It’s common knowledge that many first-year college students want complete autonomy from their parents. It’s why some of them move halfway across the country—or the world—to attend university.
But for three Northeastern freshmen—Anisa Amiji, BHS’22, Evan Eddleston, DMSB’22, and Rebecca Lustig, E’22—nothing could be further from the truth.
That’s because each of them enrolled at Northeastern this fall knowing that their parents would never be too far away. In fact, their parents are full–time faculty members—teaching, grading papers, and holding office hours just steps away from where their sons and daughters eat, sleep, and study.
“The whole family on campus thing is something I really like,” says Anisa, a first-year health science major. “I find myself turning to them often, especially when things get stressful.”
Her dad, Mansoor Amiji, University Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, works in 140 The Fenway, across the street from her Stetson West residence hall. And her older sister, Zahra Amiji, BHS’18, is a trusted mentor who routinely offers sage advice. “Set time aside for your friends, but you’re here because you want to do well,” Zahra tells Anisa. “You’ve been given an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get, so make the most of it.”
The proximity between Anisa and Mansoor makes it easy for her to go to her dad’s office to pick up household sundries for her residence hall. “I don’t have to worry about care packages being sent to me,” Anisa quips. As Mansoor explains, “I know my daughters want to have some privacy and freedom, but I’m around to help them in any way I can.”
Like Anisa, Evan is thankful that his mom is nearby. “The best part is her ability to bring stuff that I need from home and answer questions I might have about some of my assignments,” says Evan, a first-year business major who plays club lacrosse and recreational hockey.
Earlier this semester, Kimberly Eddleston, the Schulze Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, commuted by train with his foul-smelling hockey gear in tow. “People on the train were not happy,” she says, with a laugh, “because the whole train stunk.” Another time, mom talked shop with son, helping him expand his target audience for a make-believe tailoring business he had created for his “Introduction to Business” course.
Kimberly jokes that she’s living vicariously through Evan. “I would do anything to be a college student again,” she says, noting that she frequently attends his lacrosse games. “He is having the perfect college experience.”
Rebecca and her dad occasionally eat lunch together at Symphony Sushi. Over rainbow rolls, they might discuss class, family, or their mutual love for sailing.
“I don’t want to be overbearing,” says Steve Lustig, associate professor of chemical engineering. “Rebecca has the freedom to establish her own routine and independence, but I’m here for her and I think it’s wonderful that she is so close.”
The sushi lunches picked up where the Lustig family tradition of making sushi at home left off when Rebecca moved to Northeastern. As Steve explains, “it was natural to find a sushi place in Boston, and we’re lucky there are a few such spots close to campus.”
Rebecca, a first-year chemical engineering major, doesn’t make a habit of telling her friends that her dad is a professor at Northeastern. But when they bring up the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, she prides herself in telling them that he keeps an office there. She’s just like every other student, she says, with the added bonus of being able to depend on her dad for residence hall essentials. “I’m a regular college student with a few more benefits,” she quips.
All in the family
Although Evan, Anisa, and Rebecca study in the same colleges in which their parents teach, Steve, Kimberly, and Mansoor have never tried to persuade their children to follow in their professional footsteps. On the contrary, they have encouraged them to explore their academic options with an eye toward finding the best fit for their talents and interests.
“I tell Rebecca to explore all her interests and not worry about making a commitment to one field or another,” says Steve, noting his daughter’s diverging passions for music and math. “Now is the time to branch out and explore all your opportunities.”
Anisa and Mansoor often discuss the first-year student’s future goals, with a particular focus on how she can take full advantage of Northeastern’s global experiential learning program. “The whole idea of experiential education really attracted Anisa to come here,” says Mansoor, noting his daughter’s interest in studying abroad in London.
Rebecca nearly enrolled at Swarthmore before picking Northeastern for its focus on experiential learning. “I want to study abroad in Europe or do a Dialogue of Civilizations in Iceland or the Netherlands,” she says.
Evan and Anisa, for their part, have long had an affinity for Northeastern, not least because of their familiarity with its campus and culture of excellence. As a kid, Evan played peewee hockey at Matthews Arena and received one-on-one lessons from one of his mom’s students who played for the Huskies. Of Evan, Kimberly says, “he was probably a Husky starting at a really young age.” As a high school student, Anisa participated in the Center for Stem Education’s Young Scholars program, which provided her the opportunity to work directly with chemical engineering assistant professor Eno Ebong. “It was a really influential experience,” Anisa recalls, “and it showed me how diverse the campus is.”
For Steve, Kimberly, and Mansoor, parenting first-year students at Northeastern has underscored the university’s commitment to educating the next generation of global leaders. As Kimberly puts it, “getting the opportunity to see Northeastern through a student’s eyes makes you incredibly proud of everything the university has to offer.”