Adam Abdelrahman one of the "29 Who Shine"
Holyoke Community College student Adam Abdelrahman was honored Friday at the State House as one of the "29 Who Shine," an annual award from the state Dept. of Higher Education that recognizes top college students from across the Commonwealth.
"These students' stories are moving and inspiring and provide a powerful reminder of the importance of a college degree," Governor Charlie Baker said Friday during the awards ceremony at the bottom of the Grand Staircase in the State House in Boston. "It is an honor to be able to recognize them for their hard work, dedication and contributions to their communities."
Adam was joined at the State House ceremony by his mother, father and little brother; HCC president Christina Royal; staff and faculty from the HCC ESL program; and staff from HCC's STRIVE program.
The "29 Who Shine" awards are presented to one student from each of the Commonwealth's 29 public campuses, including the 15 community colleges, nine state universities and five University of Massachusetts campuses. The awards are given to students who succeed not only in their academic pursuits but in their efforts to strengthen their local communities. Some have overcome personal battles, including addiction, domestic violence, and homelessness, to become leaders on their campuses, while others have helped create solutions to a broad range of issues facing the Commonwealth, from climate change to refugee resettlement.
Each of the "29 Who Shine" also names a faculty or staff mentor who provided guidance and support throughout the student's years in college. For his mentor, Adam selected Denise Roy, learning specialist with HCC's STRIVE program, who was honored along with the other mentors at a reception immediately following the awards ceremony.
"The students honored today have shown dedication to their studies and a commitment to others that bodes well for them and the future of the Commonwealth. We are proud of their success and excited about what they do moving forward," Education Secretary James Peyser said.
Among this year's student honorees, 11 are planning to pursue their studies in STEM or health-care related fields, three are pursuing futures in environmental sciences, and seven are planning careers in social work and human services. Six of the students were adult learners (ages 25+) and five are immigrants to the United States. Many of the student honorees used their talents to help others by initiating volunteer work that helped the hungry and homeless, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and tutoring for students with learning disabilities.
"Today we see 29 living examples of what can come from state support of public higher education," said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. "The '29 Who Shine' remind us that when individual students succeed, the Commonwealth as a whole benefits from their knowledge and commitment to serve others. I could not be prouder of this year's stellar nominees."
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Thumbnail) Adam Abdelrahman, center, at the State House Friday with staff and faculty from HCC's ESL department. (Thumbnail) Adam Abdelrahman with staff from HCC's STRIVE program, including his mentor, learning specialist Denise Roy, front.