29 Who Shine Award Winners: Community College Students

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Gabriana Noël Brooks, Pittsfield
Berkshire Community College

In Pittsfield, Gabrina serves meals at the First Baptist Church soup kitchen and volunteers weekly at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a nonprofit store and donation center that helps fund Habitat for Humanity building projects. On campus, she is President of the Student Government Association and a peer tutor to ESOL students. After graduating from BCC as a Berkshire Honors Program Scholar, Gabriana plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology or neuroscience with the goal of attending medical school, and practicing medicine in underserved communities.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Gabriana chose to recognize Fayette Reynolds, Professor of Life Sciences. "Professor Reynolds has been an unfailing mentor and advocate. She is approachable, engaging and devoted to helping all students succeed. With her guidance, I have persevered through many challenges. Above all, I thank Professor Reynolds for believing in me, even when I had doubts about myself. Her overwhelming support is truly an inspiration.”

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Christina M. Le, New Bedford
Bristol Community College

When Christina's campus advisor urged her to cut back on civic and campus commitments to focus more on academics, with the goal of earning more scholarships and awards, this student with a respectable 3.1 GPA simply smiled and said, "My volunteer work is a part of who I am." An active member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard and single mother of a three-year-old, Christina serves as Bristol's Student Trustee and also as a member of the Student Senate. She sees herself as a leader for fellow students “who do not have a voice.” Christina will attend Emerson College.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Christina chose to recognize Susan McCourt, Director of the Commonwealth Honors Program and Associate Professor of Mathematics. “Susan has had my back since the only class I took with her. She challenges me and encouraged me to take classes I didn’t want at first but turned out to be great. She is easy to talk to and has always gone above and beyond for me.”

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Yamileth Lopez, Boston
Bunker Hill Community College

Born in Colombia and raised in Venezuela, Yamileth came to Boston at 18 to run her father's convenience store. Eighteen years later, she sold the business and prepared for college through the Bridges to College Program funded by the Department of Higher Education in collaboration with Jewish Vocational Services. In addition to completing three internships at Raytheon, Staples and Liberty Mutual through BHCC's Learn and Earn program, Yamileth has used her skills to help Sociedad Latina, which provides support to Latino youth and families. Active as a Student Trustee and peer mentor, and winner of multiple national and state merit scholarships, this wife and mother graduates from Bunker Hill Communiy College with honors and an associate degree in Business Administration.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Yamileth chose to recognize Anthony D. Fontes, Associate Professor and Chair, Business Department. “Professor Fontes opened my eyes to all the opportunities available at BHCC. He taught me that with hard work and good ethics everything is possible. He’s an example in class and his dedication to his students and to the Entrepreneur Club make him a great mentor.”

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Christina Soltis, Yarmouth
Cape Cod Community College

Christina has worked to reduce food insecurity in her community by leading operation of the campus food pantry and compiling Thanksgiving food baskets for local families three years in a row. This mother of a six-year-old boy also works for the local chapter of the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI) and has interned at the Duffy Health Center, where she remains a fixture for their fundraising gala. Her academic work mirrors her passion of helping others; an honors student graduating with an associate's degree in Human Services, Christina will pursue her bachelor’s degree in social work at Bridgewater State University.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Christina chose to recognize Kate Martin, Professor, Social Sciences and Human Services. “I have been blessed with great professors at CCCC. The first time I met Prof. Kate Martin, I felt she really cared. Her dedication to students, push for us to work harder, and her humor, making the tough projects less daunting, continue to inspire me. She is truly special.”

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Guinevere Arthur Vanhorne, Rowe
Greenfield Community College

Guinevere grew up in Jamaica and never imagined she’d be able to go to college. Now, while working and raising her two daughters, Guinevere has excelled as a student. She serves as President of GCC's chapter of the national academic honor society for community college students, Phi Theta Kappa. She has a stellar record of community engagement, volunteering at a local soup kitchen and at the GCC food pantry, while also leading a fundraising campaign to help a local family get a much-needed wheelchair-accessible van. She will continue her studies at a four-year college and plans to become a physician's assistant.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Guinevere chose to recognize Jay Gump, Faculty, Science. “Jay Gump was so motivating while teaching Anatomy & Physiology that I fell in love with the science of it. He ignited my passion for the sciences and cemented in my mind that I’m on the right path. His every action says 'I believe in you.'”

