The Catalyst - News from the College of Arts & Sciences
Dean Maria Toyoda on Commencement Day 2018

A Message from the Dean


The end of the academic year always comes with a bang thanks to Commencement pageantry, sparkling toasts, and all-around celebration. It’s also a good time to pause for a few minutes to reflect on what brought us to this moment.

In the past year the College has made major strides developing new academic programming. This includes a doctoral program in Applied Developmental Psychology that will begin recruiting a class for Fall 2019; launching the undergraduate law major, a self-designed major, and certificates in disability services and teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL); and a new augmented/virtual reality lab that is transforming teaching across campus. New experiential opportunities are being opened up for our students through partnerships with firms, nonprofits, laboratories, business districts, museums, and festivals.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend heading to the Suffolk Experience to see the transformational power of Suffolk University through the eyes of students and faculty. These stories just scratch the surface. Every day on campus I encounter something that draws feelings of admiration, intellectual excitement, and joy. These pages, and the stories below of some of our 2018 graduates, will show you a little bit of what I see on a daily basis.

Summer is time to reconnect with family and friends and I am planning to do a bit of this. But though campus life slows down a bit, there’s still plenty going on. The Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability is hosting an international symposium in collaboration with Fudan University of Shanghai. Orientation activities fill up most of June. And the College is preparing to welcome the largest cohort of new full-time faculty—20 at last count!—in a long while. There’s much to look forward to. I hope your summer is filled with late sunsets, lobster rolls, and good cheer.

Enjoy every minute of our fleeting summer respite.

Dean Maria Toyoda

Helina Dawit Yohannes in Roxbury, Massachusetts

Living History

Newly minted politics, philosophy, and economics (PPE) alumna Helina Dawit Yohannes has called two continents home. Time spent recording Roxbury residents’ stories opened her eyes to a new world.

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Sydney Thomas in the lab

Transformed through Science

Sydney Thomas ’18 entered Suffolk as a hardworking student and was transformed into a “gifted scientist” who has excelled in research, internships, as a teaching assistant, and in community service.

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John Brown

Pushing for Culturally Responsive Medicine

John Brown, once a homeless high school dropout, graduated from Suffolk this May—the latest step in his plan to become a doctor committed to social justice and community activism.

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Community Psychology students at the Massachusetts State House

Undergrads Draft Bill to Help Homeless

2018 grads Amanda Ricko, Keynessa Nazaire, and Etianna Etienne describe what it was like to write, file, and fight for legislation to help alleviate the dual problems of chronic homelessness and high health care costs.

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