Northeastern University

Tamara Soraluz - Class of 2010

Double Major Human Services and English

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Why did you choose this major, and does/did it seem like the right major for you? Why?

Adding Human Services as my second major felt right from the beginning. I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people, especially those that are underprivileged. The more I learned in my classes the more interested I became in the many different ways that I could incorporate my skills and interests in a career where I could serve others. Being part of the Human Services Department only reiterated these feelings and as I got to know more students like myself that wanted to go into a path of service work in whatever way fit them best. I very much enjoyed the variety of jobs and directions a Human Services major could explore.

Why did you choose NU? Was/is this the right school for you?

I chose NU because of its location and because of the CO-OP program. I enjoyed the fact that Boston was very unlike my home and I felt it would challenge me and allow me to broaden my horizons in terms of the types of people I knew and experiences I would be exposed to. NU was the right fit for me and to this day I cherish everything it had to offer me, including a completely different view of communities, especially those directly surrounding the campus. I don't think any other university is lucky enough to be in a position of power to help the community around it as is Northeastern.

How many co-ops have you completed?

Two Co-op cycles; 3 co-op positions (My 2nd co-op cycle had 2 co-op positions- both part time)

Can you list the companies and give a quick synopsis of what you did?

My first co-op was at New Bedford Juvenile Resource Center: A center that worked as a alternative facility for male juveniles in the court system. As the Administrative Assistant to the office I was performed tasks like serving lunch, updating office forms and paperwork, entering personal information into the computer system and keeping track and creating drug testing reports. I also had a chance to perform an initial participant intake, monitor classes, perform translation services and direct my own art class with participants. This job was extremely unique in that as a 19 year old, at the time, I was put in charge of the discipline of 10-15 teenage boys when I myself was not much older than them. They were a particularly difficult population because in addition to their involvement in the juvenile court system, there were family issues to be accounted for that were extremely damaging to the individuals.

My second co-op was at the Pine Street Inn as a Human Resources Assistant: I was in charge of the front desks and the everyday office tasks such as filing, getting the organization's new and current employees, and leading the weekly open house sessions the office held. This particular job really helped me understand the organization and order of a non-profit; from its employees to the way it is funded. It gave me a clear view at how a non-profit functions from the President to the entry-level employees.

My third co-op was at the Northeastern University Youth Development Project as an Administrative Assistant/ Tutor/ Program Facilitator/ Case Manager. During the year and a half that I remained at YDIP I went through many different positions there. All the positions I held and tasks I performed worked towards the overall goal of helping and motivating our high school students and their parents towards school success. It was an amazing opportunity to see how one program with only 4 full time staff members, could change the life of 27 students and their families. A person can't help but become personally involved in the success of these young men and women and their families.

If you participated in co-op, what were the highlights/great learning opportunities you gained?

I gained knowledge of a very wide array of organizations and populations that really helped me figure out what it is I wanted to do. It gave me an opportunity to explore my own interests and talents in order to seek a career that would not only benefit me, but also be beneficial to others. It also really reassured me that this was the path I wanted to take.

Did you have any other "learning from outside of the classroom" (service learning, student leadership, study abroad, research, or volunteering) that also enriched your time here?

I volunteered for 4 out of the 5 years I was at NU and it really made me committed to a cause. I stayed with the same shelter for the 4 years and I made great relationships with the staff there. Those 2 hours a week that I dedicated to them not only benefitted them to have my extra hand, but also made me realize why I was a Human Services major.

Have you Graduated from NU? If Yes, please let us know what you are doing and if you think your co-ops and experiential education have helped you in your career path.

I graduated this May and I am currently working full time at Congressman Himes' congressional office back home in CT. I am a Constituent Services Representative and a lot of my job is doing casework. I absolutely think that every experience I had during college helped me with this job. I understand that issues that affect urban communities and I feel comfortable with them because NU, in a way, forced me to submerge myself into unfamiliar grounds.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The Human Services Family is uniquely amazing due to its diversity and willingness to help each student develop and succeed!

Questions Answered as of 11-8-2010