SPHHS student Nicholas Otis receives the prestigious 2013 Salute to Service Student Scholarship

Nov 27 2013
Nick Otis (second from right) with Chancellor Subbaswamy (second from left) and Nick's parents

SPHHS undergraduate Nicholas Otis, a dual degree honor’s student in Nutrition and Kinesiology, and a member of the UMass Amherst track team, was one of three UMass students who received the Salute to Service Student Scholarship on November 20, 2013 at a special event hosted by the UMass Amherst Alumni Association in Boston. Nick Otis was nominated for his leadership in the Departments of Kinesiology and Nutrition, Athletics, and for his work in public service and civic engagement, both in the U.S. and in Tanzania.

As the Salute to Service webpage explains, “UMass Amherst has a distinguished history of educating for civic engagement and preparing committed and engaged graduates who are ready to change our world. The Salute to Service Scholarship Fund has been established to honor and support the talents and aspirations of select recipients in pursuing and realizing their public service goals.”

Otis’ professors and mentors at UMass Amherst expressed delight that he was selected for this prestigious award. Dr. Lorraine Cordeiro, Assistant Professor of Nutrition, has actively mentored Otis over the past year in addressing societal health problems, understanding health disparities and race relations, and in honors research addressing these topics which align with her research on food security and hunger. Dr. Cordeiro stated that “Nick is highly empathetic and compassionate, thoughtful about his place and contribution to society, and genuinely motivated to apply his knowledge to better society. I have dedicated most of my life to public service and civic engagement, received the Tufts University Presidential Award for Citizenship and Public Service and served as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow. In my 18 years of professional work, only a few individuals have stood out for their potential to positively change the world we live in. Nick is among this remarkable group of people.”

Dr. Clement Seldin, Professor Emeritus, Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies in the College of Education, noted that “Nick’s vita reveals many academic and athletic awards; research experience in the Departments of Nutrition and Kinesiology at UMass Amherst as well as in Tanzania; impressive leadership experience at the university as student ambassador, advisor, board member; active involvement in food bank and rehabilitation department at the local hospital; high school coaching; intern teacher at Steppingstone Academy in Boston; and athletic talent in Track and Field as a sprint and mid-distance runner. Nick quickly emerged a class leader, respected by his fellow students for his inquiry and his rich character. While some students lead classes with dynamism and sheer vocal strength, Nick was different. He led because of his beliefs, the way in which he articulated them and the inclusive manner in which he related to other students in class.”

Dr. Frank Rife, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director in the Department of Kinesiology, stated that Nick “has participated in student development organizations both domestic and foreign. And in all cases he has done what it takes to learn languages, cultures and other aspects of successful engagement which earned him some of the highest praise from those he served. He has learned how to make a difference!”

Nick Otis in Tanzania