A Gift Across Generations
In funding a named scholarship, Jean A. Kovacs pays forward a debt of gratitude for the life-altering education she received at Northeastern
When Jean A. Kovacs, who graduated from Northeastern’s University College in 1983, left foster care in Wilmington, MA, at age 18, the career paths for a woman of her background looked extremely limited.
“As a female,” she told students and families at the 2022 CPS Undergraduate Scholarship Celebration, “you were either going to be a nurse or a teacher, or maybe you’d get a job as a clerk, typist, or a secretary.”
Kovacs started as a clerk-typist at a small company near Wilmington, and soon fell in love with the world of business. She knew she would need an education to rise in the field, and she started taking evening classes—marketing, computer science, accounting—at Northeastern’s Burlington campus. A few years later, thanks to the availability of evening and weekend classes, she finished her degree.
“I was learning things in class that I could then bring and apply at work, so it made the learning process so much more real for me,” Kovacs said. “My job got better, my work performance got better, but also the effort that I put into my classes got better, because I could see the application.”
“That,” she said, “is what I love about the College of Professional Studies.”
Decades later, the entrepreneur, venture capitalist, angel investor, and onetime finance major was present at the Scholarship Celebration to present the inaugural Jean A. Kovacs Scholarship, an endowment she established in 2020 to support female students interested in pursuing careers in business or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). She has come a long way from those early days, and now she wants to pay it forward.
“My head and my heart go out to you and all the work you’ve done,” she told students. “My story is probably very similar to a lot of you.”
Among those in the room was Cynthia Thin, ’23, a finance and accounting management major and the first recipient of the Kovacs Scholarship. The daughter of Cambodian immigrants, Thin worked from a young age to support herself and her family. At 16, she recalled in the speech she gave at the reception, she was working seven days a week, even as she maintained her studies in high school.
One reason Northeastern has been such a good fit, Thin says, is that it has offered the flexibility her family needs. On a typical day, she’ll help her partner with his bakery until 7 a.m., arrive at the office by 8 a.m., work until 5 p.m. and then attend class in the evening. When she completes her degree next spring, Thin plans to enter Northeastern’s accelerated nursing program so that she can combine skills in business and healthcare to start her own beauty and wellness salon.
“I still have a lot of work to do before I can achieve that goal,” Cynthia said. “But I’m grateful to have mentors and role models to motivate me. As a recipient of the Jean A. Kovacs Scholarship, I have Jean as a role model now. It’s exactly the kind of encouragement I need. Thank you [Jean] for your generosity and example.”
Reflecting on her scholarship in her remarks at the reception, Kovacs said she was thrilled to meet Thin, and that the experience “sort of brings everything back full circle.” As she introduced Thin, she also offered her an invitation to continue the circle of giving.
“I’d also like to challenge you that in 20 or 30 years you’re up here because you’ve established the Cynthia Thin scholarship,” she said with a smile. “Congratulations.”
Gifts to support scholarships for CPS undergraduate students in any amount can be made by clicking here .
Annual Undergraduate Scholarship Reception Honors Students, Benefactors
Supporting scholarships is all about giving back. Dozens of Huskies who received scholarships to support their education—dating back to the time of University College in the 1960s—have made the choice to establish named scholarships to support future generations of students following in their footsteps. Paying it forward is a long-standing tradition at the College of Professional Studies; so, it’s no surprise that in her speech at the annual undergraduate scholarship reception on August 23, 2022, Jean Kovacs, UC’83, challenged her own named scholarship recipient to do just that in the future when she is able.
Cynthia Thin, Class of 2023, is the inaugural recipient of the Jean A. Kovacs Scholarship, an endowment that Jean established in 2020 to support female students interested in pursuing careers in business or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Cynthia happens to be interested in both. Once she completes her degree in Finance and Accounting Management next spring, Cynthia intends to enter Northeastern’s accelerated nursing program so that she can combine skills in business and healthcare to start her own beauty and wellness salon.
“I still have a lot of work to do before I can achieve that goal,” Cynthia said in the speech she gave at the reception. “But I’m grateful to have mentors and role models to motivate me. As a recipient of the Jean A. Kovacs Scholarship, I have Jean as a role model now. It’s exactly the kind of encouragement I need. Thank you [Jean] for your generosity and example.”
The financial benefit of a scholarship is most often compounded by the human connection and encouragement of a benefactor. “There is no doubt in my mind that Cynthia has the passion and drive to achieve the lofty goals she has set for herself, just as Jean did before her,” added Dean Radhika Seshan as she closed the annual reception.
The College of Professional Studies celebrates 224 undergraduate students who received scholarships totaling $421,000 for the 2022-2023 academic year, thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends of Northeastern.
Meet Our New and Promoted Faculty
This year, the College of Professional Studies welcomed eight new faculty colleagues and celebrated five faculty colleagues who earned a promotion, whose accomplishments are listed below.
The faculty of the College of Professional Studies create exceptional learning experiences that are essential to our students’ success. Along with that demonstrated excellence, the faculty also share a commitment to exploring new ways of responding to the changing needs of our students. Our faculty members’ ingenuity, expertise, and creativity in program and curriculum development prove that education can persist and even flourish during difficult times.
Dr. Ammar Aamer
Ammar Aamer, PhD, is an associate teaching professor in the Project Management program.
Dr. Aamer has more than 22 years of industry experience in project management, operations management, supply chain management and strategic business. He has served as a consultant on systems and processes including lean manufacturing, warehousing, six sigma, process and quality improvement and simulation modeling for numerous companies including Volvo, TRW Automotive, and Gap Inc. This included organizing and managing executive management training, developing capacity and asset-utilization models, and managing several continuous improvement projects.
Dr. Aamer has also served in various roles in education, including as assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and dean of the faculty of engineering and technology at Sana’a and Sampoerna Universities in Yemen and Indonesia. His publications include recent articles in the International Journal of Production Research, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, and Benchmarking: An International Journal. His research is currently focused on the areas of data analytics and supply chain management, artificial intelligence and project management, lean six sigma, change management, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Prior to his academic and business management roles, Dr. Aamer worked as a senior industrial engineer at Gap Inc.
Dr. Aamer earned his PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 2005. He has also achieved the Project Management Professional designation from the Project Management Institute. He lives in the greater Toronto area and teaches at Northeastern’s Toronto campus and online.
Dr. Noor Ali
Noor Ali, EdD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Ali has been a K-12 teacher for 15 years. She is the principal of Al-Hamra Academy, where her work has included mentoring faculty and students in bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) -based experiential learning to the school. In this role she has also led initiatives focused on civic engagement among marginalized populations focused on social justice.
Dr. Ali’s writing on social justice, marginalization, leadership and curriculum has been published in academic journals including Follow The Leader and popular media outlets such as the Teach Better blog. Her book, Critical Storytelling: Narratives of Muslim American Youth, is forthcoming this fall from Brill/Sense. Her research interests include Critical Race Theory (CRT), and she has coined a CRT subset, MusCrit. She has extensive experience with citizen science, youth civic engagement, social justice and equity and interfaith initiatives.
Dr. Ali is a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce for the Town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and has served as a board member on the Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, an organization that supports mental health. She has also worked extensively with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and serves on the Accreditation Commission of Independent Schools.
Dr. Ali earned her EdD from Northeastern in 2018. She lives in the greater Boston area and teaches at Northeastern’s Boston campus and online.
Jim Giumarra is an associate academic specialist and faculty lead for the Mechatronics Engineering program.
Professor Giumarra previously served as department chair for electronics engineering technology and chair of the mathematics and physics department at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, where he led the continuous improvement plan to ensure the relevance, sustainability and growth of the programs in the electronics department, developed a hybrid automation/robotics course curriculum fusing online instruction and an in-person lab model, and served as the sole faculty member on the school’s President’s Advisory Council. In addition, he was selected for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Teachers program to learn about Robotics and Controls at Texas A&M University and for the NSF-sponsored 20-hour “Revamping Robotics Education” workshop at Michigan Technological University, where he earned a certification as an instructor on the Fanuc industrial robot.
Prior to entering the education field, Professor Giumarra spent almost a decade in science research and engineering, most recently at Janis Research Company, where he designed custom cryogenic vacuum systems based on experimental requirements; expanded system design to include options for automation, vibration isolation, optical testing, in-situ magnetic field testing, and an in-situ device-feature measurement system; and developed and constructed control circuits for low-temperature test systems.
Professor Giumarra earned his master of science in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Illinois in 2000. He lives in the greater Boston area and teaches in Boston and online.
Dr. Umesh R. Hodeghatta
Umesh R. Hodeghatta, PhD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Analytics program.
An engineer, a scientist and an educator, Dr. Hodeghatta specializes in analytics, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, and cyber security. Dr. Hodeghatta has more than 25 years of experience in technical and senior management positions at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Cisco Systems, McAfee, and Wipro. As a data scientist, he helps business leaders arrive at data-driven decisions linked to their organizations’ strategies and financial goals. He has served in numerous professional organizations and regulatory bodies—including as senior technical advisor to the Government of India.
Dr. Hodeghatta previously served on the faculty of Kent State University in Ohio and the Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar, India, where he designed and taught courses. He was instrumental in setting up a high-speed optical network and data center with the integration of telephony and data in XUB. He has published in international journals and conference proceedings on topics ranging from “How to Build Chat-Bots Using Machine Learning and NLP” to “Can AI and Privacy Co-Exist?” Also, he is the author of two books: Business Analytics Using R: A Practical Approach and The InfoSec Handbook: An Introduction to Information Security published by Springer Apress. He also is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Dr. Hodeghatta earned his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Oklahoma State University and his PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 2015. He lives in the greater Boston area and teaches in Portland and Boston and online.
Dr. Megan Kennedy
Megan Kennedy, PhD, JD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Doctor of Law and Policy Program.
Dr. Kennedy served for six years as assistant district attorney in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, working in both district and superior courts. As a criminal prosecutor, she focused primarily on cases of family violence and sexual assault, earning both the Spotlight Award and the District Court Prosecutor of the Year award.
Dr. Kennedy joined Northeastern in 2018 as a lecturer in the Doctor of Law and Policy program, teaching courses on law and legal reasoning, research methods, qualitative methods and law and policy concepts. Her research interests include courts and the decision-making of court actors; victims of crime; policy and legal reform; and research methods. She has published articles on the processing of court cases, the harsh sentencing of juveniles, and the dynamics of misdemeanor plea bargaining. In her current role, she is responsible for the research methods curriculum, student thesis advising, and teaching. Her prior teaching roles include positions at Southern New Hampshire University and the State University of New York at Albany (UAlbany).
Dr. Kennedy earned her law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2002 and her PhD from the School of Criminal Justice of UAlbany in 2018. A member of the American Society of Criminology and the Law and Society Association, she is also licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. She lives in Seattle and teaches in Seattle and Boston and online.
Dan Koloski is professor of the practice in the Analytics program and director of professional studies at the Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland, Maine.
Professor Koloski joined Northeastern after spending more than 20 years in the IT and software industry, working in both technical and business management roles in companies large and small. This included application development, product management and partnerships, and helping lead a spin-out and sale from a venture-backed company to Oracle. Most recently, Professor Koloski was vice president of product management and business development at Oracle, where he was responsible for worldwide direct and channel go-to-market activities, partner integrations, product management, marketing/branding and mergers and acquisitions for more than $2 billion in product and cloud-services business. Before Oracle, he was CTO and director of strategy of the web business unit at Empirix, a role that included product management, marketing, alliances, mergers and acquisitions and analyst relations. He also worked as a freelance consultant and Allaire-certified instructor, developing and deploying database-driven web applications.
Professor Koloski’s previous work experience focused on the application of advanced analytical techniques to software testing, IT operations and cyber security. His teaching is focused on building the next generation of data citizens across the technical and business spectrum through delivery of technical and experiential education courses to graduate students. Professor Koloski directs the professional programs faculty team at the Roux Institute and delivers a variety of lifelong learning experiences for Northeastern industry partners.
Professor Koloski holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2002. He lives in the greater Portland, Maine, area and teaches at the Roux Institute Portland campus and online.
Dr. Yvonne Leung
Yvonne Leung, PhD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Analytics program.
Dr. Leung previously served as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She is also a scientist at the University Health Network, the largest research institute in Canada, where she designs and evaluates artificial intelligence (AI)-based psychosocial and supportive care services for cancer patients to improve quality of life and access to care.
Dr. Leung has more than 15 years of experience in psychosocial and mental health research and has secured over C$880,000 in personal awards and research funding as a principal investigator and over half a million dollars as a co-investigator. She has published 39 peer-reviewed journal articles in psychosocial care and health services research.
Currently, Dr. Leung is leading two projects using machine learning-based natural language processing algorithms to assist online support group therapists in tracking real-time participant progress and to develop Chatbot solutions for automated self-care support tailored to patients with metastatic breast cancer. Her expertise encompasses administrative databases, patient-reported outcomes, psychometrics, advanced statistical techniques including machine learning, trajectory analysis, latent structure analysis, and cluster analysis. She is also knowledgeable in qualitative analytic methods such as grounded theory and thematic and content analysis, as well as in interpretive descriptive methods. Among the courses she has taught are “Introduction to Statistics,” “Research Methods,” “Survey Methods,” and “Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis” to both healthcare professionals and senior analysts.
Dr. Leung earned her PhD in kinesiology and health science from York University in Toronto in 2011. She lives in the greater Toronto area and teaches at the Toronto campus and online.
Dr. Shanu Sushmita
Shanu Sushmita, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Analytics program.
Shanu Sushmita, who specializes in machine learning, data mining, information retrieval and health analytics, has worked for more than a decade as a researcher and teacher of computer science at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Most recently, she was an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, School of Engineering and Technology, concurrently holding a faculty position in the Master’s in Business Analytics program at Milgard Business School at UW, Tacoma.
Previously, Dr. Sushmita was head of data science at KenSci, a Seattle healthcare company that provides AI platform for digital health and healthcare solutions. Her role included strategic planning, designing a vision for data science and managing a team of data and research scientists to demonstrate how healthcare payers and providers could use data and analytics to improve and standardize clinical care, reduce costs, achieve population health goals and make better strategic decisions for their organizations.
Dr. Sushmita’s research interests include applications of machine learning, information retrieval and utilizing data to improve user experience. In the course of her doctoral studies at the University of Glasgow, she taught courses in data science, analytics and natural language processing, and she has published on topics in healthcare, social media, artificial intelligence (AI) and information retrieval.
Dr. Sushmita holds a B.E in Computer Science from North Maharashtra University and a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in Computer Science. She lives in the greater Seattle area and teaches in Seattle and online.
Congratulations to five faculty members of the College of Professional Studies who have been promoted. The following faculty members have been recognized for their excellence in teaching and curriculum development. Promotion also recognizes their contributions to the college and university through their leadership, service, educational innovation, discovery and professional engagement in their fields.
Dr. Christopher Bolick
Christopher Bolick, EdD, has been promoted to associate teaching professor in the project management program.
