Thousands of students will graduate from Massachusetts colleges and universities this month. The students in this gallery have been singled out for the state’s third annual 29 Who Shine awards.
The awards honor students from Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and UMass schools for academic achievement and community service. Among this year’s honorees are many on-campus leaders, a biochemistry major attempting to cure diabetes, many parents, including a father of six, and multiple students who immigrated to America and pursued their dreams.
The 29 Who Shine winners will be honored during a State House ceremony on May 2.
School: Berkshire Community College
Degree: Criminal justice
Ray came to Berkshire Community College after suffering a serious spinal injury at his job. Unable to work, he found himself at a crossroads. A father of six, two of his daughters encouraged him to go back to school. After hearing inspiring stories other adult students at BCC, Ray enrolled and quickly became a role model for his own children and other students. He has served as a Student Government Ambassador and as the elected student representative to the Board of Trustees for two years. Ray is a Criminal Justice major with a 3.7 GPA. This honors student was recently named one of 50 Gold Scholars for the 2013 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team. He will continue his studies at Umass Amherst, and eventually earn his law degree. Next
School: Bristol Community College
Hometown: Fall River
Degree: Liberal arts and sciences—math/science option
Mariano speaks seven languages and is a student of the world, pursuing dreams that began in a small school in Guinea Bissau amid grinding poverty and war. He was forced to immigrate to Cape Verde where he started an organization to insure human rights of his fellow exiles. Arriving in Fall River, Mariano purchased a business franchise to support himself while attending Bristol Community College. He excelled in chemistry and served as a Supplemental Instructor assisting fellow students. Mariano is a Bristol Student Senator and a Student Ambassador, and has been named a Commonwealth Honors Scholar. He is a proud resident of Fall River and a St. Anne’s Hospital community volunteer. Mariano has won a prestigious Jack Cooke Kent Scholarship to continue his education at a four-year college.
Kayla L. Harvey
School: Bridgewater State University
Degree: Political science
Kayla is a political science major and a student in the BSU honors program. She has participated in two alternative break trips focusing on the issues of poverty and homelessness, participated in student government, served as the student representative on the BSU Foundation, and worked as a student employee for the Campus Center. Kayla has received multiple grants to help fund her research projects on immigration and community service. She has also interned for the Washington Center at the Republican National Convention and at Andre House of Arizona, a hospitality center for the homeless in Phoenix. After graduation, Kayla plans to pursue her master’s degree in higher education and student affairs. Next
School: Bunker Hill Community College
Degree: General studies
Valter arrived at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) with a strong interest in sustainability and a passion for entrepreneurship. This business major and honors student became Co-President of the BHCC Sustainability Club and spearheaded a campaign called “Rethink the Way You Drink,” which resulted in the installation of a water hydration system at the College’s Charlestown Campus. The initiative was presented at two Boston area environmental conferences.
The first in his family to graduate from college, Valter now helps others as a BHCC student mentor. He also returns to East Boston High School each year to speak with students about how to avoid gang life and overcome educational barriers.
Charlotte Levesque Jones
School: Cape Cod Community College
Hometown: West Yarmouth
Degree: A.S., nursing
In 2012 Charlotte earned an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with honors as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar. Just one year later she has earned her A.S. degree in Nursing, also with honors. At Cape Cod Community College, Charlotte served as a Presidential Student Ambassador helping incoming students transition to college life. A first generation college student and alumna of CCCC’s Advantage/TRIO Program, she has also worked as a Peer Tutor assisting TRIO students in writing, social science, and nursing courses.
Charlotte’s professional goals include earning her BSN in nursing and pursuing a career as a public health nurse practitioner and nurse educator. She credits her children with motivating her: “I would like to show them that anything is possible.
Matthew William Costello
School: Fitchburg State University
Degree: Political science and interdisciplinary studies
Matthew’s academic accomplishments have brought national recognition to Fitchburg State University, while his spirit of civic engagement has helped strengthen the bonds between the university and the city in which it resides.
A five-time Dean’s List honoree, Matthew took his written and rhetorical skills to the nationwide stage in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association national tournament. He competed with distinction against much larger institutions, winning brief-writing awards in his final two years of competition.
On campus, Costello was elected president of his freshman class, served as student representative to the university’s board of trustees for two years, and was elected president of the Student Government Association.
Matthew will earn a bachelor of science in political science and interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in pre-law.
School: Framingham State University
Degree: Biochemistry, ACS certified track
Framingham State University senior Corey Ciullo is a Biochemistry major with a current GPA of 3.96.
Corey has financially supported himself during his four years at Framingham State by working long hours as a pharmacy technician and as a chemistry and physics tutor in the Center for Academic Support and Advising. He has conducted research at the Abbott Bioresearch Center in Worcester on projects related to Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and with his FSU faculty mentor to determine whether polyphenolic compounds can decrease the amount of glucose in the blood for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
Corey has volunteered at the Rhode Island Hospital Dietetics Department and at Ginny’s Food Pantry in Leominster, MA. He will enter the PhD program in biochemistry at Clark University.
Andrew M. Curran
School: Greenfield Community College
Degree: Associate degree in Arts/liberal arts
Andrew discovered the power of film to advance the cause of social justice at age 13 when he worked at a video store in his hometown of Concord. At Greenfield Community College, he was able to pursue this interest in both academic and community settings. Andrew played a lead role in a sociology class based on the international Inside-Out program, which brings college students into prisons to study alongside incarcerated students. As President of the Peace, Justice and Environmental Action Alliance, Andrew helped facilitate a themed film and discussion series on environmental issues. He was also a leader and founder of the GCC Film Society.
Andrew’s experience with film, courses, and community engagement has led to a strong interest in public policy. He graduated from GCC in December and is finishing his first semester at Amherst College.
School: Holyoke Community College
Hometown: Feeding Hills (Agawam)
Degree: Associate degree, Liberal arts and science
Holyoke Community College’s Nicole Ouimette is a talented community organizer who founded HCC’s SAAVE club (Students for Affordable, Accessible and Valuable Education). She organized two campus speak-outs on student loan debt.
As President of the executive board of PHENOM (the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts) Nicole helped organize the March 5th Student Advocacy Day, which drew hundreds of students to the State House to lobby for affordable, high quality public higher education. Nicole was a featured speaker during the morning rally with Governor Deval Patrick.
Nicole’s anthropological research on student engagement was selected for publication in Student Anthropologist, an online, peer-reviewed journal. A peer mentor and guest lecturer in her former classes, this liberal arts major will attend Westfield State University to pursue gender and ethnic studies.
Lauren Anne DeNapoli
School: Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Degree: B.S., Marine transportation
Lauren is a Marine Transportation major who has been named to the Academic Dean’s List for three consecutive years. As Captain of MMA’s Women’s Crew Team she was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for four years. Lauren was also the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Commandant’s Award for superior performance and exceptional contributions toward the Regiment of Cadets.
As a junior, Lauren was awarded the position of Squad Leader, responsible for the supervision of approximately 50 freshmen cadets. As a senior, she was named the Regiment’s Training & Retention Cadet Officer, responsible for regulating the academic status and overall morale of the Regiment’s 1200 students.
Lauren is also a dedicated volunteer, having worked with the Department of Children & Families, Homes for Troops and Wounded Warrior Project. Her immediate career goal is to sail as a Mate on her United States Coast Guard Third Mate license and to keep upgrading her licenses in the coming years. She eventually hopes to earn a business degree to work within the shipping industry.
Emma Corrine Cantrell
School: Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Degree: Art education
Emma has put her passion for community engagement into practice through work with MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP). This Art Education major has been a Community Leadership Team member, coordinating design projects, installing artworks with CACP’s Community Exhibitions Initiative, and participating in CACP’s Community Based Leadership Trainings.
Emma has spearheaded collaboration between CACP, Gallery Education, and the Senior Center at ABCD Parker Hill Fenway, a community-based organization. She helped create curriculum and implement programming to reach a low-income audience with limited access to the arts.
As a Gallery Education Intern in the Bakalar and Paine galleries, Emma has skillfully assisted in developing curriculum and facilitating gallery experiences for Boston students in grades 4-12. She plans to apply for a position as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
Jochebed E. Miller
School: Massasoit Community College
Degree: Criminal justice transfer
As a non-traditional criminal justice student, Jochebed worked hard to make the Dean’s list each semester. Active on campus, this honors student participated in the Massasoit Criminal Justice Conference and served as editor and photographer for the Student Voice campus newspaper. Her record of leadership and community service includes being Phi Theta Kappa Vice President (Canton campus), student senator, presidential student ambassador, and coordinator of the Walk for Heat and Hunger event which gave food, clothing, and monetary donations to Canton families in need.
Jochebed will continue her education; she hopes to earn a Ph.D. and return to Massasoit as a Professor in the Public Service Social Science department. She also wants to participate in efforts to reform the Massachusetts juvenile justice system.
Victoria Lynn Woodard
School: MassBay Community College
Degree: Associate degree in Liberal arts: Human services
Vicki has served on some of the College’s most important committees, including the MassBay Foundation Board and the 2012 Presidential Search Committee. She was an elected member of the Student Government Association and an active member of the Domestic Violence Coalition and the Human Services Club. Vicki was named to the Silver Key Honor Society in recognition of her service to MassBay. She won the college’s Student Leadership Award in 2012.
Off campus, Vicki has served as a volunteer board member for numerous organizations including the Women’s Alliance, Haymarket People’s Fund, and the Boston Foundation. At the State House she has advocated for welfare reform and eradicating homelessness.
Vicki intends to pursue Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Human Services at Framingham State University. Her ultimate goal is to open a Recovery House for Women in Framingham.
School: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice
Doris Behanzin has been a compassionate, effective mentor for youth in the communities near the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) campus. As an AmeriCorps Student Leaders in Service Scholar, Doris served at both the Youth Alive Program and the Rite of Passage Program in Pittsfield, providing support, mentoring and leadership development for young women.
Doris also worked at Mohawk Forest in North Adams, a low income housing community where she provided development activities for youth. She also inspired local youth to stay in school and attend college through her work with the MCLA Pathways Program.
Most recently, Doris was awarded the Lift Evr’y Voice Scholarship, allowing her to travel with Semester at Sea, a global study abroad program. She plans to volunteer with AmeriCorps before graduate school, and hopes to one day work in humanitarian law.
Gabrielle R. Davis
School: Middlesex Community College
In addition to Gabrielle’s own academic achievements, this Humanities major, honors student and mother of three has made considerable effort to help her fellow students improve their writing capabilities. Gabrielle’s record of civic engagement at the college is exemplary; she is MCC’s student trustee and has participated in the Women’s Leadership Network, Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, and Student Government. She will enter UMass Lowell’s Peace and Conflict Studies program in the fall.
Christine L. Eck
School: Mount Wachusett Community College
Degree: Human services
With three children, volunteer commitments, a full academic course load and a spring internship working with special needs students, Christine Eck is recognized as a champion of Mount Wachusett Community College and public higher education.
Two years ago she enrolled at The Mount despite initial apprehensions about attending college as a non-traditional student. She is the first woman in her family to attend college. With her encouragement, her oldest son is attending MWCC, and another son will enroll next fall.
Christine serves as Student Trustee on MWCC’s Board of Trustees and as a representative on the statewide Student Advisory Council. This honors student has lobbied Congress and Massachusetts legislators for better funding of public higher education. Christine plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a career as an applied behavior analyst and continue volunteering in the human services field.
Nicholas Anthony Lovasco
School: North Shore Community College
Degree: Liberal arts
Liberal Studies major Nicholas Lovasco has excelled in a demanding Honors Program at North Shore Community College with a near-perfect grade point average. He is a strong writer whose poetry and essays have appeared in the college’s literary magazine, Spark.
Nick was elected President of NSCC’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Trustee on the college’s Board of Trustees. He was awarded the Senator Frederick E. Berry scholarship, which he parlayed into a summer internship with Senate Majority Leader Frederick Berry. His work earned him a second internship in Governor Patrick’s Office of Community Affairs.
Nick has been chosen as North Shore’s Student Commencement Speaker. Following graduation, he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at Salem State University.
Mark Patrick Hargreaves
School: Northern Essex Community College
Degree: Computer and information science, Information technology
When Mark was laid off from his job at a forklift company, he decided it was time to pursue his dream of obtaining a college education.
