29 Who Shine 2018 Award Winners: Community College Students

Liliana Atanacio, Pittsfield
Berkshire Community College

Liliana is a full-time student who also worked full time while raising two children and earning her associate degree in engineering at BCC. She is a member of Student Government and the STEM Starter Academy, a peer mentor, and a Team Leader of the 1st Hackathon at BCC. She has received outstanding achievement awards from the College in Mathematics and Science. Liliana is affiliated with the American Nuclear Society, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). She also serves as a member of the Community Legal Aid board and leads the Multicultural Students Organization, which encourages diversity and tolerance among students through activities. Liliana manages all of this without access to traditional financial aid, and all the while raising her children and holding down a full-time job. She will continue her studies in science at a four-year college.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Liliana chose to recognize Gary Bradway, Professor of Engineering & Technology. “Professor Gary Bradway has been there since the beginning of my BCC journey. He has been my advisor and my professor during these three years. He is a mentor, a friend, and a role model for hard work as a professional engineer.”

Shiv Kumar Thakur, Fall River
Bristol Community College

Shiv came to the United States from Nepal by himself at 19 years old on a lottery visa. He simultaneously enrolled in the college’s English as a Second Language (ESL) and college-level science and mathematics courses, while supporting himself with two part-time jobs. He is completing his associate degree in engineering science transfer with a 3.94 GPA. During his time at BCC, Shiv has earned academic awards, scholarships, and multiple distinctions. As a supplemental instructor and tutor at BCC, he supports his peers in both mathematics and science. Shiv has also served his community by promoting the value of education and lifelong learning as a student senator, student ambassador, a volunteer with the Greater Boston Mobile Food Market at BCC, vice president of both the Multicultural Club and Asian Student Association, a member of the college’s International Club, and STEM Club. Shiv will pursue studies in chemical engineering.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Shiv chose to recognize Paul Vigeant, Acting Vice President for Workforce Development, Lifelong Learning, Grant Development, and External Affairs. "Vice President Paul Vigeant has always treated me like a member of his own family. His assistance with enrolling in the college, connecting me with academic resources, and giving me positive encouragement to keep going has made a significant impact in my life and academic success."

Mussie Teshome Demisse, Chelsea
Bunker Hill Community College

Mussie came to BHCC in 2016 to study physics and computer science. Originally from Ethiopia, he set a goal to learn enough about technology and sustainable change to address poverty in developing communities. While studying at BHCC, Mussie came to appreciate the resilience of his fellow students, who taught him that pathways out of poverty are needed not only in Africa but also here in the U.S. He has served as New Student Orientation Mentor, President of the Computer Science Exchange Club, Vice President of Academic Affairs on the Student Government Administration, and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Commonwealth Honors Program. Through internships at Microsoft and Common Sensing in Cambridge, Mussie has developed strong connections with start-up and technology-driven organizations in Boston. He graduates with a 4.0 GPA and plans to leverage his professional experience while advancing his academic study in the areas of computer engineering and development studies. His ultimate goal is to develop his own start-up to create solutions for people and communities that do not have access to technology.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Mussie chose to recognize Hariklia M. Delta, Professor, Computer Information Technology. “Delta’s teaching style, along with gummy bear bribes, opened my eyes to a new way of solving problems that I deeply enjoy. She would hold me accountable, by questioning what steps I’m taking and what I’m planning. She has always been present and realistic as I sought advice and guidance.”

Erica Parini, Sandwich
Cape Cod Community College

Erica has been an outstanding student and leader within the very first cohort of Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) students at CCCC. Even while earning her final degree credits in the accelerated program, Erica continued working for Cape Airlines in Hyannis to keep their planes flying, providing vital support to the region’s economy. She also became a Supplemental Instructor/Tutor in the program helping other students with assignments, test prep and hands-on projects in the program’s hangars in Plymouth. Erica has also been a very busy ambassador for the program, speaking to Boy Scouts and other groups and making facility tours of various companies. Upon graduation Erica hopes to continue promoting the industry and the flying economy, as well as her own profession. Her long-term goal is obtaining an Inspection Authorization and becoming an Aviation Accident Investigator.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Erica chose to recognize Robert W. Nelson, Professor of Aviation Maintenance Technology. “He has always pushed me to do more, and better. He’s always upbeat…and fun. With his wealth of knowledge, experience, passion and devotion to teach; his advice, and connections...Bob puts his heart and aviation soul into giving us all the information he can. I wish there were more teachers like him.”

