Tom Murtha Found Where He Belonged at Northeastern

Tom Murtha always looks for new opportunities to share his love for Northeastern and the University Honors Program with prospective students.


“There are few things that give me greater joy than connecting with students in the midst of their decision on where to attend, and the feeling you get when you can see a student realizing–like I did years ago–that Northeastern was where I belonged,” he said recently.


Murtha, CSSH’23, initially hadn’t considered applying to Northeastern, and had his heart set on other schools. A campus visit changed his mind.


“When I got to Northeastern’s campus, something felt different,” he said. “I walked into the Visitor Center and just knew it was a special place. As I sat through the information session and learned about all of the learning opportunities–academic, experiential, personal, and beyond–and went on a campus tour, I got that ‘feeling’ tour guides talk about: the one where you know you’re supposed to be somewhere.”


His 180-degree reversal shocked everyone – even his parents who had insisted on the Northeastern visit.


“I ended up applying Early Decision to Northeastern–and my parents almost made me crash the car when I told them that as they screamed that they had told me so,” he said.


Once he arrived, Murtha found another place to belong in the University Honors Program.


“When I saw all of the opportunities for Honors students beyond their first year–such as research awards, prospective student outreach, unique global experiences, and more–I thought it was something I would really benefit from and also enjoy,” he said.


Murtha joined the University Honors Program in Fall 2019, and immediately took advantage of those opportunities available to him. He registered for Non-Fiction and Social Justice, an Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar taught by Honors Professor of the Practice Michael Patrick MacDonald.


“My Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar class was one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken,” Murtha said. “The experiential model of the class sticks out to me. From visits to East Boston nonprofits to Dorchester synagogues, the class did more than expose me to the different types of writing employed in advocating for equity. It showed me the real-world applications, and consequences, of this writing; that to effectively advocate for change doesn’t always require a past of oppression, but does require bearing witness to it.”


Murtha also applied to be an Honors Ambassador, a role naturally suited to him and his enthusiastic persona. Honors Ambassadors are current Honors students who share their enthusiasm for the University Honors Program and Northeastern by serving as a representative of the program. Honors Ambassadors participate at events, fairs, and programs for prospective students and their families including fall Open Houses, Preview Day and University Welcome day events


“During my first year I joined Husky Ambassadors, and during my second, I became an Ambassador for the College of Social Sciences and Humanities… so when I saw that there was another way for me to share my stories with prospective students and families, I had to jump on it,” he said.


Currently, Murtha is on co-op in Washington, DC, working at the New England Council, and is thrilled with every moment of it.


“In my first month alone, I realized that I like being close to the world of politics, and started thinking about what it is that I specifically like about that field. I also began thinking about where this co-op could take me in the future–my next co-op, graduate school, or beyond,” he said.


After his co-op, Murtha will jump right back into the Honors experience as he joins his fellow Honors Huskies on an Honors Dialogue of Civilizations, called “Happiness and Sustainability in the Nordics”. Having gone on a DOC to Japan the summer after his first year, he’s excited to go global once more.


“[We’re going to] six different countries in Europe (!!) to study happiness and sustainability in Northern Europe. I’ll be with a group of only other Honors students, studying why countries with the most stringent environmental regulations and ambitious sustainability goals are also some of the happiest,” he said.


In taking advantage of his Honors Program opportunities, Murtha knows he will have even more talking points for his Honors Ambassador role.


“I’m already excited for this opportunity that I can take advantage through the University Honors Program, and cannot wait to talk about it all of the time when no one asked,” he said.


Given his enthusiasm for Honors and Northeastern, we’re certain everyone Murtha encounters will be happy to listen.