Voices from Spring 2013 Graduation

May 02, 2013

Voices from Graduation – 2013 Spring Graduation Class is Largest Ever – Over 1,100 Graduates Receive Diplomas

Graduates of Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) shared their experiences, plans after graduation, and advice to current students pursuing their degrees before they headed into Matthew’s Arena on Sunday, April 21, 2013 to receive their diplomas. Here is what a few graduates had to say:

“Try to be as engaged as possible with your classmates and professors to get the most out of your experience.”

Kristy Varner (pictured left) and Petronella Dorothea Vander (pictured right).

Kristy Varner traveled from Savannah, GA, to attend graduation and to meet her fellow classmates – who all pursued the Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program 100% online. Varner started the program in July 2011, part-time; she currently works as an out-patient physical therapist at a sports medicine clinic, Chatham Orthopedics, where she has been working for two years.

Varner heard about the program from a professor in her master’s program at Armstrong Atlantic State University, in Savannah, GA, who previously taught in the CPS Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program and recommended that she enroll. Kristy Varner traveled from Savannah, GA, to attend graduation and to meet her fellow classmates – who all pursued the Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program 100% online. Varner started the program in July 2011, part-time; she currently works as an out-patient physical therapist at a sports medicine clinic, Chatham Orthopedics, where she has been working for two years.

“It was challenging initially to do online courses because you have to control your time, and you need good time management skills, but it’s engaging and interactive,” said Varner. She noted that her classmates came from all over the world, including one from South Africa, who attended graduation as well.  Because they were spread all around the world, Varner and 12 of her classmates started a Facebook page so that they could keep in touch and share career issues, concerns, advice and achievements with one another.

“A great experience at CPS” – all the way from South Africa

Petronella Dorthea Vander came all the way from Pretoria, South Africa, to attend the CPS Spring Graduation ceremony. Vander was classmates with Kristy Varner in the Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and they were both excited to meet in person for the first time at the ceremony. Similar to Varner, Vander also found the online learning experience to be rewarding, commenting that she was very engaged in the program and that the faculty and the program are great. After graduation, Vander reports that she is heading to New York City and then Disney World.

  “My professors related their work in the industry to their classes.”

Jirapat Chantarotai

Jirapat Chantarotai, moved to Boston from Bangkok, specifically to study in the Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication program.   Chantarotai began the program in the fall of 2011 and said that the program “fit his needs perfectly.”  “My professors related their work in the industry to their classes.”

“The faculty was really nice and they are professionals,” said Chantarotai. “And they related their work in the industry to their classes,” he added.

Chantarotai moved back to Bangkok on April 22, the day after graduation, and is planning a career in the communications industry there.

“My family understands the value of getting my degree”

Jackie Sweeney completed the Master of Science in Leadership program in two and a half years – completing the degree “full force online while she worked full-time. Graduation day was also meaningful to Sweeney in another way; she was the first in her family to graduate from college with an undergraduate degree, and now she is the first to receive her master’s.

Jackie Sweeney

Sweeney, who works at Tekscan in Boston managing the delivery of learning technology trainings, “loved learning online.”

“If you’ve got a job, family and a house” online learning allows you flexibility “… it allowed me to work when I was most focused.”Sweeney, who works at Tekscan in Boston managing the delivery of learning technology trainings, “loved learning online.”

“Online learning is extremely challenging, though,” she added. “You really need to be more disciplined when taking an online course.”

Homework time for Sweeney, who has a 14 year-old son, was always a family affair. “When he was doing his homework, so was I.”

Her son and other members of her family attended the graduation ceremony. Sweeney noted that her family was very understanding during the time she pursued her master’s – “They understand the value of getting my degree.”

More about graduation

The College of Professional Studies celebrates two graduations, fall and spring, in keeping with the College’s flexible approach to education offering an array of options to students including part-time and full-time studies, Fast-Track, online, and hybrid formats. To learn more about graduation, visit our 2013 graduation web page.

To read about the College of Professional Graduation Ceremony on April 21, 2013, visit: “A superb example of a modern graduating class”

To read about the recipients of the Excellence in Teaching Award, please visit:

An “Inspiring Instructor who Encourages Intellectual Risk-Taking”

An Instructor who “Encourages Students to Attempt Challenging Problems without Fear or Failure”


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

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