2013 Recipients of Graduate Program Honors!

2013 Recipients of Graduate Program Honors!

College of Education and Human Development

The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mental Health Counseling:  Carol Griffin, MEd
The Award for Outstanding Achievement in School Counseling:  Len Peters, MEd

School Counseling is a profession dedicated to fostering academic, socio-emotional, and vocational success for all pre-K through 12 grade students. The purpose of the UMass Boston School Counseling program is “to prepare thoughtful and responsive practitioners to work effectively in urban schools and communities as school counselors.” Len Peters has demonstrated his commitment to education through his academic and applied experiences throughout his graduate tenure. In addition to achieving excellence within the classroom, Len has distinguished himself as an urban counselor through a volunteer service learning experience, a practicum experience, and an intensive internship experience. Through these experiences, Len integrated academic and post-secondary advising, counseling, and advocacy to guide and support students. Additionally, Len’s professional and leadership skills are outstanding. He is described by faculty as a student-centered, caring practitioner who considers the school counselor a leader within education.  For his academic achievement, leadership, and work with at-risk youth over the past 2 years, Len is a deserving recipient of the 2013 Book Award for Outstanding Achievement in School Counseling.

The Award for Excellence in Educational Administration:  Brian Johnston, MEd
The Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in School Psychology:  Mysha M. Kuhlmann, EdS

Mysha Kuhlmann came to UMass Boston with extensive expertise as an educator, having worked as a learning specialist and teacher in a variety of settings, including a KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) academy in Houston, Texas, Teach for America in Los Angeles, California, and the Boston Public Schools. Her students have largely been those in special education, though she has also worked in inclusion classrooms. In addition to academic pursuits, she has coached basketball players with intellectual disabilities, trained a team of eighth graders for a 150-mile charity ride, and coordinated recreational activities for campers with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Here at UMass Boston, Mysha has served as the president of our local chapter of the Student Affiliates of School Psychology. In the classroom, she asks the hard questions and advances the learning of the entire class in the process. When faced with ethical dilemmas, Mysha has shown herself to be a real leader. She dares to stand for what she believes in. She sets herself apart by her willingness to go the extra mile. Mysha’s maturity and ability to grasp the importance of her role as a school psychologist will serve her well. She is already proving herself to be an extremely valued practitioner at her internship site in the Medford Public Schools.

The Vincent Cristiani Award for Leadership in School Psychology:  Cynthia Estremera, EdS

Cynthia stood out early on when she was identified by the Posse Foundation for a Full-Tuition Leadership Scholarship. The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits, and trains “public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential” (www.possefoundation.org/). She fund-raised for and worked closely with children who are homeless. She has served as a mentor, tutor, activities leader, teaching assistant, and long-term substitute teacher. She is bilingual in Spanish and English, and she has studied abroad in Puerto Rico, Barbados, and Mexico. When the Massachusetts School Psychology Association named her the Minority Scholarship recipient in 2011, Cynthia proudly explained to the audience of school psychologists how this support helped her to help others. Her openness and eloquence in sharing her own story helped expand the awareness of educational issues of minority students. At UMass Boston she is well known for her persistence and hard work. “Cynthia puts her heart into everything she does,” wrote one of her professors. “She is extremely conscientious and tries to get the most out of all opportunities. She is always asking for ways that she can add to her knowledge and tries to understand the reason 'why" behind whatever she is doing.” When a catastrophic event at her internship site left her without a supervisor, Cynthia demonstrated flexibility and leadership in stepping up to that professional challenge.

