Crafting a Business Through Networking and Community Support

By Tommy Switzgable

After years of consulting for some of the biggest business firms in Massachusetts, Ye Tian, DMSB’12, decided it was time to stray from the conventional path and forge his own way through the ever-changing world of business. However, Tian wasn’t interested in the prototypical entrepreneur’s narrative of finding an established market to break into—he wanted to create his own market and revolutionize it.

Tian moved to Boston from the Shanghai area to attend Northeastern and study finance at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Coming from a family that launched their own law firm in China, it was only natural for him to use his business degree in the entrepreneurial space. As a result, he started Crafts Zone in 2022, which is the first brick-and-mortar, multi-project DIY studio in the United States, offering crafts like painting, creating candles, and designing clothes.

Situated in the heart of Brookline’s tight-knit Coolidge Corner neighborhood, the Crafts Zone storefront has created an immense amount of buzz during its incipient stage, gaining the attention of many local media outlets like The Boston Globe. Since then, Crafts Zone has “received a lot of support from different local communities and our customers. They [have] helped me with marketing exposure, operating improvement, and recruiting,” says Tian

While the rapid growth of Crafts Zone has quickly made Tian a heavyweight in the Boston-area art market, he is quick to mention his roots at Northeastern and the foundation the university helped him lay in his quest to carve out a new market. “Northeastern provided me a great opportunity to learn whatever I like during my campus life,” he says. “Co-op programs helped me understand the working environment in different industries and networking support helped me a lot when I started my own business.”

Even with the quick rise of his entrepreneurial endeavor and the support of the Northeastern network, Tian has only begun to plant the seeds of this continuously growing operation. “I wish Crafts Zone can be the first national franchise brand for the dating experience in the [United States] over the next five to 10 years,” he ambitiously says. To achieve this goal, he relies on the generosity and support of Northeastern’s large alumni network. “The alumni network helped me a lot in the initial marketing promotion,” he says. “They helped me spread the word of my business…and provided a lot of event opportunities to help me promote my business. Northeastern has a lot of resources that can support your dream.”

Learn more about Tian and Crafts Zone on Instagram @craftszone_boston or reach out to Tian via his website or email Northeastern students receive a 10% discount to Crafts Zone with their Husky Card. If you would like to deepen your support,  donations can be made to the Northeastern Chinese Student Association.




Northeastern has a lot of resources that can support your dream.”

Becoming a Voice for Veterans Everywhere

By Tommy Switzgable

“It’s the difference between who do you want to carry you over the finish line—someone who has never worked hard for something or someone who will give you everything they’ve got to get the mission done,” replies Melanie Spears, CPS’19, when asked about the value of a good work ethic. It’s no secret that hard work is a cornerstone of her personality, as proven repeatedly through her experiences in the military and Northeastern University.

After making the decision to drop out of college in 2011, Spears enlisted in the United States Army, achieving the rank of specialist. Her duties included ensuring that her unit was mission ready, and food, water, and ammunition made it to outposts while working as security for NATO forces. She remembers her time in the service fondly, especially given that it scratched her itch for travel, stating that it taught her “every country, city…place I visited, people were proud of where they came from, just like I am.”

However, Spears is unfortunately no stranger to adversity, from navigating the difficulty of living as a sexual assault survivor to beating a colon cancer diagnosis rooted in exposure to toxins while serving. Despite this, Spears chose to use her experiences as a catalyst for inspiration. “Being a survivor of sexual assault, peace is a higher measure to reach than justice. Getting and beating colon cancer…I’ve met people who truly taught me what vulnerability is.”

With a new perspective on the world, Spears used Northeastern’s Yellow Ribbon program to achieve her master’s degree in homeland security. “I knew it was important to me to serve my country in a different capacity,” she says. While attending, she utilized Northeastern’s Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Service members to grow her network and create personal connections through a series of events, which helped her become a Wounded Warrior Fellow and obtain her current role as a partner business development manager at Cisco Systems.

By using the comprehensive leadership skills developed through her degree program and leveraging the resources provided to her through Northeastern’s veteran network, Spears has made it her personal mission to become an ambassador for spreading awareness of the variety of issues that many veterans face. “Veteran advocacy gives a voice, an image, to who protects and serves the country and the freedoms we have today. It makes it so the younger generation can see that sacrifices come at a price, and what it takes to ensure that those we love…is protecting us from the evils, and if we advocate, we can better protect them when they choose to hang up the boots.”

You can learn more about Northeastern’s master’s in homeland security program here. If you wish to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, you can do so here.

“Be bold, take risks. The Northeastern community will be there to pick you up if you fail at something.”

Melanie Spears, CPS’19

Helping Others Through the Power of Public Policy

By Tommy Switzgable

“To me, the fundamental ingredient associated with public service begins with a commitment to creating and sustaining lasting influences so that others who follow benefit from what you contributed to along the way,” says Jim McDonough, CPS’22. “The tools associated with creating that lasting influence are rooted in the development and execution of sound policy that makes a soldier a soldier.” 

McDonough, of Round Lake, New York, served 26 years in the United States Army, working his way through the officer ranks and ultimately achieving the rank of colonel. Beginning his military career in Europe, McDonough eventually found his way back to the United States, where he performed two tours of duty for the Pentagon, including a speechwriting position for the Secretary of the Army. He then deployed to the Middle East out of Fort Bliss, Texas to support Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom before returning home to retire from the Simon Center for Professional Military Ethics at West Point.  

After retiring from the military, McDonough became the CEO of The Headstrong Project, which he describes as a national-facing mental health treatment practice of choice for military connected families. Through his work with The Headstrong Project, McDonough wanted to further his passion for helping veterans, which led him to Northeastern’s doctor of law and public policy degree program.  

Focusing on strategic thinking and research, McDonough noticed there were similar values shared between his time in the service and those taught to him in his degree program—stating that, “…the common thread between my service in the United States Army and my doctoral studies here at Northeastern involves a powerful sense of humility it takes to serve and learn well from others.”  

With a deeper understanding of legal analysis and public policy, McDonough loves to share how his newfound doctorate has catapulted his passion for helping others, especially those who have also served their country. Even with over two decades of world travel and military experience, he credits Northeastern for being a unique vessel that has shaped his perception of public policy through the lens of “contemporary issues that continue to challenge the progress of our society.” Looking back, he says, “my studies have invigorated my appreciation of the role that good people can play in developing good public policy and never giving up on serving the needs of others.”  

Learn more about McDonough and The Headstrong Project on Instagram @getheadstrong. You can reach out to Jim and The Headstrong Project team via their website.

Jim McDonough

Your Northeastern experience should be viewed as just the first step in making a commitment to ongoing learning, the place where you learned how to learn best.”  

Jim McDonough, CPS’22

Connecting Our World Through Numbers and Culture

By Tommy Switzgable

“Perspective is something that I have gained at both NEU and the USAF,” says Brad States, DMSB’23, of Charleston, South Carolina. States, a part-time master of business administration and master of science in finance student, credits both the Air Force and Northeastern for introducing him to the string that intertwines our world. “Following my studies, I now see the global connections [that exist] through business and finance.”  

Prior to enrolling in two of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business’s most popular graduate programs, States worked as a job coach for special education students. Soon after, he decided to look to the sky and expand his horizons—and he did just that by enlisting in flight school and joining the Air Force, where he achieved the rank of captain and the status of a C-17A evaluator pilot.  

However, during his service in the Air Force, States pivoted yet again, developing a newfound interest in business and finance through various conversations with his fellow Airmen. “Spending time with people that have an interest in business and finance leads to long, interesting discussions during long flights or during deployments,” he says.  

This encouraged him to pursue a graduate degree in finance. States decided that Northeastern’s fully remote graduate programming was the perfect fit for his unconventional lifestyle of trying to balance schooling with a full-time military career. “As a part-time MBA student, I am pulled in many different directions due to the requirements professionally, personally, and in my education,” he says. To States, time management is the cornerstone to striking this balance—with Northeastern’s remote accessibility and asynchronous learning being the catalyst for success. 

With his graduation imminent, States reflects on his time at Northeastern and the impact it had on both his education and worldview. Not only was he able to pursue a world-class business education while continuing to serve his country, but he was also able to continue to learn about the world’s interconnectivity using a new lens—through a group of friends at Northeastern, no less, that would never have been in the same room. “[In my military service] I see the similarities and differences that all different people have. [Northeastern] has given me the same. Being able to interact with professionals from many different industries has given me perspective about how people live, work, and view the world.”  

You can learn more about Northeastern University’s part-time MBA program here, and follow the D’Amore-McKim School of Business on social media @NU_Business 

Northeastern has given me a more formal education regarding business and finance…it has opened my aperture to different possible career paths following my time in the Air Force.”  

Brad States, DMSB’23

A Taste of Home

Spreading Afghan cuisine one spice pouch at a time

By Ilana Gensler, MA’19

Madena Mohamadi, SSH’13 got the idea to start JAHAN—an Afghan spice blend company—over the COVID-19 pandemic. “A beautiful part of my culture is food, “says Mohamadi, “and there is such a need for Afghan food in the market.” Mohamadi grew up outside of DC in a big Afghan community, which she hasn’t been able to find at Northeastern. Thanks to FaceTime sessions with her mom, Mohamadi has mastered recipes that have been passed down over generations, like Chapli Kebab, a traditional Pashtun dish full of tangy, nutty, and earthy flavors.

When you read about Afghanistan in the news it’s often negative, according to Mohamadi, who wanted to re-frame Afghanistan and allow others to enjoy aspects of its culture. After figuring out how to recreate test kits of the recipes in smaller batches, Mohamadi started sharing them with friends who were unfamiliar with the cuisine. “When I first started cooking for my friends, I felt a sense of pride and longing for home,” says Mohamadi, “and people’s appreciation of the flavors was heartwarming.”

When it came to the formulations and portions of her spice pouches, Mohamadi’s process involved trial and error. Next, Mohamadi tackled the branding. “I am fascinated by products with labels that include funky aesthetics, like Brightland olive oil,” says Mohamadi. Getting to that point in Mohamadi’s bootstrapped and self-funded business had taken several months, as she also works full time.

Mohamadi’s inspiration to create something to make a difference in the world traces back to Northeastern’s social entrepreneurship program. “There is a humanitarian component to JAHAN,” says Mohamadi, “with 5% of every purchase being donated to the nonprofit, Women for Women International’s emergency response to the dire situation in Afghanistan.” The mission behind Mohamadi’s business has been two-fold. “I want to support Women for Women International and share Afghan cuisine with today’s busy home chefs, one delicious meal at a time.”

Learn more about JAHAN on Instagram @eat_jahan. Join Mohamadi and Urban Wine Club in celebration of International Women’s Day later this month for a virtual event.

March 7, 2022

Madena Mohamadi

“When I first started cooking for my friends, I felt a sense of pride and longing for home. And people’s appreciation of the flavors was heartwarming.”

-Madena Mohamadi, SSH’13

Student Donor Spotlight: Megan Adams, SSH’22

By Victoria Tsang

Megan Adams, SSH’22, has been described by her coach as the “ultimate team player.” She is the committed, hardworking, and selfless goalkeeper for the Northeastern women’s soccer team. Since making her collegiate debut in 2018, Megan has recorded countless saves for her team and was awarded CAA Defensive Player of the Week.

Even with her busy soccer schedule, Megan has made the most of her five years at Northeastern. She majored in criminal justice, is currently pursuing her master’s in security and resilience studies, and interned at Bain & Company, a top management consulting firm. Her favorite Northeastern experience was traveling internationally for the first time to France and Spain with her team. This memorable trip gave Megan the opportunity to compete in games against European players, immerse herself in other countries’ histories, and attend unique cultural excursions.

Being a part of the women’s soccer program has given me the opportunity to attend Northeastern and build lifelong relationships. I’ve learned more from being a part of the team than anywhere else, and I’m grateful for all of my experiences and opportunities.”

– Megan Adams, SSH’22

Megan identifies her time on the women’s soccer team as an important and special period of her life, and she has generously made a gift in support of her team in gratitude. “Being a part of the women’s soccer program has given me the opportunity to attend Northeastern and build lifelong relationships,” she says. “I’ve learned more from being a part of the team than anywhere else, and I’m grateful for all of my experiences and opportunities.”

January 10, 2022

Megan Adams, SSH'22

Student Donor Spotlight: Nicolas Maciel, E’22

By Victoria Tsang

Nicolas Maciel, E’22, has always had a passion for engineering. Since beginning his academic career at Northeastern, he set out to immerse himself in learning the ins and outs of transportation engineering. Through multiple internships, co-ops, and extracurricular organizations, he’s done just that.

During Nicolas’s first semester, he joined Paradigm Hyperloop. This international team of students from the United States and Canada is making the Hyperloop concept—a mode of transportation consisting of levitating high-speed capsules traveling through low-pressure vacuum tubes—a reality. Now a senior, he leads the Paradigm team as project manager, working to design, build, and test the Hyperloop pods.

Outside of engineering, Nicolas has made countless memories as a member of the Entrepreneurs Club and Club Taekwondo, and through traveling abroad. His most unforgettable experience was traveling to Israel and Palestine to speak with regional and local diplomats regarding the conflict between the two nations, and immersing himself in the culture and geography of the Middle East.

With these accomplishments under his belt, Nicolas recognizes the importance of giving back to the program that made it all possible. He’s made a gift in support of Paradigm Hyperloop, contributing directly to club resources for those who will lead the group after him. “Northeastern has provided me with numerous career avenues both related and unrelated to my experience on the Paradigm team,” says Nicolas. “I feel compelled to return the favor.”

In just a few years, Nicolas has grown personally and professionally. His dedication, enthusiasm, and involvement in the university community have set an example for future Huskies, showing them that at Northeastern, the possibilities are endless.

January 10, 2022


Northeastern has provided me with numerous career avenues both related and unrelated to my experience on the Paradigm team. I feel compelled to return the favor.

-Nicolas Maciel, E’22

Reflections from an Office Trailer in Boardman, Oregon

Jude Arbogast E’19


By Ilana Gensler, MA’19

As leaders think through a remote-centric approach to work, the traditional office structure is changing. But Jude Arbogast, E’19 isn’t setting up shop at a local café or spare room in an apartment. You may have read about Arbogast’s honorable involvement with The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)—from his inclusion in the 2019 New Faces of Civil Engineering in the College category, to his former role as President. Arbogast shares the inside scoop on memorable moments and lessons learned at Northeastern.

Have you experienced the global Northeastern network? If so, how?
My trip to Delft, Netherlands was my first truly transformative experience outside the United States. My professor repeatedly mentioned, “This would be the best summer of our lives” during pre-departure meetings, something I quickly dismissed. Turns out, he was 100% correct, but it took hindsight for me to recognize that. The opportunity to spend 1-2 months abroad with an eager group of people in their twenties, perfectly scheduled itinerary, and time to explore everything the country has to offer is too good to turn down. For folks who cannot fit in a full semester abroad but want what I believe was a more thorough and invigorating cultural experience, you cannot pass up a Dialogue!

In an evolving professional world, how do you stay ahead and continue to grow your knowledge and expertise?
I am a firm believer in accepting your gaps in knowledge and asking for help when you need it. People love being asked genuine questions about their specialty and will always take the time to teach those who are interested. Not only do these types of questions help you obtain information, they also foster a culture of caring which ultimately leads to genuine, lasting relationships. I have more than one professional relationship that began with being yelled at and has now evolved into an annual, “Merry Christmas!” text.

Tell us how your Northeastern education has impacted you professionally.
The co-op program helps you recognize—and nip—bad workplace habits before you really embarrass yourself in a post-grad position. I often see new employees showing up late, using their phone at inappropriate times, and making other mistakes that are not always black and white but that you learn to avoid with experience. Coming in having already worked that out provides former co-ops with a massive leg up on their coworkers.

October 29, 2021

Jude Arbogast E’19

One piece of advice for someone starting at Northeastern.
Push yourself outside your comfort zone from day one. Whether that means introducing yourself to the people on your hall, or going to a club meeting get involved early and often. You grow by being uncomfortable and the quicker you realize that, the more you will get out of your short time in college.

Where are you today?
I was previously working in Boston but was presented with a great opportunity to move across the country and work with a new team in a brand new sector. It was certainly a scary proposition when initially brought up but opportunity only knocks once in a while so I knew I had to go for it. A global pandemic also meant that I was not leaving behind too much excitement. So here I am, once again in an office trailer but this time with two bathrooms and carpet! Being in a close quarters environment like a trailer means that maintaining positive team dynamics is crucial to staying productive, and more importantly, staying sane. With the long days and constant stressors of construction, the only way to get through it is to lean on your team for support. Over time, team members might kick and scream at one another, but the level of trust and compassion built in the trailer is akin to that of a family’s.

Mohsen Alqunaie

Graduating senior Mohsen Alqunaie, E’21, has always been active in Northeastern campus life. From community service to athletics, he does it all, making the most of his college experience and truly embodying the university spirit. He’s a member of the Hall Council, Triathlon Team, Class of 2021 Senior Year Experience Board, and Northeastern’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Mohsen has also pursued experiential learning opportunities at Northeastern to advance himself and his professional career. He’s been on co-op with Keolis Commuter Services, as well as the Public Works Department with the City of Boston. And last fall, he worked as a research assistant in the College of Engineering and analyzed the impact of COVID-19 on transit and mobility, focusing on Boston’s MBTA, highways, bike shares, and airlines. His enthusiasm for learning knows no bounds, and through his work experiences, he’s found his greatest passion in the field of civil engineering.

Not only does Mohsen commit his time to enhancing student programming as a leader on the Senior Year Experience Board, but he has generously made a gift to the College of Engineering, hoping to pay it forward to future engineering students. “I want to give future students more opportunities at Northeastern,” he says. “I also want to thank Northeastern for the incredible experience it has given me, and I hope the university keeps giving future students an amazing time.”

It’s graduates like Mohsen whose positivity, dedication, and philanthropy continue to inspire even after becoming an alumnus, leaving a legacy at Northeastern and exemplifying what it truly means to be a Husky.

March 24, 2021

Learn more about student philanthropy at Northeastern

Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky – Slate Milk

Northeastern was huge for us, and instrumental in us getting off the ground. We wouldn’t be where we are without the school’s resources.”

manny lubin, amd’15

Josh Belinsky, DMSB’18, and Manny Lubin, AMD’15, founded Slate Milk in 2018. In 2019, they successfully launched their natural, low sugar, high protein, lactose-free chocolate milks, and their sleek cans can be found in grocery stores across the country. In the early stages of building the company, they received help from IDEA and refined their branding with Scout. Read more about their story here

February 23, 2021

Slate Milk

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