The inau­gural class of Torch Scholars were hon­ored at a lun­cheon yes­terday where family, friends, and North­eastern staff affil­i­ated with the Torch Scholars Pro­gram cel­e­brated the stu­dents’ impres­sive accom­plish­ments including giving back over 5,000 hours of ser­vice each year, starting busi­nesses, and trav­eling around the world through co-​​op and study abroad opportunities.

The pro­gram works to iden­tify highly moti­vated first-​​generation stu­dents who have over­come sig­nif­i­cant obsta­cles and gives them a chance. It elim­i­nates bar­riers to admis­sion cre­ated by dif­fi­cult life cir­cum­stances, and offers unprece­dented edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly in expe­ri­en­tial learning and fac­ulty and staff mentoring.

Actor, musi­cian and phil­an­thropist Todd Smith, aka LL Cool J, was the keynote speaker at the lun­cheon where he imparted words of inspi­ra­tion and per­sonal expe­ri­ence to guide the stu­dents as they set off into the real world.

Smith’s speech fol­lowed remarks from North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun, who expressed his pride in the suc­c­cess had by Torch’s first grad­u­ating class. Anthony Man­ga­naro, E’67, whose family has been gen­erous sup­porters of the pro­gram from its incep­tion five years ago, also spoke to the soon-​​to-​​be-​​graduates, and announced his com­mitt­ment to con­tinue to sup­port the suc­cessful pro­gram and foster its growth.

Click here to read the full story and watch a video about the Torch Scholars Pro­gram.