For most graduates, the day before Commencement is usually busy with packing, bidding goodbye to friends or squiring family around the area, but senior Hannah D. Barrett, a Psychology major in Commonwealth Honors College, had a decidedly different experience.
The Lexington resident was honored by Gov. Deval Patrick at the State House during the May 10 presentation of the annual "29 Who Shine" awards, which recognize outstanding students from each of the state''s public campuses.
"Hannah''s story reminds us all of the power of education to transform lives," said Patrick. "Investing in them is exactly how we invent a brighter future for Massachusetts."
Barrett has shown a particular interest in stigma and stereotyping. She has pursued projects to investigate the development and demise of interracial friendships and also completed an independent study on the role of the bystander in cases of overt racism or sexism. While interning at Tufts University in 2010 and 2011, she studied the social implications of both skin tone differences and facial paralysis. Her senior thesis focused on the social and psychological well-being of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, an area of psychology that has been relatively understudied.
Barrett has been awarded a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to conduct research related to hearing loss at the Australian National University in Canberra. She says, "My thesis and the research I plan to conduct will, I hope, contribute to improve the experience of those with hearing loss here in the Commonwealth and throughout the country."
Each of Massachusetts'' public campuses selected its own honoree for the 29 Who Shine awards based on criteria established by the state Department of Higher Education. Students were required to be residents of Massachusetts who had a strong academic academic record and a history of civic engagement.
Barrett was also honored at Commencement as one of the campus''s 21st Century Leaders, an award sponsored by the Chancellor''s Office and the Alumni Association.