| ACADEMICS | Provost's Office | Academic Achievement Awards | Academic Department Awards
This award, established in 2017 by a generous gift from the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation in memory of former Worcester State University biology professor Dr. Anthony Thurston, is given to the highest-ranking senior majoring in biology.
Sarah Cross chose Worcester State University after attending an open house and seeing a school where she could make a home; and she has. As a biology major with a minor in public health, Sarah has earned the respect of her professors and classmates by serving as the president of the Tri Beta Biology Honor Society for two consecutive years. As a rising sophomore, she participated in an NSF-REU internship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Last fall, Sarah spent a semester abroad in Mérida, Mexico, and Monteverde, Costa Rica, studying, among other things, Mayan history, environmental science, and the biology of tropical diseases. She is currently in an internship at UMass Medical School in the RNA Therapeutics Institute. Sarah is a two-time Lt. Colonel James Sheehan Academic Achievement Award winner (2016 and 2017) and a former presidential student ambassador. After graduating, Sarah is excited to work in the field of biology and public health before pursuing her next degree.
This award, in memory of Dr. Marlin B. Kreider, a former Worcester State University biology professor, is given to a senior biology student who has shown a commitment to a career in biological research.
Hoang Vo is an honors student, majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-med and minoring in chemistry and psychobiology. Hoang has been involved in undergraduate research since freshman year and has participated in independent studies in both biology and physics. He has presented his work from these projects at scientific meetings. Hoang has received a summer research fellowship through the Worcester State University Aisiku STEM Center as well as from the Tri Beta Biology Honor Society to pursue his research. Hoang is also involved in athletics as a member of the Varsity Track and Field team and is an active member of the campus community as a Presidential Student Ambassador and the president of the Tri Beta Biology Honor Society. In addition, he was selected to attend the prestigious Summer Undergraduate Research Program at UMass Medical School. After he graduation, Hoang plans to work at a research lab to gain additional experience before attending medical school.
This award, made possible by a gift from former Worcester State University biology professor Dr. Maureen Shamgochian ’80 and her late husband Edward, is given to a junior or senior biology or biotechnology major with a GPA of 3.5 or higher who is engaged in undergraduate research with plans to attend graduate or professional school upon completion of their Worcester State University degree.
Maia Shalev is in the Biotechnology 4+1 BS/MS program and has been a vibrant member of the community since she joined Worcester State University in the fall of 2018. Maia was a student speaker at the Rally for Unity: WSU Stands Against Hate and the Anti-Semitism Program, and is the co-founder and co-president of Chabad On Campus, the first Jewish club at Worcester State University. She has served as a peer assisted learning mentor and an admissions tour guide. Maia has engaged in numerous volunteer experiences in Worcester, including being an ER greeter at UMass Memorial and advisor for the GlamourGals Foundation at Wachusett Regional High School. Maia is currently a rest home activity aid, leading activities for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Maia is conducting research on the dysregulation of protein function in cancer cell lines. She will earn the Honors in Biotechnology distinction and is on track to receive her master’s degree in biotechnology next year. Maia’s goal is to research and provide care to those struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and plans to attend medical school to pursue an MD/PhD.
This award, established by Kevin and Susan Donohue, the parents of Worcester State University alumnus Lincoln C. Donohue ‘98, who graduated with the highest honors in biotechnology and went on to work at Genzyme Corp. before his sudden passing at the age of 24 in 1999, is given to an outstanding student in the biotechnology program who shows promise, dedication, and academic success.
Hadeel Hamza transferred to Worcester State University after completing her associate’s degree in general healthcare studies. Hadeel has always been passionate about making a difference in the health and lives of people. She chose to major in biotechnology to pursue laboratory research and contribute to the field. She has gained additional laboratory experience by performing several internships and was one of six outstanding students selected to participate in a flow cytometry workshop at Enable Life Sciences, an advisory company to the biotechnology program. Hadeel has worked as a Worcester State University Aisiku undergraduate fellowship researcher and intern at UMass Medical School. Her research has focused on isolating and characterizing Bacillus thuringiensis strains from soil samples and then testing their nematocidal activities with free-living nematodeCaenorhabditis elegans. Hadeel also works as a laboratory technician at Quinsigamond Community College and after graduation looks to join a biotechnology company where she will be able to contribute to making a difference in patients’ lives.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in biotechnology.
Uyen ‘Amelia’ Nguyen chose to study biotechnology because she was interested in the concept of genetic modification, but became passionate about the field as she took the major courses. Amelia gained laboratory research experience in Worcester State University’s Department of Biology and by participating in internship research at Medica Corporation. Amelia has become an essential researcher at Medica by working on two simultaneous projects to validate Medica’s updated blood analyte detection and white blood cell identification platforms. She is still actively working at Medica and conducting data analysis and virtual meetings at home while finishing her course requirements. After graduation, Amelia intends to join either Medica Corporation or another biotechnology company where she can contribute to its research mission. Amelia is also interested in either becoming a physician’s assistant or obtaining a master’s degree in the future.
This award, sponsored by Bollus Lynch, to continue their commitment to community-based support in the Worcester area, is given to the highest-ranking graduating senior majoring in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
Lindsey Hoggins is an honors student who takes her academic responsibilities very seriously. She is currently working on her Commonwealth Honors Project, which is a narrative review on how data analytics are changing the accounting profession. The research specifically looks at any changes that should be implemented to the business curriculum. During her academic career, Lindsey took advantage of many different programs offered at Worcester State University. She is an active member of the University’s Enactus team, and she held the position of secretary of the Enactus Executive Board, where her responsibilities were significant. She studied abroad at Richmond -The American International University in London, England. Lindsey worked as an intern for a local accounting firm; this summer, she will be interning with Ernst & Young, in their tax department. Lindsey plans to attend graduate school at Worcester State University, where she will pursue a master’s degree in management with a concentration in accounting, and to eventually attain her goal of becoming a Certified Public Accountant.
