Public Health Sciences Majors Gabriel, Iranmanesh, and Sheedy Named 21st Century Leaders
They will be honored for their exemplary achievements, initiative, and leadership
The University of Massachusetts Amherst will honor Public Health Sciences majors Audrey Gabriel, Darya Iranmanesh, and Clare Sheedy as 21st Century Leaders during Commencement 2023 on Friday, May 26. The university honors a group of its most talented and accomplished graduating seniors each year for their exemplary achievements, initiative, and leadership.
Gabriel, a CHC student, was born in the Philippines and grew up in Peabody. She has earned dual degrees in microbiology and public health and completed a certificate in the iCons (Integrated Concentration in STEM) program, all while balancing three on-campus jobs.
At UMass Amherst, Gabriel demonstrated a combination of academic excellence, unstoppable drive and a deep sense of social justice. A strong advocate for the rights of survivors of sexual violence on campus, her collaboration with fellow student leaders and administrators was instrumental in the ratification and implementation of a campus Survivor’s Bill of Rights. She continued her efforts to create a safer and more just campus as the Student Government Association’s first secretary of health and wellbeing.
In addition, Gabriel surmounted considerable bureaucratic hurdles to help found the Filipino Student Association, a cultural organization created to promote Filipino culture and heritage which now boasts more than 200 members.
Concurrent with her campus advocacy, she completed independent research through the iCons program. Her cutting-edge investigation into quantified PFAS chemical contaminants in breast milk will have public health ramifications.
After Commencement, Gabriel will take a gap year to return to the Philippines, work in healthcare, and apply to medical school. She would like to practice in medically underserved communities and eventually open a reproductive health clinic.
Iranmanesh, of Lexington, completed her bachelor of science degree in public health in just two years and graduates with a near-perfect GPA. Iranmanesh’s accomplishment is all the more laudable because she is partially blind due to a rare genetic eye disease and dedicated herself to activism as well as scholastics at UMass Amherst.
Iranmanesh believes strongly in fighting for disability justice. She is a frequent writer and speaker on the subject and has spoken at the Massachusetts State House and for Understanding Our Differences, a Massachusetts initiative that seeks to mandate disability inclusion education for elementary school students. She has been featured in the media, including in the Wall Street Journal and on “Good Morning America.”
Devoted to her heritage, she was president of the Persian Students Association. In this role, she helped organize a campus rally for women’s rights in Iran and brought attention to the struggles of the Iranian people in the campus community. Iranmanesh also held research internships at the Global Liver Institute and Global Public Health Linkages in the Washington, D.C., area, and was a course assistant for an epidemiology class.
She will attend Boston University School of Public Health to attain her master’s in public health and hopes to subsequently earn a doctoral degree, perhaps in law.
Sheedy, of Pittsfield, earned double majors in public health and in women, gender, sexuality studies and a Five College certificate in reproductive health, rights and justice. She is renowned on campus for her effectiveness in a plethora of leadership positions connected to social justice and social progress.
Among her many accomplishments, Sheedy is proudest of being a guest lecturer for a Stanford Law School course on the law, politics and policy of campus sexual assault and for giving a related TEDx talk about sexual violence. These talks were informed by her extensive activism at UMass. She was a founding member of the student-led Title IX Task Force, which pushed for change in sexual misconduct policies and processes, and she subsequently played a crucial role in the implementation of the campus Survivor’s Bill of Rights.
Sheedy was elected speaker of the SGA and selected as a 2022 UMass Women into Leadership Fellow. She served on numerous advisory boards and volunteered as a counselor advocate at the Center for Women & Community and as a peer health educator while also working at several campus jobs.
She will study for a master’s degree in public administration in human rights and humanitarian policy at Columbia University in New York City.