Kartika Ahire

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Husky Spirit | Global | Collaborative

Graduate school is hard. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you adapted to meet them?

Balancing studies with life’s demands is a universal experience, but for international students, it can feel like navigating an extra hurdle. I can personally attest to this. The competitive job market presented another challenge. I initially struggled to secure an internship or co-op position, I refused to be discouraged. I actively utilized the university’s career center.

However, I’ve learned to focus on continuous improvement rather than comparing myself to others. Northeastern’s diverse community and global focus have empowered me to capitalize on my unique skills and experiences. Today, I’m not just striving for academic success, but actively seeking ways to contribute to the vibrant tapestry of our university.

Why did you choose Northeastern?

Several factors drew me to Northeastern’s MS in Regulatory Affairs program at CPS. Firstly, the program’s renowned faculty boasts extensive industry experience. Secondly, the curriculum’s focus on both core knowledge and real-world application through case studies.

Navigating the complexities of regulatory science pushed me to continuously learn and adapt. Also the Boston campus, added feather to my cap.

What has your journey here revealed to you about yourself?

If I have to reflect on the journey at Northeastern, I will say that Resilience, Connections, and Adaptability skills helped me understand myself more. I even understood that these are my core strengths. The experience was enriching indeed here.

What advice would you give others like yourself considering higher education?

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Originally, I set my sights on the adrenaline rush of the medical field in India. But life, as it often does, had a different path in store. Landing in a BS in Pharmacy program ignited a passion for meticulous accuracy and technical expertise that lab work just couldn’t match. Leveraging this newfound strength, I knew healthcare was where I belonged. After all, who doesn’t want to contribute to a world where everyone thrives?

In the next five years, I envision myself establishing a successful career in the U.S. This will allow me to gain valuable professional experience and contribute to a dynamic work environment. While I ultimately plan to return to India and settle down, the skills and knowledge acquired here will be invaluable in shaping my future back home.

Beyond professional goals, I see myself fostering a healthy work-life balance. This includes prioritizing time for family and cherishing opportunities to travel and explore new places. These experiences will broaden my perspective and enrich my understanding of the world. Most importantly, I aspire to become a person of kindness and wisdom. I want to be someone who makes sound decisions and uses their skills and knowledge to uplift all members of society.

We are all more than the person who shows up at work or school. Share a bit about some of your other interests and passions.

Boston’s streets have a real charm to them, and I love soaking it all in. When I’m feeling touristy, I enjoy exploring all the must-see sights and landmarks. But Boston has so much more to offer!

Beyond the typical tourist attractions, the city has ignited a newfound love for museums, aquariums, and even the stunning Boston Public Library. Each visit is a unique experience.

When I need an escape from the city buzz, I head for the trails. My inner kid is always thrilled when I go hiking in the Blue Hills or venture further out to Franconia Notch State Park.

Any words of advice for prospective students?

Don’t Just Attend, Ascend!

College isn’t just about lectures and textbooks. It’s a vibrant ecosystem teeming with opportunities to grow. Dive headfirst into clubs and activities that ignite your passions. Be the student who lights up discussions, not the one lingering in the shadows. Actively seek guidance from professors across disciplines – their diverse perspectives are priceless gems waiting to be unearthed. Visit office hours of Professor.

Break Free from the Comfort Cage!

I get it. Familiarity can be comforting, especially when you’re navigating a new environment. But sometimes, the voices in your head whispering “what will they think?” can hold you back. Don’t let that happen! Embrace the diverse tapestry of your classmates – their backgrounds are a wellspring of unique ideas and experiences. Stepping outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens – where you discover new perspectives, hone your voice, and truly ascend to your full potential.

Srisha Rajasekar

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Fantabulous | Inclusive | Innovative

Getting a degree while life is happening isn’t always easy. How have you faced and overcome some of these challenges?

Embarking on the challenging journey of graduate studies has immersed me in a complex interplay of research pursuits, coursework obligations, and personal commitments, demanding an intricate dance of time management, unwavering dedication, and a resilient spirit. Balancing the demands of advanced academic endeavors with the intricacies of life requires a delicate touch, where the pursuit of knowledge collides with the realities of personal and professional responsibilities. The rigorous exploration of research topics necessitates a profound commitment to scholarly pursuits, while coursework provides a structured foundation for comprehensive understanding. Amidst this academic tapestry, the need for relentless time management becomes paramount, as each moment is valuable and demands purposeful allocation.

Navigating the labyrinth of graduate studies is a transformative experience, one that not only shapes intellectual growth but also demands adaptability, perseverance, and the ability to maintain focus amid multifaceted challenges. Yet, it is precisely in this delicate balance that the seeds of personal and academic triumph are sown, laying the groundwork for a future where knowledge, resilience, and dedication converge to shape a well-rounded graduate experience.

