Student Spotlight: 21st Century Leadership Awards

Ten members of the 2021 graduating class will be honored as 21st Century Leaders at the Undergraduate Commencement. These are students who have demonstrated exemplary achievement, initiative and leadership and are among the most talented and accomplished graduating seniors. This year 2 of them are STPEC majors!

James Andrew Cordero of Woburn, Mass., is graduating with degrees in English and in social thought and political economy, with a minor in education. A leader in multiple organizations, Cordero launched campaigns and built coalitions to make UMass more accessible and affordable to marginalized students. As co-chair of the Residential Assistant/Peer Mentor Union, he advocated for strong COVID-19 safety measures, secure student jobs and anti-racism training for all RAs and PMs. He fought alongside students at the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy for more equitable funding for public schools in Massachusetts, resulting in the passage of the 2019 Student Opportunity Act, and later lobbied for state funding for UMass throughout the pandemic. During two summers with Upward Bound, Cordero mentored college-bound students from Springfield’s High School of Commerce. He plans to teach full time, incorporating his philosophy of universal human dignity into his work, while he pursues a master’s degree in education through the UMass Amherst 180 Days in Springfield program.

Alannah Scardino of Rochester, N.Y., is a Commonwealth Honors College student double-majoring in sport management and social thought and political economy. A boundary breaker, while still a student, she combined the knowledge she gained in her dual majors to support women, girls and at-risk youth through sport. As an intern for Minor League Baseball’s Rochester Red Wings, Scardino originated and planned the team’s first-ever Women in Sports Night. Similarly, she structured an independent study to write a children’s book, All I Can Be from A to Z, which challenges gender stereotypes and encourages children to be their authentic selves. This year, Scardino conducted research on the juvenile justice system, violence against girls and women, and sport for development. She used her honors thesis as a springboard to launch a sport-for-development organization called Rising Phoenix Sports Program, with a mission to support the health and well-being of girls in the juvenile justice system through sport. Scardino remained in Amherst during the pandemic and served as deputy chief of Amherst Fire Department’s Student Force. After graduation, she will continue to develop Rising Phoenix and hopes to work for an organization dedicated to using sport to make a positive social impact

Congratulations James and Alannah!