On Friday, May 4, 54 SPPUA graduate students received their diplomas. Prior to commencement, students and their families joined faculty and staff at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs for an Awards Luncheon.
The annual event honors a select few who have distinguished themselves through their outstanding academic performance, strong leadership, and exceptional commitment to embrace research and its applications in both local and global dimensions. This year, 11 graduates received awards, and four received honorable mentions. Click here to view photos of the event.
Barry Bluestone “Think and Do” Award
This award is given to the capstone project that embodies our ideal of timely, evidence-based, policy-focused research, and which addresses an important problem for a client with an intent of positive, social change. This year’s winners worked with the city of Chelsea’s Planning and Development Department to develop a report to help the city revitalize its Broadway corridor. Group members include MURP student Victoria Melendez, 2018 MPP graduate Kelley Turner, and MPA graduates Emily Arpke, Monique Gibbs, and Dan McCarthy.
The Graduate Student Housing Group received an honorable mention for their investigation of the demand and desires for housing in Boston among graduate students. The team developed a survey and administered it to Northeastern graduate students. The survey will also be shared with Boston University graduate students. The Greater Boston Real Estate Board will use this data to influence future housing developments in the Greater Boston area. Team members include MPP graduate Katie Kalugin, and MPA graduates Amanda Pepper, Kaleena Seeley, and Elizabeth Torres.
Outstanding Academic Performance Award
This award goes to the student—Master’s or PhD—with the highest GPA. This year’s recipients are MPA graduates Alex Berg and David Snowdon, who have finished their degrees with a 3.976 GPA.
Community Impact Award
This award is designated for a student who has made meaningful contributions to our community and the public good through professional and community service. This year, two graduating students received Community Impact Awards.
A U.S. Coast Guard veteran, MPP graduate Evaristus Odinikaeze received a prestigious fellowship from Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans to continue their service on the community level. He applied his interest in law, public policy and behavioral sciences to help improve and expand initiatives at All Dorchester Sports and Leadership.
The second awardee, MPA graduate Monique Gibbs, received a public policy fellowship from the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. As a fellow, Gibbs managed two exciting projects for the Housing Innovation Lab at the city of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development. During her time at SPPUA, Gibbs was an active member of Northeastern Graduate Students of Color Collective where she participated in a service project for underserved communities in Greater Boston as well as a minority- and women-owned business expo.
School Spirit Award
This award recognizes a student who with their academic achievements, outstanding service to the university and larger community, and commitment to putting research into practice, embodies the SPPUA spirit. This year, the School Spirit Award was given to three graduates.
The first recipient, Brian Walker, was selected as one of 10 veterans nationwide to receive the VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship, a semester-long academic experience involving research, action, reporting, and advocating on behalf of a policy. A graduate of the MPP program, Walker examined statutory laws that have been in place for years and how these laws can counter initiatives to expand VA health care access to veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.
The second recipient, Katie Kalugin, took a deep dive into issues directly impacting women during her time at SPPUA—from the gender wage gap to learning the ins and outs of training women for public office. Kalugin applied the data analysis, program evaluation, and appropriate policy response skills she learned in the classroom to effect change in Boston as an intern for Emerge Massachusetts and the Boston Women’s Workforce Council.
The third recipient, Victoria Melendez, is a writer and an agent of change. Melendez served as a research assistant for the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy where her work centered around workforce development, housing and many other key components of life in Boston and the Commonwealth. She also assisted in organizing the Fall 2017 Myra Kraft Open Classroom, which focused on the Boston 2030 plan.