I met Professor Gordon Adomdza at the start of my freshman year as a participant in the Entrepreneurs Club’s Husky Startup Challenge, a venture-creation program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. He saw potential in me, an 18-year-old kid with a sketch for a business plan. He didn’t think my idea was all that great—I didn’t either—but he saw the fire in my belly.
The following spring, he helped me launch a new Entrepreneurs Club initiative called Reach. With a few hundred dollars in funding, I created a program to teach students how to think like problem-solving entrepreneurs. Under Professor Adomdza’s guidance, I took on various leadership roles in the club, ultimately directing strategy for its 1,500-plus members.
In my second year, Professor Adomdza, by now my mentor and my friend, helped me turn an internship at the startup accelerator MassChallenge into a sophisticated research project. Using theories from class, I analyzed metrics on how ventures grow and published my data as an annual report. It blew my CEO away.
In year three, I took Professor Adomdza’s Innovation! course and then studied in Cape Town, South Africa, with his summer Dialogue of Civilizations class. From my research at MassChallenge to this new fieldwork alongside South Africa’s leading impact investment firm, I found myself shaping the economy through emerging businesses. A few weeks after leaving Cape Town, our South African industry partner informed us that he’d used my work to raise funds to start a fishery. By reselling fresh catfish through their own franchises, people in poor townships could earn a living.
Professor Adomdza has challenged me to step outside my comfort zone. He has empowered me to take full advantage of global experiential learning and has helped shape me into the person I am today: a budding entrepreneur prepared through coursework, research, and co-op for whatever opportunities come my way.
Who Empowered You?
Behind every Northeastern graduate is a story of empowerment — often, a story about a formative personal or mentoring relationship. Please add your testimonial to the growing collection and share a favorite memory or anecdote about your empower source.
When I arrived at Northeastern I had very vague ideas about what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go into medicine but I had no idea where to go or who to go to about getting that kind of mentoring.
At age 37, I was a stay-at-home mother of three young children and in the midst of a divorce. I knew I needed an education or I wouldn’t be able to secure a job doing much of anything. I am where I am today because of Northeastern and my family, and I’m forever grateful.
Balancing work and school, and being on co-op, has taught me how to live life as an adult. Northeastern’s career-oriented atmosphere changed me. It’s made me more mature.
My father-in-law said if I was ever going to marry his daughter, I’d better go to college. Things worked out! Because of the people I met at Northeastern, I had a great career, and I and my late wife, Nancy—also an alum—were married for 37 years.
I had been a senior vice president of human resources with a successful corporate career. The day my job was eliminated, in 2007, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m going to start my own business and go back to school!”
I can still picture her: a petite college grad, not much older than I was—my co-op advisor’s assistant. When I told her I wanted a co-op with a Big Eight accounting firm, she just laughed. “With your grades?”
I was a Torch Scholar in this incredible program’s second year. My mentor at Northeastern—James Stellar, then dean of the former College of Arts and Sciences—introduced me to research and took me under his wing.
As a junior at the business school, I managed to slip into an oversubscribed class on real estate finance taught by Steve Kursh. There weren’t enough chairs, so only the seniors were invited to enroll that semester. Somehow, I stayed.
It isn’t often that you encounter a manager who is both brilliant and extraordinarily caring, but that’s exactly what I got in Brenna McCarthy. I did a co-op at John Hancock Funds, where I assisted Brenna in marketing operations.
I was discharged from the Army in ’73, when the economy was faltering badly. I had no career direction. Joe Golemme convinced me to enroll at the Graduate School of Professional Accounting, which he both founded and directed.
I have wanted to attend Northeastern ever since I watched my dad graduate in Matthews Arena, when I was ten. It was my dream to follow in his footsteps.
LI'59, UC'62, H'89
After I received my engineering degree, I went on to University College and took a course in business law with Professor Victor Cohen. He was one of the toughest professors I ever had, but I must tell you, he would really put the law into you.
As a “double Husky,” I’ve had some great teacher-mentors whose knowledge and solid advice have propelled my career successes. Professor James Ramos is one, though we’ve only ever met online.