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A program for building support

Sarah Honigfeld, a senior human services major and sociology minor, is a perfect example of a Northeastern student who has thrived in her co-op placements and found her career calling.

“I don’t know if I will stay in Boston or move somewhere new, but wherever I end up, I know I will be doing something I love… working with children!” said Honigfeld.

A West Hartford, Connecticut native who was born in Chicago, Honigfeld came to Northeastern because of the city of Boston, but also because of the University’s co-op program which would complement her classroom experiences. She has taken full advantage of the experiential program, taking three co-op jobs, including two at the Boys and Girls Club in South Boston as an Inclusion Specialist.

Like many of the co-op placements Northeastern students take, Honigfeld’s job at the Boys and Girls Club went far beyond making copies and coffee runs. She wound up creating a brand new program called Peers Supporting Peers that created an environment of peer support and mentorship for two completely inclusive social skills groups. The program’s goal was to give these two sets of groups– one group of pre-teens and one of just teenage girls – a fun and active place to interact, and to teach and learn social skills. Peers Supporting Peers was often the first, and only, social afterschool extracurricular activity for any of these children with disabilities.

Honigfeld saw program participation grow throughout her co-op. She also found it rewarding when parents came up to thank her for her hard work and for giving their children the opportunity to belong to a club.

“Moments like those foster my passion in working with children and their families because I have seen firsthand how inspiring and motivating it can be for a family to see just one person put extra time and energy in working with their child,” said Honigfeld.

Her work also received recognition statewide, earning the Yankee Chapter Award as the top “Health and Life Skills Program” in Massachusetts among all competing Boys and Girls Clubs.

With as much work and passion she has put into Peers Supporting Peers, Honigfeld has also put a lot of time into her on-campus activities and her volunteer work. She currently serves as the Director of nuSIGNS, the campus sign language club which provides social opportunities to ASL students and students interested in Deaf culture. For a few weeks earlier this year, she traveled to South India with Global Reach Out (GRO), a nonprofit dedicated to social change for Deaf youth in third-world countries. Honigfeld, who is Deaf herself, worked with 11 Deaf students in Trivandrum and taught them about leadership, self-advocacy, fostering a Deaf community, and communications strategies.

Honigfeld is finishing her undergraduate degree this year, as well as taking graduate level courses in Bouvé College’s Early Intervention Graduate Certificate program. In addition to still taking classes and working part-time continuing her role as Inclusion Specialist at the Boys and Girls Club, she is interning part-time at Boston’s Children’s Hospital working with clinicians to serve families who have children aged birth-to-three years.

After graduation, Honigfeld will be taking some time off to travel to Scandinavia and Norway with her family, but would then like to continue working in Early Intervention. It was her co-op experiences, combined with her internships, volunteer and classroom learning which provided her a focus in her career and the necessary skills to succeed in wherever her career path leads her.

– by Leslie Casey

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