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