A word from our volunteers

Northeastern alumni can be found around the world—there over 275,000 people who are connected by one global university. Every day our alumni volunteers give their time and talent to make the Northeastern network even stronger. 

In this episode, Ilana Gensler, MA’19 Assistant Director of Affinity and Domestic Engagement will speak with a few of our volunteers from San Francisco to Thailand. 


Rachel Rappe, DMSB’15, Chicago Community Volunteer, Young Alumni Advisory Board Member, Women Who Empower Mentor

Ezgi Kosereisoglu, E’14, Chicago Community Volunteer, Young Alumni Advisory Board Chair, NUCEAO President Emerita

Kim Tran, E’17, Alumni Co-op Mentor in San Francisco

Dave Wedge, AS’00, Northeastern Rugby Club Alumni President

Sureena Sachdev, DMSB’19, Alumni Community Leader in Thailand

Hear what volunteering is all about and why they give back.

Episode aired May 3, 2021

Learn More about Volunteering
Interest Form

The Northeastern Next Podcast is your channel to your global alumni network. In this show, we will catch up with alumni to hear what they do every day to achieve what’s next, and learn about their journey after Northeastern.

Questions, comments, or ideas for next guests can be emailed to the host,  [email protected].

Listen and subscribe on apple podcastsgoogle podcasts, or spotify.

Mary McQuillen

Associate Director, Advancement at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

By Ilana Gensler, MA’19

While taking a Soul Cycle class in London, Mary McQuillen, DMSB’14 spotted a Northeastern zip-up among the sea of fellow cyclers. Little did she know that this sweatshirt served as an icebreaker for Mary to meet senior vice president for University Advancement, Diane MacGillivray and, ultimately, a catalyst to her role in supporting university programming through Alumni Relations. Mary raised her hand as a volunteer for the New York City community, where she continues to bridge conversations among new connections.

How did Northeastern impact you professionally?

My Northeastern education has been fundamental in shaping my career and the profession that I ended up choosing. The program can be utilized to understand what you don’t want to do, trying my hand at different careers from a large sales organization to executive recruiting to a small media firm. Without Northeastern, I might have made it to front-line fundraising in the healthcare space, but it would have taken me a lot longer to find something that I love to do.

In an evolving professional world, how do you stay ahead and continue to grow your knowledge and expertise?

I’m involved with an organization called Women in Development New York, which provides different networking and professional opportunities to hone our craft and learn from one another. If anything what my time at Northeastern has taught me is that you can gain so many connections and learn so much just from a small group of people. Always keep those lines of communication open and say ‘yes’ to different kinds of opportunities.

Can you think back to how you felt during your first event? And, how has your experience evolved?

It felt pretty natural and a ton of fun – no matter where you are in the world when you meet a fellow alumni, naturally, you have so much common ground. I work in fundraising so I’m always forming connections with people that I don’t know. You can get to know the community better, recognizing folks you might have seen at a past event before, and I corral my friends from Northeastern that live and work in the New York City area.

How my involvement all began in London was just a perfect storm of happenstance. It’s fun to quickly connect with the Northeastern community when I really hadn’t been involved for several years. When chatting with a co-op student at the non-profit social hour we connected over both belonging to the same sorority!

June 29, 2020

What is one piece of advice for someone looking to get involved as a volunteer?

Rip the Band-Aid and give it a try! It can feel like your first day freshman year figuring out who you’re going to talk to at the dining hall, but the people who raise their hand want to form those relationships and networks. There’s a lot to be gained from the amount of time folks in our community are willing to lend a hand.

What’s next for you?

More than ever before, now is a time that we’re all appreciative of the communities that we have in our lives, whether that be friends, family or alumni. I’m going to keep trying to be that connector for the New York City community as much as I can because I’ve gotten so much out of my participation with this group, and am excited to see what the year has to come.

Qian Qian

Senior Manager, Ultrain, China

The first time Qian stepped onto the Northeastern campus, he felt like Harry Potter entering the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! He knew that the door to opportunities was now open, not only during his time on campus, but also beyond. After returning to Shanghai, Qian decided to share his Northeastern experience with other alumni and community members, playing a pivotal role in establishing Northeastern’s first communities in China: Beijing and Shanghai. From supporting alumni professionally, to giving them an opportunity to find their place in the community, Qian continues to serve as the perfect ambassador for Northeastern.

