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.
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. 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 that premiered on YouTube on May 13, 2021.
Why Danielle Shines: A single mother and a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in the local hospital, Danielle has had to work through some extremely difficult circumstances, especially during this pandemic. CNAs already do the herculean efforts of keeping medical facilities operating, but while working full-time, Danielle was also a full-time student in Berkshire’s Practical Nursing program.
Academic Profile: Major in Practical Nursing, LPN
Future Plans: Join the BCC LPN-ADN Bridge program and gain her ADN from BCC; Practice nursing in the Berkshires, where nurses are in high demand.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Danielle chose to recognize Amanda Davis, Adjunct Faculty of Nursing. “I would like to name Amanda Davis as my mentor as she has been my clinical instructor for two semesters and is well aware of my leadership skills, clinical skills, academic excellence, as well as having the chance to converse with her on a personal level regarding struggles with home and family life.”
Why Magielette Shines: Magielette balance many roles with grace and dedication, be it as a student leader, wife, mother, or tireless volunteer. On campus, her leadership roles include: President of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Vice President of the Commonwealth Honors Program Club, and Academic Chair of Bristol's Student Senate. She also served as a leading volunteer with Bristol’s Mobile Food Market, in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, helping to ensure the safety and efficiency of anti-hunger efforts throughout the pandemic.
Academic Profile: Honors student; Associate in Arts in Business Administration Transfer
Future Plans: Transfer to Bryant University to pursue a degree in human resource management.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Magielette chose to recognize Jennifer Dekkers, Academic Coordinator for the Lash Center for Teaching and Learning. “Jennifer Dekkers' enthusiasm helped me to connect with her for guidance and encouragement. She is always willing to discuss viable solutions to challenges that arise, ensuring that I remain on the path to success. Jennifer’s passion for higher education is evident in how she enriches the lives of Bristol’s students.”
Why Jadirah Shines: Jadirah has been a campus and community leader at a variety of levels, including as a parent member of the Boston Latin Academy School Site Council. As a board member for Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Jadirah distributed care packages to community members affected by the pandemic. She was also involved with The Maine State Prisoner Advocacy Coalition to support prisoners and families through reform initiatives: “I’ve had the honor of helping this grassroots organization develop an effective governance operating model while building its executive board.”
Academic Profile: Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts; Entrepreneurship Certificate Program
Future Plans: “My current goals are to continue my education at a non-traditional institute that will help me enhance my community organizing skills.... My objective is to continue shining light on underrepresented groups where the equity gaps are the largest.”
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jadirah chose to recognize Anthony Fontes, Professor & Chair of Business Administration. “Without beginning my academic journey in a resource-rich environment like BHCC, I would never have benefited from the support of amazing faculty like Professor Fontes, who helped me discover my passion for helping others.”
Why Lindzie Shines: Serving a Vice President of the Cape Cod Community College Student Government Association, Lindzie led the charge to change Massachusetts State Law to allow for part-time students to serve as Student Trustee at all public colleges and universities in the Commonwealth.
Academic Profile: Associate in Arts in Communications
Future Plans: Further her higher education; Pursue a career in politics in Massachusetts, having become more interested in being a political advocate for those need a voice.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Lindzie chose to recognize Lisa Heller Boragine, Associate Professor of Communication. “Professor Heller Boragine has been immensely supportive of me during my time at 4Cs.”
Why Gray Shines: A dedicated and engaged student senator and orientation leader, Gray collaborated with admissions and orientation staff to develop Ambassadors Peer Provided Support (APPS), a program to increase connection among students and respond to questions as students navigate the new remote learning environment. Subsequently, Gray helped launch a new Slack channel where students can connect and engage outside of remote classrooms. Taking the pandemic's impact in stride, when plans to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of Make-A-Wish Foundation were cancelled, Gray mapped and ran their own 26.2 mile course in their community.
Academic Profile: Major in Liberal Arts
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Gray chose to recognize Christine Jones-Monahan, Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies. “Christine has helped me understand the power of story to build bridges, that in the sharing of experience it is possible to foster pathways of shared experience, connections that break down barriers and push open closet doors.”