Carrie L. Hale, Northhampton
Greenfield Community College

An adult student returning to college at age 30, Carrie has served as both the student representative to the GCC Board of Trustees as well as a member of the Student Senate, acting as a liaison between the two governing bodies. She is also a member of the presidential search committee, a peer tutor, and an officer in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, all while maintaining a GPA of 3.97. In Carrie’s own words, “In all the things I do, I bring with me this idea of service.” One of her great discoveries at GCC was a love of math. Through study of calculus, she decided on a career in engineering. She plans to transfer to UMass Amherst to earn an engineering degree with a math minor.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Carrie chose to recognize Ian Winokurs, Faculty, Mathematics. “Professor Winokur’s enthusiasm and encouragement have been pivotal in my journey as a student. His classes are set up to encourage collaboration between students to problem solve and to support one another. His class feels not only like a space for learning, but also like a community.”

Matthew Medina, Springfield
Holyoke Community College

Matt enrolled at HCC having already completed the requirements for an associate degree in IT security at another school. He chose HCC for its transfer options to four-year colleges. He will graduate this spring with his associate degree in liberal arts, high honors and a GPA of 3.95. Matt has volunteered with the Children’s Study Home in Springfield, where he was once a resident himself, working as a mentor with adolescent boys, teaching them Tai Chi, meditation and other mindfulness practices. He also works at Homework House, an afterschool program for Holyoke youth. On campus, Matt works as a peer tutor in the Writing Center. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and serves the HCC chapter as vice president of leadership. Potentially the most impactful action Matt has taken is spearheading an effort that would allow HCC students to use their SNAP benefits (EBT cards) to purchase food on campus. Matt plans to study cognitive science and has been accepted at Williams College. He is one of only 47 community college students to be awarded a prestigious Jack Cooke Kent Scholarship this year to continue his studies, selected from an applicant pool of over 2500.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Matthew chose to recognize Donald Hanover, Professor of Philosophy, Arts and Humanities. “Don Hanover is simultaneously the sweetest and most intimidating professor I know. In tough times, he was understanding, yet he pushed me to my limits as a writer and thinker. His diligence, interest in my success and commitment to academic integrity has greatly contributed to my growth as a student.”

Elizabeth Awuor Apiche, Foxboro
Massasoit Community College

Born and raised in Kenya, Elizabeth and her eight siblings were cared for by her oldest brother; it wasn’t until she was five or six years old that she realized she did not have parents. An American couple learned of the family’s plight and paid for Elizabeth to attend school. Upon graduation, they urged her to attend college in the U.S. Enrolled at Massasoit in fall 2016 as a science student on a transfer pathway, Elizabeth has excelled in her classes while committing herself to contributing to the Massasoit community as a whole. She has maintained a 3.95 GPA while taking five, six, or even seven classes per semester. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and tutors for both the Academic Resource Center in writing and the Latch Academic Support Program in mathematics. She is also a member of the intensive STEM Internship Program. Elizabeth has been accepted at Smith College. Her goal is to ultimately earn a doctorate and work as a chemist.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Elizabeth chose to recognize Maria Monteiro, Academic Counselor, Latch Academic Support Program. “Coming from Kenya, not knowing what to expect was challenging. Maria mentored me in my academic pursuits as well as becoming involved on campus. She saw something in me that I did not see in myself: a gifted student with brains and the ability to serve the campus community.”

Isaya Oleporuo, Auburndale
MassBay Community College

Ten years ago, Isaya left his tribe in Tanzania and moved to America, having never attended school. Upon arrival in the U.S., he worked with a tutor to learn how to read English and earn his GED. He registered for classes at MassBay in 2015 and will graduate this May with an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts, having earned a 3.5 GPA. Isaya has made it his life mission to help educate and empower all of the females in his native village in Maasailand as well as share his native culture with his adopted community here in the Commonwealth. A Maasai warrior, he founded and runs the Warriors Organization, speaking at schools, libraries, and other area organizations about the culturally rich and vibrant Maasai culture. The Warrior Organization also helps empower Maasai women to make jewelry to earn a living and to date has raised enough funds to help 40 Maasai girls go to school. Isaya also speaks several languages and is currently learning Spanish. He tells us, “I really want to make a difference, especially with gender equality.” He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a Boston-area university.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Isaya chose to recognize Dr. Deborah K. London, Professor & Chair of Communication Studies. “Professor Deb London really brought me out of my shell to communicate my story and my background to the MassBay community. I was able to educate others about my tribe and my culture. Her class was amazing and I learned so much about how cultures are connected with the society and how they function together with communities.”

Edwin Chamba, Lowell
Middlesex Community College

Edwin has not let his pursuit of a degree in environmental/civil engineering limit his service to others. He is in his fourth semester as a peer tutor in the Writing Center, guiding fellow students from all disciplines through the process of writing. He also assists other students as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader in a Strengths and Materials Engineering class, facilitating weekly study sessions outside of class, and encouraging students to develop strategies that will benefit them in their upcoming courses. Edwin will graduate with a 3.54 GPA. A Lowell resident, he will be transferring to UMass Lowell to complete an environmental engineering degree. He’s interested in beginning his career at a waste water treatment facility which would combine the principles of engineering he has learned with an ability to create positive change on environmental issues facing his local community.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Edwin chose to recognize Lore Porter, Learning Specialist, Academic Center for Enrichment. “She works closely with new tutors and is great at facilitating workshops and trainings. She has introduced me to many opportunities, is always willing to listen and give me advice. Most importantly, she genuinely cares about her tutors’ success and I admire that.”

Kimberly Cook, Gardner
Mount Wachusett Community College

Kimberly, mother of three, has been an active and valuable member of The Mount’s CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents in School) program since December 2014. She is a founding member of and volunteer with the Parent Support Group (PSG), while also serving as a Student Government Association representative, secretary for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and a member of the Sigma Alpha Phi National Leadership Society. She is an active member of the Student Nursing Association currently working on fundraising for food and donations for the Food For Thought Pantry. Kimberly graduates with a nursing degree and will pursue a BSN.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kimberly chose to recognize Ann Reynolds, CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents in School) Advisor, Student Services Division. “Ann Reynolds to me is one of the most genuine and kindest woman I’ve ever met. She has taken me under her wing, providing me with all the means to create a successful career out of my education with 110% encouragement, guidance, and positivity. Ann has a very calm aura about her and I couldn’t have done all this without her help and her program, CCAMPIS. I will forever be grateful. Plus as an added bonus I love her accent. I wish she could have read me my nursing books.”

Egbert Sayers, Lynn
North Shore Community College

Egbert graduates this May with a Computer Science Transfer degree and a 3.96 GPA. In addition to being on the Dean’s List each semester, Egbert helped the campus STEM club win the 2017 NSCC Club of the Year award. He was selected to be a STEM Ambassador for the recent Northeast STEM Conference. He has tutored for Upward Bound, won multiple STEM Scholarship awards and represented the college as a speaker at events and conferences. Egbert was recently selected to be a 2018 Hack Diversity Fellow, earning a nine-month internship that connects Black and Latinx computer science and IT students with resources to launch tech careers in Boston. He will transfer to UMass Amherst with the goal of eventually launching technological literacy programs for underserved youth.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Egbert chose to recognize Patricia Dube, Associate Professor, Mathematics. “I met Professor Dube as soon as I enrolled at NSCC in the spring of 2016. She has since been my teacher and skilled advisor. She helped me choose the path I should take to complete my program, and with her assistance and belief in my abilities, I will graduate this May.”