The Vincent Cristiani Award for Applied Scholarship:  Lindsay B. Bastable, EdS

Lindsay has demonstrated expertise in applying scholarship to practical situations in a variety of settings.  As an undergraduate student at Fairfield University, she studied and implemented applied behavior analysis and precision teaching. Thereafter, she served as a paraprofessional in classrooms for students with a range of disabilities including autism and social/emotional disorders. She has worked in general education settings as well. At UMass Boston, she worked at the Institute for Community Inclusion in its Massachusetts Focus Academy online courses and its Think College National Coordinating Center. At her practicum site in the Quincy Public Schools, Lindsay did outstanding work. There she engaged in effective direct interventions with students as well as in results-focused class-wide consultation. For the internship, Lindsay continued in that same school district. She amplified the leadership role she took during the practicum by becoming a mentor to the practicum students in one elementary school. In her capacity as an intern, she has presented workshops for parents and provided professional development for school district support staff. She has implemented both academic and behavioral interventions and monitored their impact. Not only has she provided expert direct and indirect services to individual children and adolescents, but she has also provided whole-class interventions that have resulted in meaningful gains in student progress. It is with great pride that the program faculty name Lindsay Bastable the 2013 recipient of the Vincent Cristiani Award in Applied Scholarship in School Psychology.

The Award for Excellent Performance in Special Education:  Dean Grubb, MEd

The faculty members of the Special Education program have chosen to recognize Dean Grubb for completing his master’s degree with outstanding achievement. Dean received his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at Suffolk University in January 2010. In order to advance his learning and teaching, he began his study in the Special Education program at UMass Boston in Fall 2010. Currently, Dean is a special education teacher at the Harbor School in Boston. He co-teaches four sections of 8th grade Civics and one section of 6th grade Life Skills classes. In addition to teaching, he is responsible for working collaboratively with 8th grade educators and specialists to create cross-curricular projects. Dean is dedicated to teaching and supporting students with disabilities.

As a graduate student, Dean distinguished himself by the depth of understanding and reflection he brought to every reading discussed, and the insightful comments he offered to events in his own teaching. One of Dean’s instructors described him as “easy-going, hard-working, and a pleasure to have in class.” He also demonstrated strong leadership skills in classes. Dean often stood out as the leader in the group and was able to draw on his group members’ strengths.

Dean leaves UMass Boston with an outstanding academic record and a passion to improve life for the challenged students he teaches. The Special Education faculty members are completely confident that Dean will meet success and make a critical difference for many students.

The Book Award for Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Educational Transformation:  Caitlin McCormick, MEd
The Teacher Education Program Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education:  Kimberly Gordon, MEd

Kimberly Gordon is a Boston Public Schools paraprofessional who has worked incredibly hard to earn her early childhood license and master’s degree. Kim is a deep thinker who is constantly thinking about what she is learning in each of her classes and how it could apply to the children in her class every day. She works hard to meet the needs of the culturally and linguistically diverse students in her classroom, some of who have disabilities.

Kim spent a full year student teaching which enabled her to learn more about the students she worked with in kindergarten and second grade. She participated in grade level meetings, school events, and worked in the before and after school program learning more about children and their families. Kim used both her heart and hands to develop and implement lessons in engaging ways that inspired her students to do their best.

The Teacher Education Program Award for Excellence in Elementary Education:  Marisha Gadowski, MEd

Marisha Gadowski attended Wheaton College, earning a BA in Psychology and Economics. Marisha worked as a paraprofessional in a special needs Pre-K classroom in Randolph after graduation but has always enjoyed wording with children, as evidenced by her years working in a local nursery school. She knew she wanted to pursue a master’s degree in education and was encouraged by staff members and the principal at her school to apply to the Teach Next Year program, which would give her a full year working as an intern with a mentor teacher, while completing necessary course work during the summer and evenings throughout the school year. Marisha was accepted into the program, placed in a third grade classroom at the JFK Elementary School in Randolph  and has excelled as an intern, growing throughout the year into what her mentor describes as “a co-teacher who instinctively knows what needs to be done and who needs assistance.”

From the start, Marisha has been instinctive in her approach to teaching. She understands what needs each child has and differentiates her teaching in order to reach each and every one. She incorporates her warm personality and professional demeanor with a wonderful sense of humor; this is surely a recipe for a successful teacher!

