Coastal Sustainability Institute > News Archive > Northeastern’s Marine Science Center helps inspire future leaders from Boston youth academy

Northeastern’s Marine Science Center helps inspire future leaders from Boston youth academy

The lobster was not happy to be plucked out of the seawater tank. It was thrashing at the air like Edward Scissorhands.

“How strong are their claws?” asked one of the visiting students.

“I would not want to get my fingers stuck in there,” said Sierra Muñoz, outreach program coordinator at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center. She held the lobster upside down at arm’s length to reveal its eight shorter legs, all spinning wildly.

Several students expressed concern for the tank’s other animals. Muñoz nodded in agreement.

“There was one in that other tank but he started taking the arms off of sea stars,” she said. “So I was like, nuh-uh, you’re going back to the ocean.”

Thirty-two visitors, ranging from ages 14 to 22, were touring the Marine Science Center on Tuesday as part of the We Belong Leadership Academy, a program launched with nine students in 2016 by the Boston Police Department’s Bureau of Community Engagement that connects young people with leaders in profit and nonprofit businesses, government and the community.

Jeff Lopes was a Boston police officer when he founded We Belong. Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, helped Lopes develop the program’s funding as well as its partnership with Northeastern. The program’s daily headquarters are at Northeastern Crossing, where 45 students work with Jorge Dias, a former Boston police officer who joined Northeastern last year as a community engagement and off-campus student liaison.

“Our goal is to help young people maximize their potential: Truly discover who they are, who they want to be, increase their networks and create a sense of leadership in them—a sense of purpose,” says Lopes, now a Boston police detective with a Northeastern doctorate in law and policy. “Oftentimes our young people who grow up in the city are just so focused on the day-to-day. We’re trying to get them to think about tomorrow, like, who am I today and how this can impact tomorrow, and how that’s going to impact my community and those around me.”

Read more on Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

Author: Ian Thomsen