 What were some of the reasons you chose to join the Northeastern community? Since joining, what have been some of the opportunities and challenges you have experienced?

As a graduate student at Northeastern University, my decision to join this vibrant academic community was driven by several compelling factors. Firstly, Northeastern’s renowned faculty and cutting-edge research initiatives aligned seamlessly with my academic interests and career aspirations. The university’s commitment to experiential learning, co-op programs, and interdisciplinary collaboration provided a dynamic environment that promised not only theoretical knowledge but also practical insights and real-world applications. Since joining the Northeastern community, the opportunities presented have been manifold. Engaging in rigorous coursework has deepened my understanding of my field, while participating in research projects has allowed me to contribute to meaningful scholarly work. The access to state-of-the-art facilities, libraries, and collaborative spaces has enriched my academic journey, fostering an environment conducive to intellectual exploration and growth. However, like any academic pursuit, challenges have been an inherent part of my experience.

Balancing the demands of coursework, research commitments, and personal life has required meticulous time management and prioritization. Navigating the complexities of graduate studies, including the pressure to contribute meaningfully to research and maintain high academic standards, has been both demanding and rewarding. Nevertheless, the supportive and inclusive nature of the Northeastern community has played a crucial role in mitigating challenges.

Collaborative efforts with fellow graduate students, mentorship from faculty members, and the availability of resources such as workshops and counseling services have all contributed to a holistic graduate experience. In essence, my journey as a graduate student at Northeastern has been a transformative and enriching one, marked by a blend of academic rigor, research opportunities, and the cultivation of a supportive community that encourages both personal and intellectual development.

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

My experience at Northeastern University has been a revealing journey, uncovering my academic strengths, adaptability, and personal resilience. Engaging in challenging coursework and collaborative research projects has expanded my knowledge and demonstrated my ability to navigate complexity effectively. Experiential learning, particularly through co-op experiences, has emphasized the practical relevance of my studies and fueled a sense of purpose in contributing meaningfully to my field. On a personal level, overcoming the inherent challenges of graduate studies has showcased my determination and commitment to continuous growth. Interactions with mentors and fellow students have underscored the value of collaboration and mentorship, fostering a sense of belonging within an intellectually vibrant community that prioritizes collective progress. Overall, Northeastern has been a transformative chapter, refining my academic and professional goals while unveiling the depth of my capabilities and the importance of meaningful connections.

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

For prospective students considering higher education, particularly at Northeastern University, I offer the following advice based on my experience as a graduate student.

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

As a graduate student specializing in regulatory affairs, my interest in this field stems from a profound fascination with the intersection of science, policy, and industry. The dynamic nature of regulatory affairs captivates me, as it involves navigating the complex landscape of regulations to ensure the safety, efficacy, and compliance of products within various sectors, such as pharmaceuticals or medical devices. This pursuit is motivated by a genuine desire to contribute to public health and safety by facilitating the efficient and ethical development of products.

The evolving regulatory environment presents an exciting challenge, and the prospect of understanding and influencing regulatory frameworks is a driving force.

Moreover, the opportunity to bridge scientific advancements with regulatory compliance aligns with my long-term goal of fostering innovation while upholding the highest standards of safety and efficacy. In essence, my motivation lies in the impactful role regulatory affairs plays in shaping the future of industries and ensuring the well-being of individuals worldwide.

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

Upon completing my graduate studies in Regulatory affairs, my aim is to apply the comprehensive knowledge and skills acquired in both the public and private sectors. In the immediate aftermath of graduation, I aspire to secure a position in a regulatory affairs role within a pharmaceutical or medical device company, where I can actively contribute to the regulatory processes involved in bringing innovative products to market.

Over the next five years, I envision progressing in my career, potentially taking on roles of increasing responsibility and leadership within regulatory affairs. This trajectory aligns with my goal of not only ensuring compliance with regulatory standards but also actively shaping and influencing regulatory strategies. Additionally, I plan to stay abreast of emerging trends and changes in regulatory frameworks, contributing to the adaptation and optimization of regulatory processes within the organizations I work for. Ultimately, I see myself playing a pivotal role in advancing regulatory compliance and contributing to the successful and ethical development of groundbreaking products that positively impact public health.

We know you are more than the person who shows up at Northeastern — what are some of your hobbies and other passions? Where do you find your joy?

Beyond my academic pursuits at Northeastern, I find immense joy and fulfillment in a variety of hobbies and passions. One of my favorite places on campus is the library, where I often immerse myself in the quiet ambiance, surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and the scent of well-worn books. Additionally, I cherish the liberating feeling of diving into a pool and swimming, a pursuit that brings me relaxation and tranquility whenever time allows. As a Yoga instructor at Northeastern, I derive great satisfaction from helping students achieve their health and wellness goals, fostering a positive and mindful community.

The very thought of the campus itself brings a sense of positivity, and I eagerly make my way there every day, appreciating the vibrant atmosphere and the diverse array of cool places to study and relax.

Whether it’s the library, the swimming pool, or the yoga studio, each facet of my life outside the academic realm contributes to a holistic sense of joy and well-being.

Northeastern Food Policy Expert Honored for 30 Years of Advocacy

In the time since an E. coli outbreak took his son’s life, CPS Associate Teaching Professor Darin Detwiler has advised USDA and FDA leaders, spoken at conferences, and taught, all with one goal–to prevent more families from experiencing the same tragedy.

Graduation 2021

College honors master’s and doctoral graduates, citing ‘ingenuity and resilience’, with ceremonies that emphasize service, perseverance and experiential learning.

Doctoral Hooding

A doctoral candidate gets hooded by her advisor at the September 9 doctoral hooding and graduation ceremony at Matthews Arena.

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.”

Intellectual explorers

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.”

Master’s Ceremony

844 graduates across 28 programs walked the stage at the September 10 master’s degree graduation ceremony at Matthews Arena.

‘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.

Watch the Ceremonies

The Doctoral Hooding and Master’s Ceremony were livestreamed from Matthews Arena. Click the links below to view the graduation pages and watch recordings of the ceremonies.

Doctoral Hooding

Master’s Ceremony

Learn more about our programs

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.

Marisa Lemus-Reynoso

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.

Nancy Johnson

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.

Read more

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].

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.

Faculty Promotions

Congratulations to 11 faculty members of the College of Professional Studies who have been promoted, effective May 1, 2020. 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. 

Jacques Alexis

Dr. Jacques Alexis

Dr. Jacques Alexis, Assistant Teaching Professor of Project Management in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

Earlene Avalon

Dr. Earlene Avalon

Dr. Earlene Avalon, Assistant Teaching Professor of Health Management in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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Cynthia Baron

Cynthia Baron, Associate Academic Specialist of Digital Media in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Full Academic Specialist.

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Dr. Darin Detwiler

Dr. Darin Detwiler, Assistant Teaching Professor of Regulatory Affairs for Food and Food Industries in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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Dr. Constance Emerson

Dr. Constance Emerson, Assistant Teaching Professor of Project Management in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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Patricia Goodman

Patricia Goodman, Assistant Teaching Professor of the Communications and Media programs of the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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David Hagen

David Hagen, Assistant Teaching Professor in the Security programs of the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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Cristine McMartin-Miller

Cristine McMartin-Miller, Associate Teaching Professor of NU Global in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to full Teaching Professor.

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Dr. Pamela Wojnar

Dr. Pamela Wojnar, Assistant Teaching Professor of Sports Leadership in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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Dr. Xiamou Zhou

Dr. Xiamou Zhou, Assistant Teaching Professor of Informatics in the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

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Dr. Elizabeth Zulick

Dr. Elizabeth Zulick, Assistant Teaching Professor of the Biological Sciences Biotechnology programs of the College of Professional Studies, has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor.

Experiential Excellence Celebrated—Students and Employers Both See Benefit

With experience-driven learning a cornerstone of a Northeastern education, the College of Professional Studies presented its annual Experiential Excellence award to 10 students in June. Students, and the employers and sponsors who supervised their work and nominated them for recognition, gathered with faculty and other academic leaders to celebrate the power of applied learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels. All student winners engaged in meaningful professional experience in the form of co-op positions (working full-time for an employer), a sponsored project in their course or capstone, or an experiential project at their current place of work. Students’ experiences were directly aligned with their academic work, complementing the body of knowledge in their chosen field with an industry-embedded perspective.

Notably, the Excellence award winners demonstrated outstanding commitment to the university partners they partnered with on experiential opportunity. These opportunities are broad and representative of the global reach Northeastern and its student benefit from. This year, the students’ work included planning and implementing a talent acquisition strategy for an education organization, strengthening digital engagement for an arts and advocacy organization, and creating and managing a quality assurance program in the regulatory affairs unit of a contract development and manufacturing organization, among other outstanding experiences. The common thread though all of the students’ work is their enthusiasm for their chosen industries and their demonstrated ability to connect their academic learning to practice in the workplace, ultimately producing incredibly valuable work for their sponsors and employers.

