29 Who Shine 2016 Award Winners: State Universities

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Brittany Baillie, Pembroke
Bridgewater State University

Brittany is on her way to becoming the kind of educator who transforms children’s lives. As a sophomore she volunteered 300 hours of time to helping Brockton preschoolers develop literacy skills. She also mentored a student with severe mental disabilities who attended Bridgewater through the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program. She has tutored homeless children and served as a mentor for at-risk students at Brockton High School. After a year of service learning, she plans to earn a master’s at Bridgewater in special education, and wants to teach in one of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Brittany chose to recognize Lisa Battaglino, Dean, College of Education and Allied Studies. “I have to thank Lisa Battaligno for being my role model throughout my college career. She goes above and beyond to make Bridgewater State University a place where students can grow and learn. My experience traveling to Belize on a service trip with her impacted me greatly and I will forever admire her as a person, educator and Dean.”

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Megan Elise Pierce, Rochester
Fitchburg State University

Megan has served in student government for four years as class president, treasurer, student trustee and ultimately, president of the student body. Beyond the campus, Pierce applied her skills while interning in the state’s Executive Office of Education and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey’s office. In her final semester on campus, she interned in the office of Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale, working on projects designed to bridge the university with its host city. Megan has been a responsible and enthusiastic partner in university-community events such as the political debates Fitchburg State co-sponsors with the local newspaper. She has been hired as legislative aide for newly-elected State Rep. Stephan Hay (D-Fitchburg).

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Megan chose to recognize Robert Antonucci, President Emeritus. “Dr. Antonucci is the epitome of everything I hope to become one day: intelligent, charismatic, a team player, and a visionary. Throughout his life he’s used all these characteristics to help others. Having him as someone to look up to played a monumental role in my current and future success.”

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Bailey Jo McLernon, Attleboro
Framingham State University

Bailey is a future organic chemist who has devoted countless hours to Metrowest organizations that promote science. She volunteered her time to put on science experiments at Science on State Street, an annual free science festival at Framingham State designed to get young kids in the community interested in the STEM subjects. A member of the Framingham State Honors Program, Bailey serves as a supplemental instructor in Chemistry, helping other students navigate their coursework. Last year she was accepted to the National Science Foundation’s highly competitive Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, a 10-week summer experience that sends STEM undergrads to schools to perform graduate level work. Bailey performed her work in chemistry at the University of Kansas. She will pursue a degree in organic chemistry at Boston University.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Bailey chose to recognize Shelli R. Waetzig, Assistant Professor, Chemistry. “Dr. Waetzig is the reason I want to become a professor. I have learned so much from her. She really cares about her students and wants them to do well. I have certainly been a beneficiary of that care. I can ask her about anything, whether it’s organic chemistry, graduate school, my weekend plans or life in general.”

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Alexander Armand Ribeiro Nally, Chicopee
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Alex Nally served three years on the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth as Co- Chair of the Government Relations Committee, where he oversaw writing, research, editing, design, and implementation of annual policy recommendations to over twenty independent state agencies of the Commonwealth. He has also helped lead efforts to increase state funding for MassArt and other public colleges and universities through participation in Advocacy Day at the state house. On campus, Alex participated in Student Government and served as voting member of MassArt’s All University Committee. He has received numerous academic awards, including the Stanley J. Koplik Award for Art Excellence and the Highland Street Foundation Merit Scholarship for graduating seniors. This fall he will begin his studies as a candidate for Juris Doctorate/Master of Science in public policy at Northeastern University School of Law.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Alexander chose to recognize Laura Flynn, Director of Transition & Leadership Programs, Student Development. “Laura Flynn has inspired and advised me during my four years at MassArt. She has been relentlessly and unconditionally supportive throughout my tenure on the SGA Executive Board. Her compassion and dedication to empowering students is invaluable, and I’m so grateful for having learned how to lead with compassion from her.”

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Grace Ngobo Toko Mbonda, Brockton
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

While earning Dean’s List honors, academic scholarships and recognitions, and membership in the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, Grace is also involved in numerous campus organizations, including the Black Student Union, the Biology Club and the African Student Association. As a student co-facilitator of Campus Conversations on Race, Grace led discussions with her peers on race and ethnicity. This biology and chemistry major with a 3.6 GPA hopes to attend medical school; her choice of a career and her desire to provide medical care and education to young women and girls stems from her experiences growing up in Cameroon, where she witnessed the consequences of inadequate health care.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Grace chose to recognize Robert Harris, Professor, Chemistry “I choose to recognize Dr. Harris today because he genuinely cares about the success of his students. He has always been there for me, giving me advice and help when I needed it. He believed in me even when I did not believe in myself.”

