Meet the graduates: Ryan Daley

Ryan Daly, a student-veteran with a near-perfect 3.950 GPA. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Ryan Daley, CPS’17, is one of nearly 1,500 students who will receive degrees at the College of Professional Studies’ graduation ceremony on Friday at Matthews Arena. Here, Daley, a student-veteran with a near-perfect 3.95 GPA, reflects on his time at Northeastern and looks ahead to his future in politics.

You studied political science at Northeastern. What’s next?

I’ll be enrolling in the yearlong master’s in global politics program at the London School of Economics and Political Science, with the goal of matriculating into its international relations doctoral program. My ultimate career goal is to return to Massachusetts and run for office here. I really like living here—I like the people and the service-oriented structure of the state government, which really seems to value things like education and healthcare. Living in Massachusetts has been really good for me and I’d like to give something back.

You served in the Army while taking online courses at Northeastern, simultaneously studying for exams and working as a cryptologic linguist and a special operations paratrooper in Texas, Georgia, California, and North Carolina. How did you manage such a heavy workload?

Enrolling at Northeastern made my last year in the Army more fruitful, because I made sure that I was productive during my downtime. I worked closely with my soldiers, spending a lot of time with them, but I never neglected my studies. If I had a lunch break, I would study. I would stay up late and study. Since I was already living in a pretty structured environment, it worked for me. I translated the energy I had for the military into my energy for Northeastern, which wants its students to be driven and innovative and ambitious, the same traits that I value in myself. When I started taking classes on campus last summer, my transition was smooth. Northeastern had set me up to succeed, ensuring me that I would be able to enroll in graduate school the following year.

Your on-campus accomplishments run deep, from being named a member of the Huntington 100 to winning CPS’ Compass Award, which recognizes one exemplary senior from each college who has demonstrated a true dedication to leadership, volunteerism, and academic integrity. What would you categorize as your biggest achievement at Northeastern?

Definitely the Compass Award, particularly because I wasn’t expecting it. I was a nontraditional student. I didn’t know that my work experience and military accomplishments—including intensive language study at both the Defense Language Institute and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School—would translate into what the faculty voters were looking for. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re truly a good leader,  truly dedicated to service, or truly innovative and ambitious. But being recognized by such a dynamic university with so many brilliant students is something I’ll continue to live up to as a future alumnus and public servant.

At the award ceremony in April, we were told that we were being recognized as much for the work that we’d continue to do as for our past accomplishments. It was almost like a mandate, to continue to represent Northeastern in a positive way by taking what we’ve learned into the next phase of our lives. It felt great to be recognized alongside other intelligent, hardworking students who have set such high standards for themselves. At Northeastern, it’s almost a prerequisite to go above and beyond.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

How have your internship experiences at Northeastern—including your work in Massachusetts’ Department of Veterans’ Services—prepared you for the next phase of your academic journey?

Northeastern encourages you to channel your academic productivity into your real-world work experiences. For me, that meant serving in the Department of Veteran’s Services, where I was allowed to develop my own ideas and find solutions to complex problems. I learned that nothing is insurmountable—you just have to be willing to speak your mind and be creative, especially in a team-based environment. This will come in handy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, which is very forward thinking and globally minded. When I arrive in England, I hope to work directly with members of Parliament, applying what I learned at DVS to contribute to the way government is run at the local level.

What will you miss most about the Northeastern community?

I love Northeastern’s diversity and international focus. Before I enrolled here, I had heard that it was a very good university. But what I didn’t know is that studying here would be a microcosm of my Boston experience. Everywhere you go, you’ll hear people speaking five or six different languages, having great conversations. I saw this diversity on display at the Compass Awards ceremony, where everyone had a unique story to tell. Some loved science, others healthcare or education. But everyone seemed to have something special that drove him to excel. Like the London School of Economics and Political Science, Northeastern truly is global.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Regardless of your academic ambitions, take advantage of the opportunity to do co-ops and extracurricular activities. It’s easy to keep your head down, study, and enjoy your weekends. Do more—you might discover something about yourself you otherwise never would have known. The small sacrifices you make to get the most out of your time at Northeastern will pay off, yielding a lot of social and human capital. At Northeastern, I learned that you’re only limited by the limits you set for yourself. There’s nothing you can’t do as long as you’re willing to work for it.