UMass Amherst to Bestow Honors at Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on May 8

UMass Amherst Commencement

Information for those attending and participating in UMass Amherst Commencement 2015.

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst will present awards to distinguished citizens and superlative students at its Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 8.

About 5,500 students will receive bachelor’s degrees joined by family and friends at McGuirk Alumni Stadium at 4:30 p.m. Neil deGrasse Tyson, internationally renowned astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, will be the featured speaker and will receive an honorary degree.

Recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Awards will be:

·      Charles H. Sherwood, who earned his master’s in 1972 and doctorate in 1977 in polymer science and engineering at UMass Amherst. He has been president, chief executive officer and member of the board of directors of Anika Therapeutics since 2002. He joined the company in 1998, first serving as vice president of research, development and engineering. Sherwood has been involved in the invention, development and commercialization of implantable and injectable medical products for the past 32 years. Prior to joining Anika, Sherwood held increasingly responsible positions with IOLAB, a Johnson & Johnson Company specializing in ophthalmology. He is a recognized expert in hyaluronic acid and other biomaterials, a holder of numerous patents, and a frequent speaker in the field.

At UMass Amherst, Sherwood is a member of the College of Natural Sciences Advisory Board and is active in pursuing collaborative research with the university as well as aiding the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program by promoting internships and student development beyond the halls of academe. Sherwood and his wife, MaryAnn, have a son Chip and a daughter Kyla.

·      Patricia Crosson, who earned her master’s in 1972 and doctorate in 1974 from the College of Education at UMass Amherst. For most of her career Crosson worked at UMass Amherst. Between 1971 and 1976 she was an administrator in the College of Education and the provost’s office, and she also worked in the UMass president’s office. She moved on to hold administrative and faculty positions at the University of Maryland and the University of Pittsburgh, returning to UMass Amherst as a faculty member in 1985. While a faculty member at UMass Amherst, Crosson also served as department chair, director of the Institute for Education Policy, deputy provost, and interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. She retired in 2001 and is now professor emerita in the College of Education.

Since her retirement, Crosson has been a member of the UMass Amherst Foundation Board, a member and chair of the board of trustees of Greenfield Community College, president of the Massachusetts Community College Trustees Association and interim executive director of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. For the past five years, as senior advisor for academic policy at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, she has worked to develop new ways for state higher education systems and public campuses to measure and improve the quality of undergraduate student learning. The work is part of the Vision Project, a Department of Higher Education initiative that unites public campuses by setting clear and transparent goals for institutions.

·      John Calipari, currently the head men’s basketball coach at Kentucky who began his head coaching career at UMass, where he turned the Minutemen into a national power from 1988 to 1996. For Calipari, one of the most successful head basketball coaches in NCAA history, philanthropy and basketball go hand in hand. He uses basketball alumni weekends at Kentucky as a platform to raise funds for charity. These weekend appeals have produced more than $1 million in donations. Meanwhile, the Calipari Foundation has supported Streets Ministries in Memphis, Samaritan’s Feet, the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, and many other charities throughout Kentucky. His fundraising also supports victims of natural disasters, having raised more than $1 million for survivors of the earthquake in Haiti and another $1 million to help families devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

His generosity also includes gifts to UMass Amherst where a room at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library is named after Calipari and his wife, Ellen. As UMass head basketball coach, he also funded numerous scholarships for students who attended basketball games. He has two daughters, Erin and Megan, and a son Bradley. Erin earned her bachelor’s degree at UMass Amherst.

The student speaker at Undergraduate Commencement is Erin K. Mabee of Saugus, a theater major.

During her four years at UMass, Mabee learned how to make an audience laugh, to design and sew an elaborate costume, and to plan events for incoming students. Along the way she developed a deep understanding of Shakespeare and knows the pedagogical theories of what makes a successful teacher.

In September, she will be serving City Year Boston, teaching in the classroom and in after-school programs. City Year works to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support students actually need, and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide. The program serves to keep students in school and on track to graduate. She hopes to parlay her experience to become a theater teacher in high school.

In addition, four graduating seniors will be recognized for their leadership and executive ability as Jack Welch Scholars. They are:

·      Jennifer E. Black of Taunton, a mechanical engineering major with a minor in engineering management and a member of Commonwealth Honors College.

