Northeastern is top destination for Boston public schools’ valedictorians

Connor Lashley, class valedictorian of Jeremiah Burke High School in Dorchester, is one of 11 Boston Public School valedictorians who will be attending Northeastern. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Eleven of the Boston public schools valedictorians have chosen to attend Northeastern University in the fall.

The number of Boston valedictorians selecting Northeastern is nearly three times as many as any other college in the Boston area. 

And it’s not the first time.

Just two years ago, in 2020, the incoming freshman class also included 11 valedictorians of Boston public high schools. 

This fall, there will be 64 Boston public schools students in the incoming class of 2,620. More than 91,000 high school students from across the globe applied to the university.

“One of the main reasons I chose Northeastern is because of the co-op program. I’m very excited to be part of that,” says Ergina Agastra of West Roxbury, the valedictorian of Excel High School who plans to major in behavioral neuroscience. “I’ll be able to explore career options, expand my network and gain new skills.”

Agastra said she received her acceptance letter to Northeastern in April and accepted right away.

“Northeastern was always one of my top schools. So I was pretty excited when I was accepted,” Agastra says. 

Most of the Boston valedictorians are awarded the Northeastern Boston Valedictorian Scholarship, which provides full tuition, room, board and fees covering eight academic semesters. All 11 will be supported with full scholarships and institutional grants.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu says she is looking forward to seeing what the students can accomplish at Northeastern.

“It is so wonderful to know that many of our valedictorians have chosen to stay in Boston to attend Northeastern University. Our amazing valedictorians enrich all of our communities and are role models for other young people. The entire city is proud of them and we’re excited to see what each of them accomplish as Northeastern Huskies and future leaders of Boston and beyond,” Wu says.

For Agastra, the road to Northeastern began in Albania. She moved from Albania to the Boston area three years ago, during her sophomore year in high school. Despite the obstacles to academic achievement, which included English as a second language, Agastra’s grades earned her the top ranking in her school.

“It was challenging but I pushed myself. I had my ups and downs, but I got through it,” she says. “Studying hard was always one of my top priorities, if not my top priority.”

“I’ve always been a hard worker, since elementary school. In Albania, there aren’t as many opportunities, so I always prioritized academics.”

Connor Lashley, valedictorian of Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, says he plans to major in biology and pursue a career in scientific research, either biotechnology or medical.

One of the two major reasons he chose Northeastern University, Lashley says, is the opportunity to gain real-life work experience through Northeastern’s co-op and experiential learning programs.

“The academics were very important to me and the experiential learning was something I really wanted to take part in,” Lashley says.

Fascinated by science, Lashley says his interest started with natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions and the aurora borealis when he was young, then biology experiments such as dissections in high school. Now he is looking forward to studying biology, biotechnology, vaccines and gene-editing such as CRISPR-Cas 9.

two rows of five headshots of boston valedictorians
Photos Courtesy of Boston public schools

The other nine Boston valedictorians joining Northeastern are: 

  • Khadiza Akter of Brighton High School plans to do a general studies program in the College of Science.
  • Worknesh Bekele of Fenway High School will pursue a nursing degree in the Bouve College of Health Sciences.
  • Meredith Bultmeyer of Boston Collegiate Charter School will major in bioengineering and biochemistry.
  • Neima Andrade De Pina of Margarita Muñiz Academy will do a general studies program in the College of Arts, Media and Design.
  • Kerri Doyle of Mary Lyon Pilot High School will join the Explore program.
  • John Le of East Boston High School will major in computer engineering and computer science in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences. 
  • Brian Nguyen of Henderson K-12 Inclusion School will participate in a general studies program in the College of Engineering.
  • Jenny Tran of Josiah Quincy Upper School will pursue a nursing degree in the Bouve College of Health Sciences.
  • Jahkiya Eliza Tinnis of Another Course to College will do a Foundation Year program.