Think Globally, Act Locally feat. Jack Lovett

Meet Jack Lovett, SSH’19, MPA’20! An office engineer for the City of Newton, Jack loves representing and helping constituents, as well as Northeastern’s young alumni and global community. Learn more from Jack about what your local government can do you for you, what it’s like to be a Young Alumni Advisory Board member, and why it’s important to be involved in your community.

Connect with Jack on LinkedIn

A MOVE Towards Liberation

“I wanted to make a sidebar conversation a real conversation,” says Dr. Frederick Engram, Jr., CPS’19, with a passion only found in the DNA of changemakers. “I really wanted to have a coming together and tap on the shoulder, not just for Black people, but for my peers, my elders, and [those] on a journey toward anti-racism. How can I be a part of this? How can I make this work?”

Dr. Engram, hailing from Utica, New York by way of Silicon Valley, feels like he has “lived several lives.” After graduating from an HBCU with a bachelor’s in criminology and furthering his education with a master’s in administration of justice and security, Dr. Engram worked in a diverse range of fields before being “bit by the bug” of higher education and beginning his tenure at American University in Washington, D.C.

While at American University, Dr. Engram happened to be at the political center of our nation during an implicative and transformational time in our country—the 2016 transition from the Obama to Trump administration. Being in the eye of a historical zeitgeist as that moment had become, Dr. Engram wanted to make an impact on a sociopolitical level, and asked himself “How can I be a part of liberation and liberatory work?”

With this question in mind, in November of 2023, Dr. Engram published “Black Liberation through Action and Resistance: MOVE” under Rowman & Littlefield. The name of his book is far more than just a title—it’s a call to action, critical thought, and change. As Dr. Engram explains, the title “is a double entendre. It’s called ‘MOVE’ as in get up and do something…but it’s also ‘MOVE’ as in move to music. Each of the chapters in the book are named after a song of liberation.”

Even with the positive reviews of his book and his plethora of experiences, Dr. Engram still credits Northeastern with giving him the flexibility to pursue his passion for social change. His hybrid educational schedule, he says, was able to give him the “full-on” Northeastern experience when in Boston. “Being a grad student in Boston while at Northeastern, allowed me to live in both places ideologically, philosophically, and in D.C. working…engaging with both my colleagues and my peers to be both an administrator and student at the same time.” 

Now an assistant professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, Dr. Engram continues his fight for liberation through his research of critical race theory, disruptive DEI, and more. With this in mind, his pursuit to answer the social questions of liberation are proving to be a bright light for our nation’s future. 

To stay informed, follow Every Day is Juneteenth on Instagram

To stay connected with Dr. Engram, follow him on Instagram

“Black Liberation through Action and Resistance: MOVE” is available at your local bookstore

Capitalize on the opportunities that are present before you.”

Dr. Frederick Engram Jr., CPS’19

The Code to Financial Accessibility feat. Kojo Addaquay

Meet Kojo Addaquay, E’23! Currently working as a finance business systems analyst at Northeastern, Kojo has a history of working with the United Nations and his own fintech startup that aims to help farmers in Ghana finance their equipment. Learn about Kojo’s unique co-op experience, his techniques for self-discipline when learning a new skill, and his predictions for the future of global fintech!

Branching Out: Beyond the Family Tree feat. Byron Hurt

Meet Byron Hurt, AMD’93! After starting his journalism career at The Patriot Ledger while at Northeastern, Byron transitioned to documentary filmmaking that focuses on hot-button topics. Byron’s latest film, “Lee and Liza’s Family Tree”, traces the history of the Hurt family through various genealogical practices while using it as a vessel to explore a range of social issues. Learn more about Byron’s Northeastern experience, his journalistic inspirations, and his upcoming projects!

You can watch “NOVA: Lee and Liza’s Family Tree” here.

Helping Huskies Plan for the Future

Since she was a teenager, Alissa Krasner Maizes, CJ’90, has been a fan and consistent reader of Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine. This past October, every reader’s dream became a reality for her—she was published by the magazine highlighting her successful college saving strategies that paid for both of her sons’ Northeastern experiences while simultaneously allowing her and her husband to save for retirement.

Maizes is no stranger to money management, however—she is the founder and financial advisor for the Boca Raton-based financial planning firm Amplify My Wealth. “Starting Amplify My Wealth was fueled by my desire to provide fiduciary advice to help young adults and women along their financial journey, regardless of their net worth, meeting you wherever you are on your financial journey, whether living paycheck-to-paycheck or with millions in the bank,” she says.

Starting your own financial planning service is no small feat, and it is clear that entrepreneurship and perseverance seemingly run in the Maizes family. Her son, Zachary, Khoury’23, used his Northeastern experience to build a rapport with titans in his industry through a number of co-ops and hard work. According to Zachary, “the co-op culture at Northeastern provided an environment that encouraged me to focus on putting myself in the best position possible for applications early on…I restructured my course plan to better align with the application cycle and get ahead of the curve…These experiences, with companies like Amazon and Meta, were major contributors to me landing my current position at ZipRecruiter.”

Her younger son, Joshua, E’25, used his entrepreneurial instincts to take advantage of a market gap in the greater Boston area while completing co-ops to gather experience in the industrial engineering field. He states that “pivoting from Mechanical to Industrial Engineering was crucial in my academic experience, and my co-ops cemented my passions before entering the job market. As someone who has been an entrepreneur since high school, the experiential environment inspires me to continue to develop my business, Fragment Studios, and tackle entrepreneurial opportunities with classmates, like Select Markets—a local, sustainable vintage clothing market—that I founded with a fellow Husky.”

It’s no secret, however, that balancing a budget while having children in college can come with its challenges. For parents navigating this fragile territory, Maizes advises that “as a current Northeastern University parent, balancing your instinct to ‘be there for your children’ by prioritizing your financial needs is essential. Admittedly, while most people do not like having conversations about money with anyone, you and your child will likely thank you for it later.” With that in mind, not only is Maizes helping her family succeed financially, but she can help yours too.

Learn more about Amplify My Wealth on their website
Connect with Alissa on LinkedIn
Connect with Zachary on LinkedIn 
Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn

“As a current Northeastern University parent, balancing your instinct to ‘be there for your children’ by prioritizing your financial needs is essential.”

Alissa Krasner Maizes, CJ’90

Memories to Last a Lifetime

“I’m always looking around for pictures,” says Chelsea Matson, a 2011 graduate with degrees in Human Services and International Affairs. As the proprietor of her own photography business—capturing weddings, family sessions, brand photography sessions, and more—it comes as no surprise to hear that Matson has always viewed the world through a photographic lens. “With my friends, I was notorious for always having a disposable camera with me…I still have shoeboxes of developed photos,” says Matson. “Even whenever I’m driving down the highway, I’m gasping, like, ‘Oh my gosh, those wildflowers are so incredible!’”

Matson’s journey towards becoming a professional photographer was, by her admission, a rather convoluted process. At Northeastern, she began by majoring in criminal justice with a minor in business. Not finding this to be the right fit, she shifted to pre-med, then general art, and finally to a dual major in human services and international affairs. Ultimately, she decided to procure a master’s degree in special education. Her passion for photography, however, never left her.

Eventually, while working as a teacher in New York City, the thought occurred to her—“What if I got people to pay me for taking photos?” Almost immediately, she dedicated herself to learning the tricks of the trade through a photography apprenticeship—all while continuing her career as a teacher and starting her photography business. After getting married and moving to Milwaukee in 2014, she decided to spend another year honing her skills before finally taking the plunge and picking up where she left off . Her calendar has been booked ever since.

However, running a business by herself comes with its own share of difficulties. “Being my own boss is pretty amazing…and exhausting,” says Matson. “Some days, I’m just sitting here on my computer editing for eight hours straight.” According to Matson, what makes it all worth it is her investment in serving and understanding people. “I luckily have really incredible clients,” says Matson. “I love getting to know all these different people at different parts of their lives. Some people are about to have a baby, some people are getting married, some people have five kids and they’re wrangling them…I think people are super interesting, [and] I think that photography gives you an opportunity to build different communities.”

Matson expresses her gratitude to Northeastern for giving her the tools and experience to start her own business. “Being able to graduate with that [co-op] experience is so incredibly valuable,” says Matson. “I left Northeastern with four jobs on my resume…that was huge.” Beyond that, she credits her Northeastern experience with giving her the confidence to pursue her ambitions. “It’s a big deal to be able to feel like you have the tools to leave your full-time benefits-paid job and go start a business, and I think a lot of that comes from my courses and my relationships I built at Northeastern.”

Ultimately, Matson’s hard work and dedication to her craft has paid off—in fact, this year marks the conclusion of her tenth full season in the business. More so than her remarkable business success, Matson is perhaps even prouder of the strides she’s made over the years in terms of setting a manageable work-life balance. “During my first three years, I was doing 20 to 30 weddings in a season, which was beautiful and amazing, but also really grueling.” Part of her growth, she says, has been figuring out the importance of valuing her time. “[Nowadays], if I’m not doing an in-person session, then I’m with my family,” she laughs. “Know what makes you feel happy and joyful, set boundaries, learn from people who do what you want to do, and then just have fun.”

“Walking into a job after [graduating from Northeastern], I felt like I had all these skills: time management, people management, human interactions — without these, I would have felt way more timid.”

Chelsea Matson ssh ’11

A Sweet Story of Entrepreneurship feat. Meghan Phan

Meet Meghan Phan, a graduate of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2022! While working toward her degree in philosophy, Meghan opened a bakery with her mother in 2018. Specializing in sweet treats, Vietnamese food, and coffee, Sweet Piglet Bakery offers something for everyone. Learn about starting a business as a student, balancing work with family, and this year’s Northeastern Holiday Market!

Follow Sweet Piglet Bakery on Instagram: @sweetpigletbakery

Supporting Customers Through Passion and Care

It’s no secret that a cornerstone of the insurance industry is customer care. “In an industry like insurance where you are not selling something that is tangible to a customer, you are really selling the people and employees that we have…I’m super passionate about that piece of things” says Rachel Switchenko, MBA’15.

Beginning her career in insurance through data analytics and accounting for Liberty Mutual, Switchenko eventually gravitated towards the customer side of the business after a move to Plymouth Rock Home Assurance. “I found my home in service,” says Switchenko. “I love the customer experience. I think that they’re really what makes any company successful.” With that mindset, a great work ethic, and a resume to match, at the beginning of 2023 Switchenko was officially announced as the Vice President of Customer Solutions for Plymouth Rock.

Additionally, her Northeastern experience was a foundational piece in her ascension to the VP of Customer Solutions. According to Switchenko, the flexibility that Northeastern’s part-time MBA program offered allowed her to balance her education with her blossoming professional and personal life. “I was looking for flexibility. I was doing it part-time, and it fit really nicely into there. [Plus], it has a really good reputation and I think that also matters. Part of the reason I wanted my MBA was for external opportunities.”

Not only was flexibility a crucial part in obtaining her MBA, but her classroom experience provided her with tools that could be used for success in her career. “At that point in time…sitting in those rooms listening to professors, it gave me a greater appreciation for what was to come. It gave me a better understanding for why decisions were being made…it helped me be transparent to the level that you need to to bring people along with you,” she says in regards to applying these skills to her professional life.

Even after all of her success, Switchenko is still looking to give back to the Northeastern MBA community in any way she can. “I would soak it all in,” she says with a smile as she considers what she would say to current Northeastern MBA students. “Your MBA is a decision you make yourself. Don’t do yourself a disservice by not giving it just as much as you would give anything else that you’ve chosen to do…you’re making that investment, so get the most out of it.”

Your MBA is a decision you make yourself. Don’t do yourself a disservice by not giving it just as much as you would give anything else that you’ve chosen to do…”

Rachel Switchenko, MBA’15

Network your NEXT Opportunity feat. Greg Lainas

Meet Greg Lainas, a graduate of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business in 1978! Greg had a long and prolific career as a CPA—working for industry giants like Robert Half and ESPN. Now retired, Greg leads speaking engagements on networking, telling his story of how he was able to create connections that lead to jobs, leadership positions, and even his first co-op experience. Learn more about the power of networking, tips for making connections, and how his networking skills gave him a unique and interesting opportunity with a Northeastern professor!

Follow and connect with Greg on LinkedIn

A More Sustainable Future for Girls Everywhere

Being at the head of a start-up wasn’t always in the cards for Ceylan Rowe, a 2003 graduate of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Though she’s always been in the business of helping people—her first co-op at Northeastern being at the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants—her prior ambitions were firmly in the realm of politics. In 2020, Rowe made a bid for election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, an endeavor which ended in defeat. But for the ever-optimistic Rowe, this turn of events “…ended up being this hidden blessing.”

It didn’t take long for Rowe to find her true calling. During her stint as a MetroWest commissioner for the status of women, Rowe happened upon a group of eighth-grade girls teaching sixth graders how to use toilet paper as makeshift period pads. “I kept thinking, ‘How is period poverty happening here—in our neighborhood, in our communities?’” For Rowe, access to menstrual products is more than a question of hygiene or comfort. “If you don’t have access to period products,” says Rowe, “[then] how do you go to school? How do you go to work? How do you have financial stability?”

In response to these challenges, Rowe founded Fihri, which she named after Fatima al-Fihri, the first person in history to have founded an institution of higher learning. Fihri aims to provide opportunities for menstrual education via its “Period Palooza” period kit making events while distributing sustainable period products to financially disadvantaged students and disaster-stricken communities. “500 million menstruators do not have access to period products each month,” says Rowe. “So, we want women and girls all over the world to have access to period products that are better for themselves and the environment.”

Over the span of a few short years, the company’s growth has been remarkable—they’ve distributed over 20,000 sustainable menstrual products across 12 different countries. Even with this success, Rowe still credits her time at Northeastern with giving her the tools and knowledge base to start a company. “I think the co-op program really had a positive impact on my life,” says Rowe. “Sometimes, being in the wrong place is helpful to help you discover what the right place is…even if an internship didn’t go the way you were expecting, that’s great, because now you didn’t waste five years!”

Though candid about the strides that are yet to be made in the realms of menstrual product access and education, Rowe believes that she has reason to be optimistic about the future of the industry. “I’m really excited that there’s a lot more small women-owned companies being innovative. In Africa, they’ve launched biodegradable pads that are actually made out of banana fibers. The innovation [in the industry] is making me really hopeful that we can come up with more products that can actually lead to alleviating period poverty.”