2024 Cooperative Education Awards

The Cooperative Education Awards celebrate the continued success of our Drexel Dragons' co-op experiences. 

Join us in celebrating all of our 2024 Cooperative Education Award winners.

Drexel's cooperative education program is unique and provides that extra edge to your résumé before you even graduate. We know that there are many individuals who make incredible co-op opportunities possible; we look forward to celebrating some of those members of our student body, faculty, and professional staff at our annual Cooperative Education Awards.

Please enjoy these remarks from Ian Sladen, vice president for Cooperative Education and Career Development.

Congratulations to Our 2024 Cooperative Education Awards Winners

As we applaud the winners of this year’s Cooperative Education Awards at Drexel University, please enjoy these remarks from Ian Sladen, vice president for Cooperative Education and Career Development.

Drexel Co-op: Experience What's Possible

Students who participate in Drexel’s Co-op program can best speak to its benefits. From collaborating with co-workers to learning from mentors and peers out on co-op, students take advantage of connections that empower them to discover and experience what’s possible for them, their community, and world. View our special video featuring the 2024 Cooperative Education student award winners.

Drexel Co-op: Experience What’s Possible

Through Drexel Co-op, students learn how their experience translates to the work of the company and the larger conversation within their field, opening doors for future opportunities.

2024 Cooperative Education Award Student Winners

Photo of Piero Barrantes

Piero Barrantes

College of Arts and Sciences (Sciences)

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Craig Westphal
Axalta Coating Systems


Working in an Analytical lab at Axalta Coatings Systems, Piero was an active and vocal team member participating in integral site activities. Maintaining a positive, optimistic, and inquisitive demeanor, Piero helped in several raw material qualification projects for the raw material team at Axalta, which led to the qualification of new and/or secondary vendors and resulted in cost savings for the company. At all times, Piero showed a comfortability talking with others on-site, such as senior technology leaders whom he sought out for feedback and career advice during co-op. Constantly trying to learn more from others on the team, Piero regularly communicated updates to the PhD chemist he worked side by side with, seeking out feedback when appropriate. Following all Axalta safety procedures without issue, Piero worked independently with little supervision performing his analysis, interpreting results, writing reports, and communicating results to Axalta’s customers. Piero also contributed to resolving several customer issues and proved to be a great fit with the rest of the team and scientific community at Axalta.


Photo of Sasha Cole

Sasha Cole

Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship

Nominating Co-op Employers:
Debbie Colbert-Madufuro and Chuck Sacco
Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, Drexel University


Working at Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, Sasha showed off his creativity and professionalism as he built his video production company during his time on Entrepreneurship Co-op. What began as a passion for sports, interviewing, and filming turned into producing and publishing a documentary about his friend’s invitation to the 2023 NBA Draft — resulting in man on the street interviews, a Good Morning America Zoom call, and interviews on NBC, Amazon Prime, and more. Throughout this venture, Sasha learned to excel in every role behind the scenes to bring this experience to the world and the finished documentary has hit over a million views. In launching his production company, Sasha continues to evolve in the areas of film, production, editing.


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Aisa Feratovic

Bennett S. LeBow College of Business

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Jamie Hruska
Harding Loevner


As a production assistant, Aisa quickly became a core contributor in maintaining Harding Loevner’s routine, monthly, and quarterly updates. While on co-op, Aisa conscientiously listened to feedback on her own work and developed into a resource for her peers with their tasks. As an active participant in firm meetings, Aisa was not afraid to ask questions in one-on-one or group settings and embraced new projects and opportunities to engage with others on the team. Aisa even worked closely with the content operations manager in the research, training, and on-boarding of a new project management system; supported the team’s video producer/editor during filming sessions; and so much more to improve the company’s overall workflow.


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Narella Lee

College of Nursing and Health Professions

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Dr. Ko
Sylvan Infectious Diseases


While on co-op as a medical assistant with Dr. Ko at Sylvan Infectious Diseases, Narella maintained an excellent rapport with her patients as she always tailored her care to the individual needs of her clients and made informed modifications to their care plans. Narella proved herself to be very proactive and motivated, making her a great team member in the medical practice environment. During her time with Dr. Ko, Narella demonstrated a deep awareness of office practices and made sure to follow up with others on the team when encountering any procedure or policy questions related to the office.


Photo of Giovanna Makriniotis

Giovanna Makriniotis

Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Brielle Bentley
Princeton University


At Princeton University, Giovanna supported a team of six interior project managers in a fast-paced environment working on numerous projects in different design phases — some of her tasks included site surveys, space plans, furniture specifications, installation coordination, and maintaining the interiors resource library. Utilizing her organizational abilities and design skills on co-op, Giovanna thrived in a team environment, working with various project managers and vendors. Giovanna proved to be extremely self-motivated and methodical in everything she did at Princeton.


Photo of Sofia Martinez

Sofia Martinez

College of Engineering

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Bilal Khan
AKRF, Inc.


With a strong work ethic, great attitude, and impressive communication skills, Sofia worked diligently on her Philadelphia Water Department projects with AKRF, Inc. in a capacity that matched full-time employees. Sofia’s technical abilities allowed her to be fully integrated into projects and run with tasks to an impressive degree. While on co-op, Sofia also showed intuitive sense regarding time management and the level of effort and expectations needed for each deliverable at AKRF.  Due to Sofia’s great work ethic, AKRF was able to not only meet deadlines, but get ahead of schedule on numerous projects.


