Worcester State University


2012 Academic Achievement Awards


Hundreds of students, friends and family attended the annual Academic Achievement Awards ceremony at Mechanics Hall on May 1, 2012. The steadfast support of our alumni provides critical support for the funding of the academic major awards. WSU alumni are dedicated to assisting today's students, tomorrow's alumni, with their contributions of financial resources, time and talent. The alumni are pleased and proud to honor and reward the highest ranking students in each of the academic disciplines.

Below is a list of the outstanding students who received awards. 


Alumni/Academic Major Award – Nicole Auger
Nicole is an outstanding student who will be graduating with a 3.8 GPA. She volunteers at the Ecotarium in Worcester and has an interest in mammals as well as reptiles. During a course in experimental methods, she became particularly interested in studying the feeding behavior of South American lizards and gave a presentation on her work to other students and faculty in the class.

Academic Recognition Award
Dr. Marlin Kreider Award – Corey Lancelotta
Corey is graduating with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. He currently maintains a 3.9 GPA and has been inducted into the Biology and Chemistry Honor Societies. Corey has volunteered at the Broad Meadow Brook Sanctuary and has participated in a research project on the microbiota of turtle hatchlings. He will be attending graduate school at the University of Rhode Island to pursue a career in biological research in the area of symbiosis.

Chi Iota Chapter, Beta, Beta, Beta Biological
Honor Society Award – Bailey Pearson
Bailey has been an active and enthusiastic member of Worcester State’s chapter of the Tri-Beta national biological honor society. An avid runner, Bailey will spend three months in Trujillo, Peru, this summer volunteering at a school. While there, she hopes to both impart knowledge in biology and learn local natural history. She also hopes to cross the Andes and visit the rain forest .

Dr. Imoigele Aisiku Summer Research Fellowship Award -
Isaac Appiah and Joseph Devereaux
Isaac is an outstanding student and is interested in a career in medicine. He will be participating in a genetics research project will be under the direction of Dr. Daron Barnard. Joseph has a strong interest in biological research and has previously participated in a project on red-bellied turtles. This summer he will work with Dr. Randall Tracy on a project that will quantify the animal diversity in Worcester County.


Alumni/Academic Major Award – Joshua Briggs
In addition to maintaining a GPA of 3.97 with a major in Biotechnology and a minor in Chemistry, Josh Briggs works as a research assistant at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The lab he works in studies prostate cancer. Josh co-authored an abstract, "Aggressive Phenotype for Prostate Cancer Cells that Survive High Dose Ionizing Radiation" which he presented at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, February 2-4, 2012. Previously, Josh has volunteered at St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester.

Business Administration and Economics

Alumni/Academic Major Award in Business Administration – Zofia Jaskolski
Zofia has been on the Dean’s list from Fall 2010 till Fall 2011. She is the recipient of the Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar Award. She is a student of top achievement with writing and analytical skills of the highest caliber. Zofia completed all degree requirements at WSU with a GPA of 4.0 in her Business Major. Zofia is OSHA ten industry trained and certified.

Alumni/Academic Major Award in Economics – Julian Morales
Julian possesses a double major in Economics and Spanish graduating with a 3.38 GPA. A member of Omicron Delta Epsilon Economics Honor Society, Julian volunteers as a Spanish interpreter helping low-income families. Julian worked for Upper Bound as a teacher’s assistant and has translated documents for the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Trial Court and Department of Revenue. Julian was a four year member of the Men’s Soccer team and plans to attend graduate school.

Wall Street Journal Outstanding Achievement Award in Economics – Derek Byrne
Derek possesses a double major in Economics and Sociology, has a GPA of 3.29. He is a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Honor Society. Derek participated in Helping Emerging Leadership Potential, an invite-only leadership seminar. He was an assistant in the musical ensemble for the short play and was a peer mentor as well as a tutor at WSU. Derek plans to look for a career while considering graduate school.



