Torch 13 is here!
I’d like to introduce you to our most unique class yet, Torch 13. The 13th Torch class, the class of 2023, is incredibly diverse—in multiple ways. This year, we have students representing the new-to-Torch states of Indiana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Washington. And in addition to these students and our three Bay Staters (what those from Massachusetts are called), the class hails from other states across the country including Maryland, Mississippi (by way of North Carolina), Oregon, and South Carolina.
In another first, we have two students who are Native Americans. Alena is a member of the Dakota Sioux tribe, and Alec represents the Diné (Navajo) Nation. Alec spent the first few days of Summer Immersion at a national conference for Native American youth, where he presented his high school senior project and recruited for Torch. When students spread the word about Torch, good things happen!
Although all entering scholars start in the General Studies Program, the variety of majors they intend spans nearly all Northeastern’s colleges. Areas of study include criminal justice, political science, psychology, architecture, cell and molecular biology, behavioral neuroscience, international affairs, and engineering. The breadth of their interests and passions are remarkable.
The best way to learn more about the Torch 13 class is to head to our website and read the students’ bios. As you read their stories, you’ll learn about the strengths, leadership experiences, and goals they bring with them to Northeastern. Prepare to be inspired!
Recruiting Torch 13 and Future Scholars
Leroy Jackson, Scholarship Academic Advisor, and Jana Dorsey, our former assistant director, went on the road to recruit this past year, enhancing our outreach to new places. Mr. Jackson attended a conference for Native American students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and traveled through South Dakota to visit Native American communities. Jana visited schools and community organizations in the Midwest to talk to first-generation students about Torch. Jana left the Torch Office earlier this year, though is continuing to work remotely on important projects and more Midwest recruiting. We miss her and wish her all the best.
I continued my outreach to the Pacific Northwest, this time with the help of four students who engaged in an alternative spring break trip. Bella Comstock, Torch 12, Shannon Croatto, Torch 8, Daem Celestin and Edgar Maldonado, both of Torch 11, spoke to middle and high school students, most of whom will be first-generation college students, across Washington state. This trip was made possible through a generous donation from Robert E., DMSB’62, and Denise DiCenso, who wanted our Torch Scholars to have a transformative spring break experience and the opportunity to give back to students with similar backgrounds.
All of our efforts, coupled with the work of our admissions counselors, broadened our outreach to new communities this year and helped spread the word about the limitless possibilities of a Northeastern education as a Torch Scholar!
Bella, Shannon, Dae, and Edgar are pictured taking a snowy break on Snoqualmie Pass, and speaking to a full classroom of first-generation college-bound students in Federal Way, Washington.
Torch Scholars Forbes Under 30 Scholars
Koyeawon Mendee, DMSB’20, and Mabel Gonzalez Nunez, DMSB’20, both of Torch 10, were selected by Forbes to be part of their Under 30 Scholars Summit. Forbes calls the 2018 Under 30 Summit “The greatest gathering of game-changers and entrepreneurs ever. Think: compelling content, celebrity entertainment, one-on-ones with big-time investors, a day of service, tons of startups— all at once!”
Koy, an international business and international affairs major, learned about the opportunity to attend the Summit when she was networking with one of the conference planners while she was on co-op in New York. Koy reached out to her good friend Mabel, currently on co-op with Ares Management in the Los Angeles area. Both decided to apply and were accepted.
Here are Koy and Mabel’s stories, in their own words.
Koyeawon (“Koy”) Mendee, DMSB’20
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a “do-er”. If I wanted something, I would go for it, and if I did not initially succeed, I was okay with dusting myself off and trying again—inspired in part by the mantra of the late singer, Aaliyah—who I admired. The sentiment still remains true for me, but I have evolved. While I do my best to not give up, I have come to realize that everything in the end is a learning experience regardless of the outcome. Even if the outcome is unexpected, that does not always mean it is a failure, or that it is wrong. Hearing from others about the twists and turns in their journeys helped me to develop that mindset and keep moving forward.
Being a first-generation American has also inspired my desire to do more. I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, a small-town city about fifty miles away from Boston. My mother immigrated into America from Liberia during the Civil War in 1996. She made sure to instill in me that I needed to aim for the sky, and then go beyond that. Noting her sacrifice, leaving all she knew behind to ensure that her children would have access to the educational opportunities that America provides, I have continued to bridge the socioeconomic gap between my parents’ generation and my own future generation. Although it has been daunting at times, I have worked on manifesting my uncertainties into motivation to explore and innovate. Through Northeastern’s unique curriculum model and the Torch Scholars Program at Northeastern, I have been able to study and work in places like Lyon, France, San Jose, California, Boston, and now currently in New York City.
Lastly, volunteering has always been important in my life, and because of my mentors, I have always been inspired to give back to the communities I am in. Through the Civic Engagement Program at Northeastern, I have been able to volunteer over one-hundred hours every school year with non-profits. I hope to one day be able to manifest my love for technology, creative writing, and mentorship by developing a program for inner-city youth in Providence to have a space where STEM and the creative arts are not seen as dichotomies, but rather complements that can work together to uncover new solutions.
From growing up in a small-town to entering a university like Northeastern—from traveling to Europe for a study-abroad experience, working in a Software as a Service (SaaS) company in the Bay Area and mentoring inner-city college-bound youth in Boston—I continue to push forward on my quest to “do.” No matter where my journey continues to take me, I am ready. I find comfort in knowing that, and always seek to “shake things up” when I realize I’ve become complacent with where I am. I grow the most during times of uncertainty, and I find joy in the continuous discovery of what makes me continue to move.
Mabel Gonzalez Nunez, DMSB’20
I grew up in an under-resourced neighborhood in the city of Boston. Early on, it became evident that there would be certain challenges I would need to overcome to move forward in life. My eagerness to help my community, and drive to want to be “someone” shaped me into becoming a woman of action. I strive to accept challenges and dream big. While I am aware there may be some bumps along the road, and a level of uncertainty, I have an opportunity that could be once in a lifetime. Yes, there is some risk to it. Yes, I may fail. But the learning experiences from those challenges are what allow me to grow and develop as a person.
My parents immigrated to America from the Dominican Republic. As the middle child of three, it was difficult for me to find my voice. However, at the age of 14, I was able to identify some of the challenges community members and other young people like me were facing. While in high school, I decided to take to action by joining the Mayor’s Youth Council and helped launch the City of Boston’s first ever Participating Budgeting initiative; a program where young people would directly decide on how to spend one million dollars of the city’s capital budget. This active engagement in my city government empowered me to find my voice and calling.
I have continued to be involved in assisting my community. As a student at Northeastern University, I served on the board of our Social Enterprise Students’ Association, where we teach students about the power and impact social enterprises have on society. I have also gone back to my parents’ motherland (the Dominican Republic) and lead a service trip to help with Haitian refugees. Additionally, I have worked with Smarter in the City, the first high-tech startup accelerator in Boston, supporting tech entrepreneurs of color and those from underrepresented communities.
Not only have I continued to engage in my community, but through my coursework in finance and entrepreneurship, I have developed a deeper understanding of events and norms across the world. Opportunities offered to me by Northeastern have allowed me to move away from Boston and challenge myself to be comfortable outside my comfort zone. I’m grateful to have lived in Marrakesh, Morocco and Seville, Spain. Currently, I am living in Los Angeles, California, working at Ares Management as an investment analyst.
As my growth continues throughout my undergraduate career, as an Afro-Latina college student who grew up in a low-income household and living in a housing development, I often found myself struggling to meet leaders from diverse backgrounds and industries who embody an entrepreneurial spirit. Now, I no longer see those struggles as a barrier, but as a challenge, where I am always ready to dive in.