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Since the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program launched in January 2016, more than 5,000 students and alumni have signed up for the opportunity. Mentorship leads to personal and professional success, as one mentor pair Lola Asensio ’00, ’14 MS and Natalia Okon ’17 MS, can tell you firsthand. You can sign up for the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program at


#NUConnects in Taipei, Taiwan

Northwestern | Connects 2017 brought together hundreds of alumni in more than 60 cities around the world for a night of networking, reminiscing, and celebrating Purple Pride. Check out photos from the event, read the Storify and relive the night, and learn more about Northwestern | Connects here.

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Jason Sanghi ’09 and Miwa Takaki ’09


As students, Jason Sanghi and Miwa Takaki moved into the same residence hall when they each arrived at Northwestern, but it was through an introductory engineering course that they truly became friends. Jason, wanting to get to know Miwa better, stood near her when team projects were assigned early in the quarter—or, as he puts it, “I snuck into her group.” They started dating soon after.


For Miwa, that intro class brought her more than a life partner: it gave her a firsthand look at the compassionate side of engineering. The pair’s team was assigned to a hospital, where they interviewed stroke patients and developed a tool to make their hospital stays more comfortable. “It was such a hands-on class,” Miwa explains, “and the focus was on building something for others.”


Miwa ultimately double majored in economics and industrial engineering. As graduation approached, she wasn’t sure what kind of career she wanted to pursue. She initially worked in business analytics, but eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, for an industrial engineering role. Jason, then an electrical engineer for Lockheed Martin, was based out of Washington, DC and travelled constantly for work. For several years, the couple balanced their careers with the ins and outs of a long-distance relationship.


Then Miwa suggested a change of pace: she wanted to bring together her diverse skills and decided an MBA would be the right way to do so. She suggested they both relocate to New York City, a place with ample opportunity for each of them. Jason, interested in a career shift and ready to retire his travel-heavy schedule, enthusiastically agreed.


Today Jason focuses on development and operations for WebMD, enhancing the user experience for over 200 million users each month. After completing her MBA, Miwa successfully brought together her technical and business skills by joining the team at eBay, where she now serves as senior technical product manager for the algorithmic merchandising team. She also recently completed a second master’s degree, this one in sustainability management at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.


Miwa and Jason are both members of NU Loyal, the giving society for donors who support Northwestern in three or more consecutive years, and they continue to feel Northwestern’s presence in their lives. In 2016 alone, they attended three weddings of Northwestern couples. They’re also active in the New York City alumni community and join the Young Alumni Ski Trip almost every year. What they value most, both say, is learning about the diverse passions that fuel their Northwestern friends. From doctors and professional musicians to political advisors and an entrepreneur who’s launching a distillery, Miwa and Jason’s varied friendships show there are many ways to apply skills gained at Northwestern to your own life path.


Miwa notes that Northwestern’s commitment to meeting the full financial need of admitted students is key to creating a diverse and dedicated student body; this commitment fuels her own desire to give back to Northwestern today. In her words, “So many of us couldn’t have attended—and wouldn’t be where we are today—without that promise.”


For Miwa and Jason, Northwestern provided a launching ground to their careers, giving them the tools to follow their own interests in technology. The areas they support at Northwestern reflect the people and programs that impacted their own lives. From student initiatives like the solar-powered SmartTree to supporting Northwestern Engineering, their gifts ensure future generations also have the chance to discover and pursue new passions and write Northwestern stories of their own.

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Alumni mentor Eric Terada ’02 and mentee Mo Ran ’19 connected through the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program in October 2016.


When Eric Terada ’02 was looking for ways to give back to Northwestern, he came across the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program, which pairs alumni with current students and with other alumni looking for guidance on navigating their careers, exploring new career paths, and pursuing educational opportunities.


Eric, a consultant at McKinsey & Company and father of two, liked the idea of guiding students and recent graduates at the earliest stages of their careers. “I wanted to help students and alumni figure out what they want to do, what they’re good at, and how to best communicate their stories with prospective employers,” Eric says.


This fall, Eric began mentoring Mo Ran ’19, a junior from Daqing, China, who is working toward dual degrees in engineering and communications. Mo—who is also an active participant in Northwestern Student Holdings, a student-run company that funds and manages a portfolio of businesses—appreciates the real-world business insight his mentor provides.


Eric meets regularly with Mo in person and over the phone to discuss career development and share tips on writing résumés and cover letters. Mo is grateful for the opportunity to learn from an accomplished professional in his field of interest, and says that Eric “has helped me develop a better understanding of the business world and how to demonstrate my qualifications.”


