Page 1



At the age of 13, Ana began working 12-hour shifts at a local bakery to help her family make ends meet. Growing up in the Bronx, Djibril was told by his family, neighbors, and friends that he probably wouldn’t amount to anything. When Jailene was five years old, she would sometimes have to hide with her mother when their landlord pounded on the door asking for rent.

This is what Northeastern University’s Torch Scholars Program is all about— but it’s only part of the story. Today, Ana is a proud wife and mother of two, pursuing her master’s degree in psychology and working as a therapist with emotionally disturbed children. Determined to give back, Djibril is up at 5:30 every morning to volunteer at the Haley House Soup Kitchen—with plans to mentor, tutor, and motivate kids in his old neighborhood. Jailene, having made the dean’s list multiple times, will pursue her master’s and doctoral degrees toward becoming a clinical psychologist.

These are just a few of the many Torch Scholar success stories.

“ Northeastern helped me become more independent, and I learned that life isn’t about what other people think of you; it’s about what’s next for you on your own journey.” — Diane Ortiz, Dorchester, MA Business Administration and Marketing, D’Amore-McKim, ’16

America’s academic achievement gap is a persistent problem. In many ways, the issue is as prevalent today as it was in the 1960s. Northeastern’s Torch Scholars Program goes beyond closing this gap by transforming students with the potential for success into leaders with tangible success. Continuing Northeastern’s century-old commitment to educational opportunity, Torch is a bold and innovative initiative that provides students with the opportunity to explore their passions and expand their global horizons. The program’s nomination and holistic review process identifies bright students from across the country who have already succeeded against the odds, but who have not yet reached their full academic potential. Torch is dedicated to supporting these talented first-generation college students through an extensive full-scholarship program that includes: a comprehensive summer immersion program, intensive academic planning and assessments, in-depth professional mentoring, and a wide array of social events that foster group identity and camaraderie. The program is simply unparalleled in its support for first-generation students from diverse backgrounds. Much more than a one-time scholarship, Torch is a comprehensive model for access, retention, and achievement. Torch Scholars have a drive to succeed—for their families and for themselves—and exhibit a universal commitment to giving back, completing 100 hours of service each academic year. Our scholars possess the ability and the will to succeed—Torch transforms them into leaders by empowering them to put those qualities into action.

Torch has the power to change lives— Torch Scholars have the power to change the world.


After helping sort items for a school food drive and noticing a distinctively dented can of vegetables, was humbled when that very can was delivered to her own house by a fellow student later that day. Ana vividly remembers that, at that moment, she realized how much support her family needed. Monthly Social Security checks were the family’s only income due to her mother’s debilitating arthritis and diabetes, so Ana began working 12-hour shifts at a local bakery at the age of 13 to make ends meet. Her Dominican-born mother did the best she could, making sure that Ana stayed off the streets and out of the gang activity that surrounded their home in the projects of blue-collar Lawrence, Massachusetts. Staying in her room after school, studying, reading, and writing stories of her own became Ana’s means of escape. The value of education had been instilled in Ana from a young age. Because of that, she was determined to go to college. Although she was unsure how she would pay for it, she did not want the opportunity to slip away. The Torch scholarship was newly announced at the time in 2006, and Ana’s guidance counselor knew she had found the key to unlocking her dreams of college. Upon receiving the news that she had been chosen for Torch’s inaugural class, Ana packed her bags for summer immersion at Northeastern. “Getting to experience life in college before everyone else came to campus allowed me to get settled in and meet my new little family.” A proud wife and mother of two, Ana obtained her master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Latino Mental Health at William James College. She is also an in-home therapist for the Gandara Center, working with children with severe emotional disturbances. Her own private battle growing up with undiagnosed mental health issues led her to create a series of seminars around the stigmas of mental and emotional disorders—which she was able to present to a group of Northeastern scholars. She has also offered her time working with the twelfth class of Torch scholars during their summer immersion. “I’m grateful for everything in my life, big and small,” says Ana.