The Teacher Education Program Award for Excellence in Middle/Secondary Education:  Yusef Hamdan, MEd

As an educator in the Boston Public Schools, Yusuf demonstrates one of the most crucial characteristics of becoming a great educator, he is reflective about his practice, his students, the equity and social justice implications of teaching in a diverse urban setting, and the knowledge that everyone in the classroom is a learner. He thoughtfully plans his curricular work by attending not only to the state standards, but also to the learning strengths and challenges of his students as they interact with that content. He teaches them the content but also teaches them how to access the content, how to be students, how to work collaboratively as a member of a learning community and how to understand material from the literal to the larger deeper essential questions and concepts of history. As the school year progressed, Yusuf became more cognizant of listening to his students and allowing these authentic voices to be heard in the classroom and help inform his teaching. Now, there is often more content focused “student talk” than “teacher talk” in the classroom. He is an inquiry based learner posing in depth questions about teaching, learning, and his presence and effectiveness in the classroom. He also actively engages in research to enhance his content presentations using a wide range of materials (technology and print) to expand and connect students’ lives and understanding of history.

In addition to his classroom responsibilities and his own graduate work and studies, Yusuf recently participated in an interdisciplinary panel at UMass Boston.  His presentation “Finding Voice:  Stories of identity and agency from a highly concentrated poverty and minority school” contributed a valuable perspective to the panel on “Education, Race, and Community Organizing.”

Vision Studies/Institute for Community Inclusion Award for Academic Excellence in Orientation and Mobility:  Ralph Malatesta, MEd

Ralph Malatesta maintained a 3.92 GPA throughout his graduate work while working as a dog trainer and diagnostic technician. He brings years of experience as an instructor at The Seeing Eye before pursuing his orientation and mobility degree. There, he trained dogs to guide people with visual impairment and developed his interest to go further into orientation and mobility.

Ralph’s interactions with both his students and peers demonstrate genuine respect, caring and kindness. He possesses a strong dedication to education, not only for his students/clients, but also for his own professional development. He is committed to improving services for people who are blind and visually impaired.

So it is with great honor that our faculty present the 2013 Vision Studies/ Vision Studies/Institute for Community Inclusion Award for Academic Excellence in Orientation and Mobility to this deserving student.

Vision Studies/Institute for Community Inclusion Award for Academic Excellence: Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment:  Elizabeth Borysewicz, MEd

Throughout her graduate work in the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment program, Elizabeth Borysewicz has maintained a 3.951 GPA. She is a highly motivated and committed professional. Beth is a natural-born teacher with passion and intuition. During her practicum, she had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of children in the one-on-one situation of itinerant teaching. She has shown a strong grasp of the unique learning needs of students with visual impairments including those with additional learning needs.

In the Vision Studies program, Beth has distinguished herself by her thoughtful contributions to class discussions and her consistently high-quality work. She understands the importance of the expanded core curriculum to a student with visual impairment and is passionate about the importance of children learning skills for independence, self-advocacy, technology, and all of the compensatory skills for accessing the academic curriculum.

Beth was nominated by the TVI faculty for a leadership award with the American Foundation for the Blind in 2012. As a result, she was chosen for the award and attended the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference.

Vision Studies/Institute for Community Inclusion Award for Academic Excellence in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy:  Daniel Norris, MEd

Daniel Norris maintained a 3.975 GPA throughout his graduate work while working for the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (VABVI). He graduated from UMass Boston with a certificate in Orientation and Mobility in 2006, and worked as an Orientation and Mobility Specialist for VABVI and recently as the director of adult services. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to his coursework and integrates theory and practice into his assignments, and is committed to improving services for people who are blind and visually impaired.

So it is with great honor that our faculty award the 2013 Vision Studies/ Institute for Community Inclusion Award for Academic Excellence in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy to this deserving student.

Family Therapy Program Book Award:  Kara McElaney, MEd

Kara McElaney represents well the core of our Family Therapy Program mission and values: a clinical approach that emphasizes the larger context and relationships, a reflexive stance towards the person of the therapist, and a strong social justice focus.  Kara has demonstrated without any doubt the ability to integrate these guiding principles. The faculty found her final capstone portfolio to be exemplary—a thoughtful and solid integration of theory and practice. Throughout the program, as Instructor Robin Risso, one of her faculty members, wrote “Kara has exhibited a desire to learn, challenge herself and to learn how to ask thought provoking questions to help others to challenge their perceptions in a caring and helpful way.”  Consistently, she has demonstrated to be a top student throughout the three years required for completion of the master’s degree. During her one-year internship, in her role as outreach family therapist, she worked 20 to 25 hours per week; she demonstrated an extraordinary openness to learning and has become a skilled and caring family therapist. The Home for Little Wanderers in the Safe at Home team has already been offered to continue practicing beyond graduation, a telling sign of how her internship experience was not highly successful. We are honored to confer the Book Award to Kara and we are sure her work with families and the community will continue to thrive.