A native of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Eric chose Northwestern because of its Mathematical Methods in Social Sciences (MMSS) program and graduated with a degree in economics. As a freshman, Eric joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity and says that the Greek system taught him a lot about leadership and organizations. “I love that fraternities and sororities are basically mini corporations,” says Eric.


Nearly 15 years after graduating, Eric still feels a deep appreciation for his alma mater, saying, “Northwestern brought me lifelong friendships, instant credibility in the job market, and amazing learning and growth that I continue to build on today.”


Eric says that he would recommend the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program to alumni interested in staying connected to the University and supporting its students and recent graduates—and points out that mentorship has also benefitted him personally and professionally. “Mentoring has allowed me to give back and build relationships,” says Eric, “and it has also helped me reflect on the growth I’ve experienced since attending Northwestern.”


To find out more about the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program and to sign up, visit

Registration is now open for the NAA’s February career webinars. This month’s webinars—which cover topics ranging from starting a business to planning for retirement—can help you maintain your personal and professional edge—no matter where you are in your career.


Check out the lineup of free career webinars and register for one (or more) today.


moyer-resized.jpgEducation Seminar: Slicing Pie

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 12–1 p.m. CST

Speaker: Mike Moyer ’96 MS

You and a partner go in 50/50 on a new business—you do all the work, while he owns half the company. Slicing Pie outlines a simple method for dividing equity in an early stage company.  In this webinar, entrepreneur and Slicing Pie creator Mike Moyer ’96 MS, explains how you can acquire everything you need to build your business without cash. Register >>



coach-lowell-resized.jpgPositive Work Culture: Developing the iY Generation

Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 12–1 p.m. CST

Speaker: Lowell Wightman

In this webinar, Lowell Wightman, founder of 360 Mindset, explores the iY—or Millennial—Generation. He shares basic organizational strategies you can use to help the millenials in your workplace maximize their potential and also discusses the cultural elements essential to the success of this generation.  Register >>



Dave-Collins-resized.jpgUnmute Yourself: How to Use Improv in Virtual Meetings

Thursday, February 16, 2017, 12–1 p.m. CST

Speaker: Dave Collins ’10

Dave Collins ’10, communications consultant and improv trainer, explores how to make virtual collaboration—including conference calls and online meetings—more enjoyable and productive. He discusses the challenges of virtual communication and shares some fun and simple exercises you can practice with your colleagues to make your virtual meetings run more smoothly. Register >>


marianne-resized.jpgFive Steps to a Happy Retirement

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 12–1 p.m. CST

Speaker: Marianne Oehser '77 MBA

When most people think about retirement, they focus on the financial component—but don’t consider all of the other aspects of their lives that will be changing. In this webinar, Certified Retirement and Relationship Coach Marianne Oehser '77 MBA explores the challenges and opportunities that come along with retirement and shares a proven process for finding direction and happiness during this major life transition. Register >>


joseph-lie-resized.jpgQ & A with a Career Change Expert

Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 12–1 p.m. CST

Speaker: Joseph Liu ’00

JosephLiu ’00, former brand marketer turned career change consultant, shares insights from his own career reinventions—leaving medical school to pursue a business career, moving from the U.S. to the UK, and leaving the corporate world to launch his own business. He also shares stories—including several featured on his Career Relaunch podcast— of people who have successfully navigated major career changes. Register >>


The Northwestern Alumni Association believes in life-long career development to help you maintain your professional edge. For more information, or to register, visit our webinars page.

Forbes magazine released its sixth annual 30 Under 30 list this month, honoring 600 emerging leaders across 20 industries. This year's list recognized seven Northwestern alumni innovators and featured one alumnus from last year's honorees as an "All-Star Alumni."

Jacob Allen '16 MBA and Marie Dandie '16 MBA

Allen and Dandie cofounded pilotED Schools, originally an after-school program to "develop strong identities in black and brown scholars." After finding success outside of the classroom, the pair plan to launch their own K-8 "identity-based" charter school in 2018.


Huanyu Cheng '11 MS, '15 PhD

Currently an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics at Pennsylvania State University, Cheng earned both his master's degree and PhD at Northwestern. During his time at the University he helped research the first stretchable lithium-ion battery. His claim to fame now: developing electronic tattoos that dissolve into the human body.



Timothy Downing '08

Downing graduated in 2008 with a degree in chemical engineering from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Now an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, Downing studies stem cell and tissue engineering.



Lexie Komisar '09

A founding member of IBM's Digital Innovation Lab, Komisar ranked with the best of consumer technology leaders. She earned a degree in political science and global health from Northwestern in 2009. She previously worked in digital health and innovation for the Clinton Foundation.



