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Excellence in experiential learning

North eastern rec og nized 17 accom plished seniors at the Out standing Coop er a tive Edu ca tion Awards Cer e mony, held last week in the Curry Stu dent Center Ball room.  The stu dents’ co-​​op expe ri ences include working at Boston’s world-​​class hos pi tals; founding a social enter prise in Africa; designing com pounds at a phar ma ceu tical com pany; and con ducting inde pen dent field research in China.

The awards, estab lished in 1971, rec og nize stu dents who have demon strated out standing accom plish ments in co-​​op. Bruce Ronkin, vice provost for under grad uate edu ca tion, noted that co-​​op has been intri cately woven into the fabric of North eastern since the university’s founding in 1898. Since then, North eastern has con tinued to lead and inno vate in coop er a tive edu ca tion, he said, by working with employers to offer three things: top-​​notch research posi tions, expe ri ence at star tups and in other areas of entre pre neur ship, and the oppor tu nity for stu dents to become global citizens.

“In co-​​op, we’re not just preparing stu dents for their first job. We’re preparing stu dents for life,” Ronkin said.

Prior to the award pre sen ta tions, a video was shown fea turing inter views with the awardees in which seniors shared how their trans for ma tive co-​​op expe ri ences have trans lated to class room learning and shaped their career goals.

Ken neth Venere, a phys ical therapy major, said his co-​​op at Spaulding Reha bil i ta tion Hos pital in Boston pro vided valu able real-​​world expe ri ence that gave him an edge in an assis tive tech nology course, which focused on working with wheel chairs and instructing patients how to per form advanced move ments like wheelies. “Using all my expe ri ence at Spaulding, I was able to pass that knowl edge along to my class mates and be a resource for them,” he said.

Venere received the Thomas E. McMahon Award, which rec og nizes a senior with out standing devo tion and com mit ment to serving others through co-​​op. He was one of three stu dents to receive a named award at the cer e mony. Caitlin Fer guson, a com mu ni ca tion studies major, received the Paul M. Pratt Award, which rec og nized a senior who demon strates excep tional per sonal and pro fes sional growth through the coop er a tive edu ca tion pro gram. Andonis Marden, an inter na tional affairs and polit ical sci ence major, received the William Jef ferson Alcott Jr. Award, which rec og nizes a senior who uti lizes his or her aca d emic knowl edge in a cre ative way to make a pos i tive con tri bu tion to society and demon strates excep tional achieve ment in coop er a tive education.

Four teen stu dents, including jour nalism major Shar lene Juste, received Out standing Co-​​op Awards. In her video inter view, Juste described how the b-​​roll video and camera work expe ri ence she received while on co-​​op at Boston City TV inspired her to take a video news pro duc tion course by Belle Adler. The skills and con fi dence she acquired on co-​​op, she said, truly paid off.

“I extended learning from co-​​op in the class room, where I dis cov ered how to create full video pack ages,” Juste said.

For his part, busi ness major Michael Behan com pleted two co-​​ops in Kenya, including one for Njabini, Inc., a com pany he founded in 2010 that helps poor fam i lies in rural Kenya grow income-​​generating projects that sup port their fam i lies and com mu ni ties. Njabini’s latest endeavor, the Potato Project, is a col lab o ra tive model that brings potato pro ducers together to col lec tively increase their pro duc tion and profits.

Behan said he’s been able to apply that expe ri ence to class projects that involve financing small busi nesses and lines of credit.

This year’s Out standing Coop er a tive Edu ca tion Awards cer e mony was ded i cated to the late Fred T. Hoskins, the former senior director for employer rela tions and cen tral co-​​op. At the event, Hoskins was remem bered as a loyal friend, a loving family member, and a well-​​respected member of the North eastern community.

– by Greg St. Martin

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