"Our students and the employer community make our College a vibrant institution"


Students recognized for excellence in Co-op placements


July 18, 2013

Students at Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) come from all over the world – bringing their own unique cultural and industry experiences into the classroom.  But coming to a new country can bring its difficulties – namely language and cultural barriers – making learning, and finding a job, tough. Some students, however, excel when faced with adversity.   They have passion, drive and persistence, which make them successful in – and out— of the classroom.

When Eve Tastet, who is from France, followed her partner to the United States, she already had two master’s degrees and experience as a French literature teacher under her belt, so she wasn’t too worried about finding a job. But reality hit hard when she found it difficult to land a job.    

Eve Tastet
                           Eve Tastet

Tastet enrolled at CPS because she knew that the College, as she says, “offers professional degrees that answer an industry need, but also prepares students to do a real job.”  While working towards her Master’s in Corporate and Organization Communication degree, which she is still pursuing, Tastet landed two co-ops: her first was at the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a public governmental agency established to promote the life sciences in Massachusetts, based in Waltham, MA, and her second was at Feinstein Kean Healthcare, a public relations agency based in Cambridge, MA.  A co-op, similar to an internship, allows students to gain real-world experience in the workplace while they are still in school, learning on-the-job skills.

Angus McQuilken, vice president of Communications at the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, nominated Tastet for the Student Scholar Co-op Award, which she won, and was recognized for at the 2nd annual Northeastern University College of Professional Studies Co-op Awards ceremony held on June 19, 2013.  The luncheon ceremony awarded students who excelled at their co-op within the last year.  McQuilken noted in his nomination statement that as the first co-op student at Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Tastet “set a very high bar for all who will follow her. She quickly became an indispensable part of our team.”

Carl Zangerl, academic director and faculty member of the Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communication program, who taught Tastet in class, introduced her at the awards ceremony.  Zangerl noted that Tastet “had a laser focus on why she was embarked on this educational career, and had a real sense of her goals and what she wanted to achieve. For example, the communication field is being revolutionized by social media, so she jumped right into the program’s social media concentration.”

Iris Peng
Iris Peng at the 2nd annual Co-op Awards Ceremony.  Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian.

Yunhong Peng, or Iris as the name she commonly uses, is a native of China and came to the College through the Global Pathways program. Peng completed Global Pathways, enrolling in the Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communication program and graduated in April 2013. During her studies, she was able to land a co-op in the College’s Co-op unit as a student coordinator.

Kelly Cameron, assistant director of Co-operative Education and lecturer at the College, worked with Peng in the program and nominated her for the Co-op Leadership Award, which she won. Cameron noted that during her co-op “Peng displayed an authentic desire to do more than improve her English language skills – she stepped outside of the normal job description and provided valuable information on how we can make our program better for other students, particularly our international population.”

In remarks to the audience after receiving the Leadership Award, Peng noted that the co-op helped her change her career goals – and gave her the confidence to pursue her career goal to become a business consultant.

When Lionel Shiwala, who grew up in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was pressured by his father to move from Kansas City, Missouri, to Boston to get a better education, he was in no situation to do so. With two years left until he earned his undergraduate degree, he wanted to stay in place and finish, but he was persuaded by his fiancée to make the move, and he ultimately did.  Shiwala was devastated to learn, however, that he wouldn’t be able to transfer all of his college credits in Boston. An advisor at CPS suggested that he start out by attending Bunker Hill Community College, where he earned a scholarship, and then transferred to CPS.

In his acceptance speech after receiving the Student Scholar Award at the Co-op Awards Ceremony, Shiwala noted that he was able to build his confidence by attending Northeastern, and that Northeastern's community transformed his life.

Lionel Shiwala
Lionel Shiwala (pictured right), his fiancee (pictured left) and his professor, Ralph Covina (pictured center).  Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian.

Shiwala is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Management degree at CPS. He has excelled, but not without pushing through adversity, noting in his speech that “I worked so hard to be here.” He was able to land a co-op at Lufthansa Airlines and is currently in his second co-op with Cisco Systems, based in Boston, MA, a corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment.

Monika Inoue, duty manager for Lufthansa, noted in her nomination statement for Shiwala that “Lionel was a huge asset to our team and during his six months with us he helped create a ’new hire’ training program. All the fresh ideas he brought were extremely valuable.”

Ralph Covina, who taught Shiwala in his class on organizational behavior, introduced Shiwala at the awards ceremony, noting his endless persistence.   “He’d be the first person in class when I got there. He’d be up to the podium during break time. He’d send me emails. Those skills of being aggressive and a thirst for knowledge are exactly the skills that get transferred into the corporate workplace that we all hope employees have.”

Schiwala’s goal is to earn a Master’s in Business Administration and run his own company as a technology entrepreneur. And, as he stated in his closing remarks while accepting his award, “who knows… in the next ten years I might be the next Bill Gates.”