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Brendan Heath, Southhampton
Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Brendan earned his bachelor’s degree in emergency management and then opted to spend two more years earning a second degree in marine transportation. During his senior year, he was selected to be the company commander of 7th company: the Academy’s Band, Honor Guard, and Drill Team. He was also one of the founding members of the Academy’s now well-established, cadet-run emergency medical services program, which operates a fully licensed life support ambulance to assist the campus’s population. He has also been a firefighter/EMTBasic for his hometown of Southampton, MA. Upon graduation this spring, Brendan will have earned his U.S. Coast Guard 3rd mate unlimited tonnage license in addition to his two bachelors degrees. He plans to work for the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, supplying and replenishing Navy vessels with fuel, food, ammunition, and critical necessities while underway abroad.

Faculty/Staff Mentor:Brendan chose to recognize Wayne Magee, Assistant Director Comcad, Director of Bands Honor Guard & Drill Team. “LT Wayne Magee is an inspirational and dedicated leader who has had a tremendous impact on my experience at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. In getting to know him over the past 6 years, he has taught me both the values and rewards of leadership as well as humility. He is one of the hardest workers that I know, and his dedication to his career and the students he works for.”

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Victoria Chase, Philipston
Salem State University

Not only has Vikki excelled academically at Salem State, completing her undergraduate degree in three years, she has made a difference in the lives of her classmates by fostering political engagement and awareness of social justice issues. She coordinated the first-ever Salem State delegation to the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference. Representing Amnesty International, she spoke at Salem State’s first Social Justice Night about the plight of women and girls under the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She led a 2014 voter engagement project in Salem, and campaigned in 11 Massachusetts communities in support of public water fluoridation. During her time at Salem State, she also completed an internship in the Washington, D.C. office of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Victoria will attend the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to pursue a Master of Science in agriculture, food and environment.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Victoria chose to recognize Jennifer Jackman, Associate Professor, Political Science. “Professor Jackman encourages me to set high goals for myself and supports me as I reach for them. Her guidance has led me to opportunities that have shaped my career goals and truly impacted the path of my life’s work. She has helped me determine how to use my voice in a positive, productive way.”

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Travon Demetrius Godette, Orange
Westfield State University

Travon is both an accomplished athlete and a member of two honors societies. He is an active, engaged member of the campus community serving as a Training Active Bystanders (TAB) Delegate and an editor of Persona, the university’s literary magazine. He also served as chair of the Cross-Cultural Symposium and as a workshop assistant for Race in the English Classroom. In addition to his roles on campus, Travon has volunteered his time for local organizations including the Westfield Boys and Girls Club 5K, the Autism Awareness Walk, the Special Olympics, and Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen in Chicopee. Travon’s athletic achievements are inspiring; he was the first male student athlete from Westfield State to win an NCAA Division III national championship, taking the 2015 title in the javelin. He has won six Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference titles in track and field, and was named Scholar Athlete of the Year by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2015. He will pursue an MFA in creative writing and an MA in literature at McNeese State University in Louisiana, where he will also be an assistant coach for the track and field program.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Travon chose to recognize Sophia Sarigianides, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Secondary English. “Sophia always assured me of the value of my work and, more importantly, the significance of pursuing my passion for writing. From getting to know me on a personal level to helping me discover my strengths as a teacher, I can honestly say that I can only hope to be as much as an influence to my future students as Sophia has been to me.”

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Tasneem Mohamed Zawahreh, Worcester
Worcester State University

Tasneem Zawahreh has been the President of the Worcester State Chemistry Club for two years and in that capacity coordinated numerous demonstrations and hands-on activities for over 500 elementary school students. She has been active as a Presidential Student Ambassador, representing the university at numerous alumni and donor events. Additionally, Tasneem is a devout Muslim who likes to share her faith and help others understand her religion by participating in her mosque’s “Meet a Muslim” events. Tasneem plans to attend graduate school and become a licensed elementary school teacher.

Faculty/Staff Mentor: Tazneem chose to recognize Joseph G. Quattrucci, Assistant Professor, Chemistry. “Dr. Quattrucci’s devotion, dedication, and attentiveness toward student learning and success has made a positive impact on me. I was able to overcome many struggles through his mentorship. Through his guidance, I had the courage to move forward and implement my ideas that have benefited our greater Worcester community.”