Fulfilled & Grateful

“I want to thank the Torch donors for selflessly making our dreams come true.�


College of Science | 2010 Torch 1 Hometown: Lawrence, Massachusetts


When she was only seven years old, immigrated with her family from Haiti to the United States, to escape that country’s extreme poverty and seek a better life with more opportunities. It was not easy being uprooted from her home at such a young age, especially since she spoke no English or knew nothing of the customs and culture of her new country. Further, she was also completely unprepared for the deep and unforgiving cold of New England winters! But only a few years later, by the time she was in middle school, Daem had not only adapted to her new home, she was excelling in school, especially in the sciences. Fascinated by the power of atoms and how everything worked on such a minute scale, she developed a deep interest in chemistry and began to dream of attending college. But this wasn’t something people in her neighborhood of immigrant families did; she knew she’d have to work harder than ever to make higher education a reality in her life. With her love of science and desire to help the world become a better place, Daem enrolled in Project SEED —a chemistry internship for economically disadvantaged students—at nearby Stonehill College. Daem was only a junior in high school then, but was already working on a professional-level nanoscience research project applying thioethers to gold surfaces—to help indicate which materials can be used in medical devices. By now, at the top of her class and actively invested in applying to colleges, Daem was still surprised when she received news of her Torch scholarship. “Torch is a blessing,” she says. “It’s a program that believes in looking at a person holistically, taking into consideration the circumstances that you as an individual have faced, and giving you all the tools you need to succeed.” Now enrolled at Northeastern on a pre-med track in the rigorous College of Science, Daem is a member of the Student Diversity Council, as well as an active volunteer in both the Antimicrobial Drug Discovery Lab and at the United South End Youth Settlements Career Development Program. She also regularly returns to her large high school in Brockton, Massachusetts to give lectures on the importance and accessibility of college scholarships to juniors and seniors, with the aim of showing more young people who face challenges that they can make their dream of college a reality.

Tenacious & Blessed

“All my life I’ve had so many responsibilities and worries. I just kept faith that somehow, it would all work out.”


College of Science | 2021 Hometown: Brockton, Massachusetts


Growing up in the Bronx, New York, often heard his neighbors, friends, and even family members remark that he probably wouldn’t amount to anything. They also said he didn’t have a chance of graduating from high school. All this criticism, plus the fact that Djibril’s parents divorced suddenly when he was 14, didn’t help his confidence. To make matters worse, he was faced with the difficult decision between staying at home with his father in less than hospitable circumstances or moving out with his mother. He chose to stay at home, where the situation forced him to essentially raise himself and his two younger brothers. But despite what others around him were saying and his difficult home life, Djibril did find people who saw something strong in him, something that even he had trouble seeing. His guidance counselor was one of those people, and Djibril asked him to write him a recommendation for the Torch scholarship—the first one ever submitted from his high school. “For me, Torch provided more than just a full ride, but also a smooth ride; everyone in the program wants to see you succeed. I finally found the support I’d been searching for.” Djibril still sees differences between himself and many of his classmates. “If college doesn’t work out for them,” he says, “they can always move back in with their parents or try something else.” For Djibril, Torch has offered him his one shot at building the life he wants. “There is no backup plan for me,” he says. And Djibril doesn’t intend to let that opportunity slip away. He is up at 5:30 a.m. daily to volunteer at Haley House Soup Kitchen, prepping and cooking meals and socializing with homeless patrons. He has completed a co-op at Harvard Law School as an IT assistant, helping to troubleshoot computer hardware and software issues and maintaining the audiovisual equipment. While his academic focus is economics and business, one of his most prominent future goals is to be a positive presence in kids’ lives—including his little brothers’, who are still at home with his father and facing some of the same adversities Djibril confronted in his own youth. Through mentoring and tutoring in his old neighborhood in the Bronx, he aims to motivate them and other children to work hard and achieve their greatest ambitions.

Motivated & Unbreakable

“The biggest gifts my parents gave me were keeping me away from gangs and helping me stay motivated in school.”