Academic Major Award – Christin Harrington
Christin will be graduating in May 2012 with a BS in Chemistry. She has conducted research on ionic liquids under the direction of Dr. Dilip and was awarded the first prize for her poster presenting this work at the Scholarship and Creativity Event at WSU. She is a member of the chemistry club, and has been accepted into the Gamma Sigma Epsilon chemistry honor society. She has volunteered for the junior league of Worcester for 4 years and co-chaired project Fresh Start for 3 years and loves helping people less fortunate and hopes to make a difference in the world through volunteering and chemistry. She is looking forward to a career in research in the chemical industry when she graduates from Worcester State.

Academic Recognition Award American Institute
of Chemists Award – Jennifer O’Brien
Jennifer will be graduating in May 2012 with a BS in Chemistry and a concentration in green and environmental chemistry. She also has a BS in Biology from WSU. While working towards her current degree, she was accepted into the Gamma Sigma Epsilon chemistry honor society for her academic achievements. She is an active member of the chemistry club serving as the treasurer for the organization. She is currently a Chemist Intern at Flexcon in Worcester. After graduation she plans to work in the chemical industry with particular focus on research and development.

Freshmen Chemistry Achievement Award – Yang Yang
Yang Yang came with her family to the United States from China three years ago. She graduated from Shepherd Hill High School before enrolling this fall as a first-year student at Worcester State. She has done well not only in chemistry but also in calculus-based physics. She plans to pursue a career in chemical engineering. She is the recipient of the CRC Freshman Chemistry Award as the outstanding student in the WSU General Chemistry course.



Alumni/Academic Major Award – Megan Gay
Megan’s dedication to academic excellence is apparent as she continues to hone her media production skills in Worcester State University’s Communication program. She is currently completing a short motion picture documentary about Worcester State University’s Craft Center. Megan has a penchant for taking the initiative by voluntarily tackling work-intensive tasks and is always willing to help fellow students better understand concepts related to TV production, videography and editing. Megan’s positive attitude and disciplined approach to her craft are appreciated by peers and instructors alike.

Community Service Award – Tatiana Seles
Tatiana was a Lt. Col James F. Sheehan award-winner as a first-year student. Since then she has worked tirelessly with the Center for Community Media for several semesters to produce the Spanish-language television show, Esperanza y Su Exito for the Latino community of Greater Worcester. Her roles have included on-the-set and on-site video production and key roles producing. She also has worked directly in the community, using her bi-lingual Spanish-language skills to conduct surveys. With all her activities, Tatiana has maintained outstanding grades, as a current member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.

Department Leadership Award – Chelsea Tougas
Chelsea was a founding member and serves as president of Worcester State University’s Lambda Pi Eta chapter of the national communication honor society. Under her leadership, the officers inducted the chapter’s first 25 members in December 2011. She has been an intern for the Office of Public Relations and Marketing at Worcester State, using her communication skills to report on campus events for the weekly eNews. In 2011 – 2012 Chelsea was named to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. She is highly regarded within the department for her professional skills, enthusiasm for academic excellence in the communication field, and her dedication to the honor society chapter.

Vanessa Anne Dunn/Academic Major Award – Brian Soscia
Brian was selected by the United States Marine Corps, after three consecutive combat tours, to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree in order to be promoted to a Marine 2ndLieutenant. Brian overcame significant childhood adversity and now has a family and is training the NROTC unit at Holy Cross. He has maintained straight A’s throughout his full time status at WSU. He is proud to be the first in his family to attend college.


Communication Sciences & Disorders

Alumni/Academic Major Award – Leora Gaval
While an undergraduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders Leora was the recipient of a DCU/Reach Out for Schools scholarship, and the Robin L. Kaplan 90-TJX Companies Memorial scholarship. She was inducted into Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, has participated in the peer mentor program at Worcester State University and has been an active member of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She plans to continue her education in the fall at Worcester State University as a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program.