Jinette Galarza, Lawrence
Northern Essex Community College

Jinette moved from Puerto Rico to Lawrence when she was 10 years old and joined the workforce after high school to help support her family. A spiritual person, Jinette has served as a church youth leader and participated in missionary trips to poverty-stricken areas of Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, China, and Western Sahara. Through this work, Jinette discovered she had a talent and passion for teaching and decided to pursue a career as a history teacher. Even while working full time as a sterile processing technician for a hospital in Methuen and attending school full time, she is a leader on campus, participating in the college’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, as a Student Orientation Leader, and as a Presidential Ambassador. In the fall, Jinette will begin her studies toward a bachelor’s in history with a minor in Arabic studies at UMass Lowell, where she’s been invited to participate in the Commonwealth Honors College. She plans to continue on for a master’s in education and, when she graduates, hopes to teach in her home city of Lawrence, where, she says “the necessity is great, and there is great potential in our Lawrence youth.”

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jinette chose to recognize Sarah Courchesne, DVM, Associate Professor, Natural Sciences. “Dr. Courchesne helped me lead the way through times when darkness and uncertainty overshadowed my vision to a bright future. She repeatedly rearranged her schedule to make time for me. I am thankful that God brought her into my life not only as my mentor, but also as my friend.”

Kyle James Mondino, Webster
Quinsigamond Community College

Kyle is a natural leader at QCC. He serves as executive vice president of scholarship for QCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, leading monthly workshops and giving fellow students a packed hour on the do’s and don’ts of financial assistance. One of Kyle’s most exciting and fundamental roles is as the Phi Theta Kappa Live and Learn Greenhouse Project Manager. Kyle put together teams of students based on their skills or majors (botany research, crop harvest and distribution, embedded engineering, and data analytics) while writing grants to keep the greenhouse up and running. All the vegetables and herbs grown in the greenhouse are donated to QCC students facing food insecurity. In addition, Kyle is working on with QCC’s Honors in Action Project, which is developing plans to build tiny homes for the homeless in Worcester. Kyle graduates with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He plans to transfer to a four-year college and parlay his educational experience into small business ownership.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Kyle chose to recognize Bonnie Coleman, Advisor, Student Enrollment. “Bonnie actively encourages students to reach for goals greater than the ones they set for themselves and supports them along the way. I believe she is an asset to QCC, which shows through her success in running PTK, the campus honor society, and the achievements of the students she influences.”

Ugonna Onyemah, Stoughton
Roxbury Community College

Ugo will graduate from RCC with a perfect 4.0, an associate degree in health careers and a plan to enter UMass Boston’s nursing program next fall. This mother of two, now expecting her third child, hails from Nigeria. She has made a big impact on the RCC community. As a representative to the Student Government Association, she developed a health and wellness program for her fellow students, bringing in local non-profits and organizing a dozen information sessions on topics such as smoking hazards, the need for HIV testing and regular medical checkups. She is currently the student representative for RCC’s Student Affairs Committee. Along with her studies, Ugo has been working at Whittier Street Health Center for more than 3 years, making sure that every patient walking out of the dental department leaves with a smile of satisfaction.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ugonna chose to recognize Beverly Simms, Tutor, Academic Affairs. “Ms. Simms is an inspiration to me. Growing up in Africa, she was familiar with the British system of essay writing, but with Beverly’s guidance, I was able to excel in my education, earning a grade of an A in both my English courses. Beverly’s guidance and encouragement has helped me a lot, and her perseverance and patience is something I truly admire.”

Lineisha Marie Rosario, Agawam
Springfield Technical Community College

Lineisha and her family came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico in 2015. As a child, Lineisha loved working with her father on cars. Fascinated with machines, she signed up for STCC’s STEM Starter Academy summer program after high school. Her experience inspired her to enter STCC as a mechanical engineering technology major. She also joined STCC’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), where she co-produced a series of video profiles of community college women in engineering. The first member of her family to attend college, Lineisha plans to pursue a bachelor’s in advanced manufacturing systems on site at STCC through the college’s new partnership with Northeastern University. She will continue to work as a junior post processor engineer at a local software company and will also stay involved with STCC’s chapter of SWE to inspire elementary, middle and high school students to major in engineering.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Lineisha chose to recognize Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, Professor, Physics. “Professor Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, my mentor since my first semester at STCC, helped me to grow as a female engineer. She began STCC’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. The privilege of knowing Beth as an influential women, leader, friend and professor has been a true blessing.”