·      Nicholas Chunias of Sudbury, a dual degree recipient in finance and mathematics.

·      Kyle Parrott of West Springfield, an operations and information management major.

·      Timothy R. Tufts of West Wareham, a computer systems engineering major with a minor in mathematics. He is a member of Commonwealth Honors College.

Ten students will be recognized as 21st Century Leaders, an award that recognizes graduating seniors who have demonstrated exemplary standards of achievement, initiative and social awareness. The awards are made possible by the generous financial support of the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. The recipients are:

·      Chibuzo Christopher Anene, a nursing major who grew up in Brockton, one of five children born to parents who moved to the U.S. from Nigeria. He recruited and mobilized 30 nursing students to brainstorm over how to develop and implement a peer mentoring program. Anene also served on the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Council, offering a student perspective on how to improve the campus, and played trumpet in the award-winning Jazz Ensemble, one of two non-music majors to participate.

·      Kelsey Barowich, a women, gender, sexuality studies major from Lowell. Barowich has worked to dismantle barriers to social and economic mobility, collaborating with Girls Inc. in her hometown to bring teenagers to campus and encourage them to be on a college track. She also served as policy director for Vox: Students for Choice, and as a resident assistant mentored students to learn more about social justice and making use of campus resources.

·      Stephen R. Chan of Swampscott, who created his own major in neuroscience and global business through the Bachelor’s Degree with Individualized Concentration program. He founded TEDx Amherst, licensed by the international organization that educates through short but powerful talks. His humanitarian side emerged as an oncology department volunteer at Massachusetts General Hospital and at an orphanage in Vietnam. He is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

·      Stefan Marco Eres, a chemistry major from Knoxville, Tenn., whose undergraduate research led to a breakthrough in the nanoscience of organic solar cells. As his research work matured, he helped develop a mentoring program for iCons, an interdisciplinary science program and served as a research intern at Waters Corp. He also took time to become a member of the Outing Club and successfully completed a 12-hour hike to the top of Mt. Washington. He is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

·      Xuyen Mai, a major in civil and environmental engineering from Revere. She immigrated to the United States at the age of 13. Her thesis researched iron ferrate, identified as a substance that can improve drinking water treatment. She has devoted countless hours to the campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders, organizing a water project in Ghana, and outreach projects in the sciences for at-risk middle school students. She is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

·      Sorelle Kevine Chimi Mbakop, a dual major in journalism and resource economics from Framingham. She came to the U.S. from Cameroon at age 9, and today she is focused on improving living standards, especially in developing nations. She has studied abroad in Kenya and India. Her volunteerism includes assisting at an orphanage in Kenya, providing assistance to people living in a slum in India and serving as president of the Resource Economics Society on campus. While on her study abroad program in Kenya, she completed a full-time internship with the United Nations Office in Nairobi.

·      Curt Owen, a management major from Boxborough. He has launched three companies, including one that earned the top prize in the 2013 UMass Amherst Innovation Challenge: Fetch Rewards, a mobile phone application designed to streamline grocery shopping. He also wrote business plans for three small businesses in Hadley to help them re-open after they burned to the ground. In addition, Owen was co-captain of the UMass Track Team. He is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

·      Marissa Louise Shea, a civil and environmental engineering major from Somerset. Her honors thesis for Commonwealth Honors College focused on the seismic response assessment of aging reinforced concrete bridges, and her two summer internships in California stressed earthquake engineering. For four years, Shea was a member of the concrete canoe team, played third base for the UMass Amherst Club Softball team, and for three years worked as an academic tutor for athletes.

·      Dorothy Tovar, a microbiology major from Billerica, who is the daughter of Haitian immigrants and lived briefly in Haiti herself. She worked in a lab researching a chlamydia vaccine and new ways to treat chronic asthma. Tovar was also a leader in the UMass Black Mass Communications Project and Black Student Union, organized an outreach program in Jonestown, Miss., and adopted a little sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

·      Hannah Weinronk, a public health sciences major from Lexington. A fervent social justice advocate, she campaigned to have UMass Amherst join the Real Food Campus Commitment and pledge to purchase 20 percent “real food” from local or socially responsible farms and businesses. During two summers, Weinronk traveled to South Africa to research clean water technology, and to Alaska for a research project with Alaskan Native Youth. She is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.