Gabriela Buitrón Vera stands in front of a frozen lake.

Noteworthy at Northeastern: Celebrating cultures

Thursday, July 2, 2020

At Northeastern Illinois University, we are proud of the diversity of our community, and we celebrate our cultural differences. In this edition of Noteworthy at Northeastern, read about an alumna to become the first in her family to earn a Ph.D., a New Multicultural Student Orientation, Safe Zone Training for faculty and staff, and more. 

Around the Commons

Rooted in culture

Gabriela Buitrón Vera (pictured above) earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Northeastern in 2011. Now, she is just weeks away from earning a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Colorado Boulder and starting a new position as a lecturer at Binghamton University in New York. Once her degree is conferred, Buitrón Vera will become the first person in her family to earn a Ph.D. “I graduated from high school in 2005, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue with college,” Buitrón Vera said. “After I finished my associate degree in 2009, I decided to transfer to Northeastern. I’ve been in the U.S. now for about 20 years. At that point I’d been here for more than 13 years. I wanted to have roots with my language and culture. The Spanish program at Northeastern gave me the opportunity to return to my roots.” Buitrón Vera’s successes are all the more significant because she is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in mid-June. “At heart, I’m a migrant, so I love traveling and learning about new people and new regions,” Buitrón Vera said. “These times have been difficult because of the pandemic, but I have learned through Northeastern that immigrants are very well-equipped to navigate these times because they have always been placed on the front lines and they have the ability to change and readapt to circumstances. It’s what I’ve always done and what I will continue to do through my teaching, research and activism.”

Free housing opportunity

Northeastern has launched the Social Justice Leadership Housing Award for incoming freshmen and transfer students who positively impact their university, career and communities. Students participating in the program will be given one year's free housing in The Nest. “Providing free housing to eligible students while giving them the tools to make a difference in the world is a win-win situation,” President Gloria J. Gibson said. “It’s also an innovative approach to how we recruit and prepare tomorrow’s leaders.” Earlier in June, Northeastern launched the George Floyd Social Justice Scholarship as an additional avenue for Northeastern to reinforce its commitment to preparing students to promote social justice and to make a difference in their communities.

New Multicultural Student Orientations

In partnership with Undocumented Student Resources, the Angelina Pedroso Center will host New Multicultural Student Orientations from 1-3 p.m. on July 9, July 23, Aug. 4 and Aug. 18 via Zoom. This free program is designed to support incoming students of color, first-generation, undocumented, and LGBTQ+ students during their transition to NEIU and is supplemental to the new student orientation. All registered participants will receive the link to the Zoom meeting one week before the program. For questions regarding the program, contact Dear Aunaetitrakul at v-aunaetitrakul@neiu.edu.

Safe Zone Training for Faculty and Staff

The Angelina Pedroso Center invites NEIU faculty and staff to take part in the Summer 2020 Safe Zone training sessions. Safe Zone is designed to educate NEIU faculty and staff about sexual orientation and gender identity, create a visible network of allies to provide support to members of Northeastern’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities, and provide accurate information and resources about sexual orientation and gender identity issues. To be Safe Zone-certified, participants are required to register and attend all three training sessions within two academic years. You’re not required to attend the training in any particular order. For questions, contact Dear Aunaetitrakul at v-aunaetitrakul@neiu.edu.

And there’s more!

  • Northeastern will be closed on Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day.
  • Associate Professor and Acting Chair of the Mathematics Department Joseph Hibdon was appointed as a Member at Large to the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion of the American Mathematical Society.
  • TESOL Professor and Graduate Advisor Gina Wells was elected Advocacy Chair of the Illinois TESOL - Bilingual Education (ITBE) Board of Directors Advocacy. Vallan Kantner (M.A. ’13 TESL/TEFL) was also elected to be Secretary. 
  • English and Women’s and Gender Studies Professor Vicki Byard published an article in the PopMatters Reading Pandemics series, which is being curated by Assistant Professor Ryan Poll.  
  • Northeastern’s library is looking for student submissions for “Sheltering in Place: NEIU Archives COVID-19 Documentation Project.”
  • The Alumni Association has launched a webpage to share stories about the work Northeastern graduates are doing related to COVID-19. Those interested in sharing are encouraged to complete the COVID-19 Stories form
  • Northeastern’s Bookstore is offering free ground shipping on domestic orders so students can still receive their books for courses, as well as order University-branded items such as notebooks and apparel.  

Events at home

Though most buildings are locked, Northeastern has adapted by creating remote events. 

Financial Aid and Awards for NEIU Transfer Students

Northeastern’s Financial Aid Office will host Virtual Presentation: Financial Aid and Awards for NEIU Transfer Students to help students understand ways to eliminate cost as a barrier for earning a college education. The workshop will take place from 1-2 p.m. July 8. Questions about the presentation can be directed to Patricia Rodriguez at p-rodriguez@neiu.edu or (773) 442-4139.

Alumnus’ New Film

Philosophy and Economics alumnus Jonathon Ramsey (B.A. ’08) released his new film, “It’s Okay to Panic,” via YouTube. The movie is a portrait of Professor Szymon Malinowski, Director of the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Warsaw, who worries about the impact of climate change on civilization.

View all of Northeastern’s future events at neiu.edu/events. Please email public-relations@neiu.edu to submit events for consideration in future editions of Noteworthy at Northeastern. 

In the media

  • Professor of Education and Curriculum Studies Erica R. Meiners was featured in an article in South Coast Today about reimagining schools without police officers. 
  • Lakeesha Harris (B.A. ’11 Women’s Studies) was a guest on Democracy Now! discussing the restrictive abortion law in Louisiana that was struck down by the Supreme Court on Monday. Harris is the Director of Reproductive Health and Justice at Women with a Vision, a women’s rights organization based in New Orleans.
  • Joshua Friedberg (M.A. ’16 English) presented “Redefining Creativity as an Autistic Person” for Earlham College's TEDx event.  
  • The Colombian economic newspaper Portafolio interviewed Economics Professor Emeritus Edward Stuart for a story about COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. economy.

Student Support Spotlight

Student Counseling Services

Students are welcome to contact NEIU’s Student Counseling Services to set up an appointment to talk, either by phone or using their online platform for video therapy. To access NEIU’s Student Counseling Services, call (773) 442-4650 or send an email to counsect@neiu.edu. The hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours, students may also reach a counselor for more urgent consultation by calling the main number and pressing “2” during the outgoing message.

Food drive

Northeastern’s Alumni Association will host a drive-through food drop-off to support the University’s Student Pantry from noon-3 p.m. on July 13 and 27. The pantry has altered its delivery of services due to COVID-19. Students are now able to order food online. A food donation bin has also been placed at the University Police station to collect needed items throughout this time as other drop-off locations are now closed. Monetary contributions are being collected online to support the Student Pantry and the Student Emergency Fund. Student Pantry questions may be directed to Christopher Maxwell at c-maxwell2@neiu.edu

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