Computer Science

Alumni/Academic Major Award – Michael Simmarano
and David Thompson
Michael has consistently maintained a high GPA, has excellent analytical and logical abilities, and a very strong background in Computer Science and Mathematics. He demonstrates interest in both theoretical and applied Computer Science problems. Michael has impressive research potential and has recently co-authored an accepted paper with one of our faculty members. For the last two years, David has been a part of the department's programming team which has regularly finished in the top 20% at the northeastern regional programming competition. David is active in Free and Open Source Software advocacy, participates in a number of projects and hopes to work professionally for one of them.



Early Childhood Education Alumni/Academic Major Award – Katherine Convery
Katherine is a hard worker and has shown much resilience in the way she overcame many academic obstacles in her path. She has the potential of becoming an effective educator of young children.

Academic Recognition Award Madelin A. Wilmarth
Award in ECE – Alyssa Papia
Alyssa is a Junior Early Childhood Education student with a GPA of 4.00, and has met and exceeded the criteria for receiving this award.

Ruth Cohen Blumsack, ECE Award – Stephanie Pollard
Stephanie Pollard is a hardworking who has maintained a GPA greater than 3.5 in all her academic work. She has shown exceptional abilities working with and teaching young children. This award is given to ECE majors with exceptional abilities working with young children. Elementary Education Alumni/Academic Major Award – Patti Sprague Patti loves teaching and will make an impact on the lives of the students who will be fortunate to have her as a teacher.

Academic Recognition Award

Helen Shaughnessy Elementary Education Award –
Emily Rantala

Emily has been an outstanding student and has demonstrated the qualities of professionalism, academic achievement, and potential in the field of education. All qualities that Helen Shaughnessy require in the recipient of this award.

David Quist Middle & Secondary Education Award – Michael Ly
Michael Ly is intellectually curious, serious in his academic commitments, and asks profound questions. He wants to be a historian and has the appetite for philosophy, and constantly exceeds the number of pages required for completing his assignments. He has the potential of becoming a scholar.

Lillian C. ’65 and George H. Albro ’65 Award in Education – Dannie Skog
Dannie is an Elementary major who has demonstrated the qualities of a caring and compassionate teacher. Her future students will gain much from her guidance.

English Alumni/Academic Major Award – Jennifer Grady
Jennifer will be graduating Summa Cum Laude. A member of the Worcester State Honors program, she has expressed interest in a career in technical writing for now, but may attend graduate school in the future.

Kathleen Downey Short Fiction Contest – Sarah Leidhold
The Kathleen Downey Prize in Short Fiction was established in 1982 on the first anniversary of the tragic death of Kate Downey, a well loved English Professor whose passion for the short story inspired many Worcester State students for more than a decade. For the past 25 years, the Downey Prize has been awarded to the Worcester State University student who writes the best short story, chosen by judges from the faculty of the English Department. The title of Sarah’s winning story is “The Music Box Ballerina.”


Health Sciences

Alumni/Academic Major Award Health Education – Jodi Carroll
Jodi was born into a family of helpers and healers. From nursing to pediatrics to athletic training, her family has influenced her desire to excel academically, but her personal determination to become an informed and influential force for others on their journey to better health has been exceptional. Jodi was also born into a family that did not let serious health problems overcome their will to live as they continued professionally advocating for others - and this has become Jodi's path.

Community Health – Tanya Baker
When Tanya was introduced to public health through course work and a shadowing experience with Cathleen Liberty, the Director of Public Health in Webster, and one of our Community Health graduates, Tanya’s career plans solidified. Her love of science, concern for people and interest in health jelled. The Director was so impressed with Tanya’s work, she offered her a part-time job and this summer Tanya has been accepted into a training program with the Worcester Department of Public Health. Tanya is well on her way to making our communities healthier and safer places to live.