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Jeffery Scott Anderson-Burgos, Holyoke
Holyoke Community College

Jeffery graduates this spring with a 4.0 GPA and an offer to continue his studies at the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is active in state and local politics, has served as a delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, and fundraised for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Boys and Girls Club. On campus, Jeffery is president of the Student Senate. He organized a cell phone recycling and fundraising project that has expanded into a full-fledged electronics recycling program held each semester in partnership with a local e-cycling company. Jeffery hopes to one day serve the public in elected office.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jeffery chose to recognize Elizabeth Golen, Coordinator/Advisor for Student Activities and the Student Senate. "Elizabeth has often been there with very timely advice and support when I needed it most. She has known when to let me take a chance – and sometimes stumble. She has also known when to rein me in. More than just believing in the student leaders she works with, she forces them to believe in themselves."

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Harvens Beauzile, Avon
Massasoit Community College

Living through the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Harvens saw firsthand the impact of a shortage of surgeons. That experience has fueled Harvens' own desire to continue his education on a pre-med track, and to volunteer with Doctors without Borders while making Massachusetts his permanent home. Harvens graduates from Massasoit with a GPA of 3.92 and a lengthy list of campus and community volunteer experiences, including time spent as a peer tutor, at the campus food pantry, at a Brockton homeless shelter, and at local Red Cross blood drives.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Harvens chose to recognize Kathleen Reid, Director of Student Life. “When I first came to Massasoit Community College I was just learning how to speak English. Ms. Reid was patient and saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. She showed me that I have potential and that I am a leader.”

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Suhaily Penix, Boston
MassBay Community College

Suhaily is one of the strongest students to graduate from the BioTechnology program at MassBay. In her capacity as one of the Department's three "Chief Mentors," she assists in daily operations, with the lab training of new students, and as an ambassador to external audiences. A mother of three, Suhaily has used the position to build interest in the sciences among young Latina women, serving as mentor and role model to students at Margarita Muniz Academy, Boston's first dual language high school. "Through Suhaily's mentorship and efforts," one campus nominator wrote, "Massachusetts will benefit from a formidable future cohort of Latina women and women of color who will pursue careers in STEM fields." She will attend Wellesley College in the fall.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Suhaily chose to recognize Bruce Jackson, Ph.D., Professor of Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science. “Dr. Jackson has not only supported me throughout my entire time at MassBay, but he's helped me to challenge myself in ways I never thought possible. I have a goal to earn my Ph.D. in molecular biology. I know I have the power and ability to achieve that because of the education and support I've received at MassBay.”

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Yerkely Gomez, Lawrence
Middlesex Community College

A native of the Dominican Republic and a resident of Lawrence, Yerkely has shown a great sensitivity to the environmental challenges facing the Merrimack Valley. Through his volunteer work with the Gulf of Maine Institute, he has given time to the Middlesex campus recycling program, Lowell's Earth Days, and other environmental improvement initiatives. He is a member of the Middlesex Paul Sullivan Leadership Institute to help promising student leaders grow as citizens. He plans to continue his education at a four-year university.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Yerkely chose to recognize Willy Ramirez, College Support Transition Specialist and Faculty. “From the very first semester, when I arrived at MCC, Willy has guided me and has been always there mentoring me. He showed me how to get what I want and what I need from the college. He has supported me. For this and more I am recognizing Willy.”

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Cathy May Teague, Winchendon
Mount Wachusett Community College

A mother and stepmother of six who returned to college full-time, Cathy has excelled as an honors student while also making it a priority to help others. She has served as a mentor to her peers through MWCC’s Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program and volunteered for numerous community services and fundraising programs. As president of the Student Government Association, she spearheaded the college’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which served more than 80 families in Central Massachusetts. This spring Cathy was named to Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. She will be recognized as a Civic Scholar at MWCC's commencement and plans a career as a physical therapy assistant.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Cathy chose to recognize Elaine R. Gagne, Adjunct Professor, English, Reading & First Year Experience. “Professor Gagne has given me endless encouragement through personal and academic challenges. She helped me unlock my potential, allowing me to grow not only as a student but to grow into many leadership roles. She also taught me that if my dreams don’t scare me, they are not big enough."