One award winner, Michel Jennings, is a spring 2019 graduate of the Master of Education in eLearning and Instructional design program. She traveled from Denver, where she attended the program as an online student, to participate in the awards ceremony and celebrate her new job in instructional design over lunch with Melissa Fristrom, leadership development consultant and CEO of Core Allies, Inc., Jennings’ project sponsor. In her project for Core Allies, Inc., Jennings turned a Career Transition Lesson Plan into a 10-class interactive course, essentially creating a new product and revenue stream for Core Allies. Fristrom praised Jennings’ strategic approach to the project: “She asked the right questions to help me be creative and innovative. She demonstrated a desire to understand what I was looking for as a business person.” Jennings notes that another ingredient to the success of the project was her own interest: “It helped that I was super-passionate about this topic.” Jennings said that the two reasons she chose the Northeastern Master of Education in eLearning and Instructional Design program were the opportunity to create an ePortfolio of her work, which she saw as critical to landing a good job upon graduating, and the opportunity to undertake an experiential project.

Indeed, Northeastern faculty and staff in attendance were moved by each award winner’s sentiment on the importance of experiential work alongside their academic curriculum; all students remarked on the lasting impact their experience has had on their professional skillset and career trajectory.

Following are the 2019 Experiential Excellence Award winners:

Mariella Hidalgo Del Alamo—Master of Science in Leadership

Abhishek Jaiswal—Master of Professional Studies in Analytics

Sanchi Jain—Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs of Drugs, Biologics and Devices

Suwarna Kale, Weipeng Zhang, Yiyi Zhang, Jaspreet Kaur Sawhney—Master of Professional Studies in  Informatics

Amanda Nolan—Bachelor of Science in Health Management

Molly Chase—Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication

For more information on experiential learning opportunities, please visit: https://cps.northeastern.edu/experiential-learning.

‘All Progress Scrapes and Claws Before It Glides and Soars’

by Greg St. Martin —

Forty years ago, Billy Starr founded the Pan-Mass Challenge, a charity bike ride across Massachusetts that raises money for cancer research. He said that a 400-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail and a 120-mile bike ride a couple of years earlier had helped him to discover what he wanted to do with his life: build a business that “serves a vast public need.”

On Friday, Starr urged graduates of the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern to find a way to nurture their own most fervent interests in life.

“Find a way somehow, utilizing all the skills and knowledge that you have acquired, to nurture that passion and maintain it as a central driving force in your life,” said Starr, who served as the graduation speaker at a ceremony for students who earned their bachelor’s and master’s degrees this year. “That pursuit does not come with guarantees. But I stand before you as a testament to its uniquely, exhilarating power on the path to success and happiness.”

Starr, who earned his master’s in education from Northeastern in 1978, traced back his job today as the executive director of the Pan-Mass Challenge to the early 1970s, when his mother, uncle, and cousin died of cancer. He also shared how the death of a rider in the fifth year of the event challenged him, recalling how he struggled to cope with the tragedy and pain that it caused the rider’s family.

But Starr said he never doubted the mission of his organization. Over the past 40 years, nearly 200,000 cyclists and volunteers have participated in Pan-Mass Challenge, and $654 million has been donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Triumph and tragedy often walk hand in hand,” Starr said. “To cope efficiently, it is essential that you have a clear grasp of who you are and why you set out on a particular path.”

Starr congratulated the graduates for earning their degrees. He told them to remember that most success is born of failure, and that “all progress scrapes and claws before it glides and soars.”

“That is why having a genuine passion for your work is so vital,” he said. “It is what keeps you going in the face of the inevitable obstacles on the road ahead.”

In opening remarks, Mary Loeffelholz, dean of the College of Professional Studies, told graduates that they represent “Northeastern’s global network of learners.” She said many students had earned their degrees online and through the university’s network of campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle; the San Francisco Bay Area; Toronto; Vancouver; and London.

“You graduate already having begun to build a national and global network of your own making,” Loeffelholz said. “You have experienced learning without boundaries.”

Loeffelholz highlighted the diversity and accomplishments of the graduating class. She asked graduates to stand and be recognized if they had studied at Northeastern’s campuses outside of Boston, had come to Northeastern from another country, have served in the military, or attended the Lowell Institute School, through which students with previous college experience finish their bachelor’s degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or business.

The College of Professional Studies offers 95 undergraduate, master’s, graduate certificate, and doctoral programs, many of which are available online or through a combination of online and in-classroom learning. More than 1,600 students from 42 states and 44 countries received bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees from the College of Professional Studies this year, including over 200 students who were recognized for receiving their doctorates at a ceremony on Thursday.

Philomena Mantella, senior strategic advisor to the president at Northeastern, told the graduates that their education has positioned them well for a “lifetime of growth, discovery, and learning.”

“Learning will never cease, nor will your relationship with your university and those who comprise it,” Mantella said. “As you continue to grow, we are here to remind you that the Northeastern network will always be accessible to you.”

In addition to the graduates, Friday’s ceremony honored professor of the practice Baktybek Beshimov and assistant teaching professor David Hagen for receiving the college’s 2019 Excellence in Teaching Award.

To see more pictures from the college’s 2019 graduation, visit the photo gallery