BOSTON -- HCC's Nicole Ouimette was one of 29 college students honored at the State House Thursday in Boston, as Governor Deval Patrick presented the 29 Who Shine Awards.
The awards recognize 29 public college and university students for their academic achievements and civic contributions to the Commonwealth.
The students, one from each of the state's 29 community college, state university and UMass campuses, demonstrate how the Commonwealth's public college and university graduates are poised to contribute to the civic and economic well-being of the state.
"Each one of these students has a remarkable story to tell," said Governor Patrick. "Collectively, they remind us that investing in them is investing in our future."
Each of the Commonwealth's 29 public college and university campuses selected its own student honoree for the 29 Who Shine Awards based on criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Students considered for the recognition needed to demonstrate a strong academic record, have made a contribution to the civic well-being of the Commonwealth, and be Massachusetts residents who intend to remain in the state upon graduation.
"These 29 students represent the best the Commonwealth has to offer," said Secretary of Education Matthew Malone. "By making a commitment to their education and to the communities where they live these students make Massachusetts a better place to live now and will certainly help strengthen the economic future of all our cities and towns."
This year's honorees include five students who have created non-profit organizations and/or small businesses in their local communities, and one student who hopes to market computer inventions for which he holds patents. One-third of the students will graduate with degrees in high-demand fields for which Massachusetts has a critical need for employees, such as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), health care and finance sectors. An additional one-third of the group are adult students, age 25 or older. Four are parents.
"Our data tell us that one year after graduation, nine out of every ten public college and university students remain here in Massachusetts, living and working or furthering their studies," said Commissioner of Higher Education Richard M. Freeland. "These students truly represent the future citizenry and workforce of the state. They are very high caliber, a sign that our future appears to be in good hands."
Each of the student honorees chose a faculty or staff mentor who provided them with motivational support and guidance on campus. Nicole selected Holyoke Community College assistant professor of anthropology Vanessa Martinez. Following the 29 Who Shine Awards, Martinez and the other mentors were honored at a luncheon in the Great Hall of Flags, sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
For more information about the 29 Who Shine, please visit www.mass.edu/29whoshine.
Photos by Chris Yurko: (Left) Gov. Deval Patrick presents Holyoke Community College student Nicole Ouimette with her 29 Who Shine award. (Right) Holyoke Community College assistant professor of anthropology Vanessa Martinez accepts her faculty mentor award from Nicole.