Building on Chemical Engineering with People and Project Management Skills
Rachely Sanchez Murray, E’22, chemical engineering, developed her love for engineering early. Throughout high school, she participated in programs that helped foster that interest. She also knew she wanted to go to a college that not only fed that interest but was also extremely innovative and not stuck in “traditional” ways.
“I visited Northeastern University three times during high school,” she explains. “I fell in love with the campus, the people, and the city.”
Even for those graduating as valedictorian of their class, which Sanchez Murray did, can face a daunting transition to the college atmosphere. One thing that helped smooth Sanchez Murray’s transition was her participation in the Summer Bridge Program for minority students, which aims to help ease this challenge.
“The program taught me a lot about what classes would be like as a first-year student,” she says. “This was vital because I’m the first in my family to go to college. It also affirmed NEU’s commitment to the success of their students.”
Starting with that introduction, Sanchez Murray has continued to take the initiative and make the most of what Northeastern has to offer, starting with the co-op program. As a junior, Sanchez Murray has completed two co-ops so far. She chose each to learn a bit more about the different opportunities for chemical engineers.
Her first co-op experience was at AMAG Pharma, where Sanchez Murray had numerous responsibilities, from developing risk assessments to overseeing the shipment and delivery of clinical trial materials. Part of the appeal was that the company was focused on improving outcomes in the area of women’s health.
“AMAG takes the initiative of focusing on underrepresented disorders that plague pregnant and non-pregnant women, as well as children,” she describes. “This was something I hadn’t seen in other companies.”
Sanchez Murray’s second co-op experience was with an Architecture and Engineering consulting company, called PM Group, focused on consulting for pharma companies. With this opportunity, she was especially interested in learning about the holistic and client-focused approach PM Group takes to solving their clients’ challenges.
“This experience was extremely beneficial due to the fact that it was a little more hands-on,” she explains. “I was able to learn the fundamentals of working with clients and ensuring that the scope of all our projects were clearly defined and able to be met.”
“Chemical engineering is such a versatile major,” Sanchez Murray concludes. “These co-ops have taught me a lot about the job market and important technical skills to make myself more marketable, but also about what my career ambitions are and can be.”
Through these co-ops, and her time at Northeastern, Sanchez Murray has discovered she enjoys managing people and projects—and is good at it. To help gain the necessary skills to become a project manager or consultant, she will also be getting her MS in Engineering Management.
“The people and project-management skills I’m learning while getting this degree are essential,” she says. “This sets me up to accomplish my short-term and long-term career goals.”
While not in class, doing research, or at her co-op, or studying abroad, Sanchez Murray is an active participant and leader in many campus groups, including being Treasurer of the Black Engineering Student Society, the Regional Programs Chair for the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Secretary for the Pi Chapter of Omega Phi Beta Sorority. She has also been both a mentee and mentor in the Legacy Mentoring Program through the John D. O’Brian African American Institute at Northeastern.
Through her academic success and leadership, Sanchez Murray earned the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) scholarship, which is offered as part of Northeastern’s new partnership with the organization. The scholarship will cover many expenses, including living expenses, allowing her to focus on academics.
Beyond that, however, the program will be a valuable resource as Sanchez Murray prepares to head out to the working world. She’s been taking advantage of training around desirable technical skills in the market and access to job opportunities through NACME’s corporate sponsors. Just as important is the networking opportunities the program provides, both with peers and people in the industry.
“We can get valuable feedback on what the industry is looking for and what we can do to provide it,” she explains. “And, I have access to a whole new network of students from all around the country to interact with.”
In fact, networking and building relationships is something Sanchez Murray thinks is one of the most important things Northeastern students can do.
“Build relationships with faculty and staff because they will look out for your best interest,” she explains. “I’ve received an abundance of support from my peers, as well as professors, throughout my time at Northeastern. And I’m sure it will continue after graduation.”