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Cyclical Advice From Your First to Last Step at Northeastern

September 16, 2015

Stu­dent speakers Julieta Moradei, E’16, left, and Maria Sofia Soto, AMD’16. Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

About Me 

Julieta Moradei is a fifth year civil engineering student born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and raised in Montreal, Canada. She completed her final co-op at Walt Disney World and Resorts as a structural engineering intern last spring. She shares her advice to other students through her convocation speech she delivered on September 8, 2015.   

Cyclical Advice From Your First to Last Step at Northeastern 

Do you remember your first week of Freshman year when we attended the Inauguration Ceremony? I recall seeing the thousands of other students sitting in Matthews Arena excited to embark on their college journey. I also have a vivid memory of the student speaker who presented during Convocation – she was brilliant and inspirational. She mentioned working at the White House and had built so much experience throughout her time at Northeastern. Listening to her explaining everything she participated in and all the amazing memories she had made me that much more excited to start my journey. However, I was also nervous, because I never imagined it being possible to accomplish all those achievements in merely four to five years.

Four years later, as I wrote my speech for the same Convocation Ceremony, I realized the excitement and nervousness I felt as a Freshman is directly relatable to how I feel as a Senior now embarking on a new journey post-graduation. As I wrote advice I wanted to share with Freshman during their first week of college, I realized that this same advice applied to seniors that will be starting a big chapter in their lives.

While we are experiencing different challenges, the suggestions remain the same. We were all there five years ago, listening to a senior give us advice on how to make the most out of our undergraduate degrees. Now, as seniors, we are being faced with similar situations as we are starting a new phase in our lives. We are almost at the finish line of our undergraduate degrees and we have successfully overcome any of the barriers we thought we would have to face coming into college. Knowing that the advice and suggestions we applied throughout university remain similar after we graduate, we should begin our next journey with confidence and excitement.

I have included the speech I delivered to the 118th incoming class as an example that the suggestions we received as Freshman form part of cyclical advice that we encounter again as we are focusing on our post-graduation plans. The mentality that we applied when we took our first step into Northeastern should be the same as we take our last.  

Convocation Speech

 "It was three in the morning, and I had more than a dozen pair of eyes looking in my direction as I pulled the hinge forward and was able to open the roof access for the first time in decades.

I finally made it to the very top, and as I looked up at the thousands of stars in the Florida sky, I climbed on top of the 160 foot high metallic structure.

Some of you may be familiar with this location - I was standing on the first geodesic sphere in the world visited by millions of tourists each year: Walt Disney World’s Epcot Ball.  

At the time, I was performing a structural investigation during my co-op at Disney World. It was a small task within the scope of the entire project. However, that very moment meant a lot to me. It made me reflect on my entire journey that led me to reach that high point.

As Sofia mentioned, you will come across moments that make you take a step back and reflect on the path that led you to reach your full potential.

As you are all embarking on a very new journey - one that will open more doors than you can ever imagine - we would like to share some pieces of advice we have gathered throughout our undergraduate experiences that have led us to these moments.

While [I’ve noticed that the most driven student] have different backgrounds, majors and stories, we share a very common emphasis on what has led to our academic and professional success. We value the importance of seeking mentors, and getting as involved as possible early on within your undergrad degrees.

During my first semester at Northeastern, I looked into joining clubs right away where I could meet other students with a similar drive. I got involved with Engineers Without Borders, which focuses on designing and implementing infrastructure for communities in need of development. I was pushing the boundaries of what I knew from class by learning more advanced design concepts, and meeting other amazing engineering students who constantly made me want to pursue my major with more passion.

This gave me more motivation to apply my knowledge in a meaningful way. This led me to approach the chair of the department of civil engineering, Professor Hajjar, during my second semester and ask him to join his research team. After four years of working with him, he is one of my biggest mentors and has guided me throughout my entire academic journey.

By being so involved in clubs and research as a freshman, I was in a good position to apply for the most competitive co-ops. I did my first co-op at one of the most nationally renowned structural engineering firms, Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, and my second and third co-ops at Disney World. I learned more than I could have ever expected, and I gained the best kind of mentorship.

If you put forth effort and energy, and hold true passion for what you’re doing, people will respond to that by teaching you and helping you grow. I forged incredible relationships with mentors who have helped me shape the person I aspire to be.

Throughout college, you’ll learn most from those key people who will champion your skills so you can reach your full potential. These people may be professors and co-op mentors, but some of the best relationships you will build are with the amazing students at Northeastern.

Look around this arena – here are almost 3,000 students who will be sharing the next four to five years with you. Some of these people will shape the way you think, travel with you to places you’ve always dreamed of experiencing, push you to try new things, and make you grow as individuals.

Your class impresses me with its diversity and excellence: you are all part of Northeastern’s most competitive 28% acceptance rate and come from all parts of the world - 74% of students are from out-of-state and 18% from other countries.

With this kind of melting pot, I see amazing potential to fuse great minds and personalities to reach new heights.

It is now up to each of you to increase your odds of meeting those key people who will make your experience at Northeastern exponentially better by putting yourselves out there.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Get involved in activities that matter most to you, or that you have never tried before.

Seek out mentors who will guide your path.

Your journey here will be uniquely yours - you have all the tools to make the difference, it is up to you now to learn how to use them."