Michelle Burke –Copy Editor
Professor Neil Hatem’s close friends and co-workers refer to him as ‘compassionate and hardworking,’ so it doesn’t come as a surprise that he devotes his entire life to helping others. Professor Hatem has dedicated his 12-year teaching career at Lasell, as well as his personal life, to benefit others.
Every year, Hatem teaches the honors course, “Leading by Doing.” He teaches students his own leadership skills, as well as taking them to Martha’s Vineyard on a service trip to help clean up the island and help the locals. The trip is not only educational, but creates a unique bonding experience that his students will never forget.
Hatem’s strive to lead by a positive example has been instilled in him since he was a child. His lifelong best friend, Anthony Filippone, says the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Hatem is “popular.”
“Everyone loved Neil,” said Filippone, “No matter your race, religion or economic status, Neil was friends with everybody… his popularity was universal.”
Hatem’s popularity was not limited to the student body, either. He is remembered as being respected and admired by the entire community. These characteristics are what Hatem passes on and teaches to his honors program students, who aspire to be leaders.
Hatem’s leadership skills date back to his high school years, where he committed his summers to being a camp counselor. He immediately realized one camper, five-year-old Jake Cohen, needed some extra guidance in life. He continued to counsel him for many years after camp ended.
Cohen reminisced about his childhood, and said his family situation was not ideal and that he had a tough upbringing. He began to often get in trouble, and Hatem wanted to help.
“Neil showed up to my house one day- sporting a Mohawk, against his better judgment- to ask my mom if we could continue ‘kicking it,’” Cohen said. “After my mom was sure Neil wasn’t some sicko, child rapist, she let us start hanging out.”
Cohen remembers his childhood role model as a “rare gem” whom he continues to keep in contact with today.
“Neil doesn’t quit on people, has a good heart, and is one of my dearest friends,” Cohen said, “His greatest contributions to society is his ability to lead by action- not words- and encourage self-confidence in anyone he meets.”
Hatem has brought his leadership qualities with him to his career at Lasell, and was recently given a leadership position as chair of the Math and Science department.
Colleague Emily Alter described her co-worker as helpful and generous. “He wanted to get a coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator for our office so that other faculty members will be drawn to our office, socialize, and feel taken care of,” Alter said. “Neil goes out of his way to communicate with others, and will help anyone with anything.”
Everyone who meets Hatem respects him as a leader. Regardless of how much help Hatem provides, he is modest when asked about his role in the lives of
“I truly believe we all have a calling in life. For some reason, my calling is to teach and help others,” Hatem said, “No matter what situation I’m in, my mind and body just seem to take over and put me in a position to start helping people, or help lead a situation.”
Leading is easy for Hatem, as his personality allows others to listen and trust him. It is no wonder why he is an ideal role model on campus, and plans to be for many years.
“I am not sure why I have been inspired to [lead] others, but I know that at the end of each day, it brings me such pleasure to know that I have helped someone learn something new,” Hatem says, “That makes me feel like I really have accomplished something.”