We are proud to honor 18 graduating students as winners of the 2021 Community Service Leadership Award! These students were nominated by City and Community Engagement staff and community partners for their continuous engagement throughout their time at Northeastern while making an impact on the communities and programs they served. The winners were recognized at Northeastern's annual Student Life Awards on Thursday, April 29th. Read more about each recipient below as they share their most memorable service experiences and offer advice to students looking to get more involved with our local communities.

Congratulations to our 2021 Community Service Leadership Award Recipients!

Follow @nuengaged on Instagram to catch individual spotlights of each winner!
Yasser Aponte
Nominated by Community-Engaged
Teaching and Research
An International Affairs & Religious Studies major and Boston native, Yasser’s most memorable service experience during his time at Northeastern was working for The Food Project on an urban farm in Dorchester. He advises any student who wishes to engage with the local community to volunteer for as many opportunities as they can!
Athena Barrett
Nominated by NU|ACES
A Biology major from Princeton, NJ, Athena advises any student looking to engage with the local community to, “Get involved with as much as you can! The Office of City and Community Engagement provides so many rewarding opportunities to be a part of, with various interests in mind and different levels of time commitment, there is truly something for everyone.”
Julia Borgida
Nominated by NU|ACES
Originally from Farmington, CT, Julia is an Environmental Studies and Economics major and Political Science minor. One of her most memorable community engagement experiences at NU was attending the IMPACT Conference her sophomore year with other ACES students.
"Learning about civic engagement and social justice from students and leaders from across the country made me even more passionate about ACES and service in the Boston community."
Helena Dworak
Nominated by Aashka Dance Company

A Computer Science and Mathematics major from San Francisco, Helena has been volunteering teaching dance at Aashka Dance Company in Hyde Park weekly for the last 4 years while an undergrad at Northeastern. "One of the most rewarding experiences was bringing my Aashka students to the dress rehearsals for the Northeastern University Dance Company (at which I serve as treasurer) and show the students what a college-level production looks like behind the scenes. It's a privilege to share the dance I love to do at Northeastern with the students I teach to dance." Helena will be joining VMware as a Software Engineer after finishing her Masters in Computer Science at Northeastern and will continue to volunteer her time teaching dance on the weekends.
Michael Fialkoff
Nominated by NU|ACES
A Bioengineering major and Spanish minor from South Windsor, CT, Michael's most memorable service experiences have been from his three years of being an NU|ACES Welcome Week Team Leader. "Getting to work with awesome freshmen, exploring Boston, and becoming good friends with other student leaders in CCE has been the best part of my time at Northeastern." He would advise any student hoping to be more engaged with the local community to "Get involved! Try new things, get out and explore Boston through service!" Post-graduation, Michael will be joining the Process Development & Manufacturing team at SQZ Biotechnologies in Watertown, MA as an Associate Engineer working to translate cell-based cancer therapies from research scale to clinical manufacturing.
Sara Flynn
Nominated by Community-Engaged Teaching and Research
A Human Services major and Law and Public Policy minor from West Hartford, CT, Sara began her involvement with CCE during Spring semester of her freshman year. "My Service-Learning placement was with Hyde Square Task Force where I volunteered as a mentor in their college and career planning program. I learned and grew so much from that semester-long role and really enjoyed working with my mentee, so I asked to stay on in the volunteer role for another year. This experience also launched my continued involvement in community engagement at Northeastern as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant!"
Ava Gallo
Nominated by Community-Engaged Teaching and Research
Ava is an Environmental Studies and International Affairs major and Law & Public Policy minor from Trumbull, CT. Ava's most memorable service experience during her time at NU was her service trip to Costa Rica during Alternative Spring Break in February 2020. "Not only was it special because it was the last trip I got to take before the pandemic, but as a group we were able to have some really meaningful discussions about community service, voluntourism, and the ethics of us as American college students there to build a playground. It was really amazing to be able to have such rich discussions while in a such a beautiful place."
Wanjiku (Shiko) Githere
Nominated by Community-Engaged Teaching and Research
A Behavioral Neuroscience major and Africana Studies minor from San Leandro, CA, Shiko has been very involved with Community-Engaged Teaching and Research during her time at Northeastern, both as a Service-Learning TA and as a manager of the Service-Learning Street Team. "One of my favorite Service-Learning experiences was creating the final Community Partner appreciation project during Fall 2019. For the project, we asked S-LTAs to send us 3 words to describe S-L. We then wrote each word on a sticky note and created a time-lapse of Street Team members putting the sticky notes on the wall forming a giant S-L...What I loved most about the project was how collaborative it was. I feel like the project really showed Community Partners how important they are to our program and how without them, we wouldn't have been able to create all of these amazing, unique memories."
Umin Jalloh
Nominated by NU|ACES

