Worcester State University awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the 2023 Commencement to alumna Ann Ash Zelesky ’73, a longtime champion for women in athletics.
As a standout student-athlete at Worcester State College, she played on the basketball, softball, field hockey, and volleyball teams. She served as team captain for basketball, softball, and field hockey, earning 15 varsity letters. Her distinguished coaching, teaching, and administrative career includes serving 26 years as associate athletic director at College of the Holy Cross and 14 years as teacher, softball coach, and basketball coach at Saint Peter-Marian High School. Her teams had an overall record of 525-75, winning 16 district championships and six state championships. As a tireless mentor and volunteer, she guided the athletic careers of thousands of young people and coached multiple youth teams in the city of Worcester.
Said Zelesky as she reflected on the honorary degree: “Two thoughts struck me when President Maloney informed me of my award, a deep sense of gratitude for the institution that prepared me for life’s opportunities and challenges and a recognition of the distinct honor in receiving such an award. As important as it is to me, the award reflects positively on the many Worcester State teachers, administrators, coaches, as well as family and friends who taught me, nurtured me, challenged me, and supported me during my undergraduate years and throughout my professional career. I’ve never really looked at Worcester State as an experience that ended on the day of my graduation. The university has always held a special place in my life, and this award speaks volumes about the university’s genuine and unwavering interest in their graduates’ success.”
Photo by Matt Wright ’10