Why Alex Shines: As vice president of the Latinx Empowerment Association (LEA Club), Alex the spearheaded a project to create a “Little Free Library” in the Holyoke Flats, one of the poorest sections of the city, to provide books focused on culture and ethnicity to children isolated during the pandemic. The first student at HCC to graduate from the college's Latinx Studies program, Alex helped organize a social media campaign celebrating the Latinx community and developed student-led virtual panel discussions with HCC’s Black Student Alliance and Holyoke’s Wistariahurst Museum during the pandemic.
Academic Profile: Associate in Art in Latinx Studies; Research assistant in the Spanish and Portuguese departments at the UMass Amherst working on a project focused on bilingual language proficiency; Member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
Future Plans: Transfer to the Ethnic and Gender Studies program at Westfield State University.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Alexandra chose to recognize Raúl Gutiérrez, Associate Professor of Latinx Studies and Spanish. “Raul never has a 'no' for his students, in or out of the classroom. He takes time out of his personal life to help students with school work, and he is just an amazing person. He has challenged me academically and personally to better myself and I truly appreciate that.”
Why Brooke Shines: Brooke worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth in the critical care unit as a certified nursing assistant while attending Massasoit Community College to become a registered nurse. She worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, at the bedside of many COVID-positive patients taking their last breaths and helped keep them comfortable. While doing admissions at a substance abuse treatment facility last April, Brooke recognized the unique stresses that the pandemic was causing to those in active recovery, and reached out to the college to share resources for those who may have been struggling.
Academic Profile: Major in Nursing
Future Plans: Earn bachelor’s, then pursue master’s degree in nursing.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Brooke chose to recognize Patricia Willis, Associate Professor of Nursing & Allied Health. “All the instructors at Massasoit walked with us through the unprecedented last year, but Professor Willis in particular was there for me when I was overcoming immense personal adversity. She was a constant reminder of the type of nurse I hope to be. She has not only impacted my life, but the lives of every patient I will care for in the future.”
Why Evan Shines: As Vice President of Student Government Association, Evan helped support students and document their struggles with online learning during the pandemic; planned virtual events to keep students engaged in the campus community; and promoted the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER) to reduce textbook costs. He used his governance and leadership roles to build community, and increase student awareness of resources, including emergency grants, textbooks, scholarships, and mentoring opportunities through career services.
Academic Profile: Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts; Member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society with a 4.0 GPA
Future Plans: Transfer to a four-year college or university; Become a high school history teacher.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Evan chose to recognize Karen Akukwe, Coordinator of Transfer Affairs & Articulation. “In my two years at MassBay, there has not been a person who has made me feel more optimistic about a situation than Karen Akukwe. Through her own commitment to aiding the continuation of my education, she has shown me that regardless of the circumstances, there is always a path forward.”
Why Micaela Shines: Working throughout the pandemic, as a Nurse Assistant at Lowell General Hospital (LGH) and also for her nursing program clinicals, Micaela performed COVID-19 swab tests on MCC’s Bedford campus and administered vaccinations at LGH’s site. She also assisted fellow students throughout the pandemic as Supplemental Instructor and tutor of Pharmacology.
Academic Profile: Major in Nursing
Future Plans: Work as an RN in the immediate future; Return to school for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Earn a Master’s in Nursing Education.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Micaela chose to recognize Carolyn Walsh, Interim Director of Nursing. “Carolyn Walsh holds many titles that include registered nurse, college professor, and nursing department director. After my time at MCC, I would also call her a friend. She is a passionate educator who is an exceptional representation of what it means to be a nurse. She brings enthusiasm in our lectures, provides continuous support, and incorporates practical life lessons into teaching. It is with her encouragement that I have found success in the classroom and a true admiration for the field of nursing.”
