29 Who Shine Award Winners: Community College Students

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Karla Pauta
Berkshire Community College

Karla Pauta emigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador as a young teenager. This first-generation college student graduates with honors with a degree in liberal arts and a concentration in biological sciences. An admiring Berkshire CC staff member writes, “Karla’s personal experiences of loss, migration, adaptation, struggle and achievement have strengthened her character.” Karla has been an active member of the Student Government Association, a leader in the Multicultural Student Services Organization, and the student representative on the BCC presidential search committee. She plans a career in biotechnology and would ultimately like to become a pediatrician.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Eleanore Velez, Community Outreach Counselor

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Scott M. Pitas
Bristol Community College

Scott Pitas is a Dean’s List engineering student. He maintained a rigorous course load while balancing a family and working part time as a peer tutor and substitute teacher in Attleboro High School’s Career Vocational Technical Education program. Scott also served on the Engineering Industrial Advisory Board at Attleboro High and as an active member of the Bristol CC Engineering Club, where he helped spearhead the Alternative Energy Go Cart Project to spur interest in green technologies and engineering careers. Scott has been accepted to Northeastern University and plans a career in mechanical engineering.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Meghan Abella-Bowen, Director of the SAGE Program

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Leticia Rodrigues do Prado
Bunker Hill Community College

At age 15, Leticia do Prado served as head of her household in Brazil when her mother traveled to the U.S. to find work. Leticia herself worked two jobs while going to school and caring for her younger brother. Two years later, the family was reunited in Malden, Massachusetts. As a dual enrollment student at Malden High, Leticia attended Bunker Hill Community College, where she thrived. Leticia was president of the Brazilian Club, a member of the Women’s Soccer Team, a student government representative to the BHCC College Forum, and vice president of service for Phi Theta Kappa. Based on her 3.84 GPA and leadership skills, she was named a 2012 Coca Cola Silver Scholar. Leticia plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Paul Moda, Coordinator of Student Activities

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Sviatlana Rose
Cape Cod Community College

In nine years, Sviatlana Rose went from knowing one phrase in English to becoming a high honors graduate of Cape Cod Community College. A mother of six, including young twins, she graduates with a 3.96 GPA. Sviatlana has been a highly respected peer tutor in the Tutoring Center and Math Learning Center and an active participant in the Honors Colloquium and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She plans to continue her studies and plans a career as a pediatric radiologist, a choice inspired by the lingering effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in her native Russia.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kate Martin, Professor, Social Sciences and Human Services

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Evelyn Patricia Stankowski
Greenfield Community College

Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Stankowski arrived at GCC at 17 as a dual-enrolled student from the Franklin County Technical School. This honors student will graduate with a 3.96 GPA. Evelyn has been a member of the GCC Business Club and a peer tutor, helping other students with mathematics, business, and science coursework. She completed a business internship at a local school for autism and brought her organizational, marketing and IT skills to GCC’s administrative office. She works a second job at a local barbecue restaurant, where she has been employed since the age of 15. Evelyn will transfer to UMass Amherst to complete her bachelor’s degree in finance/accounting.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kathleen Vranos, Associate Professor and Co-Chair, Business and Information Technology Department

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Camille L. Theriaque
Holyoke Community College

Camille was the first female African-American firefighter in the history of the Holyoke Fire Department. She rose to the rank of lieutenant and retired in 2008 after being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. This mother of three enrolled at HCC with the goal of becoming a counselor and helping emergency responders deal with post-traumatic stress. She graduates with a 3.89 GPA and an associate’s degree in liberal arts. Camille is a member of the HCC Student Senate, vice president of the Psychology Club and co-secretary of the Anthropology-Sociology Club. Off campus, she conducts community CPR and defibrillator training for the American Red Cross. Camille has been accepted to Mount Holyoke College.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jack Mino, Professor of Psychology and Learning Communities Coordinator

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Keith Ledin
Massasoit Community College

Keith Ledin has successfully balanced full-time work, three combat deployments, and college studies over the past several years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and currently serves as an Air Force Tech Sergeant E6 Supervisor Military Police in the Air National Guard. He is also a trooper with the Massachusetts State Police, assigned to a drug and gang violence prevention unit in the Brockton and Taunton areas. Keith has twice received the Air Force Commendation Award, Lifesaver Award, and Achievement Medal. He will pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kerryn Snyder, Coordinator of Academic Resource Center Math Services

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Matthew Edward Richards
MassBay Community College

Matthew Richards served in the U.S. Army from 2003–2006 and was deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Armored Cavalierly Regiment from August 2003 until April 2004. Suffering injuries during his time in combat, Matthew initially struggled to become a full-time student. He honed his academic skills through effort and energy, becoming a member of two honor societies, the Sicilian Club and the Student Government Association. He was instrumental in winning support for a scholarship for needy students. Off campus, Matthew provides care for his elderly grandfather and also volunteers at a local VA hospital. He plans to become a psychiatric social worker to help Massachusetts veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress and other emotional problems.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Patricia Allen, Professor of Critical Thinking and Philosophy

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Joseph Assenza
Middlesex Community College

Former U.S. Marine and Iraq War veteran Joseph Assenza served as this year’s student trustee on the Middlesex Community College Board of Trustees. He was also a leader among student veterans, advising both the Dean’s Office and MCC Veterans Resource Center. While carrying a full course load, Joe also worked part time in the Lowell Campus Student Lounge and had a paid internship in the City of Lowell’s Engineering Division. He played a leadership role in the MCC STEM Club and participated in the highly selective Paul H. Sullivan Leadership Institute. A recipient of two MCC International Education Fellowships, Joe traveled to China and Belize. He also served as the first campus president of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society. Joe aspires to a career in civil engineering.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Pamela Flaherty, Senior Student Affairs Officer/Dean of Students

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Caroline Horvitz
Mount Wachusett Community College

Caroline Horvitz is widely recognized on campus for her wit, intellect, and desire to help others. She served as the student trustee on MWCC’s Board of Trustees and is a member of both the MWCC’s Honors Program and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Born with cerebral palsy and deafness, Caroline is fluent in five sign languages and keenly interested in medieval history, Latin and archival studies. Caroline feels she has no barriers that interfere with her life. A few years ago, while visiting Italy, someone questioned her ability to climb the ruins of Pompeii. She not only did so, she then translated Latin inscriptions for other tourists. Caroline has been accepted to Mount Holyoke College.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Robert E. Ganley, Adjunct Instructor, History/Political Science

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Theon Kenri O’Neill
North Shore Community College

First-generation college student Theon Kenri O’Neill has excelled academically, particularly in calculus and chemistry, while contributing to his community and working long hours to fund his college education. In 2011, he co-founded the non-profit Gloucester Ocean Service and Education Association (GOSEA) to promote ocean conservation. Theon also volunteers regularly at the Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester. In 2009–10, Theon attended a year-long program in Colorado for youth of the Unification Church. While there, he mentored younger teens, worked as a math tutor, and helped assist with Habitat for Humanity projects. Theon is a member of the Philosophy and Math clubs at NSCC. He plans to continue his studies in neuroscience.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Joseph R. Modugno, Jr., Professor, English Department

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Herinell Linares
Northern Essex Community College

Herinell Linares was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the U.S. in 2006. He spoke no English and, as soon as he was eligible, signed up for ESL classes at NECC. He developed a passion for engineering and persevered despite the challenges of higher-level math classes. Herinell has attended college while working full time as a security guard at a Lawrence apartment building and also as a banquet server for the Windham Hotel. Two nights a week, he works the night shift, comes home and sleeps four hours, and then reports to class. Herinell will study electrical engineering at UMass Lowell.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Liliana Brand, Professor, Math Department

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Elizabeth M. Forehand
Quinsigamond Community College

Engineering student Elizabeth M. Forehand is a member of the Massachusetts National Guard and a veteran of the Iraq war. She was deployed to the Al Anbar Province of Iraq in 2009–2010, where she was responsible for the health and wellbeing of 43 soldiers. Liz brought her leadership skills to QCC, where she has been very involved with the campus chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She served as vice president of leadership, chaired the society’s pancake breakfast for tornado victims in the Southbridge/Charlton area and its annual charity cookout. Liz plans to continue her engineering studies at Worcester Polytechnical Institute.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Maureen Ann Woolhouse, Coordinator/Professor of Mathematics

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Renee Michelle Keyes
Roxbury Community College

As a biotechnology/biological science major, Renee Michelle Keyes’ conducted extensive undergraduate research at RCC. Last summer this honors student participated in the Research Experiences for Undergrads (REU) Program at Northeastern University’s Center for High-Rate Nano-Manufacturing. She was a member of RCC’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program and also received the college’s STEM Homeland Security Scholarship. A mother with two young daughters, Renee serves as a mentor to teen mothers in her community. At one point after the birth of her first daughter, then-18-year-old Renee found herself homeless. She lived for a year in a Catholic Charities shelter and has since served as a public advocate for the organization. Renee hopes to further her education and plans a career in biotechnology.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kimberley Stieglitz, Professor, Chemistry and Biotechnology

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Alex Samuel Chaez
Springfield Technical Community College

Alex Samuel Chaez will proudly be the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in computer & IT security. As president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Alex served as an elementary school volunteer and coordinated a clothing drive for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. He also worked in the Dean of Students’ office. He chose to go to college locally in order to remain close to his parents, assisting them both financially and physically. He serves as a personal care assistant to his father, who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Alex plans to continue his IT studies at Western New England University. His eventual goal is to earn a doctorate.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Rose A. Hill, Academic Counselor