NECPA Graduate Spotlight June – Neda Ghaffarian

Smiling woman in classroom setting with glasses and curly hair.

Name: Neda Ghaffarian

School: Boston College

Program:  Higher Education

Type: Master’s

Current employer:  Office of Urban Outreach Initiatives at Boston College

What do you love about working there?

I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the Office Urban Outreach Initiatives in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College, and I have learned so much through this experience. The community in our office and in the Lynch school is is committed to social justice education and pushing forward change within educational systems, and I greatly appreciate how the Jesuit ideals of reflection and working with others in embedded within every part of the school. I have created lifelong friendships during my time at Boston College, and have engaged in critical work with urban Boston youth and communities. Working in Urban Outreach has ignited my passion in working within urban communities, and I intend to continue to do so after I graduate.

How do you like to spend your free time?

In my free time I love to cook, take long walks around Boston, and catch up with friends that I don’t normally get to see.

What is your favorite grad school course/experience and why?

While I have loved every graduate course I have taken at Boston College, I found that Counseling Techniques in Higher Education was one of the most useful and practical courses I have taken. Not having a counseling or psych background before entering the field, I found this course incredibly helpful when working with students, and I applied everything I learned almost immediately.

Who/what inspired you to get involved in higher education?

During my time in undergrad, I spent my extracurricular time mentoring high school students through the college application process. This was the one volunteer activity I devoted my extra time too, and put a great deal of effort and care into it. This experience was the birthplace of my passion for higher education.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your career (so far)?

Listen. Listening to our students and their families is the most important part of working in higher education. Listening to them allows us to put them at the center of our work, which is where they should be!

What is on your Higher Ed bucket list?

As a born-and-raised Warriors basketball fan, a trip to Davidson is definitely at the top of my bucket list! (For those that don’t know, Davidson is the alma mater of Stephen Curry, the star player on the Warriors)

What advice would you offer to those who are starting to search for grad programs?

Higher ed is a big field, and has different facets to it, like student affairs, leadership, and policy and law. Thus, it is important to first identify what you want to study, and why. What are you interested in doing within higher ed? Are you more interested in student-learning and engagement, or are you drawn towards policy and organizational functions? Once you identify what it is you are interested in learning and doing, then you can cater your search to align with these interests.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Working in this field has been a blessing, and I am so grateful to be doing something that I love. I admire my colleagues in New England and across the country who are navigating this time of crisis with such dedication so students can continue to have access to college and post-secondary opportunities. Our work is now more lucrative than ever.

I also want to give a very special thank you to Zina Hodge, who nominated me for this feature!

Do you have someone you’d like to be featured as NECPA’s graduate student of the month? Nominate them here!

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