Photo of Cassandra Mikkelson

Cassandra Mikkelson

Pennoni Honors College

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Thomas Brigman
Century Therapeutics



Cassie brought her professionalism and dedication to the field when arriving to Century Therapeutics. As a translational development co-op, Cassie showed initiative by taking on many highly complex projects while working hands-on in the lab with cells used to create treatments for cancer patients. Cassie showcased her critical thinking skills and dependability when taking on presentations within the company, communicating results flawlessly, and while representing Century at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCAMS). At ABRCAMS, Cassie effectively shared her proof-of-concept work in an important external setting — not only did she get accepted to share her poster, but she was also able to field questions during her presentation and bring back great ideas to work more on afterwards.


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Andrew Stein

College of Computing & Informatics

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Harpreet Siddhu and Martin Skaates
The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company


Andrew’s proactive approach to enhancing The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company’s overall user experience impressed his mentors and left a lasting impact on the company. During co-op, Andrew utilized his creative talents to implement substantial UI-related changes in order to improve customer service operations and provide customers with a more user-friendly and streamlined experience. Working closely with his co-workers in the customer service department, Andrew incorporated built-in quality checks and significantly improved the accuracy and efficiency of Penn Mutual’s operations in this critical area. Andrew’s deep knowledge of programming and continuous desire to learn about and apply technology have enhanced the company’s overall functionality in countless areas.


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Mia Thomson

School of Education

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Ariel Coff
Science Leadership Academy Middle School


As a math and science student teacher at the Science Leadership Academy Middle School, Mia showed up every day ready to work hard, grew her teaching skills by trying new methods, and did her best to meet her students’ unique learning needs, even adapting lessons when needed. During co-op, Mia served as a role model for respect in the classroom and showed students how to meet rigorous academic standards by empowering them to do their best and helping them take it one step at a time. Always offering gentleness, Mia gave her students a caring ear when they needed it, and many students sought out her advice and mentorship — making a difference in each of their lives.


Photo of Madeline Tran

Madeline Tran

School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Banu Ahtam
Boston Children's Hospital


As a research assistant at the Boston Children's Hospital, Madeline maintained great attention to detail, followed all protocols carefully, and produced outcomes without errors in a timely manner for various projects. Madeline’s main project was examining the nutritional intake of preterm babies born in the neonatal intensive care unit and studying the effect of milk components on brain white matter development and neurodevelopmental outcomes. She was very dedicated to this work, and this research will continue to shed an important light on early brain white matter development with regard to preterm birth and hypoxic-ischemic injury. Madeline has made great scientific and medical contributions to this field during her time on co-op with the Boston Children's Hospital. 


Photo of Greta WilkinsonGreta Wilkinson

College of Arts and Sciences (Humanities)

Nominating Co-op Employer:
Chelsea Ward McIntosh
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)


At the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Greta used her initiative and creative thinking to self-assign what her next steps should be working as a driver rehabilitation program development assistant. After completing requested tasks ahead of schedule, Greta showed a thirst for knowledge as she pushed her own projects forward in a meaningful way. During co-op, Greta was empowered to research, develop, and design two educational handouts that are still in use today at CHOP’s driver rehabilitation services. She also created assessment tools for epilepsy and cancer patients who go to CHOP for driving assessments. Greta even had the chance to present her epilepsy and driving research at a virtual national conference for driver rehabilitation professionals and helped write a pilot grant to interview CHOP providers about driver service’s needs, which was just funded.

Faculty/Staff of the Year

Monika Julien, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

Nominating Staff: Liz Raymond, Senior Co-op Advisor of Cooperative Education

Upon starting as a faculty member for the Music Industry Program (MIP), Monika quickly connected with the Steinbright Career Development Center as an industry expert eager to share her knowledge. Monika has been a phenomenal collaborator for Steinbright and an enthusiastic advocate for music industry students. She has organized multiple co-op and career panels to encourage information sharing and networking and always extends an invite to the summer co-op team. Monika meets regularly with Steinbright leadership to share valuable insight and ideas, and she was a speaker for a COOP 101 FAQ panel on co-op search advice in the music industry – a recorded conversation that can be shared with all future MIP COOP 101 students preparing for their first job search. Monika manages the Drexel Music Industry Alumni & Student Network LinkedIn page, an important resource that students utilize in their co-op searches, and shares job postings and networking opportunities there almost daily. At large, Monika provides individualized co-op and career guidance to countless students, providing them with both realistic expectations for job searching in the music industry and constant encouragement— continuously improving the co-op search experience for her program’s students.

Employers of the Year

The Chubb Corporation

Photo of Steve AhrensPhoto of Peter Dalton

Steve Ahrens and Peter Dalton

Nominating Students:
Nithin Ganesh and Neha Urdhwareshe 

The Chubb Corporation is a world leader in insurance, serving consumers and companies of all sizes. At Chubb, co-op students are given individual and personalized attention to grow into effective and invaluable professionals. Managers like Steve Ahrens and Peter Dalton hold students to high standards but also provide them with the guidance and tools to meet and surpass those standards. With opportunities for growth and a commitment to a receptive environment, students who have their co-op experience at Chubb are able to develop invaluable professional skills.


The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)

Photo of Natalie Cutler

Natalie Cutler

Nominating Student:
Kosta Petkovic

The encouragement of open communication and emphasis on professional development at the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) fosters a creative and innovative work environment that empowers their co-op students. A non-profit that is focused on the development of student physicians, the organization invests in programs, training, and resources that allow co-op students to expand their capabilities and advance their careers. Leaders at the National Board of Medical Examiners like Natalie Cutler highlight diverse contributions, seek constructive suggestions, and acknowledge the importance of a healthy work-life balance to ensure that students leave their co-op with invaluable skills and lasting experiences.

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