AMHERST, Mass. – Hannah Weinronk, of Lexington, a University of Massachusetts Amherst senior majoring in public health sciences, was honored May 14 at the State House during the state Department of Higher Education’s 29 Who Shine ceremony saluting public campus graduates for their civic and academic achievements.
Each year, the governor salutes outstanding students representing each of the Commonwealth’s community colleges, state universities and the five campuses of the UMass system. Approximately 250 invited guests attend the event, including House and Senate leaders, the secretary of education, commissioner of higher education, members of the Board of Higher Education, college presidents, chancellors, business and non-profit leaders, students and their families. Prior to the awards ceremony, student honorees and family members meet their legislative representatives at a reception outside the House chamber. Students’ state senators and state representatives are invited to present their district honorees with citations and pose for photographs.
Described by nominators as a “transformational leader helping others find their voice,” Weinronk has served as a member of the national steering committee for the Real Food Challenge, which seeks to move university food budgets away from industrial farms and fast food. She led a successful campaign to win UMass Amherst chancellor’s support for the Real Food Campus Commitment “towards community-based, fair, humane, and ecologically sound food sources.” For her senior thesis, Weinronk developed and facilitated a service-learning course with Nuestras Raice, a grassroots urban agriculture organization in Holyoke. Her undergraduate thesis focused on equity and justice for farm workers. She plans to remain at UMass Amherst for one more year, and graduate in 2016 with her master’s degree in public health.
As a member of the Citizen Scholars Program at UMass Amherst, Weinronk provided approximately 200 hours of community service to the Amherst Survival Center, a regional resource that provides food, clothes, healthcare and community to people in Hampshire and Franklin counties. She also spent a summer in Alaska working on a community-based participatory research project with Alaskan Native youth focused on leadership and resilience, and another summer in South Africa working with a local university to research clean water technology and implementation.
A member of Commonwealth Honors College, Weinronk was one of 10 graduates honored as a 21st Century Leader at UMass Amherst’s commencement on May 8. She also was recently named a 2015 Newman Civic Fellow by the Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. Its mission is to advance the public purpose of colleges and universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility.