Several service members and veterans, many non-traditionally aged students, several student-athletes, and several students who are registered with Student Accessibility Services were among those who received 80 academic awards, which were given at the April 26 Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.
Friends and family of the students were gathered in the balcony and on the floor of the historic hall to view the formal procession of students, faculty, and stage party, and to hear brief descriptions of each student receiving an award.
Opening greetings were brought from the Worcester State University Board of Trustees Chair Craig Blais, WSU President Barry Maloney, and Worcester State Foundation Board Chair Craig Bovaird ’77.
Blais asked everyone but the awardees to give a standing ovation to them, and Maloney singled out one award winner, who received the Dr. Lawrence A. Averill Award in Psychology, Steve Rose. The reason: Rose will not be present for commencement because he will be serving his country on his fourth deployment as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Rose, like several of the academic honorees, aims to go into the field of mental health counseling when he returns from his tour of duty. His goal is to provide such services to veterans.
The announcement of the prestigious Ella M. Whitney Award kicked off the student recognition portion of the program. Lauren Brown was named the senior who best exemplifies the qualities of Whitney, who was an 1891 graduate. Those qualities include outstanding scholarship, social aptitude, personality, leadership, executive ability, growth, loyalty, integrity, and participation in school activities. Among the many ways Lauren exhibited those qualities was the leadership role she played on the University’s Campus Climate Committee, which has engaged this past year in helping to implement President Maloney’s Five Points of Action Toward a More Inclusive Campus Climate .
The other university-wide award given, the John F. Eager Award for Continuing Education Excellence, is given to the undergraduate evening program senior with the highest overall grade point average in honor of the late professor of biology and former director of the graduate and evening programs. It was given to Cassandra Cataldo.
Three special academic awards were given for cross-department programs and for library research, one Paul Tsongas scholarship was announced, and then more than 70 awards were announced for the highest GPAs in each department and for other academic recognitions within the departments. Dozens of the awards are named for benefactors and include a monetary prize.
The program concluded with the announcement of the Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan ‘55, USMC Ret. Academic Achievement Awards, which are given to the highest-ranking student in each class year and named after the late Lt. Col Sheehan, who is the single largest donor in Worcester State’s history, having gifted more than $4 million to the university and its students.
The first-year awardee is chemistry major Han Nguyen; the sophomore awardees (the GPA was a tie) are nursing major Hade Dabbagh and communications sciences and disorders major Serena Jaskolka, whose mother received the award for her because she is currently studying abroad in Prague; the junior awardees (also a tie) are psychology major Amy Nguyen and English major Michael Schroth; and the senior awardee is communication and sociology double major Kristen Rando, who also won the junior Sheehan award last year.