Dr. Bolick, who has served at Northeastern since 2013 as a part-time faculty member, as a full-time faculty member and currently as faculty leader, brings extensive experience with a Fortune 40 company in project management and business process improvement.
In his role as lead faculty for the project management programs, Dr. Bolick has worked to establish faculty onboarding as well as faculty mentoring and support, as the program has grown in size and quality across six regional campuses. He was one of the first faculty members to pilot livecast teaching from the Charlotte campus to Boston, and Project Management under his leadership was the first program to be fully mapped as competency-based, allowing further development at the modular level and opening the door to badging and stackability for students through prior learning assessments. He has also served as chair of the CPS Academic Programs Committee, which oversees and shepherds all new program and program changes across all academic areas in CPS.
Dr. Bolick has taught graduate courses including “Project Foundations,” “Project Cost & Scheduling,” “Project Evaluation,” “Special Topics,” and “Project Capstone” in addition to partnering with organizations in the nuclear, pharma and municipalities fields to assess workforce needs and deliver certificates, multi-day workshops and credit-bearing courses. He presented at the Project Management Institute’s 2018 Technology and Talent Symposium and has co-authored a chapter in the areas of artificial intelligence, data analytics, and digital transformation as related to project management practices.
Dr. Bolick earned his EdD from Northeastern University in 2020.
Dr. Kelly J. Conn
Kelly J. Conn, PhD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Conn has been a full-time faculty member since 2012. Informed by her previous career in laboratory science, she has developed and taught courses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education including “Current and Emerging Practices in STEM Education” and “National and International Benchmarks in STEM Education.”
Dr. Conn is currently collaborating on a project to develop and expand experiential learning in elementary and secondary school classrooms by creating curriculum for the Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning (NExT). In this role, Dr. Conn has developed and taught courses for the Graduate Certificate in Experiential Teaching and Learning and serves as faculty lead for the Master’s of Education program in Learning and Instruction. She also teaches in the Doctor of Education program and serves as dissertation chair to several students.
Dr. Conn coauthored a book commissioned by the College of Professional Studies, The Lowell Institute School at Northeastern University (2015), and was lead science consultant to the Abakhokeli Project, a joint science-teacher-training effort of Northeastern and South Africa’s Western Cape Education Department. She has also served as the regional lead faculty member for the EdD program in Hong Kong.
Dr. Conn currently serves as co-investigator of a multi-year National Science Foundation grant that explores experiential, industry-connected learning experiences for high school students to foster interest and preparation for STEM careers.
She earned her PhD in biochemistry from Boston University in 1999 and has done postdoctoral work in neuroscience.
Dr. Shaunna Harrington
Shaunna Harrington, PhD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Harrington teaches in the master’s programs in the Graduate School of Education, and also teaches and advises undergraduates in the PlusOne program, which allows students to begin working toward their Master of Arts in Teaching degree while completing their bachelor’s degree. She has taught courses on curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and on the history of K12 and higher education, and was the long-time faculty lead for the master’s programs foundation course, “Culture, Equity, Power and Influence.” Dr. Harrington has served on a variety of internal committees including the College of Professional Studies Joint Task Force on Faculty Workload and the Faculty Performance Review and Merit Pay Task Force. She currently serves as the board president for the Massachusetts affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Dr. Harrington began her career as a middle school social studies teacher in the Boston Public Schools and has continued to focus her teaching and activism on equity and justice education. She has been engaged in action research focused on teaching social justice in online settings and on deepening equity practices in teacher education. She also researches the history of education and has presented on a variety of topics from community schools created by Black parents and activists in Boston in the 1960s to American colonial education in the Philippines in the early 20th century. She served as a Humanities Scholar on the public history project, The Long Road to Justice, which documents how African Americans have sought racial justice in the Massachusetts courts.
Dr. Harrington earned her PhD in history at Northeastern in 2019.
Dr. Kristen Lee
Kristen Lee, EdD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the behavioral science programs.
Since her full-time appointment in 2013, Dr. Lee has taught courses including “Engaging Diversity and Difference,” “Stress and Its Management,” “Assessing your Leadership Capability,” “Group Dynamics and Interpersonal Conflict,” and has advanced Northeastern’s mission in a wide variety of ways. A pioneer in developing the college’s Experiential Network (XN) model and an innovator with the PlusOne stackable credential model, she is lead faculty member in behavioral science within the college’s Healthcare and Biotech domain, serves as faculty-in-residence in International Village, and earned the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award. Her leadership on mental health and resilience has significantly shaped the university’s approaches to supporting students.
Dr. Lee also serves as a Global Resilience Institute Faculty Affiliate. Active on campus and in the media as an advocate for global mental health, Dr. Lee is a frequent conference presenter and author. Her 2014 book, Reset: Make the Most of Your Stress: Your 24-7 Guide for Well-Being, won Motivational Book of the Year in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is also the author of Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today’s World, and the upcoming Worth the Risk: How to Microdose Bravery to Grow Resilience, Connect More, and Offer Yourself to the World, and the Rethink Your Way to the Good Life column for Psychology Today. Her TEDx talk, “The Risk You Must Take” has been viewed more than 311,000 times.
A Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Dr. Lee speaks and consults globally on resilience, has shared her expertise as a grant reviewer for U.S. federal agencies for more than two decades, and has spoken at more than 40 events across the university.
Dr. Lee earned her EdD in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern in 2011.
Dr. Corliss Thompson
Corliss Thompson, PhD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.
Since her full-time appointment in 2013, Dr. Thompson has taught research methods, research design, and social justice courses, including “Culture, Equity, Power, and Influence,” “Research Design,” and “Qualitative Research Methods.” Her work centers on her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and she has contributed significantly to the development of NExT, the Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning, serving as a panelist and creating materials and workshops.
Dr. Thompson is passionate about using culturally relevant and experiential approaches in her teaching and mentoring. She uses research methodology and program evaluation approaches for deeper understanding and improvement of teaching and learning and helps colleagues and students employ the same approach. Dr. Thompson is currently principal investigator on a 2019 National Science Foundation grant focused on experiential learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for high school students. She has also served on a number of committees in the College of Professional Studies and the university, such as the Provost Search Committee, and she presents on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion across the university and beyond.
Before becoming a faculty member, Dr. Thompson worked in a research and evaluation office in a school district in North Carolina and at the University of North Carolina, where she earned her doctoral degree. She also was an elementary school teacher in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, NC.
Dr. Thompson earned her PhD in Educational Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.
College honors master’s and doctoral graduates, citing ‘ingenuity and resilience’, with ceremonies that emphasize service, perseverance and experiential learning.
The words of Brent Musson, (Doctor of Law and Policy ’20), captured the mood at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation Ceremony of the College of Professional Studies in Matthews Arena Sept. 9—and at the Master’s Graduation Ceremony in the same location the following day: “Humanity at its best,” the 2020 Dean’s Medal recipient said in his remarks to the successful doctoral candidates, “is humanity in gratitude.”
Gratitude was in abundance both days as faculty, administrators, students and their families—as well as friends of the College worldwide via livestream—celebrated the graduates’ achievements in the face of extraordinary challenges. Speakers at the ceremonies praised the degree recipients for their perseverance in scholarship despite a global pandemic, their passionate commitment to learning and their determination to address real-world problems in their project-based learning and research.
‘Both humility and pride’
In his opening remarks on Sept. 9, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David Madigan, Ph.D., welcomed the College of Professional Studies (CPS) community, expressed his faith in the graduates’ future success and his pride in their accomplishments and celebrated their membership in Northeastern’s “powerful knowledge network” dedicated to the dream of a more just and equitable society. He was followed at the podium by Interim Dean of CPS Dr. David Fields, who noted the unusual degree to which CPS students break down the barriers between work and learning.
“Our doctoral students are already fulltime professionals and leaders in their fields,” Dr. Fields observed. “In true Northeastern fashion, they are researching what they live, and living what they research, every day.”
Dr. Fields went on to explain the significance of the hooding ceremony—so-called because doctoral students traditionally have the hoods of their academic regalia lifted over their heads by faculty.
“The symbolism of the hooding ceremony at our doctoral commencement honors both the doctoral candidate’s work and the network of relationships that make that work possible,” Fields said. “[It] embodies both humility and pride, on both sides of the relationship, as faculty members welcome a new peer into their community.”
Faculty speaker Dr. Mounira Morris (B.S. ’91, M.S. ’95), assistant teaching professor and the co-lead for the Master of Education in Higher Education Administration program, offered her congratulations to the graduates and acknowledged the special challenges that had arisen during their studies, including the pandemic and the persistence of racial injustice. She quoted James Baldwin, noting his achievements as a playwright, novelist and civil rights activist: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
“To me,” Dr. Morris said, “this means that at times we will collectively endure hardship; however, we can use these experiences, especially as doctors, to offer wisdom, hope, and a better path forward.”
A longtime leader in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)—and currently working with colleagues at Northeastern to develop a new academic credential in DEI—Dr. Morris emphasized the power for good inherent in the attainment of an advanced degree, encouraging the graduates to find creative solutions to the challenges in their professions, communities and personal lives.
“We, as faculty,” she said, “ask that you take your research, and go out and change your world, your profession, your workplace and make it just a little bit better than before. We, as faculty, believe you can persevere and persist. We know you can.”
Dr. Musson, whose acceptance of the 2020 Dean’s Medal had been previously postponed due to Covid-19 precautions, suggested in his remarks that the attitude of an academic researcher is “not that of an author or maker, but rather that of an explorer.” He praised the selflessness and commitment of his peers and made a critical distinction between an undergraduate education—which, he said, “teaches a student how to learn”—and a graduate education, in which students learn “to use tools … to solve other people’s problems” and to create value, going “from inward-facing to outward-facing.”
He noted that, soon after a doctoral candidate’s academic journey begins, “we become acutely aware of what we’re signing up for; to spend the next few years engaged in the most rigorous intellectual exercise of our lives, to extract a single, pure, tiny drop of insight to ever-so-slightly raise the sea level of the ocean of human knowledge.”