College of Liberal Arts

The Award for Academic Excellence in American Studies:  Andrew J. Lester, MA

Andrew Lester’s final project, “Intersectional Approaches to the Politics of Respectability: Negotiations of Identity in Early Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and Vanguard Newsletters,” studies newsletters produced by two of the most significant radical political organizations of the 1960s. Drawing on methods including close readings, original archival research, and queer theory, Lester persuasively suggests how texts produced by the Oakland Black Panthers, arguably the most significant Black nationalist organization of the 1960s, and Vanguard, the San Francisco-based radical queer organization, pointed to a shared negotiation with the complicated politics of respectability while failing to offer a truly intersectional analysis that might have offered greater opportunities for building alliances between and within black/queer communities. In addition to offering an important new interpretation of a well-rehearsed moment in American history, Lester’s project is a highly accomplished example of the kind of interdisciplinary work American Studies represents. Not content to merely describe the texts he uncovers, Lester draws on literary critical methods to carefully read between the lines of the newsletters, finding in their narrative form important historical features that help explain the trajectories of the Black Panther Party and Vanguard. At the same time, Lester’s careful archival research has already uncovered primary documents that have eluded other scholars studying queer radicalism. Lester’s work, in sum, is poised to disrupt and offer a singular contribution to critical work on race, sexuality, and radical American politics. It should also be noted that in addition to his careful and meticulous scholarship, Andy Lester has built a strong reputation in the American Studies program for his dedication to sharing his knowledge with others and contributing vigorously to the high standards of the program. He has already shared his research with the audience at a History conference earlier this year, and he will continue developing as a scholar in the doctoral program in American Studies at Rutgers-Newark this Fall.

The Award for Academic Excellence in Applied Linguistics:  Katherine Entigar, MA

This year’s award for Academic Excellence goes to a very special Applied Linguistics student, Katie Entigar. Katie came to the Program with very rich experience in ESL teaching, curriculum development, and ESL teacher training and from the very beginning of her studies, she has impressed everybody as a very committed and serious woman. She has always gone above and beyond class requirements and produced imaginative and creative projects that were at the same time theoretically rigorous. What is impressive about her is that she fearlessly delves into really difficult topics with resolve and devours any additional literature. She has always had insightful comments and thoughts during class, and her research projects were exemplary. Katie has a breadth of knowledge in many different areas, as well as an acute critical faculty that allows her to immediately see the bigger picture and make the necessary connections with the topic at hand. She has a special interest in researching students’ cultural and social identities and the ways these empower their learning. It is actually her sensitivity towards social issues and her resolve to understand them and make a difference that makes her excellence in academics all the more important. Katie is working towards applying to PhD Programs and we have no doubt that she will be extremely successful and one of those individuals who really brings change to our world and educational system.

The Clinical Psychology Book Award:  Fanny Ng, PhD

Fanny Ng is committed to research, practice, and organizational leadership that make a difference in the lives of Asian Americans and other underserved communities. Her research projects focus particularly on ameliorating the negative mental health effects of racism and acculturative stress. Fanny’s master’s thesis focused on relations between racism, racial identity, ethnicity, and race related empowerment in Asian Americans. She sought to understand what variables might protect against racism related stress in order to consider how preventative initiatives might be shaped. Her thesis was methodologically complex, in that racial identity was measured not only as endorsement of subscales of attitudes, but also as interactive profiles. Although this approach is recommended in the literature, it is rarely done because profile analysis is complex with multiple approaches. Fanny’s developed expertise is in cluster analysis, and q-sort and difference profiles; she has presented several aspects of methodological comparison at national conferences. She has also garnered clinical experiences serving diverse populations at UMass and at the Malden Family Medicine Center, a community health center associated with Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. She is highly involved in service activities: she served as past president of the Asian American graduate students’ organization at UMass Boston, former co-chair of the Clinical Program’s Diversity Committee, and is currently president of the Division of Students of the Asian American Psychological Association. Fanny’s long-term goal is to continue working with community mental health centers and organizations to develop effective research and services for underserved Asian American populations.