D’Amore-McKim School of Business | 2019 Hometown: New York, New York


When was five years old, there came a moment she would never forget: All the lights were out in her old railroad apartment in Brooklyn, New York, and someone was pounding on the door. Her mother kept telling her to “shush.” At first Jailene thought it was a game of hide-and-seek. Only later did she learn the truth— her mom and stepdad were again late in paying the rent. “The person at the door was not someone we were hiding from for fun, but because my parents simply didn’t have all the money together.” Throughout much of her young life, Jailene’s parents often struggled to pay the bills. But they always emphasized how important it was to get an education and to persevere no matter how difficult it may be. “College wasn’t an option. It was mandatory.” Her mom and stepdad have always been very supportive and encouraging towards school. “They pushed me not to be good, but to be great. Especially with academics.” Because Jailene is very close to her family, it was not easy for her to be away at school. “It took me a while to adjust, especially during my first semester. It required a lot of self-discipline.” But the real test came when Jailene spent five months in New Zealand on an experiential study abroad program. She considers this experience as having had the biggest impact on her life so far—to have pushed her out of her comfort zone and given her the opportunity to create her own path. Jailene first heard about Northeastern from a high school guidance counselor who described the co-op program and the value of experiential learning. “My guidance counselor emphasized how important it is to get internships and make connections that can serve you after you graduate.” Jailene believes it was her drive and motivation to succeed in high school that got her noticed and nominated for a Torch scholarship. Not only has Jailene adjusted well to life at Northeastern, she has thrived. “The Torch program and Northeastern provide all the resources and support we need to succeed. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to be at this amazing school.” So far, Jailene has done an internship in a New York City law firm with another co-op coming up. She is quick to share how much she loves New York, her hometown. Her long-term goals are to get her master’s degree and doctorate, and to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist.

Driven & Family-Oriented

“My mom and stepdad pushed me to be great. Especially with academics.”


College of Science | 2019 Hometown: Brooklyn, New York


While soft-spoken and seemingly shy, (or JP as his friends call him) possesses an inner strength and resilience built through years of turbulent upbringing. Growing up in Peru to two parents who had serious disagreements, JP was used to strife in the home from an early age. After moving to the United States and starting a successful tax preparation business in an attempt to build some stability, JP’s parents seemed like they were making positive changes in their lives. However, after sinking their entire savings into one bad business investment, they lost all the money they had accumulated and success they had achieved. JP’s mother couldn’t handle the stress and abandoned the family to move back to Peru alone. The remaining members were evicted from their home the next day, and spent a month with nowhere to go, living out of their car and in shelters. With no one else to help the family, JP stepped up, staying on top of his studies while working multiple part-time jobs to pay the bills. JP worked so much, in fact, that he received the phone call that he had been awarded the Torch scholarship while returning a load of shopping carts to the big box store where he worked. “I’m much more independent because of the way I was raised,” says JP. “My mother was gone, and my father was never around because he worked constantly. I learned early that you have to be prepared if you want to succeed.” During the summer immersion program, JP hit the ground running in a big way. He wanted to start a mentoring program for low-income children in the Boston area, and by the time his first semester at Northeastern had concluded, he had started a chapter of The DREAM Program, which pairs college students with young people living in affordable housing developments. “The DREAM Program is one of my greatest accomplishments so far,” says JP. “I didn’t have a lot to give growing up, but being able to help young people in the same situation I was in has been both humbling and rewarding.” When he’s not working to change the lives of disadvantaged youth, JP is either hitting the books as a combined major, or he’s working at his co-op at biotech company Orig3n in the Seaport District, developing software for their lab and working on the user interface of their external website. Looking to the future, JP wants to be an entrepreneur like his father so he can build a legacy and help as many people as possible.

Kind & Independent

“I didn’t have a lot to give growing up, but being able to help young people in the same situation I was in has been both humbling and rewarding.”


College of Computer and Information Science | 2020 Hometown: Huaraz, Peru


In the first 15 years of her life, and her siblings moved 8 times—starting in Aylmer, Quebec, where she was born, and ending in Franklin, Massachusetts, where she went to high school. When she was 10 years old, her parents underwent a messy divorce. And later, as a junior in high school, she lost her home —forcing her to live with a friend for the year. Growing up, Shannon knew a lot of kids who didn’t plan on attending college after high school. But not her. During weekend trips on the commuter rail into Boston with her friends, Shannon would watch campuses pass by through the windows of the train and daydream about one day attending college. As a freshman at the Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School, Shannon entered the cosmetology program. But she didn’t feel challenged and realized quickly that she had no connection to the subject matter. “After some soul searching I discovered an interest in engineering—but it seemed so far removed from my reality.” Eventually Shannon took a leap of faith into the engineering program. And while she struggled to find confidence in herself to do well, the shift to more challenging academics sparked a conviction in her. She buckled down on her studies and took the SATs three times. “The better I did on my SATs, the more excited I got about getting into college. But when I saw how much school cost—even state schools—the world stopped for me.” Shannon was introduced to the Torch program by one of her guidance counselors. “She asked me into her office one day and played a message from a Northeastern representative who explained the program. My enthusiasm for college was renewed.” As a fifth-year Northeastern student, Shannon is getting plenty of hands-on experience and career preparation, having completed two co-ops—as a field technician with industrial wastewater company Practical Applications, Inc. and a process engineer for Ashland Specialty Ingredients. Currently she is in her third co-op for Johnson & Johnson company DePuy Synthes. Shannon’s experience with the Torch program has been life changing. “Torch has set me on a path for a positive life. I’ve traveled the world, met amazing people, and worked with natural mentors throughout my co-ops—probably one of the program’s most beneficial aspects. Torch is the reason I’m a different, much happier person now.”

Confident & Transformed

“Torch is the reason I’m a different person now. I found my courage.”

SHANNON College of Engineering | 2018 Hometown: Quebec, Canada


The road to Northeastern was rocky for , growing up in a low-income, single-parent household. He worked 35 hours a week to help support the family, prepping food and cooking in the kitchens at Roche Bros. grocery stores, and coming home far later than most kids his age who didn’t have such burdens. Some summers, Shaun would pick up part-time shifts at Fenway Park as a vendor. Other summers, Shaun’s mom would drop him off at summer school. Not because he needed it, or was even supposed to be there— she had to work and needed a safe place for him to spend his days. His teacher, who became a mentor and friend, recognized in Shaun a deep dedication to learning, and created a curriculum to keep him challenged. “One of my biggest hurdles in life had been finding people in my life to be positive impacts,” says Shaun. “As I’ve reflected on my journey to where I am today, I realize how important mentorship was on every step of the way.” A high school friend introduced Shaun to the Torch scholarship, and Shaun asked his guidance counselor to nominate him. His academic record, demonstrated ability to overcome personal adversity, and dedication to volunteering at a local karate school in his spare time, made him a perfect fit. Although Shaun had never left Boston, as a Northeastern student and Torch Scholar, the world was now open to him. As part of Northeastern’s study abroad program, Shaun headed to London for a semester alone, sparking a lifelong love of travel that culminated in a multi-week European backpacking adventure with his new global friend group. His next trip will be his honeymoon in Fiji. Now a Senior Investment Consulting Advisor in Boston at Andersen Tax, Shaun manages investments for high-net-worth individuals, and he wants to apply these skills to nonprofits to help bring financial solvency to organizations that do good in the world. In the future, Shaun would also like to translate his business acumen to the public sector, making an impact in local or national government. And his loftiest ambition for the future? “Maybe I’ll be President someday,” he says with a grin.

Driven & Engaged

“I’m motivated to succeed professionally and personally so I can give back to the people who have helped me get where I am today.”


D’Amore-McKim School of Business | 2014 Torch 4 Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts


Number of countries where Torch Scholars have traveled for study and service.

of Torch Scholars speak a language other than English.

International Opportunities Torch Scholars expand their view of the world by traveling for study and service as part of Northeastern’s Study Abroad Programs and Dialogues of Civilizations.

Across the nation, less than 45% of first-generation college students graduate within six years. The five-year graduation rate for Torch Scholars is





of Torch Scholars participate in at least two co-ops, giving them 12+ months of full-time work experience.

45,400 Number of service hours completed by Torch Scholars by June 2017.

Experiential Learning, Global Experiences, and Employment

Experiential Learning Highlights*

Employment Locations Upon Graduation*

Torch Scholars have worked in a wide variety

Amazon Seattle, WA Boston Medical Center Boston, MA Beth Israel Hospital Boston, MA Booz Allen Hamilton Boston, MA of experiential learning positions, and have Booker Software New York, NY BWW Law Group Bethesda, MD Cambridge Police Department Cambridge, MA Children’s Hospital Boston, MA gone on to secure top-level employment upon Children’s Hospital Boston, MA City Year Boston, MA graduation. Our students have studied in City of Boston (Mayor’s Office) Boston, MA Deloitte Boston, MA Deloitte Boston, MA DHL Miami, FL Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Eze Software Group Boston, MA Fulbright Scholarship Liberia, Africa Cuba, Ghana, Kenya, Turkey, France, United Gilbane Building Company Boston, MA Genzyme Cambridge, MA Goote Schuur University Hospital Cape Town, South Africa Gorton’s Seafood Gloucester, MA Kingdom, and many more. Transformed Italian Home for Children Jamaica Plain, MA Green Youth Farm Chicago, IL through experiential learning, Torch Scholars Jacobs Engineering Group Boston, MA IDG TechNetwork New York, NY MA Division of Insurance Boston, MA Interise Boston, MA emerge as global leaders. NASA Ames Academy for Space Exploration Mountain View, CA JetBlue Boston, MA Northeastern University Business Service Office Boston, MA Lenox Hotel Boston, MA Oregon School-Based Health Alliance Portland, OR Mass DOT Boston, MA Overland Partners San Antonio, TX Randolph Schools Randolph, MA Pine Street Inn Boston, MA Sandbox Suites San Francisco, CA Reebok International Canton, MA South End Community Health Center Boston, MA ServiceNow Silicon Valley, CA Teach for America Washington, DC Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Stratford, CT TIM Group New York, NY T. Rowe Price Baltimore MD TJX Framingham, MA TIM Group New York, NY Wells Fargo Miami, FL Todd & Weld LLP Boston, MA Wistia Somerville, MA Vistacom Lima, Peru Wayfair Boston, MA *These are a partial representation of students’ co-op and employment locations.

“ Torch provides a support system that allows us to always be better than what we are. We learn to reach our goals and then set new ones, to face our fears and not be afraid of what life brings our way.” — Ajah Perkins, Boston, MA Human Services and American Sign Language, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, ’17

DO YOU KNOW A TORCH STUDENT? Torch looks to you—guidance counselors, teachers, mentors, clergy, and community workers—to find deserving Torch Scholars. Torch Nominators are nonfamily member adults and professionals in or out of the school setting who know the student on a personal level. Nominators should be prepared to answer questions about the candidate’s family obligations, motivation, and emotional readiness for college. Please take a moment to think about the promising young people in your life who might benefit from the Torch Scholars Program. You may nominate more than one student in the same academic year.

Nominations are due by January 15. The Torch Scholarship covers all costs for a six-week Summer Immersion Program, and awards a scholarship including full tuition, room, board, books, and fees for eight semesters of undergraduate study. While at Northeastern, Torch Scholars have the same opportunities as all students at the university for international travel, co-ops, service learning, athletics, activities, and student life.

“ Torch Scholars are game-changers; they demand more of themselves and rise above tough situations to excel as leaders.” — Dr. Philomena V. Mantella Senior Vice President, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, CEO of the Professional Advancement Network

Torch Candidate Criteria Here’s what the Torch Scholars Committee looks for in potential Scholars. Torch Scholarship candidates:

> Have persevered despite difficult family situations, cultural barriers,

financial challenges, or educational environments. These challenges have kept them from reaching their full academic potential and from applying for admission to a highly selective school such as Northeastern.

> Show leadership through community, school, work, or service. Torch

nominees are “game changers” in their communities, working to make a difference.

> Have enrolled in college prep classes and would be successful with

the additional academic and personal support provided by the Torch Scholars Program, but have not yet demonstrated academic success at the level of their true potential.

> Represent a diversity of academic majors, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and geographic areas.

> Are first-generation college students whose parents/guardians do not have a U.S. undergraduate degree or equivalent.

> Are U.S. citizens or permanent residents from low-income households (and are likely to be Pell Grant eligible). 

What GPA do students need to apply? Torch does not require a specific GPA. While prospective Torch Scholars might not have a grade record that indicates their full academic potential, they have been preparing for college by taking a challenging academic course load. We know they’re ready for a college education. We look at applicants holistically, going beyond the numbers to determine their talent and potential for college success at Northeastern.

TORCH DIVERSITY African-American, African, 37% Black, Caribbean, Cape Verdean, etc.

33% Latino/Hispanic 7%




15% Caucasian

HOW DOES TORCH WORK? 500 1. Candidate and Support Figure Interview Each year, nearly

Selection Process Here’s how it works:

nominees from across the United States vie for 10 Torch Scholarships.

Each year, the Torch Scholars Committee selects 50 finalists to come interview on Northeastern’s

Boston campus in March. Torch Interview Day is six hours long and includes an individual interview,

2. Motivation and Personal Value Statements 3. Noncognitive Assessment group interview, and support figure interview.

Each Torch finalist must submit three essays about his or her motivation and personal value system.

The assessment we use provides a systematic review of emotional, interpersonal, experiential,

attitudinal, and motivational styles. Finalists also participate in a math assessment and simulated lectures. These provide us with yet another way of measuring fit for Torch and Northeastern beyond the standard admission measurements.

Summer Immersion Once admitted, all incoming Torch Scholars participate in a six-week summer bridge-tocollege program on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Summer Immersion is a hallmark of the Torch Scholars Program—an opportunity for students to prepare for the rigors of college academics and form a supportive network. By the end of the summer, students complete three academic courses (math, writing, and college skills). And, just as importantly, students improve their communication skills, learn about academic accountability, become accustomed to life on campus, and make lasting friendships that will sustain them throughout their time at Northeastern.

The Torch Community The bonds forged in each Torch class are strong. Working as a team, students are fueled by group responsibility. Torch Scholars and alumni meet regularly to build networks, learn from one another, and participate in student development workshops. Beginning with Summer Immersion, Northeastern staff, faculty, and alumni mentor and support Torch Scholars. In Torch, no one falls through the cracks.

Community Learning and Individual Progress All Torch students take part in twice-weekly peer tutoring in a designated study space. They also regularly meet one-on-one with their Scholarship Academic Advisor to work on self-advocacy, communication, study habits, and goal setting. Torch advisors help each student build and monitor a Time-to-Degree Plan to ensure that he or she makes sufficient academic progress and graduates on time.

“ What motivates me is to see people have an equal chance at life.” — Ralph Karnuah, Boston, MA Economics, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, ’18

How do I nominate a student for Torch? 
 Complete a Nomination Form online by January 15 at Please help the Torch Scholars Committee view your nominees as individuals by providing a frank and detailed assessment of their strengths and needs. This information will be treated confidentially and used only for the purposes of evaluating the applicant’s appropriateness for our program and Northeastern. You may nominate one or more students for the program.

As a student, how do I apply to Torch? Nomination Form Ask a guidance counselor, teacher, mentor, clergy member, or community worker who knows you well to complete an official nomination form online by January 15 at

Application for Admission Complete Northeastern’s application and submit it online by the university deadline.

Essay The essay you write for Northeastern’s application is the same essay the Torch Scholars Committee uses to consider your potential as a Torch Scholar. There is no extra essay requirement unless you are invited to interview for the scholarship. Please be honest and show your real character through your writing.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile Complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile and submit these forms to Northeastern by December 31.

What if I have questions or need help with the nomination process? We’re here to help at any point in the nomination and application process. If you have questions, please contact Jennifer Schoen, Director of Opportunity Scholarship and Outreach Programs, at 617.373.7705 or

To learn more about the Torch Scholars Program, visit or find us on Facebook at


Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global, experiential, research university built on a tradition of engagement with the world, creating a distinctive approach to education and research. The university offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools.

Torch Scholars Program


360 Huntington Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115 Phone: 617.373.7204 or 617.373.7705 U_04.14_10M

Torch Brochure  

Torch Brochure

Torch Brochure  

Torch Brochure