about the university) and I liked the subjects it is known for. I also liked what the mascot represents (intelligent, energetic, hardworking).”

Hailing from diverse locales like London, New York, and Boston, Alessandro Zampi won 2024 Staff Excellence Award. A current graduate student in Analytics and Staff Operations Analyst, his dedication enriches both academia and operations.

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Suqi (Eileen) Wu

Hailing from China, Suqi (Eileen) Wu embodies innovation and creativity. As an alumna of the 2023 MS Digital Media program, she excels as a Product and UX Designer, shaping impactful user experiences globally.

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

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Minfang Wu

Hailing from China, Minfang Wu unfolds her Northeastern University journey, overcoming barriers, pursuing analytics, and aspiring towards tech excellence.

The Northeast offers numerous chances, both in terms of career and geographical advantages. As a student, I appreciate this type of learning environment.”

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Anthony Alsayed

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.”

Hailing from Toronto, Anthony Alsayed is the recipient of the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Award, bringing his expertise as a part-time lecturer, enriching students’ learning experiences.

Connections: Linkedin and Facebook

Sanover_Tasneem_CPS

Faces of CPS: Sanover Tasneem

As a first-generation student, I needed financial support for my education and getting an on-campus position was tough. Applying and securing a co-op was also a big hurdle. Overall, CPS has given me a lot of opportunities to showcase my abilities and use the skills from my past work experience in India. I have just been so grateful for all the good things supporting my life and education here.”

Hailing from Jaunpur, India, Sanover Tasneem is a first-generation college student who now calls Boston home, pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Analytics, she is graduating in June 2024.

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Vivek Vaghasiya

Hailing from Gujarat, India, Vivek Vaghasiya is pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Informatics. He is graduating in May 2024.

My journey at Northeastern University has been a revelation, showcasing my resilience and adaptability. After graduation, I aspire to secure a role in data analytics or cloud computing, leveraging the skills acquired during my master’s in professional studies in Informatics. In five years, I envision myself in a leadership position, driving innovative solutions and contributing to the advancement of technology in a dynamic industry.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Jennifer Chavez

Hailing from Boston, Jennifer Chavez Umana is a first-generation college student balancing full-time work, her coursework at school, and personal growth.

My journey at Northeastern has shown me that I am capable of so much more. I can handle things that I never thought I was able to. Even then sometimes I feel like I still won’t be able to make it through but somehow I always push through.”

Faces of CPS: Christian Cartagena

Being a Northeastern student has been an inspiring journey. Each completed class shows I am not only a step closer to my goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree but also an achievement added to my collection.”

Hailing from Boston, Christian Cartagena is a first-generation college student pursuing finance, navigating challenges, and finding joy in Boston.

Faces of CPS: Brittni Allen

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.”

Hailing from Miami, Brittni Allen is a first-gen college student thrives at Northeastern, driven by her passion for equal opportunities.

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Srisha Rajasekar

Hailing from Singapore, Srisha Rajasekar shares her dynamic Northeastern University odyssey, merging academic excellence, regulatory fervor, and personal fulfillment.

The evolving regulatory environment presents an exciting challenge, my motivation lies in the impactful role regulatory affairs plays in shaping the future & ensuring the well-being of individuals.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Oduenyi Uga

Hailing from Boston having Nigerian-American roots, Oduenyi Uga, shares a transformative journey at Northeastern University, overcoming academic challenges while thriving in the digital communication and media realm.

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.”

Connections: Linkedin, Instagram, and Youtube.

YearUp/Roxbury Community College Opportunity Scholarship Recipient, Christian Cartagena

What 3 words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Supportive, Transformative, Stimulating

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

The relentless cycle of working in the early hours, diving into homework late into the night, and reserving weekends for deep dives into my studies created a moment in my life where I was frequently saying “No, I can’t make it. Sorry.” to my family and friends.

Prioritization was the cornerstone of my survival strategy. I had to discern the urgent from the important, constantly recalibrating my focus to align with the goals I have set for myself. I have been in a constant dance, ensuring that no area was neglected while avoiding falling behind on my academic commitments. Being organized has become my compass in this journey so far.

Calendars, planners, and to-do lists were my allies, helping me chart a course through the dense fog of responsibilities. Attention to detail is becoming second nature, as missing a deadline or overlooking a task could jeopardize a lot.

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 Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies due to its flexible online classes, allowing me to work in the mornings and manage living expenses in the expensive city of Boston, MA. The flexible scheduling was a key factor for me, as it allowed me to learn part-time or full-time, setting my own pace while still maintaining my daily life. The city is rich with opportunities, and Northeastern stood out as a pathway to acquiring relevant skills and knowledge. Northeastern’s commitment to experiential learning was appealing. The emphasis on real-world applications through case studies, consulting projects, and collaboration with employers aligns with my desire for practical knowledge – learn it and put it into practice! One-on-one interactions with my professors have provided me with additional support, ensuring a more complete understanding of course material. Overall, Northeastern has not only offered me a flexible and supportive learning environment but has also provided avenues for networking and gaining valuable insights from diverse perspectives.

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

My journey at Northeastern University has revealed a lot about myself. I’ve faced numerous emotional challenges, particularly with both of my parents experiencing disabilities from car accidents and work injuries. Despite the stress and sadness that accompanies these circumstances, it has instilled in me a deep sense of determination to overcome adversities and to handle my challenges with pride. My experience at Northeastern has taught me valuable lessons in independence. I’ve learned that effective communication is at the core of navigating through academic and personal challenges.

It’s crucial to ask for help when I’ve needed it, and to trust that people are more than willing to assist, but they may not be aware of what I need or what would be helpful unless I tell them! Overcoming the fear of asking questions when faced with uncertainty has been a significant part of my growth. Being a Northeastern student has been an inspiring journey. Each completed class shows I am not only a step closer to my goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree but also another achievement added to my collection. This experience has affirmed that I am capable of achieving remarkable things. It’s a testament to the power of determination, effective communication, and the willingness to seek assistance when necessary— qualities that have become integral to my personal and academic growth at Northeastern University.

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

Embarking on the higher education journey, especially at institutions like Northeastern, requires a blend of determination, effective time management, and a proactive approach to challenges. As a student, I’ve faced the intricate dance of balancing work, academics, and personal life. The key to navigating this delicate balance lies in meticulous organization and attention to detail. Creating a structured schedule, breaking down tasks, and keeping clear priorities have been crucial in ensuring I don’t fall behind on coursework while meeting other life demands.

In my experience at Northeastern, the institution’s emphasis on flexibility and experiential learning has been instrumental. The flexible scheduling allowed me to adapt my learning journey to my unique circumstances, making education accessible despite a demanding schedule.

Engaging in real-world projects, networking events, and discussions with professors enhanced my understanding and provided valuable insights beyond the classroom. Moreover, my journey at Northeastern has taught me the significance of effective communication and seeking help when needed. The university community is filled with resources, and the willingness to ask questions and request support has been a vital part of my success. I’ve learned that every completed class represents not only a step closer to a degree but also a tangible achievement, reinforcing my belief in my capabilities. For those considering higher education, my advice is to approach it with resilience, organization, and a willingness to seek guidance.

If you’re a current student, why are you interested in the degree you’re pursuing? What motivates you?

Growing up in a household where finances were a constant struggle, I developed a deep-seated desire for financial stability and success. My insecurities stemming from our economic situation fueled my aspiration to emulate the confident and accomplished businessmen I saw on television.

Choosing to major in finance and accounting was an obvious decision for me. I started my academic journey at a community college, earning my associates in business administration. Subsequently, I participated in a program called Year Up in Boston, where I focused on investment operations. Now, as I pursue my bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting at Northeastern, my motivation remains rooted in my past experiences. My primary goal is to understand money to safeguard not only my own financial future but also those of my family, and friends. The vision of my future self serves as a powerful motivator. I envision a confident, happy individual, unburdened by financial stress and capable of positively impacting others. Each day, I strive to live up to this future self, driven by the prospect of not only securing my own success but also contributing to a world filled with more smiles and opportunities for others.

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

As a current student, my aspirations post-graduation are deeply intertwined with my passion for the finance industry. Currently employed with JPMorgan in trade services, my plan is to continue with the company after completing my education. I am committed to immersing myself in the field, aiming to become an expert before considering any transition to another department or company. In the five years following graduation, I envision a trajectory of continuous growth and achievement within JPMorgan. My goal is to stay dedicated to my role in trade services, progressively taking on more responsibilities and demonstrating a mastery of the material. I am ambitious about climbing the corporate ladder and setting a goal to be promoted every two – three years. Beyond personal career development, I have a vision of contributing to the growth and success of my friends and colleagues. I aspire to take on a mentoring role, sharing my knowledge and experiences to help newcomers navigate the complexities of the finance industry. Empowering others to grow both personally and professionally is a key part of my long-term plan. I see myself remaining deeply engaged in the finance world, leveraging my expertise to make meaningful contributions. As part of my journey, I’m contemplating the idea of starting a side business. This venture would not only add an extra challenge to my professional plate but also provide a platform for applying my financial expertise in new and innovative ways.

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?

Having transitioned from Lawrence, MA, where the urban landscape lacked the glamour of fancy buildings and city lights, my move to Boston has been a source of immense joy. Exploring the city has become a cherished hobby, whether it’s strolling through Boston Common with my golden doodle, reveling in the vibrancy of city lights during night drives, or discovering new eateries that add to the tapestry of possibilities. I love all of the scenic views, people jogging with their dogs, water views, and overall bustling city life has become a source of huge inspiration. Beyond city escapades, my happiness comes from the simple pleasures of spending time with family, friends, and my four-legged companion. Each moment with loved ones adds depth and meaning to my experiences. And yes, even the act of pressing the submit button for my homework brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is another passion, with regular visits to the gym serving as a way to stretch and rejuvenate after extended hours spent at a desk. Finding balance between academic commitments and personal well-being is essential, and these moments of self-care significantly add to my overall happiness and contentment. Life is good!

Anything else you wanted to say that we didn’t cover?

I want to express my deep gratitude for the incredible support the Year Up/Roxbury Community College Opportunity Scholarship has given me. Joining Northeastern University has truly been a transformative experience, and the impact of this scholarship on my academic journey will be immeasurable.

Christian Cartagena, YearUp/Roxbury Community College Opportunity Scholarship Recipient

The financial support will not only alleviate some of the burdens associated with pursuing higher education but will also open doors to a wealth of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Every day, I am reminded of the countless blessings that have come my way since becoming a part of the Northeastern community. The unwavering support from those around me, including the generous donors behind the Opportunity Scholarship, have been instrumental in my academic success and personal development. As I reflect on this journey, I am filled with gratitude for the individuals who believe in my potential and have contributed to making my educational aspirations a reality. The Opportunity Scholarship is not just a financial aid; it is a symbol of encouragement, empowerment, and the belief that with dedication and support, I can achieve great things. I am truly thankful for the blessings that this scholarship represents and excited about the endless possibilities it opens up for my future.

YearUp/Roxbury Community College Opportunity Scholarship Recipient, Jennifer Chavez

“My journey at Northeastern has shown me that I am capable of so much more. I can handle things that I never thought I was able to. Even then sometimes I feel like I still won’t be able to make it through but somehow I always push through. My family is a huge support system for me and I know that I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

– Jennifer Chavez

Our network spans across the world. Where are you from or where do you consider home?

Home to me is Boston, MA and I am the first in my family to attend college.

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?

I am working full-time at a pharmaceutical company, going to school at Northeastern, trying to experience new things in my life and strengthen my relationships. I find myself constantly trying to figure out what I prioritize most in my life. To overcome this I have been learning to overthink less.

