29 Who Shine

Cathy Teague

Cathy M. Teague

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.

29WS 2014 Greg & Kathy NC

Kathy Matson, with her mentor, Associate Dean of Students Greg Clement, during the 29 Who Shine awards ceremony.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education kicked off the 2014 commencement season on May 8 by recognizing recipients of the 29 Who Shine award. The annual ceremony at the State House honors one graduate from each community college, state university and University of Massachusetts campus for their academic achievements and civic contributions to the Commonwealth.

MWCC Business Administration Major Kathleen A. Matson, who has served this academic year as the student representative on the state Board of Higher Education, was among the recipients. Matson also serves as president of the college’s Student Government Association and holds numerous other leadership positions in campus organizations.

“The 29 Who Shine represent the best and the brightest of our public higher education system,” said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. “I’m inspired by how these graduates are giving back to their communities and at the same, for many, also working full time to support their families. And even with all they have going on these students achieved high academic honors. These are the types of people who you want as your neighbor and I’m very proud of each of them.”

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.

“Our public college and university graduates are ‘here to learn and here to stay,’” said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “These outstanding individuals are citizens of the state who plan to build their lives and livelihoods here in Massachusetts. They have delivered a big return on the taxpayers’ investment in their education and we are delighted to honor their achievements.”

The ceremony also included recognition of each honorees’ faculty or staff mentor. Matson selected Associate Dean of Students Gregory Clement as her mentor. Singer-songwriter Whitney Doucet, a 2013 graduate of MWCC, also represented the college with her performance of “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony.

Additionally, publishers of most daily newspapers across the state have donated full or half-page advertisements to honor the students as a group on May 8. Central Massachusetts of the 29 Who Shine Publishers Campaign include The Gardner News, The Sentinel and Enterprise and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

 

Kathy Matson

Kathleen A. Matson

The state Department of Higher Education will spotlight top students from across Massachusetts at the fourth annual 29 Who Shine” student recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 8, at noon at the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House. The award honors 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.

Kathleen A. Matson, a highly regarded student leader on campus and across the state who will earn an associate degree in Business Administration in May, is among the honorees.

A motivated, enthusiastic leader with a passion for helping others, Matson has served this academic year as the student member on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. As a full voting member of the board, she provides a voice for all public higher education students on issues such as affordability and college completion. During her term, she represented Massachusetts during a Student Voices conference in Washington, D.C., joining peers from across the country in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss ideas and concerns regarding higher education.

A member of the state-wide Student Advisory Council, Matson serves as a liaison between the council and the BHE. She has served on MWCC’s Student Government Association for two years, including the past year as president.

Matson earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from MWCC in 1985, and then worked in the private security field for many years. In 2012, she returned to the college to pursue a business degree to combine her interest in these two fields. An exemplary student, she has consistently been recognized for her academic achievements as a President’s List and Dean’s List honoree.

In addition to working two part-time jobs and volunteering for her community, Matson has provided more than 400 volunteer hours to various campus organizations and student groups during this academic year alone. Among her many activities, she holds officer positions with the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma honor societies, volunteers as an ambassador in the admissions office and as a mentor in the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office, serves on the MWCC Alumni Association Board, and assists the campus community as a work study student in MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. For her dedication and commitment to serving others, Matson was recognized earlier this year with Campus Compact’s national Newman Civic Fellow Award.

She and her husband, Calvin, have three sons: Isaac, who graduated from MWCC in 2012, served as SGA president and is now completing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Westfield State University; Caleb, a Criminal Justice major, and Zechariah, a Fire Science major, who will both graduate from MWCC this year. All three sons are serving in the military.

The ceremony will also include recognition of each honorees’ faculty and staff mentors. Matson selected Associate Dean of Students Gregory Clement as her mentor.

“Greg has been a constant mentor and friend. He has always been there encouraging and helping me to attain goals I never thought possible. He has been instrumental in my success as a student leader, continually guiding me to broader horizons.”

Whitney Doucet, a 2013 graduate of MWCC, has been chosen to perform “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony. The outgoing, upbeat performer grew up in Leominster and discovered her love for music at a young age, particularly country music. She has been pursuing her passion for singing and performing since 2005 is a voice teacher in Boston and Worcester.

In May 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education launched “29 Who Shine,” a program to recognize outstanding students representing each of our 29 public campuses. The honorees, chosen because of their academic achievements and record of student leadership and community service, stand poised to contribute greatly to the civic life and economic well-being of the state. Whether furthering their education or entering careers here in Massachusetts in fields as diverse as education, public policy, medicine, creative arts, and engineering, they truly embody the vibrant future that we all envision for the Commonwealth.

 

Governor Deval Patrick with MWCC’s 29 Who Shine honoree, Christine Eck.

MWCC Student Trustee Christine L. Eck was honored in the Department of Higher Education’s “29 Who Shine” awards ceremony, held May 2 at the State House. Now in its third year, the celebration recognizes outstanding graduates from all 29 public colleges and universities.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, Executive Vice President Ann McDonald and Professor Janice Gearan attended the ceremony with Eck, who also invited her husband and daughter. Each of the student honorees selected a faculty or staff mentor who provided them with motivational support and intellectual guidance on campus.

Charles F. Desmond, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education welcomed the guests and opening remarks were made by Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland, Education Secretary Matthew Malone and Governor Deval Patrick.

A Barre resident, mother of three and an active volunteer on campus and in her community, Eck is recognized on campus as a champion for the college and for public higher education. After graduating this spring with an associate degree in human services, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and ultimately work as an applied behavior analyst. She also plans to continue volunteering in the human services field.

“I would like to make a difference in the lives of others; to help them overcome obstacles so they can live a healthy, happy and independent lifestyle,” she said.

29 Who Shine honoree Christine Eck with faculty mentor, Professor Janice Gearan at the ceremony.

 

Christine L. Eck

Twenty-nine outstanding 2013 graduates of Massachusetts community colleges, state universities and the University of Massachusetts will be honored for academic achievement and their contributions to the Commonwealth during a Statehouse ceremony on May 2 sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

MWCC Student Trustee Christine L. Eck, a human services major, was selected as this year’s recipient of the award. A Barre resident, mother of three and an active volunteer on campus and in her community, Eck is recognized on campus as a champion for the college and for public higher education.

In addition, she is a representative on the statewide Student Advisory Council, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and a student ambassador on campus. She serves as vice president of the Human Services club and previously served as secretary of MWCC’s Student Government Association. Among her many activities at MWCC, she spoke before members of Congress on the issue of student financial aid and attended the Massachusetts Public Higher Education Advocacy Day in 2012 and 2013 to meet with legislative staff to discuss a variety of issues affecting college students. This semester, she interned at a Worcester school working with special needs students.

After graduating this spring with an associate degree, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and ultimately work as an applied behavior analyst, as well as continue volunteering in the human services field.

“I would like to make a difference in the lives of others; to help them overcome obstacles so they can live a healthy, happy and independent lifestyle,” she said.

Each of the student honorees selected a faculty or staff mentor who provided them with motivational support and intellectual guidance on campus. At Mount Wachusett Community College, Eck selected Professor Janice M. Gearan, chair of the psychology and social services department.

“Professor Gearan is an excellent, amazing, inspiring professor and mentor. She has helped me reach academic goals that I never thought I could achieve.”