This article previously appeared on News@Northeastern. It was written by Peter Ramjug.
One reason why people come to Northeastern is for the opportunities to get active and get involved. For Adam Dolce it was the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the United Nations Association. For Jessica Jha, it was Pitch, Please!, the female-identifying a capella group. And for Jack Dalton, it was meeting others who shared a strong interest in public health.
It was only natural that they would go on to become Presidential Ambassadors, the blue blazer-wearing representatives of the university at select campus events. There are roughly 90 students currently serving in the role. Their duties include working formal alumni receptions and providing tours for applicants.
Presidential Ambassadors appreciate the power of connections to forge bonds at a school that can sometimes feel overwhelming and isolating. And they support Giving Day, this year on April 8, because they know firsthand the value of building engagement for the many and diverse groups on campus.
“Connections are super important at Northeastern because it is such a large school,” says Jha, a fourth-year behavioral neuroscience major. “If you don’t have connections, you struggle to hear about different opportunities or experiences.”
All three ambassadors cite the importance of being able to pinpoint exactly where Giving Day money goes.
“You can choose to send it to specific places and those student groups get 100 percent of what you donated,” says Jha. “Giving Day is really about providing students with more opportunities.”
As president of the Pitch, Please! singing group, she knows from personal experience. Giving Day funds in 2019 helped fund the recording of an album, Obsidian.
“That was a phenomenal experience,” she recalls, “but those things cost way more than we would be able to supply.” Other student organizations without big budgets are in the same boat.
“Some of those really ambitious projects just aren’t necessarily reasonable for student organizations that don’t have large incomes,” Jha says.
Another Northeastern experience she’s grateful for was a pre-pandemic 2019 co-op at Moderna, the pharmaceutical giant behind the COVID-19 vaccine. Jha was working on nanoparticle engineering, the vehicle used for the messenger RNA vaccine.
“Little did I know the work that I would be doing is what they’re using for the COVID vaccine,” she reflects. Jha was inoculated with the Moderna treatment “and I know what’s in it because I helped make those particles,” she says laughing.
The Presidential Ambassador program “was a great chance to expand my network at the university and meet some really interesting people,” says Dalton, a sixth-year student who wants to use his graduate degree in public health to land a job in health policy for the LGBTQ community.
He first chose Northeastern for its academic flexibility.
“They didn’t subscribe to the idea that an 18-year-old should know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their life, and I’m glad that I was right about that,” recalls Dalton, who changed his major in his second year. “The process was incredibly easy.”
Being around people doing extraordinary things is what attracted Dolce to Northeastern in the first place. The third-year marketing and political-science major is currently in the early stages of launching a homesick package project for international students who haven’t been able to fly home because of COVID travel restrictions.
The New Hampshire resident is thankful he gets to see his family every two weeks, unlike a friend of his from China.
“He has not been home for about two years, and there’s a very good chance he probably won’t go home for another two years,” Dolce says. Northeastern flourishes from the customs and cultures of international students and the university should continue to make campus an inviting place for them, he adds.
The sentiment ties back to the importance of a strong response on Giving Day, Dolce explains.
“You get to personally and directly contribute to making your community as active as possible,” says Dolce, who will spend the day raising funds for the United Nations Dialogue in Geneva, Switzerland. Dolce attended the study abroad in his first year and “now I want to make it more accessible for students in the future.”
Concern for others runs in his family. Northeastern’s Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers was a gift from his uncle and aunt. And his mother has served as president of the university’s Parent Leadership Council, a volunteer group of Husky moms and dads.
Being active in contributing to Northeastern’s success doesn’t have to mean writing big checks. A little can go a long way.
“Yes there are things at the university that take an extreme amount of money to make happen, like new buildings and major scholarship initiatives,” Dolce explains. But there are also other ways, like subsidizing a trip for a student that could cost $50.
How much isn’t the point; the impact is what matters.
“As an institution, we move in the direction of empathy, and we move in the direction of being aware and responsive of our students,” Dolce says. “That’s pretty unique, because you don’t see many institutions responding to their students.”