Massachusetts Honors “29 Who Shine” - Honorees For Statehouse Ceremony

Posted by jcashman

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education recently kicked off the 2012 college commencement season by announcing the student winners of the 29 Who Shine awards. These awards honor 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university and UMass campus in the state, for their academic achievement and community service.

Among this year’s honorees are five veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the first female African American firefighter in the city of Holyoke’s history, and an aspiring physician who designed and opened a free medical clinic for African immigrants in Worcester. The “29 Who Shine” also include students who have co-founded environmental organizations; created community art and prison writing projects; and conducted research to inform the treatment of both hearing loss and childhood obesity. The students will be honored Thursday, May 10, at a State House ceremony attended by Gov. Patrick, state education officials, campus presidents, faculty and students.

“These exceptional students have earned the respect and admiration of the whole Commonwealth,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “I look forward to seeing all the ways they will contribute to a better Massachusetts.”

“The collective brainpower of students like the 29 Who Shine is the Commonwealth’s biggest asset in the global competition for industry and jobs,” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “I am thrilled to see this level of achievement by our public college and university graduates.”

Each of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses selected its own honoree for the 29 Who Shine awards based on criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Students were required to be residents of Massachusetts who had a strong academic record and a history of civic engagement.

Fitchburg State University – Courtney B. Gustafson of Fitchburg

Courtney B. Gustafson has been a standout scholar since her arrival at Fitchburg State University in 2008. Her cumulative GPA heading toward graduation this May is an astounding 3.99.

For Gustafson, a commuting student who was raised in Fitchburg, the journey to Fitchburg State began as one of access; this was a college education she could afford. But it became much more as she realized the opportunities and experiences that were available to a motivated student.

Gustafson balanced a demanding class schedule with work in Fitchburg State’s Office of Student Development, where she quickly rose to a managerial position. She also held down a second off-campus job. She has been a member of the English honor society, wrote for the student newspaper and was selected for leadership development programs offered by the university. This spring, Gustafson has added an internship at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette to her already full workload.

She has also endeavored to make a difference on campus. With fully half of the undergraduate population commuting to the university, Gustafson decided the group needed a voice. She founded the Commuter Club in her second year and oversaw the development of programs catering to this population. The club continues to thrive.

Gustafson’s advocacy and curiosity transcend the campus, however. She is in her second semester volunteering at the Shirley State Prison, where she teaches a writing course to inmates. With another student, under the direction of Professor Ian Williams, Gustafson designed a syllabus and curriculum for the course and put together lesson plans and assignments for 17 men in the prison.

Gustafson has been accepted into an MA/PhD program in English rhetoric and composition at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she has also been offered a teaching assistantship and a fellowship to cover her fees. She plans to continue teaching writing after earning her advanced degree.

Mount Wachusett Community College – Caroline Horvitz of Fitchburg

If you ask Mount Wachusett Community College student Caroline Horvitz whether she thinks she is an inspiration to others, you will get a resounding “No” in response. While faculty, fellow students and others would beg to differ, this student leader believes she is merely going about her own business like everyone else.

These days, her business includes serving as the Student Trustee on MWCC’s Board of Trustees. She also is a member of MWCC’s Honors Program, the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and previously served on the Student Government Association. An exemplary student and mentor to fellow students and student leaders, Horvitz is widely recognized on campus for her wit, intellect, and desire to help motivate her fellow students.

Born with cerebral palsy and deafness during a difficult delivery that claimed the life of her twin sister, Horvitz attended the Beverly School for the Deaf as a child and was later home-schooled. She is fluent in five sign languages, including exact English, British, French, Greek and conversational American. She has studied Latin, and is keenly interested in medieval history, Latin and archival studies.

In October 2011, Horvitz received the Dean Sullivan Award, a top honor that is presented each year to a Massachusetts community college student in recognition of their commitment and achievement as a leader. She will attend Mount Holyoke College in the fall.

Horvitz feels she has no barriers or obstacles that interfere with her life.

“I don’t really have any hardships. I was blessed to be in a family that treated me the exact same way as everyone else. There is nothing I cannot overcome. No matter how bad you think it can get, make sure to dedicate your life to helping someone else. There’s always somebody out there who is worse off than you.”

A few years ago, while touring Pompeii, someone remarked that she could not possibly reach the top of the ruins in her wheelchair. Not only did she do so – she then translated Latin inscriptions for other tourists.

Related posts:

  1. Governor Patrick Breaks Ground on Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Center for Science and Innovation
  2. New Data Show the Majority of MA Veterans Choose State Colleges, Universities for Education
  3. 15 “Innovation Schools” Across Massachusetts Receive A Shared $660,000 In Grant Money
  4. 18 Public MA Campuses To Share $2.5 Million in “Performance Incentive Fund” Grants
  5. Michelle Obama Honors Top Designers at White House

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Posted by jcashman on May 5 2012. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article, Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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