Community Service – Alex Filierre
For Alex community service is part of his everyday life - no matter if anyone is watching, an award given or grade attached. His exemplary work is practiced because of his deep religious beliefs and dedication to the power and strength of community. The list of his achievements is long: teaching young people at his church, building projects in New Orleans, serving the spiritual and physical needs of people who are poor in Albania, shoveling snow for those who can’t, gathering and distributing food and toys during the holidays and many more. Alex inspires all of us to think about how we might contribute to our communities.


History/Political Science

Alumni/Academic Major Award – Spencer Long
Spencer is an intelligent, conscientious, and articulate student. She is one of the most outstanding students I have encountered at Worcester State University. I have gotten to know Spencer as a student in my Principles of Political Science course. She is a mature and diligent scholar and was a pleasure to have in class. She is deserving of our departmental award.

Academic Recognition Award
Professor Cheng & Christina Yuan Award for History
Emily Copeland
Emily Copeland is a bright and extremely hard-working student, who has excelled in her courses. She is a wonderful academic talent. She has excelled in her many history and political science courses. The Department of History & Political Science is very proud to celebrate her achievements. This award is given in memory of the late Professor of History (Dr. Cheng Yuan) and his wife (Christina) to a junior student carrying the highest GPA in their major.

Alumni/Academic Major Award – Alicia Leland
Alicia’s psychology major focus is on human developmental processes. She is a graduating senior who is a member of both the Worcester State University Honors program and the Psychology Honors program. Recently she was accepted to the Human Development and Family Studies Masters program at the University of Connecticut. Alicia has demonstrated true research ability in this last year of her academic career. Her psychology Honors project, under the advisement of Dr. Ketterer, was ambitious and well-executed.

Dr. Lawrence A. Averill Award – Carolyn Wilcomb
Carolyn is a Psychology Honors student with concentrations in Mental Health Services and Women’s Studies. She has been inducted into several Honor Societies including Psi Chi, the national honor society in Psychology. Carolyn was President of the Psychology Club and the Women’s Forum, and she is the Vice President of Psi Chi. Her excellence in research earned her the honor of presenting her work at national conferences in Psychology.

Bob Goss Award in Service to the Sociology Department –
Ker Thao
Ker’s dream is to someday start a model program for troubled youth. Her interest in youth took root when she studied theories of crime and juvenile delinquency. She began to question the: who, what, why and how of juvenile delinquency. If she was going to get real answers, she had to go straight to the source. Last year, she began an internship at the Worcester Youth Center year with a DYS re-integration program, and supervised 15-20 committed youth. She was able to find some answers to her questions, and this has inspired her to continue to create change.



Alumni/Academic Major Award – Travis Williams
Travis Williams is a strong, quiet and articulate math major with an interest in Bob Dylan and funk music. He is currently considering options for graduate school.



Alumni/Academic Major Award – Lindsey Glass
This award is given to the graduate who has achieved the highest academic standing within the nursing major. Lindsey has been an outstanding student while at WSU and served as Class 2012 Treasurer for 3 years. Her ability to think critically, challenge the ordinary and excel in both the classroom and clinical setting is a testament to Lindsey’s commitment to the profession of nursing.

Academic Recognition Awards Army Nurse Corps Spirit of Nursing Award – Krystal Calcano
This award is based on community and professional involvement, leadership experience, and academic excellence and is awarded by the Army Nurse Corps. and the National Student Nurses Association. Krystal’s professional behavior, communication skills, and enthusiasm for learning promote a positive image of nursing.

Clinical Excellence in the Art and Science of Nursing – Mairead Coleman
This award is given to the graduate who maintains high academic standing, demonstrates technical competency in the clinical area, above average ability in clinical judgment and decision making skills in the practice area as well as patient needs. Mairead’s attention to detail, intellectual curiosity, and ability to put patients at ease are evident as she exemplifies the art and science of nursing.

Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital Award for Nursing Clinical Excellence – Mairead Coleman
This award is given to a graduating senior demonstrating excellence in clinical practice. Mairead provides holistic patient-centered care to patients across the lifespan. Her work ethic and communication skills have contributed to her outstanding work in the clinical setting.

