29 Who Shine Award Winners: State University Students

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Diana Rose Ramos
Bridgewater State University

Diana Ramos is a political science major with a 3.896 cumulative GPA. During her junior year, Diana interned at Senator John Kerry’s Office and conducted a research study on citizen conservation efforts. Diana also interned, through the Washington Center, at the U.S. Office of Surface Mining where she researched development issues relating to rural watersheds. She has studied sustainable development in Costa Rica and researched issues related to food security. As a high-achieving student, Diana has received multiple awards and scholarships. She hopes to join AmeriCorps and then pursue graduate studies in environmental science and public policy.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Lee Forest, Director for the GLBTA Pride Center, Student Affairs

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Courtney B. Gustafson
Fitchburg State University

Courtney Gustafson is a standout scholar graduating with a cumulative GPA of 3.99. A commuting student raised in Fitchburg, Courtney has balanced a demanding class schedule with two jobs. She has been a member of the English honor society, written for the student newspaper, and this spring interned at Worcester’s Telegram & Gazette. With fully half of Fitchburg State’s undergraduate population commuting to the university, Courtney decided the group needed a voice and founded the Commuter Club. Courtney also volunteers at Shirley State Prison, where she helped to design a syllabus and writing curriculum for 17 incarcerated men. Courtney has been accepted into an MA/Ph.D. program in English rhetoric and composition at UMass Amherst. She has been offered a teaching assistantship and a fellowship.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ian Williams, Associate Professor, English

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Sarah Ann Ferguson
Framingham State University

Sarah Ferguson is a Dean’s List biology major with a concentration in pre-med. A member of the FSU Honors Program and Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society, she has excelled in the science lab, mastering complex techniques in DNA extraction and purification, cloning, enzyme isolation, and molecular modeling. She completed an independent study on “Treatment for Resistant Cancers.” Sarah served as a Supplemental Instruction Leader at FSU’s Center for Academic Support and Advising (CASA), where she created chemistry study sessions for a class of 70 students. Sarah is listed in the spring 2012 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Aline Davis, Associate Professor of Biology

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Ariel DiOrio
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

A “citizen artist” and major in the Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM), Ariel DiOrio has merged her artistic talents with her desire to be an engaged community activist. Ariel currently works through the MassArt Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP) as an arts instructor and afterschool program coordinator at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. She participates in CACP’s Community-Based Leadership Training Program and serves on MassArt’s Civic Engagement Committee. Ariel uses her access and skills in SIM to help organize arts events that promote human rights and social justice. She recently organized the first-ever TEDxMassArt, an “evening of speaking, performance, and collaboration based on the idea that art can change the world.”
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Ceci Mendez, Director, Center for Art and Community Partnerships

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Amanda Ok
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Amanda Ok is both a full-time student at MCLA and a pharmacy technician. A commuter student on her own since age 17, Amanda has lived off campus and paid her own bills while also maintaining excellent grades. Amanda is also a popular DJ on the MCLA radio station. A first-generation college student, Amanda overcame many obstacles to complete her undergraduate degree, transferring between four different colleges before settling at MCLA to complete her studies. She plans to pursue studies in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Jerry Smosky, Professor, Biology

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Jack Gomes
Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Cadet Jack Gomes is MMA’s Cadet Regimental Commander, the highest cadet leadership position at the Academy. He was responsible for the leadership and character development of all 1200 members of the regiment. Previously, Jack’s leadership capabilities propelled him to the position of Orientation Squad Leader where he was responsible for 55 freshman. Jack was also chosen from a very competitive field to represent MMA and study in Shanghai, China. An International Maritime Business major, he would like to use his talents and skills to help strengthen the maritime industry in Massachusetts.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Captain Edward Rozak, Commandant of Cadets and Vice President of Student Services

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Jacquelynn Palazola
Salem State University

Jacquelynn Palazola earned her degree while serving as an active member of the Air Force Reserves. A tireless advocate for student veterans, she was keynote speaker at the 2011 “Women are Veterans, Too” conference, and also interned with the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) to establish a student veterans council. Jacquelynn has served in both Iraq and the United Arab Emirates and was the only woman in her graduating class from the Air Force Fire Academy. She has juggled motherhood along with her civic, academic, and military duties, giving birth to her second child just a week after spring classes ended at SSU and starting an internship shortly thereafter. A communications major, Jacquelynn graduates with a 3.86 GPA. She is slated for redeployment in September.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Judi Cook, Chairperson, Communications

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Ryan F. Meersman
Westfield State University

Ryan F. Meersman is a campus leader with a dual major in history and secondary education. A Dean’s List student, he graduates with an overall GPA of 3.9. Ryan was elected by his peers to serve as the student representative to Westfield State’s Board of Trustees. He also served as the student representative to the Westfield State Strategic Planning Committee and was a member of both the Student Government Association and the statewide Student Advisory Council. Ryan has been the recipient of a 2012 Academic Achievement Award in History, the 2011 President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership, and a 2009 First Year Senator Award. He plans a career as a high school history teacher and would one day like to work in higher education.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Susan LaMontagne, Dean of Students

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Abigail Chmielecki
Worcester State University

Abigail Chmielecki, member of the WSU Commonwealth Honors Program, plans a career in public service. She has been a member of the campus Board of Trustees and the Student Senate. She also served on the recent presidential search committee. Her community service has included volunteering in a soup kitchen, organizing care package drives for troops overseas, and collecting shoes for “Soles 4 Souls.” Abby has also shown courage and determination on a personal level. Midway during her studies at WSU, she lost her father after a long, debilitating illness. Despite personal and financial setbacks that followed, Abby retained a positive attitude, never letting her commitment to academics waiver. She will attend Suffolk University Law School.
Faculty/Staff Mentor: Lisa Krissoff Boehm, Interim Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences