Katy Abel
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
(617) 994-6932 Office
(617) 429-2026 Cell

For Immediate Release
May 13, 2015

5th Annual “29 Who Shine” Awards Kick Off 2015 Commencement Season

Governor Baker, Education Leaders, Media Publishers to Honor Community College, State University & UMass Graduates for Contributions to the Commonwealth

Boston, MA - May 13, 2015 – The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education today announced the Class of 2015 winners of the 29 Who Shine awards, the Commonwealth’s annual ceremony honoring one graduate from each community college, state university and University of Massachusetts campus for their civic contributions to the Commonwealth. Governor Charlie Baker will join education leaders, legislators, faculty, students and families at the ceremony tomorrow, May 14th, at 12 noon at the base of the Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House.

Student profiles, including home towns and head shots, are available here.

Each one of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses selected its own honoree for the 29 Who Shine awards based on criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Students are required to be residents of Massachusetts who have strong academic profiles and a record of civic engagement.

"I want to congratulate all 29 of these outstanding Class of 2015 graduates for the recognition they have received and thank them for their substantial contributions to their local communities," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Each of the 29 Who Shine honorees, in addition to being an accomplished student, is civically engaged in ways that improve the quality of life in Massachusetts.”

“We know that nine of every ten public college and university students remain in Massachusetts one year after graduation, working or pursuing further studies,” noted Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “These awards are a reminder that our public higher education graduates truly are the future citizenry and workforce of the Commonwealth.”

Among this year’s honorees are students who have started local companies (Ryan Lombaradini, electrical engineering major, Springfield Technical Community College),  created programs to boost student interest in science and technology careers (Mikaelle Olivier, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, founder of STEM-in-Action program for middle school students in North Adams) and aided the homeless (Shu Yang, UMass Medical School, created a weekly foot care clinic at Worcester’s largest emergency homeless shelter.) The group of honorees also includes a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a current member of the Massachusetts National Guard, and students who have devoted thousands of hours to volunteering for organizations ranging from Sociedad Latina in Boston to the Department of Children and Families office on Cape Cod.

The May 14th awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House will also be attended by Education Secretary Jim Peyser, UMass chancellors, and state university and community college presidents. The UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band will perform at the ceremony.

Each of the 29 Who Shine has named a faculty or staff mentor who provided guidance and support throughout the student’s years in college. These faculty will be honored at a celebratory luncheon sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, following the awards ceremony.

Again this year, publishers of most daily newspapers across the state have donated full or half-page advertisements to honor the students as a group on May 14. Supporters of the 29 Who Shine Publishers Campaign include The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, GateHouse Media New England, The Springfield Republican, Lowell Sun, Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

More information on the 29 Who Shine Awards is available at