Florence Nightingale Award – Rachel Wormann
This award is given to the graduate who exemplifies those qualities of an inquiring attitude, intelligent understanding, studied observation, and therapeutic use of self in maximizing the reparative process toward health in the art and science of nursing practice. Rachel has demonstrated these characteristics while leading the class of 2012 as Class President.

Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Award – Mary Collaro
This award is given to a registered nurse who is returning for a baccalaureate degree, who exemplifies leadership, caring, a strong commitment to professional nursing and vision of the future. Mary has been a leader in the campus chapter of Active Minds which is dedicated to increasing awareness of mental health issues and reducing its stigma on college campuses and she has been selected as a Paul Ambrose Scholar.

Jill Ann Bilodeau Award – Erica Smith
Erica arrived on campus the fall of 2009. From the beginning, achieving academic excellence has been a priority for her. Erica has been the recipient of numerous academic scholarships and receiving this award comes as no surprise to faculty and professionals who know of her. To date, Erica has completed 76 WSU credits, and has been nearly perfect with only two A minuses to speak of.

Maureen McDermott Sorge Award – Rachael Armenti
Rachael’s family may have had some inclination of her future career interests when instead of throwing away broken dolls Rachael elected to mend them. Pediatric nursing is beyond medicine. It takes a special type of nurse who instinctively knows how to advocate for a medical population that at times cannot articulate what is wrong or how they are feeling. It is a career that is filled with both joys and heartaches, yet requires the professional to daily maintain an optimistic celebration of hope that both families and children count on. Rachael has all these qualities and will be an asset to the medical profession.


Occupational Therapy

Alumni/Academic Major Award – Rachel Herbert
Rachel has the highest GPA in the Occupational Studies program and will begin the Master of Occupational Therapy degree in May. She has been on the Student Activities Honor Roll, the Dean’s List several times, and is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. During the past year, she served as the treasurer of the Student Occupational Therapy Association and as a peer advisor in the Academic Success Center.



Alumni/Academic Major Award
Faith T. Zeadey Award for Research and Writing –
Jennifer Gardner and Patti Sprague
Jennifer is one of those rare people who combine intelligence, grace and kindness in a remarkable way. She brings keen insight, rigor and precision to her academic work, but also an exceptional level of kindness and empathy in her interactions with fellow students and faculty. Her combination of superior intelligence and grace is rarely found among scholars and faculty. Patti is both an outstanding scholar and researcher. In addition to being an outstanding student in the classroom, Patti has found ways of joining her personal and educational interests into a driving passion. Her work in an independent study focused on the personal, policy, and international ramifications of adoption.

Academic Recognition Award
W.E.B. Dubois Award for Community Based Research –
Patti Sprague and Gary Marinin
Gary is highly independent, pursuing multiple avenues of research. He has coauthored papers submitted for publication, and presented at WSU's celebration of scholarship and creativity (twice), the New England Undergraduate Sociology Research conference, the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans, and to alumni groups. Gary has been accepted into a doctoral program in sociology at Washington State University, where he begins in the fall.


Urban Studies

Alumni/Academic Major Award – Chadyn Morrison
Chadyn earned an impressive 3.9 GPA as a Commonwealth College Honors student and an Urban Studies major concentrating in public administration and planning. While a 3.9 is hard in any major, it is especially challenging in Urban Studies where the subject matter takes students outside their comfort zone. In Chadyn’s case, it was to the streets of Cario, Egypt where she brought art to young children, and the classrooms of Worcester’s Flagg Street Elementary School where she created a cross-disciplinary after-school program in the performing arts.

Academic Recognition Award
Julia Mack Award – Belmaris Torres
Belmaris began volunteering as a sophomore for the NeighborWorks Homeownership Center of Worcester where she performed outreach for those impacted by loan scams. She remained there that summer to work on foreclosure prevention as an Americorps Vista Volunteer. Belmaris now works fulltime as a First-Time Homebuying Coordinator helping people in their 20s to 60s fulfill their dream of owning their own home.