Tell us how Northeastern has impacted you professionally.
As one of the top universities in the USA, Northeastern has helped me gain access to a variety of industries in China, from consulting, and venture capitals, to strategy and investment departments of Internet giants, and some Fortune 500 corporations. As an international student, I had the opportunity to engage with a diverse student population, which taught me empathy and tolerance. Today, I’m a senior strategic manager in a startup business worth $200 million, managing client and investor expectations daily. Without my Northeastern experience, I wouldn’t have felt empowered to meet their needs, and step into their shoes to truly understand their perspective.

Have you experienced the global Northeastern network?
For the past four years as a community leader in Beijing and Shanghai, I have had the opportunity to support many Chinese alumni who were travelling or moving to Beijing and Shanghai. They were looking for a community to help them settle down in a new city, and by attending some of our events, or joining our chat groups online, they were able to find the support they needed.  I have also been able to help American alumni find job connections in China.

How do you stay ahead of the curve?
I am fortunate to be industries that require me to stay ahead of the curve. Both in consulting, and in my current job at a startup, my role requires me to stay on top of technology trends and investment opportunities. You have to be self-motivated, and driven by the fear of being left behind. That drive is critical to learn about the trends and continuously grow your knowledge.

January 30, 2020

Qian Qian

What inspired you to give back to Northeastern as a volunteer?
When I came back to Shanghai in 2015, I had no friends or family here, but I knew that there were other Northeastern alumni and recent graduates who were in the same position. So, I contacted the Alumni Relations office, and asked them how I could get connected with the community here. With their help, I organized the first alumni event in Shanghai during Christmas, and we found that so many alumni had a passion for reconnecting with the university and each other. Their desire and passion drove me to take on a leadership role, eventually helping Northeastern establish official communities in Shanghai and Beijing. Today, we’ve gathered hundreds of alumni in these communities, which constantly re-energizes me to do more.

What have you learned by volunteering for Northeastern?
Contributing to your community can strengthen your belief in the kindness of the world. Everyone has moments of vulnerability, but we have the power to support them – and to me, that’s what being an alumnus is all about.

Mark Olivito

CEO, PAVERART Enterprises, LLC

After high school, Mark Olivito, DMSB’97, wasn’t excited about his future prospects, until a chance meeting with a recruiter sparked an interest in Northeastern. Intrigued by the co-op program, Mark applied and was accepted to Northeastern, where the robust entrepreneurial environment pushed him to stretch his limits, and discover his true potential.

How did your Northeastern experience impact you professionally?

Tremendously! During my time at Northeastern, I completed four, 6-month co-ops at Kraft Foods (two in Chicago, one in New Jersey, and one in Boston), which led to an offer to join the company as an account manager upon graduation; that was the start of 23+ years in the consumer products industry. The co-op program provided built-in motivation for me to work extremely hard academically, and become more goal-oriented. That, coupled with the network at Northeastern, was my recipe for success. Without those foundational skills that I learned through my co-op, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

How do you stay ahead the curve?

Reading, networking, and continuing to push the envelope.  I started a leadership blog (www.hustleorbust.com) in 2012 to “get up to speed” with the world of digital marketing, and it has become a venue for sharing insights on career management, leadership, and innovation. I have also learned a lot from volunteering, board participation, and mentoring. I’ve served on non-profit boards and formal mentoring programs, and am also a volunteer teacher at the Junior Achievement youth organization. Simply being an entrepreneur and managing risk and opportunities, is a constant incentive to do better.

One piece of advice for someone starting at Northeastern.

Leave it all on the field. Your time at Northeastern is a unique opportunity to build a rock solid foundation, so use as many waking hours as possible to learn, take advantage of campus resources, participate in clubs, and work extremely hard to make a real difference in your co-op assignments.  You should be very tired (in a good way) by the time you graduate, but energized at the same time. Have some fun, but take it seriously, and it will pay massive dividends.

January 30, 2020

Mark Olivito

Your favorite professor or class and why?

Professor Elizabeth Chilvers, Associate Professor and Director of International Finance Co-op, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, was my co-op coordinator, and I think of her often to this day. I was not a great student in high school, but I knew I wanted to do the early freshman co-op from June-December.  I visited her at the start of freshman year, and she “scared me straight!” She said, “Don’t think about it without a 3.0+ GPA,” and from that point on, I got to work. I always remember her smile when I would visit, and she always took time to say hello.

What’s next for you?

I acquired a food manufacturing company in 2014, took over as CEO, and had a successful merger in late 2017, capping off my dream of business ownership at the age of 40-44.  Since then, I’ve acquired a new business, PAVERART, outside of the world of consumer packaged goods, but I feel confident that the skills I learned at Northeastern will be transferable. I hope to continue to give back and make a positive impact on people, both in the businesses I own, and beyond.

Nick Beek

Political Affairs and Advocacy Manager, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons

If you meet Nick Beek, SSH’12, you will immediately see his passion for bringing communities together. Having served as an alumni mentor for Northeastern’s Co-op Mentor Program in Washington, DC for the past two years, Nick has already helped numerous Northeastern alumni make connections and find the resources they need to achieve what’s next. He is also the co-leader of the alumni community there. For Nick, Northeastern is truly a lifelong connection.

How did Northeastern impact you professionally?

My Northeastern education provided me with the knowledge to compete in a cutthroat job market, and gave me job experience, via the co-op program, to stand out in my industry. The co-op program is essential in helping students narrow down and explore career pathways. Students with co-op experience graduate ahead of their peers from other universities, and have a shorter learning curve.

How do you stay ahead of the curve?

I advance my own skills by networking and participating in professional development programs. Alumni events are a great way to expand your network, or simply to make friends. Generally, if you find someone or something successful, it is a good idea to find out how that success happened, and see if you can apply it to yourself or your job.

What inspired you to give back to Northeastern as a volunteer?

I was looking for new experiences in Washington, DC, and wanted to expand my network. Coordinating alumni events provided a fantastic opportunity to check out places that you may not have gone to otherwise, all while meeting folks you have something in common with. At an awkward lull in conversation, you can always mention your love of Chicken Lou’s!

What are three things you have learned by volunteering for Northeastern?

First, by changing the type of event, you’ll pull a different crowd of attendees. Depending on the event, our attendees range from current students to alumni who are senior citizens. Don’t be afraid to try different things.

Second, add a social element to your event. People like to mix and mingle, but don’t exclusively have social events either. When an activity is complemented by the social component, it creates a higher quality event.

January 30, 2020

Third, don’t just talk to your friends at events. You want to create an inclusive environment, and you’ll never know who you will meet. See someone standing alone? Walk up to them. Tell them about your love of Chicken Lou’s! You both went to Northeastern, you have a ton of common ground.

One piece of advice for someone looking to get involved as a volunteer.

Putting an event together is not hard. My advice? Just do it. Find something you want to do, work with Northeastern Alumni Relations on implementing the event, and show up. Honestly, the hardest part is coming up with an idea, and Google TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other Northeastern alumni communities are great resources.

What’s next for you?

I plan to continue volunteering for Northeastern in Washington, DC. We have a ton of great events coming up and are always looking for new volunteers to help take the lead on ideas. Professionally, I plan to continue learning and working in the field of politics and public policy.

Lexy Von Keszycki

Entrepreneur Support Analyst, Endeavor Brasil

Lexy Von Keszycki, SSH’16, came to Northeastern for the co-op advantage: having real work experience, and a foot in the door. But during her time here, she got the opportunity to explore another passion – Brazil! Through three opportunities to travel to the country, Lexy was able to better understand the culture and professional environment, and commit to making Brazil her home. And, to make sure she didn’t miss her Northeastern connections, she became a volunteer and started bringing Northeastern to Brazil.

How did your Northeastern education impact you professionally?

It’s impossible to imagine how I would have gotten to where I am today without Northeastern – especially the global opportunities I had. I have been working in Brazil for over two years now, and it would not have been possible without the three opportunities I had to visit the country while at Northeastern. Those experiences allowed me to learn about the country first-hand, and see if I really wanted to live there. I also credit my co-ops, which separate me from my peers when it comes to job hunting, because I am a more professional interviewee and candidate, and have real-world skills, relationship building, and credibility in my resume.

How do you stay ahead of the curve?

I listen to a lot of podcasts and seek out online courses to make sure I never stop learning. Currently, I’m enrolled in an online course in social intrapreneurship and how to innovate and create social value inside large corporations. My favorite podcast at the moment is called “Acquired,” which is all about IPOs and M&A transactions.

What inspired you to give back to Northeastern as a volunteer?

Northeastern is a really incredible community that I admire. Living abroad, it is harder to feel close to Boston and other alumni, so I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose touch. Volunteering has also always been an important value for me.

What have you learned by volunteering for Northeastern?

  1. Some of my biggest inspirations have been people I already knew, but I didn’t know their full story.
  2. Bringing people together is easier than you think!
  3. Global experiences are always the first thing alumni want to talk and hear about.

January 30, 2020

One piece of advice for someone looking to get involved as a volunteer.

Start small, and let your community guide your involvement. You’ll be amazed at how much more engaged you’ll become once you start! If you don’t think you have the bandwidth to plan an event yourself, participate in one first and talk to the organizers. Recruit partners and allies to lighten the load, and always know that if you ask for help, the teams at Alumni Relations will go above and beyond to help you.

What’s next for you?

I plan to keep working at Endeavor, Brazil, where I support the best and brightest entrepreneurs to accelerate their impact and drive systemic change. In a few years, I would like to work for one of the entrepreneurs that Endeavor supports to scale the social impact of their business.

Yuki Shuck

Senior Executive, Product Discovery and Personalisation, Sephora, SEA

Yuki Shuck knew that a Northeastern degree would set her apart academically, but when she graduated with two years of work experience, and a global network that extended to every corner of the world, she knew she had hit the jackpot. Connections and relationships are what made Yuki’s Northeastern experience unique, and after graduating and moving to Singapore, she knew she wanted to maintain that network. She became the Singapore Community leader, and has been sharing her passion for everything Northeastern with community members for the past three years.

Tell us how your Northeastern education has impacted you professionally.

Through Northeastern’s co-op program, I was able to gain a wide range of experiences. From working at Fortune 500 companies with more than 2,000 employees, to a small advertising agency with around 50 people. I graduated with close to two years of work experience, which prepared me for interviews and gave me confidence in the workplace. I also found my true passion– data-driven decision making – thanks to my Northeastern coursework. I knew I wanted to work in marketing, but I found a niche at the intersection of tech and data that I wouldn’t have discovered outside of Northeastern.

How do you stay ahead of the curve?

I used to attend speaking events when I was in Boston because it was a great opportunity to meet passionate women in tech, data and marketing, and understand the industry landscape. I knew I wanted to do the same after graduation, and found professional groups in Singapore such as Women in Product. I also learned a lot from attending alumni events, and learning about different people’s roles at various companies and industries. Continuously surrounding myself around intelligent and passionate people helps me grow my own knowledge and expertise in my field.

What inspired you to give back to Northeastern as a volunteer?

I was a second-year student when I first started volunteering. As I was building my network to start my club, Students of Singapore on the Boston campus, I knew that I could continue to do this when I moved back to Singapore as an alumna. Through volunteering, I have had the opportunity to meet incoming students, co-ops and students on exchange in Singapore, as well as the alumni who either returned home or moved to Singapore to work. It’s exciting to build those relationships and know that I can always be there to support my network no matter where it is in the world.

January 30, 2020

Connect with Yuki on LinkedIn

What are three things you have learned by volunteering for Northeastern?

  1. The community is really grateful for the effort you put in. It’s a wonderful feeling to see that people are enjoying themselves and to know that the connections formed can last beyond the event.
  2. The bond between strangers attending the same university is second to none. Talking about crossing Huntington Ave, or struggling to find an open seat at Snell during finals week, are experiences that are common to every Northeastern student. And while these moments go by unnoticed, reminiscing with other people always brings me joy.
  3. Even though I am planning events on the other side of the world, the team at the Office of Alumni Relations is extremely enthusiastic about growing the global community.

One piece of advice for someone looking to get involved as a volunteer.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and use your existing network, and connect with alumni on LinkedIn.

What’s next for you?

I’m looking for more opportunities to grow my network within the local start-up scene in Singapore. I’m interested in non-profit work, sustainable energy, and artificial intelligence, in particular. I hope to find more opportunities to work with companies focused on creating strategic innovations with an intent to make a positive impact in the world.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and use your existing network, and connect with alumni on LinkedIn.