29 Who Shine Award Winners: Community College Students

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Myla Franklin
Berkshire Community College

Myla Franklin of Pittsfield spent 20 years working as a crisis intervention supervisor and administrative director at a residential school. Laid off in 2012, this mother of three enrolled at Berkshire and threw herself into studies , earning a 3.92 GPA while engaging in campus activities and community organizations. She also co-founded “On the Rise,” a mentoring program that assists students in Western Massachusetts and upstate New York. Myla plans to continue her studies at a four-year college.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Myla chose to recognize Deborah Carderella, Administrative Assistant, Humanities Division. “When I started at BCC, after twenty years of being out of school it was difficult. I didn’t think I could do it. Deborah helped me to find my voice. Her ability to help put situations into perspective along with willingness to be ‘real’ with me has helped me succeed.”

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Kevin Newby
Bristol Community College

33 year-old Kevin Newby is a student veteran who excels at public speaking and advocacy. A general studies and paralegal major, he has served as a Bristol Community College Student Ambassador, Kevin has the heart and mind of an entrepreneur. He is currently fostering a plan to develop greenhouse ships—floating organic farms—to help bring fresh produce to the world's hungry.

Whether he is leading in scoring on the BCC men’s basketball team or surviving life challenges—including being homeless for a time—Kevin has persevered and earned Dean's List every semester at BCC. He will continue his studies at UMass Dartmouth.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kevin chose to recognize Joyce Fernandes, Professor, Communication. “Professor Fernandes made public speaking seem effortless. She is a natural teacher. She instills confidence, inside and outside the classroom.”

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Quan Nguyen
Bunker Hill Community College

Quan Nguyen emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 2010 and enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College one year later. The first in his family to attend college, he maintained a GPA of 3.93 while dedicating himself to helping others. He served as a Patient Transport Ambassador at Carney Hospital, in addition to providing translation services for members of Dorchester’s Vietnamese community. A campus leader and student mentor, Quan is a member of the Commonwealth Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa and Student Success/TRIO Program. He has applied to MIT where he hopes to study Chemical Engineering and pursue his dream of finding a cure for liver cancer.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Quan chose to recognize JoDe M. Lavine, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Science and Engineering. “JoDe Lavine helped me overcome my fears and planted seeds that have helped me realize my dreams. Her wealth of knowledge and encouragement helps students find their light at the end of the tunnel. Her support has helped me grow, learn about myself, and my career, and has instilled in me the values behind the art of engineering.”

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Tatsiana Mello
Cape Cod Community College

Thirty-year-old Tatsiana Mello's childhood exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant led her to pursue studies in neuroscience. She has extensive experience as a volunteer, working at a children’s hospital and orphanages in her native Russia, at pediatric outpatient rehabilitation centers in England, and assisting in Boston homeless shelters. She works multiple jobs on the Cape to fund her education while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Now a U.S. citizen, Tatsiana will continue her studies at UMass Amherst.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Tatsiana chose to recognize Kate Martin, Professor, Coordinator of Phi Theta Kappa, Social Sciences and Human Services. “It is my privilege to have Prof. Kate Martin join me in these honors. Her dedication to her students and especially to all of us who are members of Phi Theta Kappa is a true inspiration to me. Her commitment to excellence is shared with us all, as is her humor and positive outlook, even as we all face both academic and life challenges. Prof. Martin, to me, represents all of the incredible professors and staff who have helped me along my journey at Cape Cod Community College. Each has made their own very personal impact on my studies and my life, and it would be truly impossible to select them all, but I would if I could. It is my pleasure to select Prof. Martin both for her own gifts to me, and to represent all those whose gifts have made it possible for me to complete my studies, and look on to further study and work in the world of medicine.”

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Ernest A. Baird
Greenfield Community College

Engineering Sciences student Ernie Bair, 42, returned to college after a long hiatus spent working as a forklift driver and truck loader. Eager to move into a better paying job, he resumed his studies at GCC and discovered that math and science came very easily to him. Since fall 2012 he has put his talents to work on behalf of others, volunteering many hours as a Peer Tutor to help other GCC students develop their math abilities. Ernie graduates this spring with an Associate in Science degree with a concentration in Engineering Science. He will transfer to UMass Amherst to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ernest chose to recognize Ian Winokur, Associate Professor, Math. “I was 39 and very intimidated when I walked into my first class at GCC. The instructor, Ian Winokur, was welcoming and made me feel like I belonged. I had never imagined being able to get a college degree. Ian’s teaching and support changed that. Now, I’m on my way to being a chemical engineer.”