Vincent E. “Jake” Powers Award – Patrick Shanley
Like the late Jake Powers, Patrick is fascinated with Worcester’s rich history. Whenever possible, Patrick uses the city as his research canvas to examine compelling topics such as the remediation of toxic waste in former mills and the role of ubiquitous “Three Deckers” to house Worcester’s diverse ethnic and socio-economic populations. Last semester he interned with the city and wrote several policy reports that are now in use by the Department of Public Works and Parks.


World Languages

Alumni/Academic Major Award Spanish – Elena Alonso
Elena came to Worcester State after studying tourism in Spain. She quickly established herself at WSU as a leading student. Because of her interest in higher education and her exceptional grades, she has applied to and been accepted at a number of graduate programs. She will be attending the University of Connecticut in its MA-Ph.D. program in the fall.

Academic Recognition Award
Dorothy Escribano Award - Kristy Levinson
Kristy is a rising junior. She is enrolled in the Spanish major with a concentration in Spanish for the Professions. She has involved herself in university governance and has served as a student representative on the undergraduate curriculum committee.


Presidential Academic Awards

John F. Eager Continuing Education Excellence Award – Lorraine Swanson
This award is given in memory of the late John F. Eager - professor of Biology and director of the Graduate and Evening Undergraduate Programs at Worcester State University to the undergraduate evening program senior with the highest overall average. Lorraine is similar to other former recipients of this award being a full-time parent and working full-time to support her family. Our evening education program provides an opportunity for students like Lorraine to pursue their dreams. Her graduation in May is especially meaningful in that she is the first of her siblings to graduate with a college degree.

Faculty Achievement Award – Joseph Teevens
This award is given to the highest-ranking senior who has transferred and completed at least four full-time semesters at Worcester State University. Joseph came to Worcester State having started his academic career at Springfield College. He has pursued a double major in both History and Spanish and following graduation, Joe will travel to Educator at a volunteer post where he will teach English, Mathematics and literacy for the next 13 months.


The Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan ’55
USMC Retired Awards

Fifty years after his graduation, Lt. Colonel James F. Sheehan ,USMC retired, gave Worcester State the largest cash gift in the history of the university. Rewarding and encouraging academic excellence has become the legacy that Lt. Colonel Sheehan wishes to establish at Worcester State. He hopes that his success and support will be emulated by those students to whom his awards have provided assistance to.

Freshman Achievement Award – Sarah Leidhold
This award is given in honor of the highest ranking, full-time entering freshman that has completed one semester at Worcester State University. Sarah Leidhold is an English major completed 19 credits her first semester with us. No other first year student took that many credits and maintained a perfect 4.0.

Sophomore Achievement Award –
Nicholas Coderre and Kristin Phillips
This award is given to the highest-ranking sophomore who has completed three full-time semesters at Worcester State University. As first time recipients of this award, Nicholas Coderre and Kristin Phillips showcase a high level of academic excellence as well as the difficulty in being a repeat winner of this prestigious award.

Junior Achievement Award –
Taylor Fritschy and Lindsey Serafini
This award is given to the highest-ranking full-time junior who has completed four full-time semesters at Worcester State University. Both Taylor and Lindsey are repeat winners. This is Taylor’s third time and Lindsey’s second. Both have maintained an academic standard that is second to no one in their class. They represent the type of student(s) that Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan wanted to recognize for their commitment to their academics.

Senior Achievement Award – Jennifer Grady
This award is given to the highest-ranking senior who has completed all of their coursework at Worcester State. Jennifer is a four-time recipient of the Sheehan award. Jennifer has never submitted anything academically that wasn’t considered A quality work. But beyond academics, she has grown in self-confidence and broadens her worldly perspectives through Dr. Mandell’s City Semester in Action class. Jennifer is planning a career in public relations and marketing.

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