‘It has been life changing for me.’ Northeastern Boston Housing Authority Scholars Program creates opportunity

Adelia Argueta posing outside of a building.
Northeastern freshman Adelia Argueta is a recipient of a Boston Housing Authority scholarship. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Adelia Argueta had multiple options for attending college — and attending college for free.

But when Argueta received that opportunity from Northeastern through the Boston Housing Authority Scholars program, she knew she had found a match.

“God put me here for a reason — this school is for me,” Argueta, a first-year student, says. 

The Northeastern Boston Housing Authority Scholars Program provides full-tuition scholarships for BHA public housing residents. The scholarship is available to recent high school graduates looking for a traditional undergraduate bachelor’s degree program, or students of any age interested in a bachelor’s completion program through the College of Professional Studies. 

“We’re very lucky to have this partnership that has been going on for so long,” Sahar Lawrence, director of resident leadership and community affairs at the BHA, says. Lawrence says the program has been around for roughly 40 years.

“When residents find out about it, they are very enthusiastic. So it’s quite exciting sometimes,” Lawrence continues. “It’s pretty unique to have this scholarship for a neighborhood school.”

John Tobin, vice president of city and community engagement at Northeastern, says the scholarship program is a way to support the surrounding community. 

“At Northeastern University, our commitment to creating pathways to higher education and supporting our young people in our surrounding communities is something we take seriously,” Tobin says. “Through programs like the Boston Housing Authority Scholarship, the university is helping to open doors to our neighbors that are sometimes locked in higher education. When Northeastern reaches out to local students and their families, we help foster brighter futures and bind community ties.”

The scholarship opened doors for BHA scholar Jonathan Mejia.

“All the things that Northeastern gave me — and it gave me a lot, it put me in places I never thought I’d be in: different countries, co-ops, places — was all because of the BHA scholarship,” Mejia says. “It has been life-changing for me.”

Mejia graduated in 2019 and works as a television news reporter in El Paso, Texas. 

Mejia says that while growing up in public housing in Jamaica Plain, he saw very few Black people in broadcasting. 

But through co-ops with CNBC New York, and reporting abroad in Cuba, Mejia says he “expanded my horizons” and was able to land jobs at Univision in Miami and as a writer for WHDH-TV in Boston before moving to Texas.  

Mejia says an important aspect of the scholarship is that it enabled him to give back to his community.

While a student at Northeastern, he volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for the BHA, for instance. He views his job as a reporter as an opportunity to give back to the community as well. 

“I think my experience as a whole speaks to me wanting to be a servant — I want to help out and give back as much as I can,” Mejia says. “One thing I took away from the BHA scholarship is the opportunity to give back.”

Gabrielle Flohr also got the opportunity to give back to her community as a result of the BHA scholarship. 

During her time at Northeastern, Flohr applied for a co-op at the BHA — “to see the other end of things.” 

Her spring semester 2015 co-op turned into a part-time job and, then after she graduated, a full-time position in the BHA communications office. 

“It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for where I grew up and people like me,” Flohr says. “Looking at other scholars, I like to communicate with them too, to serve as an example to them that things can always get better. And no matter where you’re from there’s always room for opportunity no matter what.”

The opportunity to give back, meanwhile, is not lost on Argueta. 

“I want to go back to Charlestown, become a lawyer, and go back to Charlestown High School and say ‘You can do it!’” Argueta says. “I’d like to inspire people and give people motivation.”

But for now, she’s relishing the first month of college and all the opportunities — clubs, study abroad, new friendships, interesting classes — available at Northeastern.  

“I’m excited to explore, to see what the future holds,” Argueta says. 

Cyrus Moulton is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at c.moulton@northeastern.edu. Follow him on X/Twitter @MoultonCyrus.