This award, named in honor of Dr. William F. O’Brien Jr, ’84 a devoted Worcester State University alumnus and retired faculty member, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Education in 2016, is given to a senior majoring in economics who has achieved high academic standing and/or demonstrated a strong interest in applying economic theory internationally through academic course work and/or study abroad experiences.
Gabrielle Conlon transferred to Worcester State University from Mount Holyoke College in 2016. Majoring in economics with a minor in urban studies, Gabrielle has maintained an impressive grade point average in both her economics major and in her overall course work. While at Worcester State, she served as a tutor for Introduction to Macroeconomics, as well as tutoring middle-school and high-school students. Her deep love of and aptitude for teaching was reflected in the number of students who consistently sought her out and in the strong, positive reviews she received. An insightful student of both economics and urban studies, she displays a strong aptitude for integrative learning. She looks to apply her studies to advance social justice locally and throughout the broader national and international communities.
This award, named in honor of Professor Stephen Trimby, a retired Worcester State University faculty member whose dedication to the University and to the success of every student who crossed his path spanned decades, is given to a senior majoring in economics who has demonstrated exemplary work in economics, has shown outstanding potential for graduate studies and/or career success, and/or has demonstrated a commitment to use their economics’ education to advance the betterment of the community at-large.
A double-major in economics and psychology, Jessica Kollett has maintained an impressive grade point average in both fields. Her strength of character, personal and academic integrity, and perseverance has allowed her to excel academically and professionally. A member of the Worcester State University Honors Program and the economics honor society, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Jessica maintained employment as an assistant manager at Bonardi’s Formalwear while simultaneously completing her degree. She has demonstrated outstanding potential for graduate studies and a successful career within or outside of the academic arena.
This award, established in 2016 by Dr. Renuka Jain, former Worcester State University chair of business administration and economics, in honor of her parents, Raj and Mahendra Jain, is given to a female graduating senior majoring in business administration, with at least 15 credits through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, and a GPA of at least 3.5.
When Catherine Becerra was 21 years old, she was diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, which put a hold on her pursuit of higher education. After treatment and years of gradual progress, her vision has improved enough for her to continue her goal of obtaining a bachelor's degree. While pursuing her degree at Worcester State University, she has worked full-time as a secondary market specialist at Digital Credit Union. In addition to being recognized for her academic achievements by being inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society and the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society, she was also recognized this January for her efforts in the mortgage industry by being named a “Rising Star Within the Mortgage Industry” by the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in accountancy.
This award is given to a current (or former) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) student who has a part-time or full-time job while maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Second preference shall be given to Sigma Beta Delta students with a concentration in accounting and/or finance.
Amanda Hoxha will be graduating in May 2020 with a degree in business administration, concentrating in accounting. She was born and raised in Albania and moved to the United States four years ago. During her studies at Worcester State University, one of her favorite topics became taxation. When the opportunity to serve in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program arose, she seized it. She found this experience rewarding, not only because of the challenge, but also because she wanted to help others and affect their lives for the better. One of her many talents is teaching. No matter where her path takes her, Amanda will always make time alongside and within her career for sharing knowledge with others. She currently works as a staff accountant and plans to pursue graduate education at Worcester State University.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in business administration.
Lauren Banfield is a Business Administration major with a minor in Psychology. Lauren is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma and Sigma Beta Delta Honor Societies. She has been awarded the Enactus Diamond Leadership, the Binienda Center Public Service Award, and the Mechanics Hall Collegiate Award. For the past two years, Lauren has served as a project manager for the University’s Enactus chapter. Within this role, she organized assemblies and the building and installation of Buddy Benches at elementary schools in the Worcester Public Schools system. Lauren also oversaw and contributed to the creation of a pro-inclusion curriculum. In addition, she has served as Worcester State University’s liaison to Working for Worcester, coordinating the volunteer services of all interested Worcester State students and alumni wishing to give back to the community. Lauren has also completed three marketing internships. She has been accepted into Worcester State University’s 4+1 Master of Science in Management Program, in the marketing track, and has already begun her studies.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in economics.
Pavlina Ziso began her undergraduate studies at the University of Tirana, in Albania. In 2017, Pavlina and her family moved to the United States. She subsequently enrolled at Worcester State University, majoring in economics. Her enthusiasm and aptitude for economics was recently acknowledged with her acceptance into the Ph.D. program in Economics at Clark University. While at Worcester State, she has maintained an outstanding grade point average, worked for the International Programs Office, studied abroad in Greece, tutored students in Mathematical Economics, and served as the executive coordinator for the Entrepreneurship Club. Most recently, she was selected by the President’s Office to serve as an advocate for higher education through the Washington, D.C., Leadership Program. Pavlina aspires to become a professor of economics.
This award, made possible by a gift from former Worcester State University biology professor Dr. Maureen Shamgochian '80 and her late husband Edward, is given to a current sophomore, junior, or senior majoring in chemistry with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The student must have engaged in scientific research and plan to continue his or her education in the sciences in professional or graduate school.
Maxwell Kimball is completing his fourth year at Worcester State University with an impressive cumulative GPA. Maxwell has completed research on organometallic catalysts over the past two years at Worcester State. His work was presented at the Worcester State University Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity. Max was inducted into the Tau Alpha Chapter of Gamma Sigma Epsilon National Honor Society in November 2018 and served as the treasurer in 2019. In addition, he is a member of the Central Mass section of the American Chemical Society.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in chemistry.
Devon Hassan is completing his fourth year at Worcester State University with a perfect GPA in his chemistry classes. Devon implemented Density Functional Theory calculations to elucidate the stabilization energy contributions of individual hydrogen bonding interactions in guanine tetramers and presented the work at both the Worcester State University Celebration for Scholarship and Creativity and at the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference. In addition, he has been a Peer Assisted Learning mentor in organic chemistry for the past year. He was inducted into the Tau Alpha Chapter of Gamma Sigma Epsilon National Honor Society in November 2019.