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

I recommend them to fully focus on school, especially if they are not working in an industry that matters to them. I think having that sacrifice would make my life easier so I could put all my focus on school. I also recommend having a good mentality that is more focused on discipline than motivation, because motivation comes and goes and sometimes you don’t want to do it anymore.

Discipline is a mental battle but it is a form of self-love for a person’s future self.

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

I am interested in the current degree I’m pursuing which is business management, because I have always aspired to be a leader. I like working with people and how to help them reach their goals. Ever since I was young I helped my mom manage the house by helping her with organizing her bills and helping her keep stock of what was in the house. This helped me gain responsibility and helped her because she was working so many hours.

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

I am hoping to keep working in the pharmaceutical industry but instead of working in the lab as an engineering technician, I am hoping to work in a more business-focused role.

In five years, I hope to be in a position where I am a manager or even a director in a field like supply chain or project management.

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?

Some of my passions and hobbies include going hiking and trying new things. One of my dreams is to travel the world and visit as many national parks as possible. I find joy in spending time with family and loved ones, I take my quality time with people seriously. I just want to be able to experience the world in a way my parents were never allowed to.

Student-powered research helps small businesses access opportunity

The Northeastern Lab for Inclusive Entrepreneurship just launched a dynamic, online, on-demand module for small companies interested in how to do business with colleges and universities. This interactive module was designed as part of a capstone project by Egle Slezas, who graduated from the instructional design master’s program in December 2023.

This module aims to solve the frustration many businesses face, especially small businesses, when trying to become an approved vendor for complex, multifaceted organizations such as higher ed. Businesses led and owned by historically marginalized communities face particularly daunting challenges, and this module aims to demystify the process and create more opportunity for small businesses.

The mission of lab for inclusive entrepreneurship is to contribute to economic development and community resilience by promoting inclusive, equitable innovation and entrepreneurship and assisting small businesses address their technical and managerial challenges.

As a University Center designated by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, this lab helps small businesses, particularly ones in the Portland-Boston-Providence Corridor, through two major initiatives:

In addition, a major multi-year grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports the lab’s research and educational programs promoting supplier diversity in higher education.

The work we do is vital for removing barriers to opportunity for diverse businesses, it’s especially inspiring to witness the impact of our students as they engage in transforming the future of both academic research and business.

Francesca Grippa, Professor of Business Innovation, Associate Dean of Research, and Executive Director of the Lab

Because the lab’s work is grounded in applied research in such areas as economic development, digital technologies, and supply chain management combined with hands-on learning and community-based partnerships, it can provide diverse small business owners with the practical skills and supportive networks that drive growth while also serving innovation and opportunity for learners.

2023 Graduation Speaker Tony Gomes has invested in future STEM grads

Always proud of his Husky roots, Tony Gomes, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer for Cloud Software Group, and the 2023 CPS commencement speaker, recently made a generous gift of $500,000 to the College to establish the Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza Associate-to-Master’s (A2M) Scholars Fund.

Tony Gomes pictured with Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun.

Starting in the fall of 2023, this fund will support a cohort of low-income students at CPS’s Boston campus with an accelerated pathway from community college to an advanced college degree and a subsequent career in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

This gift will build upon the successful A2M STEM model that is already transforming the lives and careers of underrepresented students.

The Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza A2M Scholars Fund will utilize Northeastern’s global network and signature experiential learning opportunities while promoting academic diversity, catalyzing a transformative educational experience, and increasing access to careers in the STEM.

The fund will award between six and ten scholarships per year for the next three years, with students being eligible to have scholarships renewed each year to ensure the cohort progresses smoothly through their academic journey. The students supported by this fund will be known as the Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza Scholars.

With this gift, the couple hope to increase diversity in the work force and provide students with a strong foundation on which to launch their careers in STEM.

