The state Department of Higher Education will kick off the 2015 commencement season by recognizing top students from across Massachusetts at the fifth annual 29 Who Shine award ceremony on May 14 at the State House. The award honors 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university and UMass campus, for their academic achievement and community service.
Mount Wachusett Community College student Cathy May Teague of Winchendon will be among the students recognized by Governor Charlie Baker, state education officials, campus presidents and others attending the ceremony.
“I want to congratulate the outstanding Class of 2015 graduates for the recognition they have received and thank them for their substantial contributions to their local communities,” said Gov. Baker. “Each of the ‘29 Who Shine’ honorees, in addition to being an accomplished student, is civically engaged in ways that improve the quality of life in Massachusetts.”
“Each one of our 29 honorees is from Massachusetts and planning to remain in Massachusetts,” noted Richard M. Freeland, commissioner of higher education. “Through their dedicated scholarship and deep engagement in their local communities, these students are making good on the taxpayers’ investment in their education.”
A lifelong resident of Massachusetts, Teague has her hands full as a full-time student, a mother of three young sons, and stepmother to two teenagers and a 20-year-old soldier serving in Afghanistan. Yet she makes it a priority to carve out time to serve fellow students as president of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Student Government Association, vice president of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and mentor to peers who are struggling with academic or personal issues by volunteering with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program.
Teague has taken a leadership role in civic engagement on and off campus, participating in many endeavors such as helping to build a home with Habitat for Humanity of North Central Massachusetts, food drives to assist those in need, and fundraising to benefit student-centered campus initiatives and community nonprofit organizations. As president of the SGA, she spearheaded the college’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, which served more than 80 families this past year. Additionally, she and her husband, Jason, reach out to help others in as many ways as possible, for example opening their home on Thanksgiving to veterans.
A first-generation college student, Teague participated in the college’s Rx program, a TRIO Student Support Services program designed specifically for health care majors.
“It became clear that in order for me to have a stable career, I needed a college education,” Teague said. “Because of the support, scholarships and positive encouragement I received at Mount Wachusett, I have grown into a confident person with a clear path.”
An outstanding student academically, Teague was recognized this spring as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa All-Massachusetts Academic Team and nominated to the All-USA Academic Team. She has been named to the President’s List and the Dean’s list for academic achievement and will be recognized as a Civic Scholar at Commencement for her extensive service learning and volunteer work. This spring, she also was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
Teague is applying to become an AmeriCorps VISTA, and plans to continue her studies at MWCC to earn a Physical Therapist Assistant degree to achieve her career goal of working with children as a PTA.
The 29 Who Shine campaign asks each honoree to select a faculty or staff mentor to accompany them to the celebration in Boston. Teague named Elaine R. Gagne, an adjunct professor of English, reading and first year experience. The Athol resident also works as a technology teacher for grades K-6 at the Orange Elementary School.
“Professor Gagne has given me endless encouragement through personal and academic challenges. She helped me unlock my potential, allowing me to grow not only as a student but to grow into many leadership roles. She also taught me that if my dreams don’t scare me, they are not big enough,” Teague said.
“I am so proud of Cathy. When I had her in FYE, I knew she was going to go far,” Gagne said.