Carla Montilla Jaimes and Carolyn Parker-Fairbain to be Honored as 21st Century Leaders at UMass Amherst Commencement Ceremonies
Friday, May 7, 2021
Friday, May 7, 2021
The University of Massachusetts Amherst will honor the exemplary achievement, initiative and leadership of some of its most talented and accomplished graduating seniors during Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies taking place Friday, May 14 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Four smaller, socially distanced ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Ten members of the graduating class will be honored as 21st Century Leaders at Undergraduate Commencement, including history students Carla Montilla Jaimes and Carolyn Parker-Fairbain.
Carla Montilla Jaimes of Doral, Fla., is a Commonwealth Honors College student graduating with degrees in political science and history. Originally from Venezuela, Montilla Jaimes is the first in her family to earn a college degree in the U.S. She served in the Student Government Association, the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, and other campus groups, where she amplified the voices of marginalized students. She researched policies to fight hunger and food insecurity as a Sophomore-Service Scholar. Following her sophomore year, she was selected to participate in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences summer program in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the office of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern. She was selected as a UMass Women into Leadership Fellow her junior year. After a trip to Israel and the West Bank, she founded a student chapter of J Street, an organization that advocates for progressive American foreign policy in the Middle East. As a senior, Montilla Jaimes helped start the Period chapter at UMass and worked on a pilot program to make free menstrual products available across campus and to address period poverty in Massachusetts. Starting this fall, Montilla Jaimes will attend American University’s School of International Service to pursue a master’s degree in ethics, peace, and human rights.
Carolyn Parker-Fairbain of Boston, Mass., earned a degree in Afro-American Studies with minors in theater and history, and a certificate in multicultural theater. At UMass Amherst, Parker-Fairbain focused their talents on the intersections between Black studies and the arts. In their first Department of Theater production, she performed in Baltimore, a play by Kirsten Greenidge. As a junior, they conceived and produced an event as part of the revitalization of New Africa House called “The Cyph,” where creators from the African diasporic community shared their work. As a University Museum of Contemporary Art For Freedoms intern, Parker-Fairbain dedicated herself to expanding student engagement and building a more inclusive space for visitors. To this end, they performed extensive research, supported successful grant proposals, and co-hosted virtual events. They also co-founded The For Freedoms Student Organizing Committee to further encourage liberatory practices in the arts. Their UMass acting experience concluded with Visionary Futures: Science Fiction Theatre for Social Justice Movements. Following graduation, they plan to take some restorative time off.
This award recognizes the strong academic record and exemplary achievement of undergraduate students who further distinguished their intellectual accomplishments and enhanced the reputation of the university by contributing to the campus community in numerous ways, including leadership, research, community involvement, a committment to social justice, teaching, art, performance and more. The full list of 2021 21st Century Leaders Awards is available here.