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Students honored for their outstanding co-ops

Photo of Julia Patten shaking Provost Director's hand

Four CSSH students were honored at Northeastern's annual Outstanding Cooperative Education Awards ceremony.

North­eastern rec­og­nized a group of seniors for their out­standing co-​​op expe­ri­ences on Wednesday at the annual Out­standing Coop­er­a­tive Edu­ca­tion Awards cer­e­mony in the Curry Stu­dent Center.

Susan Ambrose, senior vice provost of under­grad­uate edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­en­tial learning, rec­og­nized this year’s win­ners for taking advan­tage of their co-​​ops to expand their intel­lec­tual and pro­fes­sional growth and development.

We couldn’t be prouder of you,” Ambrose said, “and we have no qualms, as our mis­sion state­ment says, that you will go out into the world and lead lives of ful­fill­ment and accom­plish­ment.” She also thanked stu­dents’ pro­fes­sors, advisers, fam­i­lies, and co-​​op employers for their guid­ance in helping propel the stu­dents to success.

The awards cer­e­mony kicked off with a video fea­turing inter­views with stu­dents as well as fac­ulty and employers dis­cussing the value of co-​​op. Short videos of each stu­dent were also played prior to their receiving the awards. In these videos, stu­dents noted how their co-​​op expe­ri­ences helped them gain impor­tant pro­fes­sional skills, realize their career goals, and acquire a broader global per­spec­tive. For their part, pro­fes­sors said stu­dents returned to the class­room with unbri­dled enthu­siasm and height­ened world­li­ness and maturity.

For the first time ever, the yearly cer­e­mony served as the reveal for the win­ners of Northeastern’s annual Coolest Co-​​op Video Con­test, which chal­lenged stu­dents to create a two-​​minute video show­casing why they’ve scored the coolest co-​​op in Northeastern’s his­tory. Emma Ouel­lette, E’16, placed first, win­ning $1,000; Maria Sofia Soto, AMD’16, placed second, win­ning $500; and Julieta Moradei, E’16, placed third, win­ning $250.

Co-​​op is the sig­na­ture pro­gram of Northeastern’s expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion model, which com­bines rig­orous class­room learning with real-​​world work expe­ri­ence. More than 9,800 stu­dents were placed in co-​​ops with nearly 3,000 co-​​op employers in the U.S. and around the world during the 2013–14 aca­d­emic year; since the 2006-​​07 aca­d­emic year, global co-​​ops have increased 407 percent.

What’s more, 92 per­cent of grad­u­ates from 2006 through 2013 were employed full time or enrolled in grad­uate school within nine months of grad­u­a­tion, and 85 per­cent of 2013 grad­u­ates who are employed full time are doing work related to their major.

Many of the stu­dent awardees have already lined up impres­sive jobs and entrance into esteemed grad­uate pro­grams. Among them are behav­ioral neu­ro­science major Brian MacLennan, S’15, who has accepted a research asso­ciate posi­tion at the Allen Insti­tute for Brain Sci­ence in Seattle, and jour­nalism major Zolan Kanno-​​Youngs, who will work as a sports reporter at USA Today this summer before begin­ning an intern­ship this fall at The Wall Street Journal.

Others have secured jobs at their former co-​​op employers. Mechan­ical engi­neering major Joshua Mer­ritt will start in June as a struc­tural ana­lyst at United Tech­nolo­gies Aero­space Sys­tems, while Joseph O’Neill has taken a soft­ware engi­neering posi­tion at Face­book in New York City.

For his part, health sci­ence major Jason Wong will begin a full-​​time job at Boston Med­ical Center, where he pre­vi­ously worked on co-​​op as a beacon and ambu­la­tory cre­den­tialed trainer. Wong said his co-​​op expe­ri­ences broad­ened his crit­ical thinking skills and will give him an advan­tage after grad­u­a­tion when he enters the work­force with crit­ical real-​​world experience.

I like to think of co-​​op as a metaphor­ical bridge,” he said. “The class­room pro­vides all the foun­da­tions, con­cepts, and sup­port you need, but it isn’t until you cross over that metaphor­ical bridge into the working world that you can apply those con­cepts you’ve acquired and take on the world in your own way.”

In all, 16 stu­dents received awards at the cer­e­mony: Three received spe­cial named awards, and 13 received Out­standing Coop­er­a­tive Edu­ca­tion Awards. Maria Stein, asso­ciate vice pres­i­dent for coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion and career devel­op­ment, announced the stu­dent award winners.

Inter­na­tional affairs major Kristen Miller, SSH’15, received the Thomas E. McMahon Award, which rec­og­nizes a senior who dis­plays out­standing char­acter and integrity com­bined with a high degree of devo­tion and com­mit­ment to serving others through co-​​op. Two of Miller’s co-​​ops were spent abroad, both in Cam­bodia. She worked as a lead­er­ship res­i­dent at the Harp­swell Foun­da­tion, which pro­motes women’s edu­ca­tion and lead­er­ship, where she also taught Eng­lish and served as a mentor. Her second global co-​​op was at the United Nations’ Inter­na­tional Orga­ni­za­tion for Migration.

Eco­nomics major Daniel Abunaw, SSH’15, received the Paul M. Pratt Award, which rec­og­nized a senior who demon­strates excep­tional per­sonal and pro­fes­sional growth through his or her co-​​ops. His co-​​op posi­tions were sales asso­ciate at EF Edu­ca­tion and a data ana­lyst at Transamerica Retire­ment Solutions.

Envi­ron­mental sci­ence major Mariah Liv­er­nois, S’15, received the William Jef­ferson Alcott Jr. Award, which rec­og­nizes a senior who uti­lizes his or her aca­d­emic knowl­edge in a cre­ative way to make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to society and demon­strates excep­tional achieve­ment in coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion. Her co-​​ops included marine sci­ence research and edu­ca­tion posi­tions in the Woods Hole Oceano­graphic Insti­tu­tion, Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Center, and the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina at Chapel Hill’s Insti­tute for Marine Science.

Julia Patten, SSH’15, said that she hadn’t con­sid­ered exploring the field of inter­na­tional crim­inal law until her co-​​op in Serbia, where she worked as an assis­tant to the pros­e­cutor in the Spe­cial Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes. “I was more inter­ested in research and con­flict analysis at first,” she said, “but working on the cases directly and seeing the impact they had on society and the jus­tice it pro­vided for the vic­tims changed my career path.”

This summer, Patten will begin a para­legal job in New York, working for the Man­hattan Dis­trict Attorney’s Office’s Human Traf­ficking Response Unit.

In his wel­come remarks, Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, noted that Northeastern’s co-​​op pro­gram offers intel­lec­tual and pro­fes­sional oppor­tu­ni­ties that can’t be repli­cated in the class­room, studio, or campus lab. Recalling his recent ple­nary lec­ture at the North­east Sec­tion Amer­ican Society for Engi­neering Edu­ca­tion Con­fer­ence, Director said North­eastern is ahead of the curve in pro­viding stu­dents with the expe­ri­ences they need to be pre­pared to enter the workforce.

These skills can only be taught through real-​​world expe­ri­ence that pro­vides authentic con­text, con­straints, and con­se­quences, and this real-​​world expe­ri­ence must be an inte­gral part of the under­grad­uate cur­riculum,” he said. “This is exactly Northeastern’s model: co-​​op.”

-By Greg St. Martin

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