This award, established in 2019 by Worcester State University alumna Marjorie Tarmey ’63 and her family, is given to the highest-ranking senior majoring in communication.
Christina Cronin is the recipient of the Department of Communication’s highest academic achievement award. She currently serves as the president of WSUR, Worcester State University’s campus radio station, and is a public relations and marketing intern at Creative Hub Worcester, a non-profit arts organization. During the fall 2019 semester, she served as the public relations and marketing intern for the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Some of her favorite courses in the communication major have included Media Criticism, Social Media, and Media Writing. Her senior capstone project focused on gender imbalance in the music industry, and her final paper in Media Criticism explored LGBTQ+ representations on the Showtime series Queer as Folk.
This award, honoring the late Massachusetts State Representative John J. Binienda Sr., a Worcester State University alumnus and educator who served in the Massachusetts State House for 28 years, is given to an undergraduate student who will be entering the Worcester State University graduate program in speech-language pathology and will focus on challenges facing children with hearing loss.
Raquel Sousa has a stellar academic record and received early acceptance into the competitive Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Program at Worcester State University. After graduation, Raquel plans to work as a speech-language pathologist with children from birth to three years of age in early intervention. Raquel’s personal experience with a loved one with hearing loss showed her that hearing loss not only affects communication, but also has a negative impact on family relationships and quality of life. Raquel wants to ensure that children with hearing loss reach their full potential and she will focus on this work after completing her graduate studies.
This award is given to an outstanding student majoring in communication sciences and disorders in recognition of the student’s demonstrated record of leadership, ability, scholastic achievement, and service to the WSU-NSSLHA Chapter.
Elisa Madden is an excellent student with a demonstrated record of leadership. Elisa will graduate in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and a minor in psychology. She has appeared on the Dean’s List since her freshman year. She was also inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. Elisa has been active in several student organizations on campus. She receives this award for her leadership in the Worcester State University Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. She also had a leadership position in the Worcester State University Best Buddies program. In addition, Elisa was a member of Enactus and the Working for Worcester Community Initiative. Elisa spent many hours tutoring her peers in the Academic Success Center. Outside of Worcester State, Elisa works as a public schools special education classroom aide, and volunteered her time as a camp counselor. Elisa plans to attend a graduate program in speech-language pathology.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in communication sciences and disorders.
Katelyn Thebado will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and minors in education studies and psychology. She has a perfect GPA and has appeared on the Dean’s List every semester since her freshman year. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is also active on campus and participates in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and the Helping Emerging Leaders Progress Program. Katelyn trained to be a peer mentor for Worcester State University’s Student Support Network for the Health Sciences to help peers recognize warning signs of and access services for mental health difficulties. In addition, she worked on campus as a work study student. Katelyn plans to attend graduate school to continue her studies to qualify as a speech-language pathologist.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in computer science.
James Young is an outstanding computer science major, completing the software development concentration with a perfect GPA. He works extremely well with his teammates in the Software Development Capstone course, and is technically excellent and organized. James is currently completing an ambitious independent research and development project that combines mobile app development, machine learning, digital signal processing, and speech recognition to help users improve their speech patterns. He has been consulting with Worcester State University’s Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders as well as with his project supervisor.
This award recognizes a student of a diverse background who has good academic achievement, professionalism, and a record of community service, and exhibits superior potential and commitment to the field of criminal justice.
Riley Brown has been interested in law enforcement since childhood. He earned an associate’s degree from Quinsigamond Community College and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He has volunteered with the Borough’s Junior Police Academy, a program that serves youth in Northborough, Westborough, and Southborough, Massachusetts. His goal is to work as a police officer for a local town or city.
This award, established by Dr. Stephen A. Morreale, Worcester State University chair and professor of criminal justice, is given to a high achieving junior or senior majoring in criminal justice who demonstrates a thirst for lifelong learning while also serving as an active employee in a criminal justice agency.
Brandon Carty is a senior criminal justice major. He started his academic career at Westfield State University, transferring after one year to Worcester State University. Brandon has been engaged in public service since he was 14. He began as a member of Explorer Post 85, an auxiliary member of the Westborough Fire Department in Westborough, Massachusetts, eventually rising to become president of the WFD Auxiliary. Later, he joined the Hopkinton Department of Public Works as a part-time employee, which allowed him to stay working in the public service field. In addition, he earned an EMT certification. In 2019, he completed the curriculum at the Massachusetts Department of Correction Academy, while remaining a full-time student. He served as a corrections officer at the MCI-Cedar Junction correctional facility and, most recently, was offered an opportunity to join the Hopkinton Department of Public Works as a full-time employee. In the community, Brandon is a coach for the Dover-Sherborn-Hopkinton Girls Varsity hockey team. He expects to attend graduate school and seek a position as a police officer.
This award, given in memory of Vanessa Anne Dunn, a Worcester State University student in the criminal justice program who lost her life in 2010, just months before she was scheduled to graduate, is given to the senior majoring in criminal justice with the highest overall GPA.
Jafet Ortiz earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Quinsigamond Community College and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. A graduate of Worcester Technical High School, he served with the United States Marine Corps as an infantryman, was deployed twice overseas, and landed in six different countries. In the Marine Corps, he trained with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Reno Police Department, dealing with patrol methods and SWAT procedures. He is an EMT in Massachusetts and has worked as a force protection officer in different government buildings across Massachusetts. Jafet is a father of two, and is heavily involved in community service through his church, where he helps people find shelter and food. He intends to apply for a career as a police officer for the City of Worcester.