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Steven M. Jones
Holyoke Community College

Steve Jones, 40, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who came to college through HCC’s Fresh Start program. After performing medical and casualty evacuations in Iraq, Steve returned home and began assisting fellow war veterans, opening his home to dozens of homeless vets each Christmas. While working full time as the overnight receiving manager for a wholesale grocer, Steve also maintained a 3.92 GPA. He plans to become a clinical psychologist working with vets who suffer from post-traumatic stress. Following graduation, he will enter the Elms College accelerated weekend bachelor's degree program, which is based on the HCC campus. He hopes to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Steven chose to recognize Cindy MacDonald, Learning Specialist / formerly coordinator of Veterans Services, Office for Students with Disabilities and Deaf Services/formerly New Directions and Veterans Services. “As my advisor, Cindy has been my most encouraging and enthusiastic supporter. She was the first person I met at HCC. She said, 'You veterans, you succeed. You tend to do very well. You've performed under pressure and stress.' It really lifted me up, given that I hadn't been to school in 20 years.”

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Marie Prisca Sanon Glaphyra
Massasoit Community College

Marie Prisca is a high-achieving Liberal Arts Science-Transfer major who maintained a 3.98 GPA while also holding several part-time jobs to fund her education. A native of Haiti who became a U.S. citizen last November, Marie Prisca has been an effective Peer Tutor at Massasoit, encouraging fellow students to become more confident in their ability to do math and science. She was chosen for two science-related internships on campus and was one of 11 students chosen from a field of 500 national applicants to participate in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Boston University. Marie Prisca has received a full scholarship to UMass Boston and will double-major in biochemistry and biotechnology.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Marie Prisca chose to recognize Gilles Bolduc, Professor, Science. “He is open-minded, approachable, and available. He has helped me to discover my strengths and shown me how to make the most of it. Professor has helped me make academic decisions, and has encouraged me to try new opportunities that I thought I would not be able to accomplish. He has helped me believe in myself and to embrace my future career without fear.”

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Geoffrey MacGillivary
MassBay Community College

Geoffrey wants to use his engineering talents to help communities better prepare for the future. His recent design of a flood-gate inspired by the Hurricane Katrina disaster was accepted as an Abstract to the Rhode Island Dam Safety Conference in Providence, RI last fall. An energetic promoter of STEM education, Geoffrey spent last summer as a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Fellow at Olin College of Engineering, exploring levels of STEM interest among Massachusetts high schools students. His findings were shared at the 2013 STEM Summit in Foxboro, MA. He is active in MassBay's Engineering Club and leads research collaboration between students of the Engineering and Biotechnology Departments. This interdisciplinary project entails the design and construction of an unmanned, robotic submersible that will be used to study inaccessible urban waterways of the United States and its territories. Geoffrey will pursue a Mechanical Engineering degree at UMass Lowell next fall.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Geoffrey chose to recognize Marina Bograd, Assistant Professor and Chair, Engineering. “Marina has provided me with guidance through a lot of tough decisions at MassBay. She counseled me when I have thought about throwing in the towel, and was a constant underpin emotionally when I was dealing with the loss of my father. She is a major asset to MassBay and to every fortunate student that has the opportunity to be under her tutelage.”

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Miranda Cashman
Middlesex Community College

Eighteen-year-old Miranda is a talented writer, actress and student scientist who began her studies at Middlesex as a dual enrollment student. She has won numerous awards for creative writing, including a National Silver Medal from Scholastic. Her essay, “The Asian Misrepresentation: How Stereotypes of Asians in the Media Harm America,” was published in Scholastic’s Art & Writing Award anthology, “The Best Teen Writing of 2013.” She currently holds a 4.0 GPA and serves her college community as a Commonwealth Honors Program Student Ambassador and tutor. Mirana has been awarded two MCC Foundation Scholarships and is also a recipient of a 2014 International Education Fellowship to China, a trip she will take this summer. She will transfer to UMass Amherst's Commonwealth Honors College, majoring in geology.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Miranda chose to recognize Joanna DelMonaco, Math Faculty. “Professor Joanna DelMonaco is an outstanding professor, mentor, and friend, who gives students the tools they need to guide themselves and succeed. She rekindled my love of math with her quick wit and understanding, and encouraged me to believe that I could pursue a STEM career despite its difficulties. I owe a lot to Professor DelMonaco.”

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Kathleen Ann Matson
Mount Wachusett Community College

Kathy has spent this past academic year serving as the peer-elected student member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. As a full voting member she has provided a voice for all 300,000 public higher education students. Kathy has been recognized for her academic achievements as a President’s List and Dean’s List honoree. This mother of three is also a tireless community volunteer, logging 400 volunteer hours to various organizations and student groups during this academic year alone. She was awarded Campus Compact’s national 2014 Newman Civic Fellows Award. Kathy plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kathy chose to recognize Gregory Clement, Associate Dean of Students. “Greg Clement has been a constant mentor and friend. From the time that I began at MWCC Greg has always been there encouraging and helping me to attain goals I never thought possible. He has been instrumental in my success as a student leader, continually guiding me to broader horizons.”

