Northeastern University

Cheryl Szafran - Class of 2010

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

There is no doubt in my mind that Sociology is the right major for me. I entered Northeastern as an undeclared student, my choice of major changing almost daily. In the spring of 2007 I happened to choose Sociology of Violence and Hate because it fulfilled a requirement. By the end of that semester, I was ready to declare Sociology as a major. The topics discussed and the knowledge I have gained reinforce the idea that Sociology is the right major to get me to where I want to be in my career.

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

I was lucky enough to fall in love with the first school I looked at—Northeastern University. A high school friend wanted me to accompany her to look at the school but I had no intentions of moving to Boston. As I drove down Huntington Ave that Saturday morning, I was in awe over the beauty of the campus and buildings. On the Admissions’ tour we were led into a classroom on the first floor of West Village G. I sat in a chair, looked around, and immediately was able to picture myself spending the next 4 years there. Since that day, I have been so thankful for the opportunities that I have been able to participate in because of attending Northeastern. There have been a few instances in which I regretted becoming a Husky but I always return to the same conclusion—no other school could have given me the education and the experiences that Northeastern has given me. After everything is said and done, I believe I made the right choice in choosing Northeastern.

How many co-ops have you completed?

One

If you participated in co-op, can you give a quick synopsis of what you did?

John Hancock Hotel and Conference Center - Guest Service Agent : My position was at the front desk of the John Hancock Hotel. I checked guests in and out, answered questions about the Back Bay area, and prepared reports for management. I also worked with the conference staff to input financial statements and aided staff during conferences and meetings.

Through my co-op, I met so many great people and learned a lot about the hotel industry. The most beneficial aspect of working at the hotel was that I was exposed to all kinds of people—those who were considerate and also those who were demanding. No matter what direction my career goes, I will have to know how to work with all types of people. Another great learning opportunity was when we implemented an entirely new operating system. It was difficult to relearn how to do all of our tasks but it was also helpful because I had to adapt to the changes quickly.

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?

Through the NU Social Enterprise Institute I was able to participate in a field study on microfinance in the Dominican Republic. A group of 20 Northeastern students teamed up with 20 students from a Dominican college, INTEC. Together we spent two weeks going into poor communities and interviewing people who received loans through a microfinance institution called Esperanza. After our research, we prepared a presentation of our findings and recommendations to the executive directors at Esperanza. The last week in the Dominican Republic was full of service projects to help the communities we researched. The first few days were spent digging out the foundation of what would become a three floor community center and school. The next day our group painted the inside and outside of a school in a different community and built a wall to make two separate classrooms. The month I spent in the Dominican Republic has profoundly enriched my studies at Northeastern.

A few months after the Dominican Republic, I got on a plane to begin a 20 hour journey to the eastern coast of Australia. In lieu of another co-op, I wanted to get more international experience in another country. Bond University was a very popular school to study at and I thought I would never get another chance to travel to Australia. The places, activities, and people that I encountered there have opened my eyes to the amazing experiences you can have when you leave your comfort zone. It was difficult going without knowing a single person but I think that contributed to my growth during the trip and made me a better person. I held koalas, took a cruise around Darling Harbor, and watched the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean—things that I most likely will never get to do again.

Have you Graduated from NU?

I graduated from NU one month ago and am still unsure about where I am going to go in life. I would have loved to stay in Boston but thought it would be better in the long run if I went home for the summer. I am currently working at a summer camp for disabled and able-bodied children, where I worked for three years as a counselor. This year, I am the secretary so it entails a lot more paperwork and communications with parents and potential campers. Ideally, I would like to create a social enterprise which is a company that is more concerned with the impact on the less fortunate than on the financial bottom line. I figured out on co-op that I would not be happy working for someone else’s company the rest of my life. If it weren’t for the trip to the Dominican Republic and the social entrepreneurship class I took, I would never have thought about starting a social enterprise so I am very lucky to have had those opportunities and it certainly changed my perspective.

Questions Answered as of 06/18/2010