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Torch Scholars take flight

Photo of the Torch Scholars

The fifth graduating class of Torch Scholars celebrated their accomplishments on Thursday afternoon in the Raytheon Amphitheater.

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity hon­ored the fifth grad­u­ating class of Torch Scholars on Thursday after­noon at the Raytheon Amphithe­ater, cel­e­brating the count­less achieve­ments of this inspiring group of young cre­ators, researchers, and globetrotters.

The pro­gram, which began nine years ago, sup­ports tal­ented, first-​​generation col­lege stu­dents who exhibit poten­tial in non­tra­di­tional ways.

North­eastern took a chance on all of us and we will be for­ever grateful,” said Torch Scholar and Master of Cer­e­monies Abdul Hafiz, SSH’15. “The uni­ver­sity pro­vided us a solid foun­da­tion that has allowed us to build a solid future.”

Speaking before an audi­ence of stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff, as well as pro­gram donors and alumni, he added, “We are here because of the time, resources, and sup­port you’ve pro­vided us over the years.”

Setti Warren—the mayor of Newton, Mass­a­chu­setts, and the son of the late Joseph Warren, the founder of Northeastern’s Youth Devel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive Project—deliv­ered the keynote address. He issued a three-​​pronged charge to the soon-​​to-​​be grad­u­ates, urging them to vol­un­teer, run for public office, and work to make the world a better place.

Have a voice in the issues of our time, those that will not only deter­mine your future but the future of gen­er­a­tions that come after you,” he told the scholars. “We see now more than ever the power of a single person or a col­lec­tion of people to affect large-​​scale change.”

Warren added: “You’ve gone through so much to get to this moment, and I have con­fi­dence that you will carry with you the great promise of making the world around you better.”

In his remarks, North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun com­mended the scholars for their out­standing achieve­ments both on campus and abroad.

Hafiz, for example, a polit­ical sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs com­bined major from Staten Island, New York, served as the under­grad­uate director for the Kappa Alpha Psi fra­ter­nity; com­pleted Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­grams in Belo Hor­i­zonte, Brazil, and Geneva, Switzer­land; and plans to study cor­po­rate law at one of the nation’s top law schools. Nohemi Moctezuma, a polit­ical sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs com­bined major from Santa Ana, Cal­i­fornia, vol­un­teered at Boston’s Boys and Girls Club; studied abroad in Cuba, Japan, and the Dominican Republic; and has lined up a full-​​time job as a con­sul­tant for Booz Allen Hamilton.

You’ve sur­prised us on a daily basis in ways we don’t even realize,” Aoun told the scholars. “I want you to con­tinue to impact this uni­ver­sity, be present, and give back,” he added. “Because of you, this uni­ver­sity will con­tinue to thrive. Take own­er­ship. We are in your hands.”

Moctezuma, for her part, recalled her first plane ride, a cross-​​country trip from Los Angeles to Boston to inter­view for the Torch Scholars Pro­gram. She was fright­ened, she said, afraid that col­lege might not be in her future, ter­ri­fied that she lacked the courage to suc­ceed in an unfa­miliar envi­ron­ment. But her fears proved unfounded.

That first flight to inter­view for the Torch pro­gram changed my life and rede­fined my meaning of bravery,” Moctezuma explained. “Five years and count­less flights later, I stand before you as a col­lege graduate.”

She added: “Torch gave me the oppor­tu­nity to go places I never dreamed of going. Now, it has pre­pared me for my greatest takeoff of all, one with a diploma in my hand.”

-By Jason Kornwitz

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