Outstanding Student Interns Receive Furcolo Awards

Furcolo Award recipients Sean McGrath and Ellen Porell

The Kathryn F. Furcolo Award for Outstanding Internships was presented to seniors Sean McGrath and Ellen Porell during a May 5 ceremony at Career Services. A third recipient, Chinelo Obiudu, who graduated last fall, could not attend.

Since 1965, the Furcolo Award has recognized selected students who complete an outstanding internship in either public service or government. Career Services’ Field Experience Office coordinates the award program. Each student received a check for $700.

Sean McGrath, a Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) major in pre-law and sport management from North Andover, interned at the Office of the Essex County District Attorney during the summer of 2013. He worked on some high profile cases, including the fallout of the Hinton Drug Lab investigation of chemist Annie Dookhan. He assisted attorneys assigned to the investigative unit and was given a variety of tasks integral to the drug testing case, as well as daily operations of the office, such as grand jury selection and preparing asset forfeiture defaults for the civil department.  

Chinelo Obiudu of Worcester, another BDIC student who focused on international development and human rights, worked at the AIDS Project of Worcester last summer. She worked directly with clients helping them with situations such as homelessness, gaining access to food and advocating on their behalf for medical, financial and legal needs. She also participated in designing and distributing a needs assessment to identify gaps in services to clients. In addition, Obiudu spoke at several engagements about AIDS education in the community.

A double major in resource economics and finance, Fitchburg resident Ellen Porell was an intern at the Northwestern District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit in the summer of 2013. She assisted with mediation between consumers and businesses when conflicts arose between the two parties. She worked with consumers who were victims of a variety of scams, particularly the elderly and other groups who were susceptible to frauds. She educated both consumers and businesses with state and federal laws and made referrals to consumers on resource options such as small claims court, mediation or the county bar association.

The award was established by former governor Foster Furcolo in memory of his wife and her commitment to community service. Kathryn Furcolo was an active member of multiple community and governmental organizations and also served as University trustee from 1960-64.

All students who participated in a non-profit or government-related internship anytime during 2013 were eligible and were contacted by the Field Experience program of Career Services to apply.

A selection committee composed of faculty members and a Career Services administrator made decisions by the end of April. Students were selected by the content and contributions of their internship work, by the strength of letters of endorsement from their internship site supervisors and faculty sponsors, along with their personal reflective essays about their experience.

The awards were presented by Linda Roney, faculty member in BDIC, and Candice Serafino, interim director of Career Services. Diane Smithers, administrator for the Field Experience program, also participated.