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Marven Steeve Pigeot
North Shore Community College

Marven arrived in the U.S. from Haiti as a refugee fleeing the ravages of the 2010 earthquake. At NSCC he has taken part in the Bridges to the STARS (Sciences, Technology & Related Subjects) program and served as STARS Club president. He was elected to the Sigma Alpha Pi National Leadership Society, joined the Math Team, and excelled in a demanding Engineering Science program. He will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at UMass Lowell and hopes use his passion for engineering for "finding solutions to reduce and to prevent natural catastrophes.”

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Marven chose to recognize Nancy Tufo, Academic Counselor and Coordinator, Bridges to the STARS Program, Student Support Services. “With Nancy Tufo’s help, I will graduate in May and transfer to UMASS Lowell next fall. Nancy has known and helped me since the beginning of my enrollment at NSCC with difficulties including financial hindrances. She wrote me recommendations for colleges and NSCC scholarships, which I received three times.”

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Nairoby Altagracia Sanchez
Northern Essex Community College

In her first year at Northern Essex, Nairoby served as vice president of the Student Senate (she’s now president), and president of the college’s chapter of Amnesty International. She also organized fellow students to volunteer with cleanup from Hurricane Sandy in New York. After learning that many NECC students were struggling to afford textbooks, Nairoby started a campus textbook lending library to help students and raise awareness of the issue of textbook affordability. As a result, a college-wide textbook task force was formed, and both the library and financial aid office now have textbook lending libraries for students. She plans to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program in political science.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Nairoby chose to recognize Stephen Russell, Ph.D., Professor of History and Government, Department of Global Studies. “Since attending Northern Essex, Steve Russell has been instrumental in my growth as a person and student. He has been massively supportive in all of my endeavors, and that support is an enormous factor in me being chosen as one of the 29 rising stars.”

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Jodi Theresa Christian
Quinsigamond Community College

Jodi Christian, 42, served in the U.S. Navy and earned the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class as an electrical engineer. She enrolled at Quinsigamond Community College after her honorable discharge and was soon invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, the community college honor society. Jodi persevered as an honors student even after becoming homeless with her two teenage sons. Once she found housing again, she began to “pay it forward” by teaching computer skills to homeless domestic abuse survivors and organizing fellow honors students to volunteer at Worcester’s veterans’ shelter. She has been named to the Psi Beta National Honor Society in Psychology for Community Colleges and to the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team as a Silver Scholar. Accepted at numerous private colleges and public universities, Jodi hopes to pursue a degree in Computer Forensics.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jodi chose to recognize Bonnie A. Coleman, Advisor to the Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter, Enrollment and Student Services. “Bonnie believed in me and never held me back, no matter how outrageous an idea or big a project I presented. Her support of my goals and encouragement is what made me succeed. She has inspired me to seek a career in higher education. I hope to one day be in a position to encourage and inspire students with the same passion that Bonnie gives.”

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Nene Aissatou Diallo
Roxbury Community College

Nene was born in Guinea, West Africa and immigrated to the United States three years ago. She is a high-achieving member of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program to help students of color earn STEM degrees. Nene's LSAMP responsibilities included tutoring students in RCC's Math Clinic. She maintains a 3.87 GPA and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Nene graduates from RCC with a degree in biological science and has been accepted to multiple public and private universities.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Nene chose to recognize Andrella King, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry and Math; Coordinator of LSAMP and Bridges Programs. “Professor King helps people without distinction based on their skin color or religion. She gives me advise and helps me a great deal. I often find myself doing what she does, which is helping people without expecting anything in return. I don't know how to thank her.”

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Trevor S. Eliason
Springfield Technical Community College

Trevor S. Eliason is a dean’s list student in STCC’s Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice program. He is the Student Trustee on the College’s Board of Trustees, and has also served as Vice President of the Student Government Association. He interned in Governor Deval Patrick’s Western Massachusetts Office and also at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. Trevor's dedication to the STCC community includes his role as student liaison to the Facilities Department, where he helped review capital projects and assist in planning recycling outreach, Wi-Fi lounges and a new student gazebo. Trevor will re-enroll at STCC in the fall to finish a second degree in Liberal Arts Transfer before transferring to a four-year college. He then hopes to attend law school.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Trevor chose to recognize Stephen G. Weisner, Professor, Social Sciences. “Professor Weisner's unconditional support of my aspirations gave me the optimism to get involved with the Student Government Association and that's made it a great two years here at Springfield Technical Community College.”