This award, endowed by a student of the late Dr. Earl B. Shaw, a former Worcester State University geography professor, is given to an outstanding senior majoring in geography, in recognition of the student’s academic achievement and service to the University community.
Rebecca Lulu is graduating with a degree in geography with concentration in environmental studies. After taking some time off, she returned to school in fall 2018 and immediately distinguished herself with high quality academic work.The Department of Earth, Environment, and Physics faculty have been impressed with her intellectual curiosity and active participation in the classroom. Perhaps Becky’s greatest contribution to the department has been her talent at community building among our students and also between students and faculty. Becky has taken an active role in campus and community environmental events and actions. She is currently weighing work and graduate school options for what comes next.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in environmental science.
John Veneziano developed an interest in the environment during his high school years, and he continued his journey into environmental science when he transferred to Worcester State University in 2017. John is a hard-working student, and has made the Dean's List every semester. He has used every opportunity to take part in various research projects, such as land surface temperature variations across the United States and the urban heat island of Worcester, Massachusetts. As a result of this work, he has been able to present at several events, including the Worcester State University Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference, and most recently the American Meteorological Society’s 2020 Centennial Conference in Boston. His project won the first prize for the Department of Earth, Environment, and Physics during the Worcester State University Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity in 2018. John also helped with the Aisiku interdisciplinary STEM visualization project as a student member. This project aims to develop innovative methods to create virtual reality field trips for students with physical disabilities. John is also a recipient of the Mass Space Grant from NASA, which aimed to identify pollution concentrations in areas of high human activity. In addition to his schoolwork and these achievements, John is also involved in several activities on campus. These include tutoring for environmental science through the Academic Success Center, as well as serving as treasurer of Active Minds, a major organization on campus that focuses on changing the conversation around mental health.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in geography.
Trisha Cheever has been a remarkably dedicated geography student since she arrived at Worcester State University. She has taken full advantage of all Worcester State has to offer, and more, spending her spring 2019 semester studying away at the University of Alaska-Southeast. Beyond her exceptional academic career, at Worcester State she has been chair of the Class Committee and served on many other campus wide groups, including the Student Activity Board in Juneau, Alaska. In the Department of Earth, Environment, and Physics, she has co-led the undergraduate geography honor society Gamma Theta Upsilon, helping build both a scholarly and collegial community amongst geography and environmental science students. She also is a member of Worcester State University's NCAA Division III Indoor and Outdoor Track and Cross-Country teams. Trisha has already begun to put her geography major with a concentration in environmental studies and her urban studies minor to work in the real world, contributing to everything from roadway studies presented to the mayor of Revere, to winning NASA-funded grants to study earth systems with collaborators at Framingham State University. Her commitment, curiosity, and enthusiasm for the full spectrum of geography has been an inspiration to classmates and faculty alike.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance minoring in physics.
Nathaniel deVries is a senior at Worcester State University, with a major in mathematics and minors in physics and music. Although Nathaniel previously enjoyed music, acting, and literature, he did not enjoy mathematics, and never dreamed that he would spend his undergraduate years devoted to its study. He is a Presidential Student Ambassador, representing the student body and the President’s Office both on- and off-campus. Nathaniel initially hoped to go to school far away from home, but made a last-minute decision to attend Worcester State. With small class sizes, he has developed relationships with his faculty and fellow students while developing a love for the beauty of mathematics. During his junior year, he received opportunities to begin tutoring and leading Peer Assisted Learning sessions for physics classes. Preparing exercises for group learning, engaging students in thought-promoting conversations, and communicating with faculty to determine how best to help students have been among his most positive experiences at Worcester State. This program has been an excellent opportunity to learn course material at a deeper level, to develop leadership/facilitation skills, and to grow in his enjoyment of helping other students develop a deeper understanding of difficult STEM concepts. Nathaniel hopes to use the skills and love of teaching which he has developed to continue helping STEM students after his graduation.
This award, in honor of the Worcester State University Class of 1952 and its many esteemed educators and devoted alumni, is given to the highest-ranking graduating senior majoring in elementary education.
Madison Marceau is a highly motivated elementary education and psychology student with a passion for teaching young children, travel, teaching english as a second language, and learning about cultures and international education. She recently studied abroad in Thailand, where she was able to explore the school systems throughout the country and hopes to continue similar explorations in other countries in the future. She also spent a semester at the University of Montana through the National Student Exchange program. During that time, she got to explore the West and found a love for the national parks in our country. At Worcester State University she is in the Honors Program and has made the Dean's List every semester. She was also the president of the Best Buddies Club in her junior year and remains an active member. During the summer of 2019, she did a research study through Worcester State University grant funding. Additionally, Madison works as a substitute teacher’s assistant, as well as at summer camps, and also is an adult companion for a young adult who is on the autism spectrum. She is a senior completing student teaching in a dual language classroom at Chandler Magnet School this spring with hopes of teaching in an elementary school setting next school year.
This award, given in memory of Professor Helen Shaughnessy, a highly esteemed teacher, faculty member, chair, and administrator at Worcester State University and the surrounding school district, is given to recognize a junior or senior elementary education student who demonstrates good academic achievement, professionalism, and outstanding potential in the field of elementary education.
Rachel To is an energetic and passionate teacher who is completing a program in math for elementary education at Worcester State University. She is a highly engaged member of the Worcester State community, acting as president of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and member of the Education Student Advisory Council as well as being part of many service activities on campus and in the local community. Rachel is a student who is always looking to help others. She often reaches out to fellow students to assist them in their coursework or preparation for MTEL tests, or to offer advice about what courses to take. She even helped organize professional development about math instruction for teachers at one of Worcester State University’s professional development schools. Rachel is truly a leader in the field of education in the Worcester community with a strong interest in urban education, math education, and service to others.