Why Paige Shines: Paige persevered academically despite homelessness and hospitalization with COVID-19. Once recovered, Paige organized Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society members to develop and implement a mask-making project which resulted in the distribution of nearly 500 masks to local non-profits. She also created a virtual learning survival guide to help the college community adjust and succeed in virtual classes. During finals week, Paige spearheaded a virtual wellness yoga relaxation session for fellow students.
Academic Profile: President of Phi Theta Kappa Honors (PTK) Society, President of the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society, a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success Honors Society.
Future Plans: Transfer to UMass Amherst for bachelor’s degree with concentration in human services; Pursue master’s degree in rehabilitative counseling.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Paige chose to recognize Candace Shivers, Associate Professor of Human Services/Sociology. “Candace is awesome and I have had her as a professor the most out of all of my classes. She and I meet weekly right now for one of my classes. She is super caring, knowledgeable, and intelligent. She treats everyone with respect and values all of her students.”
Why Sophia Shines: A leader with a passion for student advocacy, Sophia was the recipient of the National Newman Civic Fellow Award. She led the creation of a comprehensive Get Out the Vote plan to help register more students, faculty, and staff to vote for the 2020 Presidential election, despite the pandemic. Sophia also participated in legislative advocacy to expand the Open Educational Resources (OER) program to replace costly textbooks.
Academic Profile: Major in Liberal Arts - English Language pathway
Future Plans: Transfer to UMass Lowell and pursue a bachelor’s degree in English.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Sophia chose to recognize Jessica Burt, Associate Professor of History. “Professor Burt is the type of person who will always lend a helping hand. As my professor, an Environmental Club advisor, and a member of the Sustainability Committee, she taught me the importance of advocating for our planet and working with others towards a better world.”
Why Yashana Shines: Yashana is deeply engaged with her community in Lawrence, crossing cultural and linguistic barriers as she worked with new immigrants and cared for English-language learners. With an interest in public education as well as public health, Yashana served in AmeriCorps, providing 800+ K-6 students with social/emotional learning opportunities, promoting health through positive play. Throughout the pandemic, she has worked part-time as a medical assistant providing rapid COVID testing; volunteered with The Movement Family, an organization helping the homeless by delivering meals and COVID care packages; and volunteered with the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center’s (GLFHC) vaccine roll-out.
Academic Profile: Major in Nursing; Dean’s list every semester
Future Plans: Pass nursing boards; Earn master’s degree; Become a family nurse practitioner.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Yashana chose to recognize Brienna Woodworth, Nursing Faculty.“Brienna has served as a support system and mentor to me. Her office hours were a safe space to get help with academics and so much more. She encourages student creativity, allowing us to shine in ways that go beyond exam scores. I am grateful that Brie has seen my potential, encouraged me and created an environment that has allowed me to thrive.”
Why Fatima Shines: With the belief that her actions can make a difference in someone's life, and a commitment to caring for and supporting her community, Fatima played an essential role with QCC’s COVID-19 health team, assisting with student surveillance testing during the Spring 2021 semester, working multiple volunteer shifts each week, and acting as mentor and advisor to new volunteers.
Academic Profile: Major in Liberal Arts, pursuing studies in dental hygiene; Member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
Future Plans: Entering Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) in fall 2021 with a $10,000 merit scholarship from MCPHS for the entire 16 consecutive months of the program; Complete a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene; Pursue a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Fatima chose to recognize Cheryl Finn, Surveillance Testing Site Coordinator. “Cheryl Finn has been an amazing mentor and can't say enough about her. Cheryl always made sure that I was learning something new, keep me and the others safe, and guiding me in the right direction. Because of Cheryl, I felt comfortable to come to the testing site knowing I was safe, welcomed and someone who gives me positive attitude. I learned so much from her.”
Why Georgina Shines: While juggling classes and motherhood, Georgiana worked fulltime for a non-profit, helping connect people with mental health resources. She also volunteered with a non-profit delivering gift cards to people impacted by food insecurity due to COVID-19.