Umin is a Behavioral Neuroscience major and Global Health minor from Teaneck, NJ. His most memorable service experience was his first Welcome Week with NU|ACES in Fall 2017. "It entirely changed the way I approach volunteering and many of my daily interactions, especially being in a big city like Boston." Post-graduation, he will attend medical school at Rutgers University.
Megha Koul
Nominated by NU|ACES
Megha is a Biology major and Spanish minor from Mansfield, MA. She offers to students looking to get more involved with the local community, "You may already know what your educational goals are, but engaging with the community is a great way to explore some of your hidden passions. Don't be afraid to dive deep into those interests!"
Adriell Louis
Nominated by BalletRox
Adriell is a Behavioral Neuroscience major and Computer Science minor from Baldwin, NY. Her most memorable community engagement experience is "a tie between my first dance recital at BalletRox and my most recent Alternative Spring Break trip, which was focused on homelessness and related healthcare barriers in San Francisco."
Maria Isabel Morel
Maria Isabel is a Computer Science & Music major and native Bostonian. She would advise students looking to get more involved with the local community to "take time to speak with older Bostonians, they have a lot of history to share and will show you a completely different perspective of the city."
Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez
Nominated by NU|ACES
Gisselle is an Economics major and Data Science minor from Uniondale, NY. When asked what her most memorable service experience was during her time at Northeastern she shares "the NU|ACES Welcome Week changed the trajectory of my undergraduate experience. Beyond making amazing friends, I began to think more critically about community engagement and the role of higher education institutions in developing student awareness of civics and social justice."
Sasha Shenk
Nominated by 826 Boston
Sasha is a Health Science major and Global Health and Writing minor from Seattle, WA. She advises students looking to engage more with the local community to "take a service-learning course! I was first introduced to Northeastern's community engagement programs through the service-learning program, and found numerous leadership and personal development opportunities through the program." Post-graduation, Sasha has plans to stay in Boston and will be doing research full-time at Tufts Dental School where she will continue studying lab-grown three dimensional tissues in disease and drug development contexts. She will also continue volunteering with 826 Boston and Boston Medical Center and begin the process of applying to medical school. Immediately following graduation, she will serve as a virtual Program Assistant for the Comparative Healthcare Systems Dialogue.
Francheska Liz Torres Torres
Nominated by National Braille Press
Francheska is a Bioengineering major and Mechanical Engineering minor from Charlton, MA. Her advice to students looking to engage in meaningful ways with the local community is to "make a strong connection with the people you are looking to serve and work with. These are the people who will continuously provide inspiration and opportunity to contribute in ways that positively impact your life, their lives, and the community as a whole." Post-graduation, Francheska will be joining Smith+Nephew, a medical device company, as a Research and Development Engineer. She hopes to continue her community service in braille advocacy as well as in STEM outreach and education.
Mary Tresvalles
Nominated by Alternative Spring Break
Mary is a Behavioral Neuroscience major from Toms River, NJ. Her most memorable engagement experiences were serving on Alternative Spring Break. "After my first trip for ASB 2017, I fell in love with the idea of using spring break as a way to introduce people to service in different communities, and then fostering those new interests so that they can take them back to their homes...I became passionate about teaching others how to create and lead these experiences so that others could be given the opportunity to find ways to engage with local, national, and international communities." She would advise students looking to get more involved, "to not be afraid of taking the first step and reaching out! Talk to your peers, people involved in organizations that interest you, or the CCE team (say "Hi" to Tim. He's great!). There is always a way to apply your talents and interests to help others, whether it be in your immediate, local community, or on a more national/global scale."
Sierra Vansuch
Nominated by NU|ACES
Sierra is a Bioengineering major and Mathematics minor. Originally from Sarasota, FL, post-graduation she'll be staying in the area and working full-time at Solid Biosciences as an Associate Scientist in Downstream Process Development.
Sarah Whiteman
Nominated by EVkids
Sarah is a Psychology major from Cambridge. During her time at Northeastern she has consistently volunteered with EVkids, a non-profit in Dorchester whose mission is to empower Boston youth with the skills and confidence needed to realize their potential. Her advice to students who want to be more involved locally would be to "turn your passion into action by volunteering and giving back to the community!"