And he described a moment of inspiration in what he termed a spiritual awakening: a street soccer game he had observed in West Africa more than a decade earlier, where, when a beautiful goal was scored, both teams celebrated. Drawing a parallel between the players’ selfless joy and the academic community he had found at Northeastern, Dr. Musson said, “These happy boys had purpose; and that purpose made them work together, against all odds to orchestrate a moment of greatness—a moment of pure, unselfish greatness.
“I’ve never circled a soccer field making wings with my arms,” he continued, “but research has made me part of our team, and this humbling honor is our winning goal.”
As Dr. Musson finished his speech, the audience rose to deliver a sustained standing ovation.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. Madigan returned to the stage to offer closing remarks, praising the successful doctoral candidates for their “drive, dedication and sense of purpose.”
“The world is ever changing,” he said, “but you are prepared to meet—and conquer—its challenges.”
‘A day full of promise’
The following afternoon, Dr. Madigan returned to welcome master’s graduates to the arena on “a day full of promise.” He praised their “clear-eyed determination, discipline and hard work,” and offered special recognition to the faculty who, he said, by guiding the graduates to success, “have strengthened a legacy of knowledge and helped shape the future in scores of fields of professional endeavor.”
Following Dr. Madigan’s remarks, Dr. Fields spoke, celebrating the graduates’ global engagement and their cultivation of “the cultural competencies needed for a lifetime of contribution in a fast-paced, diverse, global society.” He went on to emphasize the benefits of their embrace of experiential learning, noting that in so doing, they had “addressed pressing, real-world problems” and become “well-prepared to lead from experience in the workplace.”
Dr. Fiona Creed, associate teaching professor and faculty director of the Global Studies and International Relations program, next introduced student speaker Ebony Small, ’21.
Reflecting on a year of adversity, Small observed “the pandemic itself could neither make nor break us” and asked graduates to consider the ways in which the challenges of the past 18 months had taught them to know their own courage, ambition, and steadfastness.
“We did not make it to this moment merely because we just-so-happened to survive a global pandemic,” Small said. “No, we made it here because we made the choice to value education and then fiercely pursued it. My dear friends and colleagues, despite the unexpected challenges of this year, we thrived. We grew. We changed.”
“This,” she concluded, “is what it looks like to turn a choice into a change. This is what it looks like to champion growth. Congratulations.”
From humble roots to world-renowned
Following an introduction by Dr. Earlene Avalon, associate professor and lead faculty for Health Administration and Health Sciences, graduation speaker Carl H. Whittaker, a philanthropist whose life path has spanned business, engineering and music, addressed the community.
A director of the Herb and Maxine Jacobs Foundation—which supports the College’s “A2M” or “Associates to Masters” program, offering an accelerated pathway from a community college associate’s degree to a bachelor’s at the College of Professional Studies and a master’s degree in Biotechnology at Northeastern’s College of Science—Whittaker began by invoking Northeastern’s origins as a vocational school offering evening classes, run by the YMCA.
“We all know that Northeastern is now a world-renowned university, highly ranked in many fields,” Whittaker said. “But inside this world-class institution is still the legacy of that 1898 night school.”
Whittaker linked this history with Northeastern’s emphasis on internship experiences, co-ops, and other programs that connect students to “great employers and great jobs.” He applauded the graduates for their effort and creativity in juggling jobs, families, and studies, urged them to embrace the role of mentor for other aspiring scholars, and invited them to fight income inequality—as his foundation does in part by supporting scholarships at Northeastern.
“I am inviting each of you to join my fight against economic inequality by encouraging at least one or two others to join you in earning an advanced degree,” Whittaker said. “Just be ready when you see a family member or neighbor who would value your guidance. Your friendly support might be thing that leads someone to a more prosperous and fulfilling life.”
The Doctoral Hooding and Master’s Ceremony were livestreamed from Matthews Arena. Click the links below to view recordings of the ceremonies.
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The Pandemic Made the CPS Class of 2021 Double Down and Remain Focused
The pandemic was remembered at the College of Professional Studies’ master’s degree graduation ceremony on Friday as a unifying force that bred a kind of resilience and flexibility that allowed students to bend, but not break, under the pressure of a global health crisis.
“I Know He Would be So Proud” – Scholarship Donors Connect with Students
Written by Stephanie Krzyzewski
“Always, always be grateful to those who helped you.” These are the closing words of Marisa Lemus-Reynoso (Biotechnology, Class of 2023) as she addressed a crowded Raytheon Amphitheater at the annual College of Professional Studies undergraduate scholarship reception on the evening of August 19, 2021 on Northeastern’s Boston campus.
Marissa has good reason to be thankful, as do the dozens of other students in the room. A few weeks ago, they received the news that they would be receiving additional financial aid for the 2021-2022 academic year thanks to philanthropic contributions made by alumni and friends of Northeastern.
The College of Professional Studies has more than 50 scholarship funds established and supported through philanthropy throughout the past 40 years. For the upcoming academic year, this translates to approximately $400,000 in scholarship funding being awarded to more than 200 undergraduate students. Each summer the College hosts an event on campus to celebrate scholarship recipients and recognize their generous benefactors.