This award, established by George ‘65 and Lillian (Brooks) ‘65 Albro, lifelong educators and benefactors of Worcester State University, is given to a junior or senior majoring in elementary education or minoring in middle or secondary education with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Preference is given to students who graduated from Leicester High School, or are from the town of Leicester, Massachusetts.
Kylie Gilroy is a math major and a secondary education minor aspiring to be a high school math teacher in the future. Kylie is highly respected by her peers and instructors alike, for her thoughtfulness and kindness toward others. Her classmates have described her as someone who always reaches out to help. She is extraordinarily organized and often completes requirements and assignments long before they are due. For example, she passed all the required MTELs for the teaching license she is seeking long before she needed to. She is an extremely strong student who is able to connect her learning in coursework to her teaching practice quite easily. She will clearly be a highly effective teacher in the future and one that will influence generations of students to come.
This award, in memory of Worcester State University Professor Madelin A. Wilmarth, a pioneer in the field of early childhood education, is given to the junior majoring in early childhood education with the highest GPA.
Samantha Johnson is an early childhood education major who is motivated and industrious. She has managed to maintain dean’s list status while at Worcester State University while also working a full-time job and taking extra courses to assure she stays on track with her program. The Worcester State University Early Childhood Program has helped Samantha to advance her career at Children of Tomorrow. Upon graduation she plans to continue in the world of early childhood education.
This award is given to a student majoring in early childhood education with a minimum GPA of 3.5. The recipient must show exceptional abilities in working with and teaching young children.
Samantha Sealy is an extremely passionate educator with a dream of working with young children. Her professors and supervisors, both at Worcester State University and at area schools speak of Samantha with high regard and describe her as a teacher with natural ability. Samantha is consistently a Dean’s List student and a member of both the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society and the Psi Chi International Psychology Honor Society. Samantha has also dedicated time to serve as a member of Jumpstart, an AmeriCorp Program, and was awarded the Ripple Award for her service. She has been awarded multiple awards and scholarships in the past, including the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, the Olive I. (Lutz) Borgatti Endowed Scholarship, the MVA scholarship, and the Felix E. Matterson Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Samantha plans to continue her education by seeking a master’s degree in early childhood education or pursuing a career in school psychology.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in early childhood education.
Rosina Adongo is an early childhood educator currently working at Head Start in Worcester. Her hard work and dedication to the field of early childhood education is unmatched. She has a passion for working with young children and hopes that her degree from Worcester State University will allow her to further help the young children in Worcester and beyond.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in English.
Michael Schroth is a Worcester State University Honors Program student and an English major with a concentration in writing and a minor in business administration. Michael is a talented writer and editor, fields he has pursued at Worcester State both as a consultant in the Writing Center and as a core staff member of the university’s news and literary magazine New Worcester Spy, where he started as a contributing writer, was promoted to associate editor, and this year took on the top job of executive editor. Michael has been awarded the prestigious Lt. Colonel James Sheehan Academic Achievement Award, as well as the Esther Forbes Scholarship. He is currently an intern at Machado Consulting, where he writes blogs, social media posts, newsletters, white papers, marketing materials, and more. Michael is a dedicated fitness-expert, a subject about which he has (not surprisingly) written a series of popular articles for the New Worcester Spy. Michael has a deep passion for writing realistic fiction. His dream, in fact, is to be a full-time creative writer. In the shorter term, he plans to enroll in an MBA program next fall; he is considering programs at Worcester State University and Assumption College.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in health education.
Brendan Quinlan has thrived academically in the health education program since transferring to Worcester State University and has been consistently included on the Dean's List during his time at Worcester State. Brendan is currently completing his internship at NeuroCare Center for Sleep as an administrative intern and will be graduating as a proud member of the class of 2020. He will pursue a master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine following graduation.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in public health.
Morgan Brogie is a senior public health major who has made the Dean’s List every semester at Worcester State University and is part of the Eta Sigma Gamma and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. Outside of the classroom, she works as a writing consultant at the Worcester State University Writing Center as well as being a summer craft director and youth basketball league staff. She is also a student research intern with the John J. Binienda Center for Civic Engagement. Previously, Morgan conducted an independent research study. Currently, Morgan is interning at the Worcester Division of Public Health, where she is completing a research project on substance abuse. She is also a member of the Peer Health Educators Club and the Women’s Tennis Team, and she volunteers at a horse farm. Plans for the future include continuing her studies to become an occupational therapy researcher and professor.
This award, established in memory of former Worcester State University Professor of History Cheng Yuan and his wife, Christina, is given to the highest-ranking junior majoring in history.
Samantha Sousa is a junior double majoring in history and english. She transferred to Worcester State University from Quinsigamond Community College. She has long been fascinated by English medieval and Renaissance history, especially the War of the Roses and the complex lives of royal women. In spring 2019, she was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. Her favorite hobbies are reading and writing. She has a special affection for historical fiction and fantasy novels. She aspires to be an author, writing in her preferred genres of historical fiction and fantasy novels, and to enter a career in publishing to work with historical fiction writers.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in history.
Senior history major Adam Gregoire is minoring in philosophy and has been consistently named to the Dean's List for his stellar academic record. Off campus, he has worked at the Holden Big Y Supermarket throughout his time at Worcester State University. He hopes to continue his history studies in graduate school. His career plans focus on the field of public history, in museums or archives.
This award, honoring Dr. Richard Bisk, former Worcester State University faculty member and chair of the Mathematics Department, is given to a junior or senior with at least a 3.6 GPA, who demonstrates outstanding achievement in mathematics, along with a commitment to teaching for understanding.
Rachel To has pursued a double major in elementary education and math for elementary education. Rachel’s activities and accomplishments include being elected president of the Worcester State University chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, two years in Jumpstart including one as a leader, tutoring in the Worcester State University Math Center for math education and liberal arts courses, and as a Worcester State student leader for the Girls Inc. Eureka STEM summer program for two summers. In addition, for the past several summers Rachel worked in two summer bridge programs, as a teaching assistant in the Alternatives for Individual Development (AID) and as a math tutor and leader for the Cornerstone Summer STEM Bridge Program.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in mathematics.
Nathaniel deVries is a traditional mathematics major with minors in physics and music. Nate’s accomplishments and activities include being elected the president of the Math Club in 2019, student leader for the Worcester State University Math Circle for the inaugural year of 2019, three years as a Worcester State University Presidential Student Ambassador, and Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) mentor in physics for 2 years. Nate’s math capstone project brought together music, physics, and math in an outstanding paper and presentation. In addition, during his time at Worcester State, Nate was active in leading, mentoring, and participating in several regional chorus groups.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in mathematics for elementary education.
Dakota Hinerth has pursued a double major in elementary education and math for elementary education. Her activities and accomplishments include tutoring in the Worcester State University Math Center for math education, developmental math, and liberal arts courses. She was a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) mentor for pre-calculus, a student leader for the Worcester State University Girls Inc. Eureka STEM program for two years, and a math tutor and leader for the Cornerstone Summer STEM Bridge Program. During her spare time at Worcester State, Dakota sang in the Chorale and was active in community theater as a performer in productions and as a director of children and teen productions.
This award, given in memory of Ann “Annie” Dolan, M.S.N. ‘13, who was a labor and delivery nurse who returned to Worcester State University to earn her master’s degree in nursing education shortly before her death in 2014, is given to a nursing student who has demonstrated an enthusiastic and compassionate bedside manner, and a passion to advance the art and science of nursing.
While maintaining an impressive GPA, Rachel Stier has excelled in her bedside nursing abilities. She has provided nursing care in many settings, from long term care to acute care centers. Both patients and family members have commented on the compassionate nursing care she has given in her role as a student nurse. She is a member of the Honors Program at Worcester State University and is graduating as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar. Additionally, she is a member of both the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society. Rachel has presented research entitled “Nurse to Patient Staffing and the Effect on Patient Care and Safety” at the Worcester State University Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity as well as the Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference. Rachel states that, after graduation, she hopes to find a position as a medical surgical nurse to gain experience before pursuing an advanced nursing degree.
This award, established in 2015 by Dr. Jean A. Campaniello, Worcester State University professor emerita and former chair of the Nursing Department, to recognize M.S. in Nursing students for their service and community engagement, is given to a student with a minimum GPA of 3.25, who is completing a graduate course of study in community health nursing.
As co-chair of the Leicester Middle School (LMS) Wellness Committee, Melissa Ledbetter works tirelessly to ensure that students’ wellness is top-of-mind, bringing ideas and programs to the Leicester Middle School that not only benefit students, but staff as well. Melissa founded the LMS 84 Club, through which students educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette products. She created an effective anti-vaping campaign engaging students and staff members. Melissa is also a member of Leicester School District Crisis Team. Her ideas and contributions have been instrumental in shaping the district crisis plan. She is a certified CPR instructor and has taught this lifesaving technique to many people in her community. In addition, she has arranged for students on the Health Careers Pathway at Tantasqua Regional High School to come to Leicester Middle School to teach the entire seventh and eighth grades Hands-Only CPR. Melissa is constantly making these kinds of connections between schools and towns to bring knowledge and information to the students and staff of her district.
This award, in honor of the late Dr. Lillian R. Goodman, founder of the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing at Worcester State University, and pioneer in the field of nursing education, is given to a registered nursing student who exemplifies leadership, caring, a strong commitment to professional nursing, and a vision for the future.
While pursuing his bachelor’s degree in nursing, James Frederick enrolled in the RN to BSN program at Worcester State University. James is always looking toward his future role in the profession of nursing. James maintains employment as a firefighter, paramedic, and registered nurse in an emergency room setting selflessly caring for those in need, all while excelling in his studies. During this very difficult time for nurses, health care providers, and first responders, he has made courageous contributions in his care for others in need. James maintains a calm and professional demeanor in his interactions with peers and patients. Despite his demanding schedule, James personified his commitment to learning and strong leadership qualities throughout his education.
This award, established in 2019 by Dr. Paula L. Dufresne-Sullivan '86, is given to a graduating senior in Nursing Track 1, 2, or 3 who has demonstrated special qualities of compassion and leadership, and a commitment to humanitarian service to all patients, especially those in disenfranchised populations.
Olivia Saisa embodies the belief in the worth and dignity of all patients, regardless of skin color, cultural identity, sexual identity, religion, socio-economic status, or affliction. Olivia is fluent in both English and Spanish and completed the medical interpreter certificate program. Additionally, she has had a range of experiences studying and volunteering abroad in locations including El Salvador, Peru, India, Argentina, and Morocco. These experiences will enable her to provide patient-centered culturally appropriate care to more diverse patient populations in need of care. Olivia has the desire and ambition to work in developing countries, conflict zones, and war-torn regions and to reach out to people in places where she can make a difference.
This award is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in a nursing clinical setting and has an interest in orthopedics or rehabilitation medicine.
Laura Ernst has demonstrated her abilities in the clinical setting and in multiple leadership roles. Laura served as a representative for the Student Nurses Association for her nursing cohort, and served as chair of the Community Awareness Committee within the Student Nurses Association. While serving in this capacity, Laura worked tirelessly to coordinate numerous outreach opportunities within Worcester State University as well as the greater Worcester community. Examples of her outreach included such events as blood donation drives, educational sessions, and awareness walks. Additionally, Laura represented the Worcester State University nursing program at the annual National Student Nurses Association convention, where she presented a poster entitled “Nursing Community Awareness in Worcester, MA.” Laura has embodied the excellence expected of a Worcester State University Nursing graduate in all aspects of the program.
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in nursing.
