Participants of the United Negro College Fund were welcomed to Northeastern

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Governor Charlie Baker traveled to the Northeast Boston campus on Thursday to welcome students from across the United States who will spend the summer participating in programs hosted by the United Negro College fonds in partnership with the university, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and local financial and life sciences companies.

“These are spectacular organizations, which I know are very happy to have the chance to know you, but you should also take the opportunity to get to know them,” Baker said.

UNCF’s “Lighted Pathways” and “Ernest E. Just” programs brought 45 students to Boston from historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. For 10 weeks, they will participate in paid internships at the region’s leading asset management and life sciences organizations while living in Northeastern.

Baker said the participating institutions represent the “who’s who” in Massachusetts and Greater Boston. Students will intern at organizations such as Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Intellia Therapeutics, Fidelity Investments, Adage Capital Management, Wellington Management and Cambridge Associates.

“I look forward to the chance to hear about your summers, what you did and what you learned. And feel free to tell me what didn’t go as planned, too, Baker said, also inviting students to a closing dinner at the end of the summer.

Top to bottom, left to right: 1. Participants in UNCF’s new Boston-based internship programs listen to speakers at the Lighted Pathways and Ernest E. Just Partners Reception at Northeastern on Thursday, June 9, 2022. 2 Governor Charlie Baker speaks at the reception for UNCF interns and corporate partners at Northeastern on Thursday, June 9, 2022. 3. Ronald Walker, strategic adviser at UNCF New England, addresses attendees at reception for UNCF interns and corporate partners at Northeastern on Thursday, June 9, 2022. 4. Olivia Broussard, left, Lighted Pathways Class of 2022 Fellow, poses for a photo with Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday June 9, 2022. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The program would not have been possible without Baker, who understands the need to increase the number of Black students in asset management, finance, and bio/life science positions at Greater Boston corporations, said Ronald Walker, strategic adviser at the United Negro College Fund. New England.

“We appreciate what you have to bring to the city and the Commonwealth,” Walker told the students. “We’re going to do our best to hug you and create a sense of community.”

Kenneth Henderson Northeastern University Chancellor speaks at the UNCF Lighted Pathways and Ernest E. Just Partners Reception. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Kenneth Henderson, chancellor and senior vice president for learning at Northeastern, said he’s glad the university is welcoming students for the duration of the program. Northeastern is grounded in making an impact in the world through research and education, he said.

“And a prerequisite for us in that success is to intentionally bring together people who bring diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities into the conversation,” Henderson said. “This program really identifies a lot of what we want to do at Northeastern, and part of the puzzle is diversifying into areas like finance and biotech.”

Henderson thanked Karl ReidNortheastern Director of Inclusion, Hazelnut SiveDean of the College of Science, and Emery Trahan, acting dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, for working tirelessly with UNCF to bring the program together. He announced that Northeastern is additionally working with UNCF to offer participants of the 2022 “Lighted Pathways” and “Ernest E. Just” programs expedited admission into biotechnology programs and other master’s and doctoral programs.

Diego Aviles, UNCF’s regional vice president of development, said the “Lighted Pathways” and “Ernest E. Just” programs aim to close the wealth gap and reduce disparities in health care for communities of color. It’s not going to get better if there are less than 2% black professionals in those industries’ workforces, he said.

“We think you sometimes trust the messenger with the message and that’s why it’s so critical to have people who resemble the community you want to uplift in those roles,” Aviles said.

In addition to internships, the program will engage students in activities that will help them connect with the local Black community.

“We believe in the African proverb ‘Don’t go fast. Go long, go far, go together,” Aviles said. “If you feel like you belong, you’ll do better.”

Last week, the students had an orientation at the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute in Northeastern and toured the Museum of African American History, Aviles said. They also did a walking tour with the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity in Roxbury. A Red Sox game and a trip to Martha’s Vineyard are also on the agenda.

UNCF has already begun embarking on the second year of student selection for the 2023 “Lighted Pathways” and “Ernest E. Just” programs, Aviles said, and the organization is looking for more companies interested in offering internship opportunities.

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