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Sandrine L. Amin, Salem
North Shore Community College

Sandrine came from Cameroon, Africa, in 2012 unsure of her future. At North Shore Community college, she found her purpose, and with the support of a campus mentor, set herself on a path to becoming a pediatrician. Sandrine has attended college full time while also working full-time at a nursing home and helping to raise four younger siblings. She also volunteers for campus activities, including voter registration drives, and tutors students in calculus and biology. Although Sandrine plans to continue her studies in Massachusetts, having received the Foster Furcolo Scholarship to cover most expenses at UMass Boston, she also hopes to return to Cameroon on special medical missions to help the people of her former country.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Sandrine chose to recognize Ina Resnikoff, Academic Counselor, TRIO/Student Support Services. “Ina has been like a mother to me. I was so lost arriving in a new country, not knowing anybody or how things were done here. Meeting Ina set me free. She was so easy to talk to and she has helped and advised me on everything.”

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Justin E. Merced, Lawrence
Northern Essex Community College

After proudly serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, Justin arrived at Northern Essex to pursue education for a career in health care. He quickly emerged as both an honors student and a student leader, serving as Vice President of the Student Senate and helping to rejuvenate the Veteran's Services Club. In 2013 he organized the first Veterans Day luncheon to honor fellow campus vets, an event so successful that it is now held annually. Justin will attend Rutgers University as a biology/premed major In the fall.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Justin chose to recognize Lenny Cavallaro, Adjunct Faculty, English. “Professor Lenny Cavallaro: a stalwart instructor, an ironical wiz, and the person that motivated me early in my academic career to go further than what I thought I was capable of. We've remained in contact for over two years now, and I feel his mentorship has been paramount to my academic success.”

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Micah Devin Klayman, Rutland
Quinsigamond Community College

Micah is known as a "driving force" on the Quinsigamond campus, especially noted for his leadership of the QCC Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. As President he helped the chapter achieve PTK's highest five-star ranking. Micah also led the honor society to commit to raising $81,000 in the next three years to keep Lilly, Worcester Public Library's newest bookmobile, on the road to promote literacy. He has also volunteered many hours at Worcester's Community Harvard Gardens, which produces hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh produce for local residents. Micah will transfer to Worcester State University.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Micah chose to recognize Bonnie A. Coleman, Advisor to the Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter, Enrollment and Student Services. “Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, in which Bonnie is the lead advisor, is what has helped me strive to be a better leader. Bonnie always looks out for students and works for the better of the college. She is a dedicated, thoughtful and tremendous mentor.”

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Jorge Bonilla, Boston
Roxbury Community College

Jorge has made his mark as a student ambassador for Roxbury Community College, representing the campus in community engagements and at special events. He was first elected as a student representative to the Student Government Association, and later chosen by his peers to serve as student trustee on the college’s Board of Trustees. An engineering major, Jorge was selected as the student speaker at the March 2015 announcement of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s $17 million in capital awards to colleges, schools and hospitals throughout greater Boston. He also participated in a roundtable discussion on educational issues with U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

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Ryan Lombardini, Feeding Hills
Springfield Technical Community College

Ryan is an accomplished student and entrepreneur who started his own home audio and security company now serving business clients in Massachusetts and Texas. Ryan's interest and expertise in electrical engineering technologies has companies waiting in line for him to finish his bachelor’s degree so they can hire him. He was featured in a Boston Globe Magazine story on the transformative power of community colleges in Massachusetts, and as a participant in the Department of Higher Education’s Go Public! event series helped inspire high school students in western Massachusetts to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ryan chose to recognize Julian "Skip" Tenczar, Senior Staff Assistant, Engineering Technologies. “Skip Tenczar has been instrumental in guiding me in pursuit of my undergraduate degree. He encouraged me to develop new skills, such as public speaking. His knowledge and teaching style made learning enjoyable. His commitment to my success helped me improve my skill set. His positive comments gave me confidence. Skip’s dedication is an inspiration to me.”