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For father-daughter duo at Northeastern, family comes first

No matter how busy they are, Dave and Emily Hagen will find time on Wednesday evenings to chat about life over burgers and fries. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Dave and Emily Hagen don’t let work get in the way of family.

No matter how busy they are—no matter how many papers Dave has to grade or how many exams Emily has to study for—this father-daughter duo at Northeastern University always finds time on Wednesday evenings to share a meal and a good conversation.

Like clockwork, the Hagens will convene at the International Village dining hall at 4:30 sharp, chatting about life over burgers and fries. Or grilled chicken and salad.

“It’s nice to set aside some time to have a good meal and talk about what’s been going on in our lives,” says Emily, DPT’20. “The weeks are really busy for both of us, so it’s hard to catch up on the phone.”

Dave—assistant teaching professor in the College of Professional Studies’ Master of Arts in in criminal justice and homeland security programs—is particularly interested in Emily’s coursework. But he’s careful not to impart any unwanted advice, especially when it comes to her challenging gross anatomy class this semester.

“I try to reinforce the importance of enjoying the learning process,” he explains. “What I tell her is that there are things she will learn at this stage of her life that she will use for the rest of her career.”

Dave would know. He graduated from Northeastern in 1980, earning a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, and then went on to get his Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law in 1984. He’s served in the Navy since 1990 and spent more than 30 years as a municipal police officer, with patrol, investigatory, and administrative assignments.

Now he’s harnessing his range of expertise to teach three homeland security courses at Northeastern, including one on Wednesday nights after his weekly dinner with his daughter. He relishes the opportunity to inspire the next generation of leaders. “I get paid to think,” says Dave, who commutes to work from Holliston, Massachusetts. “I’m thrilled to be teaching here and even happier to share part of my experience with Emily.”

Emily’s longterm plan is to work closely with servicemembers who have suffered serious combat injuries, a goal inspired by her father’s career in the Navy.

Emily, who lives on campus, is in the third year of Northeastern’s six-year doctor of physical therapy program, which affords enrollees the opportunity to earn both a bachelor’s and doctoral degree. She recently completed her first co-op at Cambridge Health Alliance, a community healthcare system in which she worked to rehabilitate clients with sports injuries and other ailments.

Her longterm plan is to work closely with servicemembers who have suffered serious combat injuries, a goal inspired by her father’s career in the Navy. Respect and compassion—two values that Dave showcased on a daily basis in the military and then passed on to Emily and her 14-year-old sister Jillian—will be crucial to her success in the healthcare field. “I love how my dad’s always been part of something bigger than himself,” Emily explains, “and I want to follow in his footsteps.”

Every once in a while, the Hagens will catch a men’s hockey game at Northeastern. This season, the entire family—Dave, Emily, Jillian, and Maureen, the matriarch—visited Matthews Arena to watch the Huskies defeat Arizona State 5-2. They’re not particularly big hockey fans, but they do like spending time together, chatting about what’s new and exciting at work, at school, and beyond.

“It’s all about heart,” Dave tells Emily. “No matter what you do, give your best.”

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