A Deeper Look at Northeastern’s A2M Degree Program

To address the growing need for diversity and talent in the workforce, Northeastern University established an Associate-to-Master’s degree (A2M) program in Spring 2019. In this accelerated pathway, learners earn an associate degree at a partnering community college, followed by a bachelor’s and master’s degree in STEM from Northeastern. The A2M model is highly scalable, highly replicable, and ready to be deployed across all of our Northeastern campuses.

Biotech students in a lab

In addition to providing structure and support for eligible low-income students as they work towards their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the Northeastern A2M program model also prepares learners for success by providing valuable research experiences, paid internships, industry and peer mentorships, specialized advising, and other tailored academic, career, and social supports along the way.

Northeastern’s first A2M program was in Biotechnology and, to date, has served more than 150 students, with more than an 82% retention rate at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. The learners are diverse: 61% are first-generation college students, 66% are under-represented minorities in the field, and 66% are female.

The A2M program reflects Northeastern’s commitment to enabling educational equity and diversity while complementing our strategic aspirations to enable underserved students to pursue a master’s degree and reach their professional goals.

How you can make a difference

All of us here at CPS are incredibly grateful to Tony for his gift, and the vision he has behind it is one that is written into our Husky DNA. Only, we can’t do it alone, even with amazing alumni like Tony Gomes. To help us make the Antonio G. Gomes and Maria Cristina De Souza A2M Scholars Fund a permanent offering at CPS, we ask that you please consider a philanthropic investment. We at CPS invite you to join Tony and us if you believe the best way to change someone’s life is through the opportunity to receive a world-class education – while also instilling Northeastern’s distinctive approach to life and learning.

We ask you to share your excitement and enthusiasm about a Northeastern education and consider giving to or establishing a scholarship fund for future Huskies yourself.

It is through your generous support that we can make an enduring difference in the lives of promising but traditionally underserved students, building a bridge to higher education enabling learners to fulfill their full potential.

If you would like more information about scholarship opportunities, please contact Tara Esfahanian [email protected].

New Study Shows Why Companies Should Be More Strategic About Their Human Capital Management

In a new report, Human Capital Measurement and Reporting: The New Frontier in Talent Strategy and ESG, four CPS authors make the case for rethinking how companies can better manage and measure human assets.

Baseball Player Sidelined by Disability Hits Home Run With Education

After a sudden and serious medical condition ended his baseball career, Ryan Westmoreland, CPS bachelor’s student in liberal studies with a focus on leadership and business management, is reinventing himself in the sport he loves.

Meet the CPS Lecture—Making Connections in Project Management

Making Connections in Project Management: What professional project management is, why companies are investing in it, and how you can grow your career.

Northeastern University in Arlington is pleased to host a Taster Lecture with the College of Professional Studies focusing on our Master of Science in Project Management.

In this class, you will have the opportunity to hear a brief overview of the discipline, why it matters, and where it is growing. You will also learn how the College of Professional Studies offers an accessible but effective degree to give students the skills they need to join this growing revolution.

After a presentation in the main room, attendees will be able to learn more about specific areas of project management in small group conversations with Northeastern faculty members in breakout rooms. Enrollment counselors and academic advisors will be available in the main room to answer questions about applying and getting started in the program.

Shannon Alpert headshot

Workshop facilitator: Shannon Alpert

Dr. Shannon Alpert spent the first 15 years of her career leading projects and teams responsible for creating learning solutions in the telecommunications and financial services industries. She also consulted with K-8 and higher education organizations on project and portfolio management while also teaching online graduate courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Dr. Alpert joined Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies at the end of 2014 and served for over 6 years in the Doctor of Education (EdD) program. She was the lead faculty for the Integrative Studies concentration of the EdD program, principal instructor for the Advanced Research Design course, and dissertation chair for over 30 doctoral research projects. In 2021, Dr. Alpert joined the Professional Programs domain as a principal instructor for the Bachelor of Science in Project Management. In 2022, she became Faculty Lead for Project Management programs, including the Master of Science in Project Management, Bachelor of Science in Project Management, and graduate certificate programs.

We will also have time for a Q&A, so bring any questions you have for Shannon Alpert.