Katy Abel
MA Dept. of Higher Education
(857) 292-1937

For Immediate Release
March 12, 2021

Baker-Polito Administration Honors “29 Who Shine”

Class of ’21 graduates lauded for campus leadership and volunteer efforts during pandemic

Boston, MA - May 12, 2021 – Higher education leaders, students faculty and staff were joined virtually by Governor Charlie Baker at the 10th Annual “29 Who Shine” Ceremony to salute 29 public college and university graduates who engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts in their communities this year while earning their degrees. This year’s “29 Who Shine” awards were presented in a YouTube Live ceremony on Thursday, May 13 at 2 p.m. Each year, these awards are given to one student from each of the Commonwealth’s 29 public campuses, including the 15 community colleges, nine state universities and five campuses of the University of Massachusetts. Students in the Class of 2021 are being recognized for their resilience in the face of pandemic-related challenges and their willingness to pitch in and support COVID-19 relief efforts.

“Ten years from now, the letter grades of the ‘29 Who Shine’ won’t matter. What we will remember is their commitment to their communities in a time of crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our public colleges and universities educate homegrown Massachusetts natives – people who are here to learn, and here to stay. They have shown how much they care about where they come from, how much they care about us, and how much they will contribute to the civic and economic future of our Commonwealth.”

“In an incredibly challenging year for students, these remarkable individuals went above and beyond to demonstrate their character and commitment to their neighbors, peers and communities,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Congratulations to each of this year’s honorees, and we wish 29 of the brightest that the Commonwealth’s public higher educational institutions have to offer all the best in their future endeavors.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic these extraordinary students stepped up to help their fellow citizens in ways they probably never imagined they would do prior to the health crisis. We are thankful for their willingness to help and serve others during this time, and their commitment to make a difference shows they will be successful in their future endeavors,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.

“Whether they were making cards for house-bound seniors or training contact tracers, or organizing campus events to demand racial justice, every one of our students made a difference this year,” said Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos E. Santiago.

Each of the “29 Who Shine” named a faculty or staff mentor who provided guidance and support throughout the student’s years in college. These faculty introduced the student honorees during the virtual awards ceremony. The 29 public college and university campuses in the Commonwealth selected the honorees for the “29 Who Shine” awards based on criteria established by the Department of Higher Education.


This year’s honorees include:

From the 15 Massachusetts Community Colleges

Danielle Harriott
Berkshire Community College

Magielette Hudson
Bristol Community College

Jadirah Josefina Ortiz
Bunker Hill Community College

Lindzie White
Cape Cod Community College

Gray Davidson Carroll
Greenfield Community College

Alexandra Santiago
Holyoke Community College

Brooke Marie Myers
Massasoit Community College

Sean Evan Bogan
MassBay Community College

Micaela M. Rainha
Middlesex Community College

Paige Lynn Landry
Mount Wachusett Community College

Sophia Lorraine Boucher
North Shore Community College

Yashana Leigh Rivera
Northern Essex Community College

Fatima Jassim Mohammed
Quinsigamond Community College

Georgina Jones
Roxbury Community College

Heide Blackak
Springfield Technical Community College

From the 9 Massachusetts State Universities

Melissa Adilas
Bridgewater State University

Crystal Aneke
Fitchburg State University

Ann Sashell Thebaud
Framingham State University

Ja'Hari Lexus Ortega
Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Shelby Renee Dempsey
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Dominic James Vaccari
Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Neal Hansen
Salem State University

Fiona Marie O'Sullivan
Westfield State University

Hoang Duc Vo
Worcester State University

From the 5 Campuses of the University of Massachusetts

Parker Sweet
UMass Amherst

Alexis Perry
UMass Boston

Maggie Sullivan
UMass Dartmouth

Fiona Bruce-Baiden
UMass Lowell

Apurv V. Soni
UMass Medical


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