Laura Fuertes is enrolled in the RN to BSN program offered by the Department of Nursing at Worcester State University. For many years Laura worked tirelessly as an RN providing compassionate and professional nursing care for her patients. She understood the importance of furthering her education and achieving a BS from Worcester State. Returning to school after nearly 25 years as a bedside nurse can be quite a challenge, but Laura transitioned to this role with ease. Laura managed this seamlessly earning the highest GPA in the nursing major. Laura did this while juggling her academic endeavors, working 40 hours a week, and being a mother of two busy teenagers. Laura has continued to care for patients during this very difficult time for all nurses and health care providers, and yet still maintained her commitment to her education.
This award was established by the late I. Robert Freelander, charter member of the Worcester State Foundation Board and a 2002 recipient of an honorary degree from Worcester State University, and his wife, Aviva, a Worcester-area philanthropist. It is given to the highest-ranking senior majoring in occupational therapy.
Kacie DeSousa is a talented young woman who has been a quiet but distinctive force throughout the campus. She has worked consistently and diligently in every academic course for four years, while being involved in several campus clubs and programs. Kacie has been an active member for four years of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA). To share her knowledge and teaching skills Kacie has been a tutor for Psychological Statistics for the Worcester State University Academic Success Center. Her commitment to social justice is evidenced by her receiving the Civic Engagement Award for the CLEWS Club. Kacie has not only been a member of the Dance Company on campus but has been a choreographer as well, which is an example of the balance in her daily life, a central element of occupational therapy.
This award, in honor of Worcester State University Professor Emeritus Dr. Daniel C. Shartin, is given to a student who has taken multiple philosophy courses and most exemplifies the spirit of the philosophical endeavor in all its logical rigor and creativity.
Elizabeth Pedone will graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a concentration in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and minor in philosophy. Some of her favorite classes during her academic career at Worcester State University were Logic I, Philosophy of Mind, and Applied Research Methods. Elizabeth reports that being able to minor in philosophy genuinely enriched her life and education, and she is thankful to all the professors here. She greatly enjoyed working under Dr. Alexandra Burgess, in the Department of Psychology, on her capstone research project, and she hopes to continue the process of manuscript writing after graduation. This summer, Elizabeth will be moving to New York with the hope of starting a career in research, with a goal of one day perhaps being a university professor herself.
This award, endowed by former Worcester State University Admissions Director Beth Axelson ‘70, who graduated from Worcester State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, is given to the highest-ranking graduating senior majoring in psychology.
Michaela White is dedicated to pursuing excellence in academic coursework, independent scholarship, and community service. Michaela is completing a psychology major with a concentration in mental health services and a minor in middle school mathematics. With multiple faculty members, she sought independent study experiences that showcased her strong work ethic, critical thinking ability, and communication skills. While making the Dean’s List and joining Psi Chi, the International Psychology Honor Society, here at Worcester State University, Michaela has garnered attention in the field by presenting her independent scholarship at two professional conferences. Perhaps most importantly, Michaela has a deep commitment to civic service and the public good. She has served her Worcester State peers as a new student orientation leader, a peer tutor in mathematics, and a member of WooServes and WooCares. During her senior year, she founded and led a weekly mindfulness meditation group, and has continued to support her peers during remote learning by launching a mindfulness blog. In the community, Michaela has worked for five mental health service organizations, and served as a children’s karate instructor and church peer mentor. After graduation, Michaela plans to earn a master’s degree in social work and to continue to harness her considerable strengths for good.
This award, established by a former student of Dr. Lawrence A. Averill, late Worcester State University psychology professor, is given to a senior majoring in psychology.
The Department of Psychology is pleased to honor Sara Darman for her exceptional academic achievements. Sara is a psychology major with a minor in communication sciences and disorders. She was inducted into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, last year. Sara has excelled in her studies beyond psychology: she has been inducted into Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language honor society, and was a student in the Worcester State University Honors Program. As her Commonwealth Honors and Psychology Honors project, Sara is studying Instagram influencer images and their impact on young women’s body esteem. For this project, Sara devised a mixed-method, multi-study design that brings together the psychological, feminist, and gender studies literatures. Her research was presented at the Association for Women in Psychology conference to a national audience. Following graduation, Sara plans to further her research expertise as a research assistant abroad before enrolling in graduate school.
This award, in memory of Professor Faith Zeadey, late Worcester State University professor of sociology, social activist, and humanitarian, is given to the highest-ranking senior majoring in sociology
Stephanie McGrath transferred to Worcester State University from Quinsigamond Community College. Upon entering the university, Stephanie became extremely active in sociological research, conducting studies on experiences of exclusion at Worcester State and constructions of teaching death in children’s books, and doing a case study on the rise of a hate group in the United States. Currently, she is completing a project that examines the impact of segregation on children in the City of Worcester. Stephanie plans to begin professional studies at Suffolk University Law School in the fall.
This award, in memory of elder student Julie Mack, established by her daughter, Worcester State University alumna and former trustee Barbara Sinott '55, is given to an elder undergraduate majoring in urban studies who has fostered a dynamic intergenerational climate on campus, developed the ability to see the world and its challenges through a multi-generational lens, and shown the capacity and sensitivity to work creatively across ages to meet those challenges.
Beryl "Bev" Pettiford became an urban studies major due to her interest in cities. Now, on the brink of graduation, Bev sees her major as much more valuable in ways that she never imagined. Urban studies has taught her to think critically about people, diversity, and the unique role that we all play in constructing our society and nation. She applies knowledge gained from her coursework to her current job as a mental health technician and in preparation to become an advocate for others in her future career. Bev has raised five children, worked for a number of different companies, started and run her own business, and been the recipient of several awards, including recognition in the Who's Who of Colleges. In January 2020, she participated in a legislative briefing about college student hunger at the Massachusetts State House. A first-generation college student and graduate of Quinsigamond Community College, Bev began her college career at age 52. She says, “At 63 years old, I am living proof that it is never too late to get an education.” Bev hopes to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree at Worcester State University, setting an example for her grandchildren and all those in her orbit.