Entering Northern Essex Community College 15 years after graduating from high school, he excelled in his studies while also serving as a supplemental instructor, tutor, and study session leader for students enrolled in computer science courses.
Mark plans to transfer to a 4-year college or university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science part time while working full time as an information technology or networking administrator. His first child is due in October. A budding entrepreneur, Mark hopes to develop a networking business and holds patents for computer inventions that he would like to market.
Charles Whitfield Bleakney, IV
School: Quinsigamond Community College
As Vice President of Scholarship in the Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Chad has held regular workshops for Honor Society members to teach them about scholarship opportunities. Chad also chaired the extremely successful Honors in Action project, called One Small Step, One Giant Leap: Completion and Science, Math and Technology. Chad led this event to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education in which dozens of elementary school girls decorated, packed and launched their own rockets.
An active member of QCC’s Engineering Club, Chad is headed to Worcester Polytechnic Institute as an aspiring automotive engineer.
School: Roxbury Community College
Degree: Associate of Art in Biological science
Share-Leigh, a scientist and poet, graduates with a 3.98 GPA from Roxbury Community College. This Trinidadian native has served as President of the Science Club, President of the Garden Club, Secretary of the Pizza and Politics Club, Student Representative of the Student Government Association, and a member of the Honors Club.
A Biological Science major, Share-Leigh won first place in the 2013 Ruth and William Silen, M.D. Awards for her scientific poster presentation entitled Reclassification of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to Increase Treatment Efficacy. Share-Leigh also works as a student intern at the Massachusetts Biologics Laboratory in Mattapan.
Share-Leigh plans to earn a Bachelor’s degree and then enroll in medical school. She wants to earn both a medical degree and a Ph.D. in Bio-Medical Research.
School: Salem State University
Degree: Master’s in Social work
Anthony Pira is a 43 year-old career-changer who found his way to social work after 11 years as a professional photographer. His interest in helping others and in social justice led him to found “”Invisible Faces”” as a way to draw attention to, and work to end, youth homelessness in Massachusetts.
Anthony has used his photography skills to a mount massive outdoor exhibit of homeless young people in Harvard Square, in the process engendering dialogue and bringing the issue to the attention of legislators, the public and grant-writing institutions. A social work major, Anthony hopes to secure a development position within a non-profit organization.
School: Springfield Technical Community College
Degree: Business administration/marketing
At 23, Edilena left her native Brazil to complete an English language course in Florida. Moving to Massachusetts, she enrolled at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), first in the ESL program and then in the Business Administration program with a concentration in Marketing. A successful entrepreneur, Edilena opened LS Cleaning Service, a residential and commercial cleaning service with 10 full-time employees and 3 part-time employees. She will soon hire 10 additional 10 employees.
While at STCC, Edilena founded a non-profit organization called “”Brasileirinhos”” to offer free classes, legal assistance, and counseling to Portuguese-speaking families. She plans to earn a Bachelor’s degree at Western New England University and continue on for an MBA. She is the recipient of a regional Grinspoon Spirit Award for entrepreneurship.
School: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Hometown: East Sandwich
Degree: Public health, Business management (double major)
Caroline graduates from UMass Amherst with a 4.0 GPA and a double major in Public Health and Business Management. This honors student and track and field athlete has shown a dedication to her campus and surrounding community ever since arriving on campus. As a UMass Peer Mentor, Caroline provided crucial academic support to incoming freshmen. As an Honors College Peer Ambassador, she met with Massachusetts high school students to acquaint them with the College’s programs and opportunities.
For two years, Caroline has interned at CommunicateHealth, a health communication and literacy firm in Northampton, MA. She was part of a team that created the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s new universal disaster communications tool for people with limited English skills. Caroline will take a job with CommunicateHealth upon graduation.
Alyssa L. Trinidad
School: University of Massachusetts Boston
Degree: Management, accounting
Alyssa L. Trinidad is a Management major (Accounting concentration) who will graduate from UMass Boston with a 3.9 GPA.
A recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship, Alyssa has been on the Honor’s Program Director’s List and Dean’s List every semester, and is a member of both the Golden Key International Honor Society and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. She mentors new students at the Beacon Beginnings Orientation, serves as a College of Management Peer Leader, as an officer for the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, and as a College of Management Ambassador.
