Northeastern runners ready for Marathon Monday: ‘I just can’t believe it’s here’

Northeastern will be well-represented at the Boston Marathon on Monday, with runners, volunteers, and spectators affiliated with the university partaking in this marquee day for the city.

One fundraising team in particular has a strong Northeastern connection, as five of the runners are current students, staff, or alumni.

Lauren Dibble, Nina Angeles, Alexina Prather, Ali Kothari, and Johnny Fayad comprise the Northeastern representatives of the marathon team for buildOn, a nonprofit that works to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service-learning programs in many of America’s most under-resourced high schools. The organization also builds schools in some of the world’s poorest villages.

All five runners hold strong roots within Northeastern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and they learned about this opportunity to raise funds for buildOn during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November when buildOn President and CEO Jim Ziolkowski delivered a campus lecture.

We sat down with all five runners on Thursday to discuss their excitement heading into the marathon, their preparation, and what it has meant to support buildOn’s mission.

Lauren Dibble, DMSB’09, marketing and mentor manager at the Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education

“I’ve really enjoyed the running community in Boston. I thought training was going to be miserable but it was actually kind of fun and you feel like you are part of a much bigger thing. And we’ve had our own support structure. I personally could not have done this alone and there have been a lot of different people who helped on a lot of different levels.”

Nina Angeles, SSH’15, assistant director of programs for the Social Enterprise Institute

“All of us come from this similar entrepreneurship background. And the money that we are raising is going to something that we have a personal connection to. We are fundraising for the buildOn Boston chapter, and our Northeastern students are very close with the high school students so seeing that direct impact is both surprising and makes me excited.” [Angeles was recently selected for a Fulbright award to examine the impact of social enterprise in Palestinian refugee communities.]

Alexina Prather, SSH’17, Social Enterprise Institute co-op

“If a year ago, someone told me I was going to run the Boston Marathon, I would have said ‘no way.’ It’s pretty much all I think about now. Whenever I see people it’s all they ask me about. I am equally excited as I am nervous. I just can’t believe it’s here.”

Johnny Fayad, DMSB’17, co-founder of New Grounds Food

“We are running as the New Grounds Food team for buildOn. We’ve done different types of projects in terms of our coffee sourcing and our goal is to continue those things, and we usually leverage a nonprofit partner that will help us on the ground. And buildOn runs programs in different developing countries as well as here in the U.S., so our plan would be about getting more involved in those programs and helping to build more schools.”

Ali Kothari, DMSB’17, co-founder of New Grounds Food

“When I came to Northeastern, I thought how cool would it be to run the Boston Marathon. When Johnny and I first started out we did this one run to the Mass Ave. bridge and back and we were both dying and it was just a couple of miles. So it is cool now that we’ve reached these mile goals at different points in the training and soon that goal is going to be 26.2 miles.”

Since Ziolkowski’s campus lecture in November, Northeastern has launched a student chapter of buildOn, which sends students to the Community Academy of Science and Health in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood to volunteer with high school students once a week. Northeastern buildOn student leaders also raise money to travel with the organization to help build schools.