Northeastern honors six trailblazers for their commitment to the university’s global mission

Screenshots by Northeastern University

On Monday, Northeastern honored six university-affiliated leaders for their continued service toward furthering the university’s mission at the Networked For Life celebration, the annual volunteer leadership summit that recognizes exceptional trailblazers in the Northeastern community.  

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern, thanked the recipients for their unique roles in shaping the university’s global mission and strengthening the human connections that make the institution’s network special. 

“You represent the best of our community,” Aoun said. “This place is special, not because of its buildings, but because of you. You give life and meaning to everything we do. That’s why we’re thanking you.”  

Gene Reppucci and Corrine Reppucci, winners of the Distinguished Service Award last year, helped moderate the event with Diane MacGillivary, senior vice president of university advancement.

This year’s recipients of the Northeastern University Distinguished Service Awards were Barbara Alleyne, Katherine Pendergast, and Joseph Fleming. This award honors those who make exceptional contributions toward promoting the mission of the university. 

Alleyne, a member of the university’s board of trustees, was recognized for her work supporting the Black students and alumni of Northeastern, especially through scholarships. 

“I was the first in my family to go to college, so my mission was to get a degree and become self-sufficient,” she said. “But Northeastern gave me a lot more than that. It gave me the foundation to navigate the business world,” a path that took her “from public housing to Wall Street.” 

Fleming, who also received the Distinguished Service Award, was honored for his work founding the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs, an organization that provides guidance to venture-minded members of Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

Pendergast, vice president emeritus of human resources management, received her award in recognition of her long tenure at Northeastern and the transformative role she played in serving the needs of university employees.  

The Northeastern University Pioneer Award went to the late Louis Barnett, a renowned chemical engineer who died last week, just shy of his 102nd birthday. This award is reserved for individuals who create opportunities, forge new paths, and have a deep and lasting impact on the university. 

“We lost a giant,” MacGillivary said. “Lou’s inventions are embedded in our lives in ways that most of us don’t recognize—for instance, the plastic trash cans we all use.” 

Screenshot by Northeastern University

Binja Basimike and Chuanwei Zhuo both received the Northeastern Emerging Leaders Award, which is granted to recent graduates who have demonstrated sustained commitment to advancing the university’s goals. 

Zhuo, a Northeastern Double Husky, is currently leading a project with the company MesoGlue, founded by Northeastern researchers, to commercialize room-temperature bonding solutions. He is still actively engaged with Northeastern through his work with professor Yiannis Levendis on commercializing plastic waste treatment solutions as well as his support for student entrepreneurship through the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education program. 

Basimike is also a Northeastern Double Husky who currently works in healthcare. She is a member of the Women Who Empower program and the Master’s in Public Health Young Alumni Board through the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. 

“I want my service at Northeastern to be part of my legacy. I’m humbled by the work accomplished thus far, but I’m looking forward to continuing to connect alumni while here on the African continent,” said Basimike, who lives in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “I would love to see how we can continue supporting the Northeastern vision while abroad.” 

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