Academic Profile: Major in Health Careers; Member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society with a 3.92 GPA
Future Plans: Transfer to UMass Boston to pursue oncology or cancer research.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Georgina chose to recognize Jeffrey Breitenfeldt, Associate Professor of English. “When asked to select a mentor, Georgina immediately mentioned Professor Breitenfeldt without hesitation, citing all the help he's given her working on English assignments as a huge inspiration.”
Why Heide Shines: Aside from her 20 years with Red Cross, Heide has also been a tireless volunteer for Revitalize CDC (housing rehabilitation), Wreaths Across America, Springfield Rescue Mission, and Beacon Hospice. Dedicated to her community in myriad ways, the range of Heide's commitments include working as a sales manager and a realtor, contributing to campus as a member of student government, as well as being a mother and grandmother.
Academic Profile: Major in Liberal Studies; Graduating summa cum laude (4.0 GPA)
Future Plans: Heide will continue to help the residents of Massachusetts locate employment and housing through her work in staffing and real estate. She plans to possibly continue her education within the field of neurology studies and addiction, while collaborating with a group working on technology to prevent accidental overdose.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Heide chose to recognize Elisabeth Cantor, Adjunct Faculty and Academic Counselor. “I had encouragement and belief where there wasn’t before. [She was] a crucial part to my achievements, and let’s not forget [her] teaching skills! [She’s] the best. I speak highly of [her] always, [a]nd what it has meant to have [her] in my life path.”
Why Melissa Shines: Melissa served as the president of the AfroAm Society student organization during her senior year. Prior to that, she was an Executive board member with a reputation for being a staunch advocate of racial equity and social justice issues. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the fall of 2020 a significant number of Bridgewater's seventeen multicultural organizations struggled and many remained dormant. While challenged, Melissa's leadership never wavered. Melissa made great efforts to regain and maintain the momentum that the group had lost in the spring. Subsequently, the AfroAm Society held forums where students were able to speak out against contentious issues and welcomed the attendance of diverse faculty and staff. A majority of these events worked to promote racial justice, creating community spaces for conversation, education, and support.
Academic Profile: Major in Public Health; Minor in African American Studies
Future Plans: Complete a year with AmeriCorps; Pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health with a concentration on Maternal and Child Health Policy Leadership as “there is a public health emergency amongst communities of color where black mothers are dying at alarming rates during childbirth, and I want to work on changing that in any way that I possibly can.”
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Melissa chose to recognize Sydné Marrow, Director of the Lewis and Gains Center for Inclusion and Equity. “Sydné has provided me with the guidance to lead a multicultural club and the support to continue to do so even during a time of virtual learning.”
Why Crystal Shines: Distinguishing herself as a scholar and leader, Crystal was elected as the student representative to the university’s Board of Trustees, where she worked to amplify student voices in university affairs. As a member of the Black Student Union, she moderated a powerful panel discussion on Black Lives and Blue Lives that included students, staff, and police officers, and helped launch virtual series of “Courageous Conversations” for campus community on themes related to diversity, equity and inclusion. She also lent her voice to the September 2020 Unity Rally on campus to support Black Lives Matter movement. Outside of student leadership activities, Crystal was a member of Fitchburg State’s Moot Court team, earning national honors competing against elite peers from across the country.
Academic Profile: Major in Political Science; Minors in Economics and Criminal Justice
Future Plans: Attend law school to prepare for a career in public interest law.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Crystal chose to recognize Paul Weizer, Professor of Economics, History and Political Science. “At times all one needs is a person to believe in them. A figure who despite the odds, still provides encouragement and support unconditionally. For me, this person is Dr. Paul Weizer, when I couldn’t see the light; he made sure to steer me away from darkness.”
Why Sashell Shines: Making the most of all the opportunities available to her, Sashell served three years as an Orientation Leader, performed volunteer service work through the Alternative Spring Break Program in 2018 and 2019, and interned with the University’s Pathways Program, which provides financial support to students who take on internships that would otherwise be unpaid. As an intern, she performed critical outreach to fellow students and faculty, and was credited with helping a dozen students get paid for their remote internships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Academic Profile: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; Minor in Political Science; Member of the Psi Chi National Honor Society
Future Plans: Framingham State University’s Master of Human Resources program.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ann Sashell chose to recognize Jen Lin, Associate Professor of Psychology. “Professor Lin wrote my recommendation for graduate school and has been a great resource for me. She is so knowledgeable and is always advocating for equity and equality. I love that she is vocal about social justice issues. She is not afraid to talk about issues that are really important.”
Why Ja’Hari Shines: Ja'Hari is passionate community-builder, engaged leader. As the President for the Black Artists Union. At MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP) helped plan, curate, and install exhibitions in community spaces showcasing the work of local artists. Member of the community-based panel to select artist awards for the inaugural Radical Imagination for Racial Justice (RIRJ) grants for BIPOC artists and creatives in Boston, a collaboration between MassArt’s CACP + Artward Bound program, in partnership with the City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. Chosen as one of the inaugural student leaders of JET (Justice, Equity, and Transformation) Office at MassArt.
Academic Profile: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interrelated Media
Future Plans: Learning and Community Engagement intern at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ja'Hari chose to recognize Elena White, Associate Director of the Center for Art and Community Partnerships. “Elena knows that I am a student, a leader, an artist, a sister, a daughter, a nanny and so much more. Since my first year of undergrad she has welcomed all of who I am into the room and has genuinely approached conversations about navigating challenging ideas and spaces.”
Why Shelby Shines: A committed campus leader addressing student food insecurity, Shelby worked collaboratively with MCLA’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement staff and fellow students to maintain student access to MCLA’s food pantry during COVID-19 pandemic. Part of this effort included the development of an online-pickup service that allowed students to have continued access to food, with orders organized and filled by student volunteers. Shelby also led the initiative to continue helping students who had returned to their hometowns when the campus closed early due to the pandemic, having volunteers research and find resources across the Commonwealth and the Northeast, and relay that information to students in need.
Academic Profile: Major in History
Future Plans: Pursue a career in publishing, with an special interest in digital access to publications.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Shelby chose to recognize Spencer Moser, Director of Civic and Community Engagement. “Someone who has made a massive impact on me during my time at MCLA has been Spencer Moser. He has been incredibly supportive of my ideas and opinions, and he always made it clear that my voice was being heard. I’m incredibly thankful to call him a mentor.”
Why Dominic Shines: As Regimental Commander and highest-ranking cadet at the Academy, Dominic oversees management, leadership training, morale, and discipline of more than 1500 cadets. Dominic has been a crucial member of the Cadet Leadership team throughout this pandemic, prioritizing the safety of cadets, faculty, staff, and by extension, the families of them all as the Academy orchestrated a multitude of education modalities and health and safety protocols.
Academic Profile: Major in Energy Systems Engineering
Future Plans: Hired as an Associate Supervisor of Electrical Distribution at National Grid.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Dominic chose to recognize Edward Rozak, Vice President of Student Services. “Captain Ed Rozak has been a fantastic mentor to me as we’ve led Mass. Maritime cadets through COVID-19. Working together every day, I am appreciative of his constant support, humor, and respect. I’ll forever be looking forward to “Positive Fridays” and I hope he does the same. Thank you, Sir!.”
Why Neal Shines: A Navy submarine veteran of 9 years, Neal assisted in implementing a COVID-19 quarantine process for sailors deploying to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In addition to be being a member of of the student veteran organization, Neal also volunteered as an accounting tutor on campus during pandemic-related shutdown, and participated in a federal work study program at the Lowell Vet Center that helped Massachusetts vets obtain individual and group therapy for combat-related PTSD and military sexual trauma.
Academic Profile: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Accounting) from Salem State’s Bertolon School of Business; Member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.
Future Plans: Begin his Master’s in Accounting at Salem State University this summer.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Neal chose to recognize Lisa Chen, Associate Professor, Department of Accounting and Finance. “Professor Chen is more than an educator. She’s a mentor to all students that she interacts with. If there is an additional opportunity for a student to further themselves, it is guaranteed that Professor Chen will encourage them. Professor Chen represents hard work, inclusion of all students and intrinsic motivation. Thanks for all you do, professor!”
Why Fiona Shines: Committed to helping others, Fiona has contributed to her campus and community in numerous ways. During the pandemic, Fiona initiated a card drive at Beacon Hospice, where she volunteered as a companionship provider, collecting more than 200 cards to share with patients experiencing isolation due to COVID-19 restrictions. She also proposed and launched a campaign in her hometown of Ludlow to ban non-reusable plastic bags. One of nine Westfield State students to receive a President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership from the school, Fiona's leadership credits include, but are not limited to, being Treasurer of the Social Work Association, participating in the Emerging Leaders Program, and being a member of the steering committee for the Poor People’s Campaign of Western Mass. Fiona has also volunteered at Westfield State’s Common Goods Food Pantry and Arise for Social Justice.
Academic Profile: Bachelor of Social Work; Vice president of Phi Alpha Honor Society for social work.
Future Plans: Accepted a full-time position as a bereavement coordinator at Beacon Hospice; Pursue a Master of Social Work degree from Westfield State University.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Fiona chose to recognize Michelle Rizk-Jarvis, Program Advisor, Learning Disabilities Program. “I always had a desire to make big changes in my community, but for the longest time, I did not have the confidence to speak up on issues I’m passionate about. Michelle Rizk-Jarvis helped me grow in confidence by providing support and encouragement that allowed me to believe in myself.”
Why Hoang Shines: Hoang has been a tireless community volunteer in Worcester at the height of the pandemic. At the Ascension emergency homeless shelter, Hoang prepared food, sorted donations, and spent time playing games and socializing with clients during lockdown. He also volunteered as a vaccinator at numerous sites in Worcester, including WSU, registering, administering the vaccine, and scheduling appointments. As a Presidential Student Ambassador, Hoang helped produce a thank you video for front-line workers and organized another project to provide homeless individuals with hygienic items during the pandemic.
Academic Profile: Major in Biology with Pre-Medical Concentration in the Honors Program; Minors in Chemistry and Psychobiology
Future Plans: Take a gap year to prepare for the medical school entrance exam.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Hoang chose to recognize Julia Demkowicz, Presidential Student Ambassador (PSA) Coordinator. “Julia has been an extraordinary mentor to me. Her guidance and support in the Presidential Student Ambassador (PSA) program at Worcester Stater University have provided me the opportunity to grow as a student and as a leader. My experiences as a PSA have opened my mind to new things that I have not previously considered. The program allowed me to develop professional skills and form meaningful connections with those in the Worcester area. Julia is extremely resourceful and has gone beyond what is required of a mentor, I am grateful for her support and advice in the past two years.”
Why Parker Shines: While serving in the Academic Public Health Volunteer Corps, Parker worked as case investigator for the state’s Contact Tracing Collaborative (CTC) run by Partners in Health, and used the skills he learned there to write interview scripts and coded fields compatible with the Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiological Network. He also recruited, onboarded, and trained over 50 undergraduate contact tracers and graduate team leads through surges and complicated cases. Partker interned at the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, and was also the student ambassador for the Commonwealth Honors College.
Academic Profile: In the 4+1 accelerated B.S/ M.P.H program; Major in Health Policy and Management; Minor in Philosophy
Future Plans: Complete his master's degree in public health and health sciences.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Parker chose to recognize Alexandrina Deschamps, Commonwealth Honors College Associate Dean for Recruitment, Advising and Diversity. “Professor Deschamps embodies firm kindness. My first year as an Emerging Scholar, she empowered my potential and fostered my growth, growing my confidence and capacity to navigate college. She has continually cultivated my leadership abilities through challenging me to explore my ability to connect with others and create community.”
Why Alexis Shines: Alexis was a peer mentor for the College of Science and Mathematics’ Freshman Success Community. She also worked as a home health aide for Visiting Angels, providing care and support to hospice patients and their families, and served as a job coach at the ARC of Greater Plymouth, helping individuals with disabilities become competitive applicants for jobs. Adding to her extraordinary record of service, Alexis ran a music program—through Hingham Active Day—for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s to enhance cognitive skills, stimulate brain activity, enhance motor coordination.
Academic Profile: Honors College student; Major in Biology; Minor in Chemistry; 4.0 GPA; Nominated for the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship for her research identifying novel proteins that slow down the deterioration of photoreceptor cells and novel proteins that serve as tumor suppressors.
Future Plans: Become a physician scientist with a career involving both clinical care and biomedical research.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Alexis chose to recognize Andrew Grosovsky, Professor of Biology. “Dr. Grosovsky is incredibly dedicated and genuinely cares about student success. He makes a point of knowing each student as an individual, offering his endless support and invaluable guidance. He consistently makes helping me succeed a priority. I am so grateful to have him as one of my greatest mentors.”
Why Maggie Shines: Maggie coordinated a campus tour program for 7th graders from Fall River and New Bedford public schools to build student interest in attending college. Both innovative and determined, when the pandemic struck, Maggie kept the program alive by developing modules for virtual online tours that can be delivered by teachers and includes a Q&A with UMass students — the program is now expanding to schools across the South Coast.
Academic Profile: Major in Political Science; Endeavor Scholar
Future Plans: Pursue a career in teaching; Continue education at UMass Dartmouth to earn a master’s in teaching while working as a middle school teacher in either Fall River or New Bedford.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Maggie chose to recognize Gary Marden, Civic Engagement Program Officer for the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement. “Gary Marden has always been a strong supporter of any project I have embarked upon. With him as a mentor, I was able to take risks, grow as a leader, and accomplish things I would never think possible. Coordinating the College Positive Tours with Gary taught me invaluable professional and leadership.”
Why Fiona Shines: Fiona has been a leader in campus work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. As president of the Association of Students of African Origin, she planned annual campus traditions including African Masquerade and Culture Shock. A trained diversity peer educator and student organization peer liaison for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, she is also one of the founders of the Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC).
Academic Profile: Major in Political Science; Minor in Graphic Design; Member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society.
Future Plans: Attend graduate school; Pursue a career in public policy.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Fiona chose to recognize Amy Liss, Senior Associate Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “Amy Liss’ commitment to student success and her genuine interest in supporting students has enriched my time at UMass Lowell. Ever since I met Amy, I knew that I would have someone to encourage, challenge and support me through my personal and professional endeavors. Amy and the OMA staff played an integral role in my development as a leader and I’ll be eternally grateful.”
Why Apurv Shines: Early on in the pandemic, Apurv was recruited to join a task force that was defining criteria for hospitalizing patients with COVID-19. He developed an algorithm to identify eligible patients to receive care in the local COVID-19 field hospital, and coordinated a team of 50 fellow medical students to lead a crowd-sourced effort of data curation that informed the predictive algorithm. He also worked with a team of physicians, case managers, and technology analysts to develop and deploy the algorithm within the electronic medical record over the course of three weeks. The algorithm continues to be used by healthcare providers in making triage decisions.
In December, Apurv was recruited to collaborate on an NIH-supported project to demonstrate the feasibility of at-home COVID-19 testing with a rapid antigen assay. With the support of a multidisciplinary team and a robust industry-academic partnership, he spearheaded the design, implementation, and analysis of the study, recruiting 200 participants in Massachusetts and Illinois.
Academic Profile: MD/PhD in Clinical and Population Health Research, PhD dissertation focused on understanding trends, predictors, and consequences of child undernutrition in India.
Future Plans: As a clinical research faculty at UMass Medical School, will continue to tap a passion for digital health technology to address disparities and overcome access barriers.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Apurv chose to recognize Jeroan Allison, Chair and Professor of the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and Associate Vice Provost for Health Disparities Research. “Dr. Jeroan Allison who has been a significant mentor to me. I have been fortunate to have many excellent mentors but Jeroan has had a transformative impact on the trajectory of my personal and professional life. He has opened innumerable doors for me and has always positioned me to succeed.”