Adam Struck '10

Struck, who was honored in the venture capital category, started his first business after graduating from the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He sold that company, Long Island Beverages, and has since founded his own fund, Struck Capital. In a new release, Struck said, “Four years of exploration (at Northwestern) allowed me to figure out not only what I wanted to do — but most importantly, what I did not want to do.”



Drew Tolly '13 MS

Tolly works in analytics—specifically, writing algorithms for Caterpillar to make their machines smarter. The data scientist earned a master's degree in integrated marketing in 2013 through the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.



In addition to these honorees, Forbes listed Cary Hayner, a PhD candidate in chemical and biological engineering and the cofounder of SiNode Systems, a startup with roots at Northwestern, as an "All-Star Alumni." Hayner had previously made the list in 2016 for his work in improving lithium-ion batteries.


Amy Kraushaar ’88 MS

On January 24, Northwestern | Connects will bring Wildcats together for events in 59 cities around the globe—rolling through 24 time zones in a single night. Amy Kraushaar ’88 MS is looking forward to joining the celebration from her home in Lisbon, Portugal, where she has lived for nearly ten years.


When Kraushaar attended the Northwestern | Connects event in Lisbon last year, she had no idea there were so many fellow alumni in her city—and was amazed when more than 40 people showed up at the event. “The minute each person walked in the door,” recalls Kraushaar, “it wasn’t about being Portuguese, it was about our shared memories of Northwestern and Chicago.” Kraushaar recalls meeting alumni from all areas of Northwestern—including Kellogg graduates, Bienen School of Music alumni who had studied under a prominent Portuguese professor, and many others.


Over the past year, Kraushaar has continued to strengthen her relationship to the global Northwestern community. She joined the Global Ambassadors program, which connects her with current students studying aboard in Portugal. She says that shared experiences with “culture shock”—as well as mutual ties to the University—have made it easy to get to know the students with whom she is paired.


A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Kraushaar graduated from the University of Iowa and then earned a master’s degree in strategic marketing from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. Kraushaar attended evening classes at the downtown campus with other working professionals enrolled in the Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) program.


She developed strong bonds with her classmates and professors in the classroom, and recalls a particularly memorable course in which she worked with a team on a pitch to Spiegel Corporation for their Together clothing line. “We spent a quarter doing research and analysis, developing a creative and marketing strategy, and building an advertising campaign,” recalls Kraushaar. “It was great fun, and even better, when the Spiegel executives reviewed our pitches, our team won!”


Currently, Kraushaar works at Bizdirect, a tech company based in Lisbon, where she directs international partnership development. She has worked in advertising and strategic marketing for nearly thirty years—and credits Northwestern with helping her stay current in a constantly changing field. “I owe a great deal of my ability to evolve with the industry to Medill’s IMC program,” says Kraushaar. “The program was grounded in the necessary foundations and data-driven—even at a time when we didn’t have nearly the amount of data we have now.”


Kraushaar’s recent experiences connecting with the Northwestern community in Lisbon have helped her build new relationships and strengthen her ties to the University, and she is grateful for the impact the alumni group has had on her life. She encourages other alumni living around the world to consider attending a Northwestern | Connects event later this month.


Find out more and register for Northwestern | Connects at


Join the conversation with the hashtag #NUConnects.

Photo_Alex Pollack-Cropped.jpgAlice Zhu ’19 and Alexandra Pollack ’13


Alexandra Pollack ’13 credits the Northwestern Network with helping her break into the investment management industry. Via LinkedIn, Pollack connected with an alumnus from 1976 who played an important role in her most recent job search that concluded with securing a position at Northern Trust in Chicago. As an investment associate, she works on a team that manages portfolios for high-net-worth families. Now, she is sharing her own professional experiences with recent graduates and current students to help them navigate their careers. 


A native of Great Neck, New York, Pollack enrolled at Northwestern because of its strong 

academic reputation, outstanding music program, and proximity to Chicago. Active in student life, she competed on the fencing team and played alto saxophone in the marching band. Pollack says that performing at the 2013 Gator Bowl and celebrating the win was the “the perfect way to end my last season of band and football.”   


Since joining the Northwestern Network Mentorship Program—a network of more than 5,000 alumni and students—Pollack has mentored several students including Alice Zhu ’19, who is interested in a career in the financial industry. Every few months, Pollack and Zhu meet in person or online to talk about classes, resume preparation, summer internships, and interviewing strategies. Pollack has advised Zhu to take the time to get to know her professors and to start networking early—advice that would have been welcomed when she was a student. 


For Pollack, being a mentor has also benefitted her personally. “By giving advice, I’m forced to think about it myself and reflect on my own career path and experiences.” And when the time is right, she hopes to have her own mentor from the program. “Mentoring is a full-circle program. By being in both roles, I can benefit from all aspects of the process.”