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‘I just can’t believe it’s here’: Northeastern runners ready for Marathon Monday

people standing with Build On T-shirts with Boston Skyline background

by Joe O’Connell

From left, Lauren Dibble, Johnny Fayad, Alexina Prather, Ali Kothari, and Nina Angeles, who are running in Monday’s Boston Marathon for buildOn. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

North­eastern will be well-​​represented at the Boston Marathon on Monday, with run­ners, vol­un­teers, and spec­ta­tors affil­i­ated with the uni­ver­sity par­taking in this mar­quee day for the city.

One fundraising team in par­tic­ular has a strong North­eastern con­nec­tion, as five of the run­ners are cur­rent stu­dents, staff, or alumni.

Lauren Dibble, Nina Angeles, Alexina Prather, Ali Kothari, and Johnny Fayad com­prise the North­eastern rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the marathon team for buildOn, a non­profit that works to break the cycle of poverty, illit­eracy, and low expec­ta­tions through service-​​learning pro­grams in many of America’s most under-​​resourced high schools. The orga­ni­za­tion also builds schools in some of the world’s poorest villages.

All five run­ners hold strong roots within Northeastern’s entre­pre­neurial ecosystem, and they learned about this oppor­tu­nity to raise funds for buildOn during Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week in November when buildOn Pres­i­dent and CEO Jim Ziolkowski deliv­ered a campus lecture.

We sat down with all five run­ners on Thursday to dis­cuss their excite­ment heading into the marathon, their prepa­ra­tion, and what it has meant to sup­port buildOn’s mission.

Lauren Dibble, DMSB’09, mar­keting and mentor man­ager at the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Center for Entre­pre­neur­ship Education

“I’ve really enjoyed the run­ning com­mu­nity in Boston. I thought training was going to be mis­er­able but it was actu­ally kind of fun and you feel like you are part of a much bigger thing. And we’ve had our own sup­port struc­ture. I per­son­ally could not have done this alone and there have been a lot of dif­ferent people who helped on a lot of dif­ferent levels.”

Nina Angeles, SSH’15, assis­tant director of pro­grams for the Social Enter­prise Institute

“All of us come from this sim­ilar entre­pre­neur­ship back­ground. And the money that we are raising is going to some­thing that we have a per­sonal con­nec­tion to. We are fundraising for the buildOn Boston chapter, and our North­eastern stu­dents are very close with the high school stu­dents so seeing that direct impact is both sur­prising and makes me excited.” [Angeles was recently selected for a Ful­bright award to examine the impact of social enter­prise in Pales­tinian refugee communities.]

Alexina Prather, SSH’17, Social Enter­prise Insti­tute co-​​op

“If a year ago, someone told me I was going to run the Boston Marathon, I would have said ‘no way.’ It’s pretty much all I think about now. When­ever I see people it’s all they ask me about. I am equally excited as I am ner­vous. I just can’t believe it’s here.”

Johnny Fayad, DMSB’17, co-​​founder of New Grounds Food

“We are run­ning as the New Grounds Food team for buildOn. We’ve done dif­ferent types of projects in terms of our coffee sourcing and our goal is to con­tinue those things, and we usu­ally leverage a non­profit partner that will help us on the ground. And buildOn runs pro­grams in dif­ferent devel­oping coun­tries as well as here in the U.S., so our plan would be about get­ting more involved in those pro­grams and helping to build more schools.”

Ali Kothari, DMSB’17, co-​​founder of New Grounds Food

“When I came to North­eastern, I thought how cool would it be to run the Boston Marathon. When Johnny and I first started out we did this one run to the Mass Ave. bridge and back and we were both dying and it was just a couple of miles. So it is cool now that we’ve reached these mile goals at dif­ferent points in the training and soon that goal is going to be 26.2 miles.”

Since Ziolkowski’s campus lec­ture in November, North­eastern has launched a stu­dent chapter of buildOn, which sends stu­dents to the Com­mu­nity Academy of Sci­ence and Health in Boston’s Dorch­ester neigh­bor­hood to vol­un­teer with high school stu­dents once a week. North­eastern buildOn stu­dent leaders also raise money to travel with the orga­ni­za­tion to help build schools.

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