Insurance Analytics and Management Virtual Information Session
We’ll be covering how an MPS in Insurance Analytics and Management can help you be successful in one of the most essential industries in the world with a forward-thinking, data-driven approach. You’ll learn how Northeastern prepares you to stand out and thrive in this rapidly growing field and discover a multitude of career paths available to you.
During the event, you’ll also:
- Hear from Yvonne Leung, assistant teaching professor; Connie Emerson, associate teaching professor; and more.
- Learn about the core features of our flexible insurance analytics and management program, including available concentrations and experiential learning opportunities.
- Discover the latest industry trends and emerging technologies incorporated into the program.
Date: July 10, 2023
Time: 08:00 AM to 09:00 AM
Event Category: Online
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.
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.
Small Business Owner Makes Big Move in Support of Ukraine
For more than ten years, College of Professional Studies alumna Natalie Kaminski ’06 owned a successful software company outside of Moscow. But when Russia attacked Ukraine earlier this year, the childhood she spent living in Ukraine spurred Kaminski’s decision to quickly help dozens of employees and the business move across the border to Georgia.
After a narrow escape, the company and its employees are making their way in a new home.
CPS Launches Master’s Degree in Applied Logistics
In an era of disruption, new credential will position graduates for success in diverse markets
With business leaders increasingly focused on overcoming the challenges of global disruption, a new degree in logistics promises to prepare graduates for success in multiple fields. Integrating multiple knowledge areas with advanced technology, the Master of Professional Studies in Applied Logistics will train students to respond nimbly to challenging circumstances, leveraging the increasingly important role of logistics and supply chain professionals in daily operations and strategic projects across industries.
“In today’s fast-paced and disrupted market, employers demand graduates ready to hit the ground running, graduates who have mastered the practical side of the complex and sophisticated field of supply chain management,” said Ammar Aamer, Ph.D., associate teaching professor in the Project Management Programs. “In response, the new applied logistics degree focuses on the day-to-day understanding and execution details of logistics and distribution operations within supply chain management. The curriculum is infused with data analytics, emerging technologies, project management, and leadership skills to prepare students to be creative and adaptive in an ever-changing world.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for logisticians—whose median pay in 2021 was $77,030—is projected to grow 30 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Students in the program will learn to handle unexpected challenges and develop leadership and project management skills to help communicate with customers, avoid reactionary responses, work collaboratively to find innovative solutions, and effectively collaborate across supply chains. Using project-based learning and short-term experiential projects, students will train to plan for the worst and lead confidently, responding to disruption without becoming overwhelmed.
The new degree is designed to prepare learners for professional roles that might include transportation, warehouse, and distribution manager; supply chain manager; distribution-center or warehouse operations supervisor; logistics or supply chain analyst; logistics specialist/analyst/manager; purchasing manager; inventory specialist; operations manager or project manager.
Like many CPS programs, the MPS in Applied Logistics was developed in consultation with corporate leaders. Drawing on the expertise of supply chain professionals from companies including Carhartt, Gulfstream, Gap, Inc., and Transportation Insight, faculty consulted a range of employers to better understand their hiring needs, deepening industry connections as they researched industry standards and practices. Then, they built essential professional skills into the curriculum.
Based on this research, the program integrates technical expertise with systems thinking. Students will learn to use descriptive analytics in real time, responding to variables such as changing customer profiles, sales trends, and unusual conditions in supplier networks as they learn to manage inventory, change packaging based on customer demand, and optimize routing among distribution centers as markets shift.
Graduates will thus benefit from a program focused on the applied science of distribution—one that employs a three-part approach to develop awareness and proficiency in existing and new technologies that impact distribution; builds skills and proficiency to holistically analyze and manage the dynamic interactions of the end-to-end supply chain components; and provides students with the tools they will need to confront disruption and confidently manage people and projects in highly fluid and dynamic environments.
An Accelerated Degree in Organizational Leadership
With the job market for management positions projected to grow rapidly until at least 2030—and U.S. companies eager to fill a self-described “leadership gap”—an accelerated master’s degree program centered on experiential learning prepares graduates for success in a broad range of fields.
“The new One Year Experiential Master of Science in Organizational Leadership can benefit professionals from all industries,” says Les Stein, assistant teaching professor and faculty director of the program. “This is a one-year degree that can energize graduates’ careers, make them more competitive in their individual professions, and offer opportunities to change their career trajectories or to grow within their current professional context.”
According to Stein, participants in the new program will begin with an introductory course in leadership in which they will conduct a self-inventory of their leadership skills, identifying areas of strength and opportunities for growth. In classes of 15 or fewer, students will explore a wide range of leadership styles, with special emphasis on understanding the ways digital technologies have shifted the landscape of leadership, with social media creating both new risks and new opportunities.
With sponsors from technology, healthcare, manufacturing, financial and other industry sectors providing meaningful, priority projects, and concentrations available in six categories—Coaching, Health Management, Human Resources Management, Leading and Managing Technical Projects, Organizational Communication, and Project Management—the new master’s degree program will give students ample opportunity for experiential learning. Representatives from industry partners will serve as speakers and lecturers, and students will work directly with partner employers to solve problems and connect with industry experts as they navigate the theories and techniques of leadership. The program is designed as a cohort model, offering students the opportunity to develop a network of peers, faculty, and potential employers.
“The accelerated, experiential Master of Science in Organizational Leadership will offer you valuable relationships with your program cohort as you gain firsthand experience in several industries and work alongside experts on real-world projects,” Stein said. “In just one year, you will complete your degree, add considerable connections to your professional network, and become a better candidate for your next promotion or dream job.”
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].