Academic excellence celebrated at 2024 Academic Achievement Awards

April 26, 2024
By: Rebecca Cross

More than 80 Worcester State students received recognition at the annual Academic Achievement Awards on April 25, 2024. Friends and family of the awardees filled the newly renovated Sullivan Auditorium for the ceremony as the celebration returned to campus for the first time in many years.

“This ceremony speaks like no other to the quality of that education and the quality of our students who are all hard working, motivated, and intelligent,” said President Barry M. Maloney. “The ceremony also showcases the vital role that our faculty have played in guiding these students to success.”

He also expressed his appreciation for faculty and staff who have supported students and awards. “So many faculty and staff go well beyond the confines of their job description, and this is the part of Worcester State that makes this institution amazing.”

“As for all of our generous donors,” he continued, “we know that just one small scholarship can make a difference between a student persisting and graduating in four years or not.”

Associate Professor of History and Political Science Dr. Anthony Dell’Aera and Assistant Professor of Earth, Environment, and Physics Dr. Laura Reynolds received the George I. Alden Excellence in Teaching Award, which publicly acknowledges Worcester State University professors who have made a difference in students’ lives through their teaching excellence.

The awards are given by Worcester State University with financial support from donors to the Worcester State Foundation. Among this year’s award winners are:

The Negrón Cruz-Audet LGBTQ+ Academic Excellence Award, established by Dr. Sarah Strout, assistant vice president for Assessment and Planning, is given to a student who identifies as LGBTQ+ who has an excellent academic record. Criminal Justice major Lily Morgan received the award this year.

The Ellen M Whitney Award, which recognizes qualities of scholarship, social aptitude, personality, leadership, executive ability, growth, loyalty, integrity, and participation in school activities, went to Aspen Zheng, a senior majoring in biology with a pre-medical concentration and minors in political science, psychology, and chemistry.

The Ellen J. Myers Memorial Award, established by David Myers, which is given to an undergraduate student achiever with disabilities who has also been actively engaged on campus or in their community, went to Brooke Dion, majoring in nursing with a minor in psychology.

The John F. Eager Continuing Education Excellence Award, which is given to the undergraduate evening program senior who has the highest overall GPA, was awarded to Ryan Newfell, a senior communication major and part-time adult learner.

The Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan ’55, USMC Ret., Academic Excellence Awards, given to the highest achieving full-time student (or students, in the case of a tie) in each grade, were presented to seven students.

Amidst the celebrations, there was a somber moment, when Provost Lois Wims spoke about local artist and friend of the university Mark Waitkus, whose art is also featured on the cover of the ceremony’s program and who passed away on April 11. “It is with great sadness that we acknowledge his recent passing,” said Wims. “We are grateful to have worked with Mark and will treasure forever the art that he has created for us.” Each award recipient received a watercolor print of Worcester State University painted by Waitkus.

Kevin Campbell ’73, chair of the Worcester State Foundation Board, described the mission of the Foundation. “Our objective is simply to support the university with a focus on you, the students,” he said. Last year, the Foundation provided just under $1 million in academic awards, scholarships, and research grants to hundreds of students. “The generous gifts [from donors] support the university’s mission and provide highly deserving students, such as yourselves, with resources that help you succeed on campus and in years beyond. And speaking of the Foundation, nothing makes us more satisfied than seeing you successful.”

Visit the website for a complete list of award winners.

Photo by Matt Wright ’10

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