Alex Vipond

Hometown: Elm Grove, WI
Major: Social Entrepreneurship; Supply Chain Management/Music Industry
College: DMSB

What was you favorite Honors class?

My favorite Honors class was an Honors Inquiries in Social Science course, “Voices of Development: How One Person Can Change the World”, taught by Professor Dennis Shaughnessy. In this freshman Honors class, the first classroom I ever walked into as a Northeastern student, I learned that social entrepreneurship is a great way to improve complex social systems without having to start from scratch. Fitting squarely between the private and public sector, it offers us the opportunity to make positive change without sacrificing previous generations’ progress in healthcare provision, labor laws, intellectual property, financial markets, etc. This class also opened the door for me to work with the Social Enterprise Institute throughout my time at Northeastern. Working and studying with SEI has radically improved my listening, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.

During your time at Northeastern, what experiences shaped who you are today as a graduating senior?

My favorite experiences at Northeastern have been travelling abroad with the Social Enterprise Institute research problems in disadvantaged and low-income areas of South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Boston. During these trips, we had the opportunity to work with local students, business professionals, investors, and nonprofit professionals to dream up market-based solutions to the problems. These trips, which were an extension of my very first Honors class at Northeastern, radically reformed my career plans. They gave me clear goals and a firm direction, in which I will continue to travel after I graduate.

What is your best memory from being a part of the Honors Program?

One of the most memorable parts of my Honors Program experience was the opportunity I had to work independently on an Honors Interdisciplinary Thesis. For my thesis, I analyzed the viability of a worm composting business that would recycle human waste into organic fertilizer, especially in areas of developing countries that have few or no other options for sanitation or high-yield agriculture. This was a fantastic experience, as it allowed my to step outside my discipline and study soil science, public health, and behavioral economics, all topics that I find fascinating. It also allowed me to interface with professionals doing this kind of work (SOIL, a nonprofit located in Haiti, is one example) as well as scientists and engineers working on the cutting edge of human waste recycling technology.

Where are you headed after you graduate?

After I graduate, I will stay in Boston and continue to explore several job opportunities. I am also starting my own social enterprise, which, in its first stage, will turn food waste into organic fertilizer. I envision the company growing and becoming a worker-owned cooperative in a disadvantaged area of Boston, supporting the people and organic farmers who will use the fertilizer for sustainably to increase their yields. In the long term, I hope the business will expand into a developing country using the strategies I researched in my Honors Interdisplinary Thesis.