This award, in honor of Nathan Schwartz, founding donor of the Schwartz Charitable Foundation, who was a business visionary committed to supporting small businesses and community endeavors in Worcester County, is given to the highest-ranking undergraduate senior majoring in urban studies who best represents the mission of the Foundation.
Cheryl Thomas is committed to community engagement in her hometown, where she serves as part of Sustainable Westborough, an advisory group to the Westborough Board of Selectmen. When Westborough received the state's designation as a Green Community, Cheryl was at the forefront of efforts to organize and submit the 2020 grant applications for such a designation. In October 2019, she co-chaired a successful educational event about vaping and e-cigarettes, as part of her volunteer work with Westborough Connects, an organization that works to create programming for the enrichment and unity of Westborough residents. During her time at Worcester State University, Cheryl demonstrated her commitment to her town and community--and to the betterment of society at large--through her coursework and research as an urban studies major. In particular, she has pursued urban planning courses and has done independent research with the department's urban planner on questions of sustainability and urban form. In addition to Cheryl's passion to make the world a better place, her intellectual curiosity and dedication to serious academic work makes her an obvious candidate for this award. Once she completes her bachelor’s degree, Cheryl hopes to continue to work for her town, and she is considering graduate school.
This award, in memory of Dr. Vincent “Jake” Powers, a highly respected urban historian and founder of the Worcester State University Urban Studies Department, is given to an undergraduate urban studies student who is an innovative, original thinker, and whose time in the department has emboldened them to pursue personal and professional opportunities they may not have previously considered and to achieve them with determination, grit, and courage.
Like Jake Powers, the founder of the Worcester State University Department of Urban Studies, Jonathan Moraes has a keen interest in people and their lives. His research focus has been on child services and youth advocacy. For his capstone scholarship and upper-level written work, he explored foster care system overcrowding in Massachusetts. In this work, he was particularly focused on how various social and structural state and local governments contributed to the situation, and where their actions succeeded or came up short. He was especially interested in the role of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. His internship, a practical experience that informed his scholarly work, was at Child & Family Services of New Bedford. As a mentor there, he assessed and identified various conditions experienced by clients and those clients’ individual capabilities to manage these conditions as he helped to assemble the correct and most effective treatment plans. Throughout much of his time at Worcester State, Jonathan also worked in the Latino Education Institute, providing mentoring by working on college readiness and career exploration in classes with juniors and seniors from area high schools. After graduation, Jonathan will work in the field of social services in Worcester.
This award, established by Worcester State University alumnus Alan Gordon '80 in memory of his father, Malcolm Gordon, former Worcester resident and nationally renowned magazine gag cartoonist, is given to the highest-ranking senior in visual and performing arts.
In addition to her demonstrated academic excellence, Judith Roy has proven an influential leader amongst the art students and a steady, positive presence in the studios. Her creativity and craftsmanship, along with her intelligent problem-solving capabilities, have resulted in a high level of artistic success. For her capstone, Ms. Roy explored an ambitious stained glass project. This complex artwork proceeded through research, exploration, and completion of elaborate preparatory studies. The project demanded high-level technical skills, persistence, and the dedication of time, care, critical thinking, and talent.
This award, established to honor the late Worcester State University professor Mary Cosgrove Dolphin, a dedicated art educator and artist who touched many Worcester State University students during her service, is given to a studio art student who has demonstrated exceptional creative accomplishment in the visual arts.
Artistically, Danielle Williams is intensely drawn to experimenting with different media, but her true calling is illustration. She recalls that her high school art teacher was exasperated with her tendency to make “cute” art and cartoons. Nevertheless, her evolving style, with its love of color and exaggerated expression, lends itself to the world of children’s literature. In fact, she has illustrated two children’s books. Danielle believes that illustration and cartoons have the ability to affect adults as well as children, and that “cute” art is accessible and disarming, allowing it to carry subversive messages. In her capstone project, she has put that belief into practice, using humor and satire to comment on language used to compliment women and how it carries sexist and misogynist messages.
This award, established by former Worcester State University Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Dorothy A. Escribano, is given to a full-time student with a major or a minor in Spanish. The recipient must be a non-traditional sophomore or a junior with a minimum GPA of 2.7 and demonstrated financial need. The student must have participated in community and/or extracurricular activities, and demonstrated outstanding academic improvement.
A member of Worcester State University Honors Program, Marissa Luchini is a Spanish major minoring in secondary education and French who holds an impressive grade point average. Her commitment to education and to the campus community is demonstrated by her service in the Worcester State University Spanish Clinic, where she has worked as a tutor since fall 2019, and by her active participation as a member of the Spanish Club. Marissa goes outside the classroom to further her knowledge and has plans to study abroad next academic year. She has also shown her leadership skills in different events on campus, such as the 2019 and 2020 Emerge Leadership Circle. In her own words, Marissa wants “to be a leader who grows outside of her comfort zone and inspires others to do the same.”
This award, given by the University with financial support from the Worcester State Foundation, is given to the graduating senior with the top academic performance majoring in Spanish.
Gabriela “Gaby” Hastings has been a dedicated spanish major with a minor in secondary education. She graduated in December 2019 with an outstanding grade point average. A member of the honor society for languages, Alpha Mu Gamma, during her time at Worcester State University Gabriela worked for two years as tutor for the Spanish Clinic and served as secretary of the Spanish Club. She also presented original research at the second Worcester State University World Languages Undergraduate Conference, held in spring 2019. In 2019, she received the Worcester State Foundation Academic Major Award for her studies in middle and secondary education. After graduating in December, she started working full time as a spanish teacher at North High School in Worcester, and she is now completing her first graduate course towards a master’s degree in spanish.
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