Marissa Lemus-Reynoso is receiving two scholarship this year – the Charles E. and Gail A. Evirs, Jr. Scholarship and the David R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship – and her benefactors were in the room on August 19 to hear her personal story and support her academic journey.
Nancy Johnson, who spoke just before Marissa, established the David R. Johnson Memorial Scholarship in memory of her late husband in 2019 along with her sister and brother-in-law, Joan and Pete Johnson. Dave, who earned his business degree from Northeastern in 1976, passed away in June 2018, and establishing the scholarship was a way for his family to find solace in his loss.
It was a special moment when Nancy introduced Marissa and invited her to take the stage, giving her an elbow-bump by way of welcome. Nancy had just finished sharing the story of Dave’s academic and professional journey, and you could hear her voice crack with emotion as she said, “Receiving this scholarship means Marissa’s life will forever be connected to Dave’s legacy, and I know he would be so proud of her if he’d had the chance to meet her.”
That sentiment is a tidy way to describe the purpose of this annual event – celebrating the impact of scholarships and the ability they have to transform lives and to foster lifelong connections among the Northeastern community.
College of Professional Studies Undergraduate Scholarship Program
Learn more about undergraduate scholarships at the College of Professional Studies and view photos and video from the 2021 annual reception event.
If you have any questions about the undergraduate scholarship program at the College of Professional Studies, please contact Stephanie Krzyzewski, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Funds, at [email protected].
CPS Announces Experiential Learning Award Winners
The Experiential Learning Awards are a recognition opportunity for students within the College of Professional Studies. They are awarded to students who have successfully integrated the classroom with real world projects, going above and beyond in their educational journeys. Our programs engage students with the world through professional work, research, and service on seven continents. They learn how to transform ideas into impact and become global citizens with successful careers.
Each year we recognize outstanding students who demonstrate great skills while on Co-op, through XN projects or sponsorship, through the Experiential Learning Awards. We hear nominations of highly accomplished students about what they were able to accomplish through our experiential opportunities. The students selected for these awards are nominated by their Co-op employers, XN Project Sponsors, Faculty or staff. The awards are broken down into three main categories: Co-op Excellence, XN Excellence, and Humanics.
Cooperative Excellence Award Winners
This award is for students who have demonstrated dedication and success in improving their organization through their workplace contributions and experiential learning.
MS Analytics, 2020
“Isha joined Tradewater during a period of transition for our Engineering department and was quickly asked to take over many of the responsibilities of a full-time developer. She helped us implement a new CRM system, a new call center software tool, and API integrations for both. She also developed new sets of metrics to track the implementation and success of our refrigerant collection programs. All of this was done with a great work ethic and a wonderful attitude that made Isha a pleasure to work with.” – Kevin Schwartzenberg, Director of Engineering and Innovation at Tradewater
Watch Isha’s nomination video
MS Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices, 2019
“Adam joined VoxNeuro as part of this program and is now a full-time employee at VoxNeuro leading our FDA strategy, ISO 13485 development, and audit, along with full training and implementation of our QSPs. He has an incredible ability to think at a high-level while simplifying his communications for the average colleague. He is diligent, articulate, thoughtful, and a no-nonsense speaker, when he speaks, the team listens. I have personally received emails from our regulatory consultants, our main contact at the FDA and Health Canada, as well as our most valued investors, who all had gone out of their way to share with me how professional, productive, focused, and reliable Adam was for them. Adam is young in his career yet taking on a leadership role and thriving. I can see the pressure he is under and he manages it like a seasoned veteran.” – James Connoly, CEO of VoxNeuro
XN Excellence Award Winners
Experiential Network (XN) helps Northeastern University students work in their respective fields while working with different sponsors on a wide array of projects. The XN Experiential Awards celebrated a student who excelled in their XN curricular course project by applying knowledge gained in their academic program through the integration of key theoretical elements and related practical experiences.
MS Corporate & Organizational Communication, 2019
“Nicole thoroughly reviewed CareerAgility’s content strategy across all internal and external channels as well as marketing collateral/materials and provided recommendations on how to drive the CareerAgility brand forward by gaining visibility from prospective clients, and establishing thought leadership in the diversity, inclusion and belonging industry.
Nicole provided insightful and practical recommendations – the sponsor was so impressed that they asked her to serve as a consultant (which our guidelines do not permit). This was a top-notch experiential capstone!” – Carl Zangerl, Program Lead of Corporate and Organizational Communication
Watch Nicole’s nomination video
MS Project Management, 2019
“Mr. Roberts made a highly favorable impression in my project management integrated experiential learning seminar. This advanced course requires students to apply principles of project management within their own professional workplace. For the course, as part of Joshua’s broader responsibilities as an associate production manager for a Boston-based theatrical company, he meticulously researched, created, and then implemented a tailor-made and comprehensive internal communications plan and external social media campaign that applied principles of organizational management. His project focused on the interrelation among various determinants of effective organizational communication and the impact of these determinants on successful outcomes for his theater company’s managers, actors, and staff as well as the audiences attending each theatrical production.” – Peter Lifton, Professor
Watch Joshua’s nomination video
Humanics Award Winners
Humanics is specifically the integration of technical literacy, data literacy, and human literacy. This award celebrates and highlights a student who exhibits and demonstrates Humanics, contributes significantly to the understanding of the universe, and practices lifelong learning by combining technical, data, and interpersonal skills throughout their Northeastern career and within their respective communities.
Andres (Carlos) Garcia
BS Liberal Studies 2020
“The student exhibited exemplary qualities of intentionality and passion during his Capstone course, in which Carlos researched mindfulness practices and techniques best suited in a yoga format for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Carlos’s research worked to break down barriers allowing for an inclusive and enriching environment for all while practicing mindfulness. Carlos was also very helpful in providing his peers with thoughtful feedback on their projects during peer-review. Carlos deserves this award because of his unwavering focus to help others be more inclusive.” – Steven Soares, Professor
Chen Fang (Anna) Hung
MS Project Management, 2020
“Chen Fang (Anna) Hung is a dependable, hard-working intern who has contributed greatly to our online support group for Chinese women living with breast cancer with her bi-lingual capacity and tech support. Her knowledge about WeChat and her dedication to the project enables us to capture valuable data and assess the effectiveness of this new initiative!” – Chien-Chi Huang, Executive Director of Asian Women for Health
Watch Anna’s nomination video
Congratulations to all of this year’s Experiential Learning Award winners!
Celebrating our Newest Graduates– Virtually
The college celebrated the achievements of undergraduate and master’s graduates in a virtual recognition ceremony on May 15. Watch highlights from the ceremony below, and click here to watch the full ceremony, which includes candidates’ personalized messages and photos as well as messages from faculty members. Congratulations to our newest graduates!
Mary Loeffelholz, Dean of the College of Professional Studies, welcomes students, families and friends to the virtual recognition ceremony.
David Fields, Senior Associate Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs and Professional Programs, introduces this year’s student speakers.
Anh (Ann) Doan and Tien (Tiffany) Nguyen, this year’s student speakers, discuss their career goals and how the college has helped them on their journey to create a start-up that supports women’s development.
Dave Hagen, Associate Teaching Professor, announces this year’s Excellence in Teaching award winners: Dr. Margaret Gorman and Dr. Wendy Crocker.
Dean Loeffelholz introduces the recognition ceremony speaker. Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Robert DeLeo, AS’72, gives his address to graduates.
Dean Loeffelholz introduces the ceremony’s alumni speaker. Clifford Harrison, CPS’15, addresses graduates as this year’s alumni speaker.
Congratulations to all of our newest graduates! Click here to watch the full ceremony, which includes graduates’ personalized messages and photos as well as individual messages from faculty members.
Elizabeth Zulick in New Role to Accelerate Research, Innovation, Discovery and Entrepreneurship
In recent years, the College of Professional Studies has successfully pursued and won major funding to support practice-focused educational research, discovery and innovation. And, the College’s faculty, staff and students are increasingly engaged in its entrepreneurship programs.
To further develop and promote the College’s efforts in these areas, Dr. Elizabeth Zulick, Assistant Teaching Professor and Faculty Director for the Healthcare and Biotechnology domain, has been named to a new role as Special Assistant to the Dean for Research, Innovation, Discovery and Entrepreneurship.
In her new position, Dr. Zulick will develop a college-wide advisory committee to gather and communicate information about relevant funding opportunities, coordinate approaches to major funders and connect faculty and students with entrepreneurial programs at Northeastern. Dr. Zulick will also make recommendations to the dean and the College of Professional Studies leadership team about funding priorities, and provide mentorship to faculty members.
Dr. Zulick brings an outstanding record of leadership and collaborative accomplishment to this role. Beyond her own continuing scientific research program, she is the principal investigator on a $4.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to provide continuous support for students moving from Middlesex Community College in Lowell, MA into the College of Professional Studies bachelor’s in Biotechnology and the College of Science master’s degree in Biotechnology – essentially from associate’s to master’s. The research component of the grant will explore the efficacy of the support systems piloted in the program in increasing the success of high-achieving, low-income students in this high-demand field.
Dr. Zulick has also collaborated with Graduate School of Education colleagues Dr. Corliss Thompson and Dr. Kelly Conn on another NSF grant of $400,000. This grant will explore the success of an innovative high school program offered by the Center for Advanced Professional Studies, the network partner of the Northeastern Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning (NExT). The goal of the program is to boost the motivation and persistence of young women and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
RISE Abstracts due February 20, 2020
At RISE, 2000+ industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and technology enthusiasts from diverse sectors engage more than 400 of Northeastern’s solution-focused innovations. Over 100 esteemed judges from a host of industries (clean energy, computer science, engineering, life science, and finance, for example) come together to measure the ingenuity of Northeastern research and determine the recipients of the prestigious RISE Awards.
This year’s RISE will be held on April 9, 2020. Abstracts are due February 20, 2020. Showcase your innovative project at the RISE Expo!
SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACT