Diana Turrieta

“[Diana] is an accomplished biochemistry researcher with an impressive academic record, but also a recognized champion of the underserved communities that she is passionate about, working tirelessly to improve NU’s resources and connections within these communities.”

Kirsten Fertuck, Biochemistry Director and Teaching Professor

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

[My hobbies are] art, like painting and pottery, going on walks, crosswords and puzzles! [My interests are] activism and community-building and increasing resource accessibility.

What are some examples of your involvement in the Northeastern community and the community at large?

During my time at Northeastern, I’ve been involved in a number of organizations specifically aimed at creating more inclusive spaces for students with marginalized identities. In particular, I’ve spent a lot of time working on communities for Latine, first-generation, and low-income students. Creating and spreading resources as well as enhancing supportive communities is something I take pride in having been involved in. As the very first FUNL—First-gen, Undocumented, and Low-income—program assistant, I worked to support students of these identities by providing peer-to-peer mentoring, hosting events to build community and connect students to each other, and enhancing the FUNL Canvas page which provides resources for students. I have also worked to run the PODER Early Arrival Program for three years now to support the transition to Northeastern for Latine, first-gen, and undocumented/ DACA students. I’ve also held e-board positions for two-and-a-half years in the Latin American Student Organization and 1 year with the First-Generation Low-Income Student Union. I also served as biochemistry peer mentor for one semester to support first-semester biochemistry majors. I am also part of the Curry Student Center Staff as a crossroads attendant providing information and service to passersby at one of the busiest spots on campus.

Describe some of your achievements at Northeastern

Some of my academic achievements at Northeastern surround my two-and-a-half year involvement at the Day Lab in the biology department. I was awarded the AJC Merit Research Scholarship in their inaugural cohort to do my first co-op at the Day Lab. Other fellowships I’ve received to continue my research include the NU URF PEAK Trail-Blazer Award and the COS Advancing Women in Science Scholarship. As a part of my research, I was also able to present at the annual conference of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Here, I was awarded an honorable mention for my poster in the Undergraduate Poster Competition for my category in genetic information. Outside of academics, my achievements include my commitment to increasing resources, community, and overall success for students of marginalized identities.

Of the above examples, which do you consider your most significant achievement and why?

Of the activities during my time at Northeastern, I would consider my involvement in the PODER Early Arrival Program to be the most significant. As an incoming first-year, I was a part of the 2021 PODER Cohort. The peer-to-peer mentoring and community that PODER allowed me to have a smooth transition to Northeastern and set me on a path of success during my time here. In 2022, I was a program manager for PODER serving as the lead for the first-generation workshop where the goal is to affirm student identities and capabilities as a strength rather than a deterrent to success. I also worked to compile resources that serve this population of students. In 2023, I was the lead program manager where I oversaw the four-day planning of workshops and activities and secured funding. Currently, I am serving as a co-lead for PODER to enhance community and build longevity of the program through supportive transitions from year-to-year programming. In this role, I am working on building resources that will ensure the long-term success of PODER. This includes coordinating the launch of a website and Instagram to create a campus-wide appearance and to showcase our resources. I am also working with two other co-leads to mentor them on leadership and what it means to be a good leader. I’d say being involved in PODER is my most significant achievement because I have visibly seen the positive community and long-term student success that surrounds this organization. Students always offer resources and support to each other and are eager to be involved in PODER events and to act as mentors to incoming students.

What honors or awards have you received during your time as a student?

[I have made the] Dean’s List for fall 2021, spring 2022, fall 2022, and fall 2023, [and have received the] AJC Merit Research Scholarship, URF PEAK Trail-Blazer Award, College of Science Advancing Women in Science Scholarship, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Chapter Travel Award, ASBMB Annual Meeting Honorable Mention in Genetic Information at the Undergraduate Poster Competition,. Root of Abundance Award at the 2023 Student Life Award, and the First-Generation Legacy Building Award.

Donovan Holt

Donovan Holt would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He did that—literally—one night when an actor had become sick during a rehearsal of an NU theater performance. He filled in because “the show must go on”, and even cleaned up the mess afterward. That is the humble human being and leader he is.

An award-winning student with a 3.61 GPA and recipient of the Department of Theatre’s Eugene Blackman Award for demonstrating outstanding professional promise, Donovan is dedicated to the theatre arts and university. He’s served on the Student Advisory Board for both the theatre department and CAMD, as the assistant and music director for NU Downbeats A Cappella, the diversity and inclusion director of Silver Masque, as a building supervisor for University Recreation, an actor, assistant director, and props director for various Department of Theatre productions, and a panelist for CAMD Admissions to help recruit students.

Donovan completed his first co-op at the Boston Ballet School, where he assisted in teaching third-grade public school students different styles of dance. The second was at the Huntington Theatre Company, where they extend his co-op for three additional months. It also led to a part-time job as an artistic associate for The Front Porch Arts Collective, Boston’s premiere black-centered theatre company in residence at the Huntington. He received his first professional theatre credits as an understudy in Ain’t Misbehavin’.

He considers his co-op at The Huntington and Front Porch to be his most significant achievement. “They have provided me with so many opportunities to learn and participate in new levels of theatre and build my network in the Boston theatre community.” Donovan can also be proud of receiving PEAK award funding to study the Frantic Method in London, a week-long training that teaches directors how to utilize this method in their own creative practices. In tandem with his co-music director at Downbeats, he brought the group up and out of the pandemic by building membership, organizing auditions, and callbacks and realizing a record-breaking number of auditions for the group.

“I hope to work as a freelance actor and director in the Boston area and beyond and further my expertise as an arts administrator to become a better artistic leader,” Donovan says.

Professor Melinda Lopez of the Department of Theatre says, Donovan is a person “who is always ready to pitch in and make things better. He is extraordinary. He is modest. He does what needs to be done without ego.”

Timothy Van Bloem, AMD’23

“I want to make the music industry a better place,” says Tim Van Bloem, a third-year student candidate of a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry with a 3.99 GPA, Dean’s Fellow, and Honors student. “I aspire to find the perfect intersection of technology, legislation, and creativity to improve the music industry for creators everywhere.”

In terms of creativity, Tim has it in spades. He’s a singer, songwriter, and producer who spends a lot of time creating music in his home studio. Tim is also a member of the Northeastern selective, world-renowned Nor’easters a cappella group and has even performed in London. Tim combined creativity with legislation when he coordinated the launch of Good Dog Licensing, a non-profit educational startup that helps independent artists get their music in student films around the country. It is also the only student-run music licensing organization at a U.S. college or university.

Tim considers Good Dog Licensing to be his greatest achievement. In March, when a new student came to a meeting and asked how Good Dog worked, Tim asked a freshman to explain. “She was able to speak on the intricacies of the Creative Commons license, all the points to pitch to artists and filmmakers, speak on the educational aspects of Good Dog, and hit every important point,” he says. “That was the moment when I realized that Good Dog Licensing could exist long after I left Northeastern because there were other students who were just as passionate about helping independent artists as I was.”

Tim’s passion for helping is not exclusive to the music industry. He volunteered for the #Voted Initiative working with college students around the country to coordinate a massive virtual concert to support voter registration. He’s president of the Student Advisory Board, the undergrad representative for Northeastern’s Curricular and Learning Committee, NEU 2030, and participated in #NEXTGEN_U, a virtual Future of Music Industry Event co-sponsored by SoundCloud and Big Machine Records.

In addition to his creative pursuits and volunteer activities, Tim is a sync licensing intern at Downtown Music Publishing and producer, instructor, and counselor for the Gas Lamp Theater Company. Previously, he was a music licensing intern at Mandolin.

Professor and Chair, CAMD-Music, Daniel S. Godfrey says Tim “is a guiding light among our undergraduate majors and is richly deserving of the recognition that comes with the Garnet Award.”


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I aspire to find the perfect intersection of technology, legislation, and creativity to improve the music industry for creators everywhere.”

Timothy Van Bloem

Ari P. Zlota

Ari Zlota is a much-lauded student in Northeastern’s College of Science. In addition to the Garnet Award, he received the Community Service Award in 2019 from the Center for Community Service and the Community Impact Award in 2020 from the Office of City and Community Engagement. That’s impressive—especially since he still has two years to go before he graduates.

Ari is a biochemistry major, behavioral neuroscience minor, in the Honors Program, and has 3.96 GPA. He is involved with the Alliance of Civically Engaged Students (NUACES) and helped out at an inpatient detox unit at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. In his current position as a peer programmer for NUACES, Ari mentors 10 first-year members, leads monthly lessons and discussions, and helps plan curriculum.

Ari is committed to volunteer work and has supported the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless program since 2019. During spring break last year, he traveled to Honduras as part of the Global Medical Brigades Club. Ari is equally dedicated to research. During his first co-op (at Woolf Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital), Ari worked to develop a safe therapeutic option for the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Currently at his second co-op at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science (at Dana Farber), he is working to further develop and understand the action of candidate immunotherapies.

Not all of Ari’s research is focused on biochemistry. He has recently begun to participate in public health research as an intern in the Health in Justice Action Lab (Northeastern Law School). He analyzes the disproportionate investment in carceral systems—jails, courts, community supervision, etc.—relative to health and supportive systems such as housing, health and human services, and community engagement.

Ari was recently awarded a Health, Humanities and Society Research grant. “Although the grant is quite small, it represents a noteworthy milestone in my academic journey,” he says. “I also consider it prominent because it demonstrates my commitment to taking an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems.” Although his future involves treating disease and injury through science and medicine, he believes that “successfully understanding and treating such ailments requires an understanding of how non-biological factors impact their manifestation and progression as well.” 

Biochemistry Program Director Kirsten Fertuck, Ph.D, says, “I have no doubt whatsoever that Ari is going to emerge as one of our most distinguished senior students.” After graduation in 2023, he plans to go to medical school.

April 1, 2021


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I have no doubt whatsoever that Ari is going to emerge as one of our most distinguished senior students.

Kirsten fertuck, Biochemistry Program DIrector

Gabriel García

Without the support of faculty and staff, Gabriel “Gabe” García does not believe they could have achieved all they have to date—and that’s a long list. Gabe holds a 3.7 GPA and will soon receive a Bachelor of Science in Politics, Philosophy and Economics with a concentration in Public and Economic Policy, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. That’s a lot to take on, but Gabe has always managed, on top of being a student, at least one part-time job while remaining active in the Northeastern community in many ways.

A University Scholar and student in the Honors Program, Gabe is the president of the Northeastern University Political Review (NUPR) where they have published three pieces: “Fitting in Nowhere: The Case for Trans-inclusive Feminism,” “The Cause for, Victim of, and Cure to Gay Loneliness,” and “All About Incivility: An Interview with Candice Delmas,” leading the organization since January of 2018.  Gabe’s passions for campus involvement have also led to steadfast involvement in Residential Life, where they are a senior resident assistant (RA) for Leased Properties, and worked formerly as an RA.

Within their home college, Gabe is a CSSH Ambassador, former peer mentor, and in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, a former teaching assistant and conference assistant. Additionally, they were the executive vice president, and then president of their Departmental Philosophy Club for two years. Across disciplines, Gabe is recognized as a member of the Phi Alpha Delta (pre-law) Society of Scholars, and is a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Studies honor society of the National Communication Association. Gabe was also just named to the 2020 Huntington 100, recognizing them as an influential campus voice. 

With so many undertakings and achievements under their belt, Gabe considers one of their cornerstone experiences at Northeastern to be planning and executing a service trip to Seattle for “Alternative Spring Break.” During the trip, a group of students visited more than nine Seattle-based organizations. With the help of another student, they planned the program from the ground up—developing purpose, goals, locations, partners, and logistics—over a few short months.

Currently, Gabe is on their final co-op as the North American Region Diversity and Inclusion Assistant at Boston Consulting Group. On their first cycle, Gabe co-oped at WilmerHale, where they were a client development (Marketing + PR) co-op, and then an intellectual property/litigation development intern when their job was extended.

As far at the future, they aren’t sure. With interests in public health, communications, policy, consulting, diversity and inclusion, and social justice, they hope to find a career blending these with their core calling of helping people and advocating for communities.

March 25, 2020

garnet award recipient

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