Alyssa has also volunteered for numerous non-profit organizations including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where she uses her accounting skills to help manage donations and fiscal records. Alyssa will spend a third summer interning at the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche and then enter Boston College, with the aid of a Dean’s Scholarship, to continue her accounting studies.
Lauren E. Underwood
School: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Degree: Civil Engineering
Lauren is a Civil Engineering major and an active member of the UMass Dartmouth community. She is the Lead Ambassador in the Admissions Office, one of the first faces prospective students and families see. She also coordinates the efforts of other student Ambassadors.
Within the Engineering College, Lauren is the student representative on the Civil Engineering Committee and the Undergraduate Engineering Student Council. She is also Secretary of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Chairperson of the NE Regional Concrete Canoe Competition, and a member of Engineers Without Borders.
Lauren is a member of the UMass Dartmouth Wind Ensemble, trip leader in the Outdoor Club and a volunteer at the Worker’s Education Program in New Bedford. Upon graduation she will work as a civil engineer at North Star Industries in Methuen.
Vladimir L. Saldana
School: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Degree: Business administration with a concentration in finance, Spanish
Vladimir Saldana moved to Lowell from the Dominican Republic at age 10. Learning English quickly, he discovered a passion for business in high school that propelled him to become the first person in his family to pursue a college education.
Vladimir earned an Associate’s degree in business administration at Middlesex Community College, and then enrolled at UMass Lowell where he distinguished himself as a resident adviser, academic success chair of the campus organization Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success (M.A.L.E.S.) and as a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.
Vladimir has interned with the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, an initiative that fosters regional entrepreneurship and leadership, and studied international business at the University of Barcelona. He has worked at the Northern Massachusetts Telephone Workers Community Credit Union for four years. He will continue his education in the field of business or law, with the goal of a career combining his love of business and community service.
School: University of Massachusetts Medical School
Degree: Master of science in nursing, Family nurse practitioner track
With a bachelor’s degree from Smith College, a master’s in public health from Tulane University, and a Peace Corps stint in the Philippines already under her belt, Meredith Walsh, MPH, RN, spent four years in Thailand on the Burma border, working in and out of refugee camps where she conducted health assessments for the American Refugee Committee and implemented reproductive and child health projects with the Mae Tao Clinic and the Burma Medical Association.
Realizing that clinical skills would enable her to do more for displaced, traumatized refugees, she enrolled in UMass Medical School’s Graduate School of Nursing, entering through the Graduate Entry Pathway program to complete her Master of Science in Nursing. Meredith cofounded the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project (WRAP) to support the city’s growing community of refugees from Burma. Her volunteer activities have been supported by multiple awards, including a prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship for individuals who show potential as “leaders in service.”
After graduation, Walsh will begin employment as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester.”
Jaime A. Jaquez
School: Westfield State University
Degree: Criminal justice
Jaime Jaquez graduated from Westfield State last December at the age of 20. It took him just two years to earn his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, graduating with a GPA of 3.97. He did so while working 40 hours a week, volunteering as a Springfield Police cadet and supporting a family. He was a recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence for his efforts.
Jaime worked as a math tutor in the Urban Education Program. He was a member of the Westfield State University Honor Program, Criminal Justice Club, and treasurer of the Latino Association for Empowerment (LAFE). Jaime will pursue a graduate degree in Criminal Justice at Westfield State in the fall.
Amber Nicole Connors
School: Worcester State University
Degree: Communication sciences and disorders, Spanish
As one of Worcester State’s most active and passionate student leaders, Amber served as a Senior Peer Advisor in the Academic Success Center and held multiple positions in the Student Affairs Office including Resident Assistant, Student Activities programming Assistant, and Orientation Co-Director. She also worked tirelessly each year on WSU’s Student Government Association Auction for the Homeless, which raises over $25,000 for Worcester area non-profit agencies.
Amber managed campus activities while maintaining a 3.869 GPA and making Dean’s List all four years. She is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society and appears in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
Amber will pursue a Master’s degree in psychology. She hopes to earn a Ph.D. and become a college Dean of Student Affairs.
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