The Maxwell J. Schleifer Memorial Prize:  Frances de L. Martinez-Pedraza, PhD

The Maxwell J. Schleifer Memorial Prize is awarded annually to Clinical Psychology students with the best child-focused master’s thesis.  Frances Martinez Pedraza’s thesis, entitled: “Parental Well-Being within the Marital Subsystem: A Study of Mother-Father Dyads Raising Young Children with Autism,” involved sophisticated longitudinal statistical analyses to evaluate reciprocal relations in parents’ perceptions of marital strain, parenting stress and affective symptoms among parents raising a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Controlling statistically for children’s ASD symptoms and stability in partner’s affective symptoms, mothers’ symptoms in Year 1 were associated with fathers’ symptoms in Year 2. A similar pattern was observed between mothers’ parenting stress in year 1 and fathers’ parenting stress in year 2. In contrast, no between-partner influences were observed for appraisals of marital satisfaction. These results provide a deepened understanding of inter-couple patterns among parents raising children with ASD and highlight potential targets for fostering parental and family well-being. Frances presented these findings at an international conference and is poised to submit a paper for publication. Frances was awarded a prestigious Autism Speaks Weatherstone pre-doctoral Fellowship to address health disparities in age of ASD diagnosis by disseminating best practices in routine early screening to early intervention providers.

The Creative Writing Award for Outstanding Achievement:  Krysten Hill, MFA

Throughout her years at UMass Boston, Krysten Hill has reflected what it means to be part of a literary, educational, and historic community. She brought from her native Kansas City her experience as the first undergraduate invited to perform as part of the University of Missouri’s Life and Literature Performance Series, and used it to work with MassLEAP’s productions of Louder Than A Bomb, a poetry slam competition that aims to bring teens together across racial, gang, and socio-economic lines. She has been a tutor for the Writing Proficiency Office, and for two semesters an admired teacher of Intro to Creative Writing for the English Department. Her poems never fail to startle with their lucid imagery and fresh music.

Krysten’s thesis, Blood Call, documents ways in which the black body is mishandled and mistranslated. In poems that explore relationships among race, gender, and sexuality, she writes powerfully of connections between mother and daughter, child and adult, self and lover.  Her poems emphasize the importance of a voice, naming and claiming, while fighting the physical and psychological forces that attempt to silence it. Her themes of birth, rebirth, death, violence, and forgiveness culminate in a convergence of body and spirit that brightens the reader’s awareness of a difficult world.

The English Program Award for Outstanding Achievement:  Matthew Hitchcock, MA

This award is given annually to the year’s outstanding graduating student in the English M.A. Program. Matthew Hitchcock has proven not only a stellar student in his classes, earning praise and accolades from his professors, but also a talented teacher in his own right. He has been defined by his thoughtfulness in all realms, and he exemplifies the energetic and nuanced forms of thinking that we believe characterize the outstanding student of English. Matt's final essay, “Wash in the Sheepskin. It was Plenty Cold Out: Memory and Accountability in Agee and Evans, Brainard, and Barthes,” illustrates these sorts of original modes of thought; the essay analyzes the relationships between visual and textual works, probing the role of the reader/audience in determining the role of “art as fact” versus the “artifact.” For this attention to detail, the willingness to explore the boundaries of genre and textuality, and for your equally careful attention to your role in classes and your work as a teacher of students in the “Art of Literature,” we are happy to award Matthew Hitchcock the Dean’s Book Award for the outstanding graduate student.

The Ann E. Berthoff Prize for Excellence in Composition Studies:  Lindy E. Briggette, MA

Established in honor of a former English Department faculty member and noted figure in the field of composition and rhetoric, this year’s Ann E. Berthoff Prize is awarded to Lindy Briggette’s essay, “Re-Presenting Revision: Frierian-Based Teaching and Teacher Inquiry into Students’ Perceptions of Revision.” This project is a remarkable case-study that, in Briggette’s own words, uses “students’ misunderstandings of revision to teach a true practice” and to “inspire an improved perception of themselves as writers.” Briggette’s outstanding project makes a smart and useful contribution to our understanding of revision (and of how revision out to be taught) through theoretically informed teacher-inquiry. Her work is deeply shaped by Marxist Brazilian theorist Paulo Freire, whose scholarship Bertoff first introduced to the field of composition. Briggette builds on the research that Bertoff enabled by using some of Bertoff’s signature moves, particularly naming and opposing, to investigate and disrupt tacit assumptions about revision. In sophisticated ways, Briggette exemplifies Berthoff’s dictum: We don’t always need new theory; we need to think with what we have.

The David A. Kennedy Prize for Outstanding Work in the Field of Poetry:  Mark Schoenknecht, MA

Established in the spring of 1999 in memory of David Kennedy, a 1998 Graduate of the English M.A. Program, The David A. Kennedy Prize honors exceptional work in the field of poetry. Mark Schoenknecht’s project on “The Shape of Silence (Or, Toward a Poetry for the Working Class)” begins with an astute and thoughtful critique of working-class poetry and the criticism that both defines and champions it, and then moves to a collection of his own poems, which movingly engage with similar themes and questions about class and aesthetics.

Mark's essay refuses to take anything for granted, and profound insights emerge when he scrutinizes what are widely taken as uncontroversial claims like, for instance, the need to valorize the lives of the working class. What would it mean, this essay asks, in both political and aesthetic terms, to take such a claim to heart? The consequence of this scrutiny is a brilliant demonstration of the contradictions that underlie the commitments and investments of working class poetry and its theorization. More importantly, this essay achieves this by emphasizing the significance of political questions and aesthetic inquiry without sacrificing one for the sake of the other. His own poetry then stands as an illustration of this nuanced and thoughtful project, making him an ideal recipient of the Kennedy award.

The Alvin S. Ryan Award for Best Literature Paper:  Bradley Charles Smith, MA

Bradley Smith’s meticulous and innovative final project, “Nature and the Constant Seeds of Change: Lucretian Physics and Heideggerian Metaphysics in Spenser’s Mutabilitie Cantos,” is this year’s recipient of the Alvan S. Ryan Award. This award was established in honor of the English Department's first Professor Emeritus, who retired in 1978, and it is given annually for the best literature paper in the English M.A. Program. Brad’s paper makes the dazzlingly original argument that we must turn to both Lucretius’ natural philosophy and Martin Heidegger’s concept of being in order to understand Spenser’s famously ignored Mutabilitie Cantos. Brad’s work convincingly illustrates how these poems need to play a much larger role in our understanding of English literary history, philosophy, theology, and maybe even physics.  With clear and cogent prose, Smith succeeds in showing that Spenser’s last poem anticipates what Graham Harman has identified as Heidegger’s “single great thought”--that “being is not presence [because] the being of things such as candles and trees never lies fully present before us.” With this important argument, Smith’s essay, his readers agree, has cascading implications within and beyond Spenser studies. Smith’s originality of argument, depth of research, and elegance of execution prove him deeply worthy of the recognition bestowed by this important prize.

The Robert Crossley Award:  Melody Anderson, MA

Established in 2010 in honor of the English department's longstanding chair and graduate program director, this award is given annually to the most innovative, interdisciplinary, or risk-taking Final Project, as these qualities define Professor Robert Crossley's scholarship. Melody Anderson’s curriculum unit, “Uploading Shakespeare: The Exploration of Wikispaces in the Study of Romeo and Juliet” weaves together multiple disciplinary modes to create a project that ranges from literary analysis to pedagogical practice. This pedagogical project is an outstanding example of how “new” media can remediate and reinvigorate the study of “old” texts.  By uploading Shakespeare to a wiki, Anderson has provided an appropriate and provocative venue for interacting with drama off the stage. In this sense, the wiki proves to be more faithful the dynamic nature of Shakespearean performance than a printed text, providing a bridge to what might seem to be the inaccessible language of Shakespeare. Melody’s work also encourages students to become aware of the “identities” they inhabit in printed or digital—increasingly important when exploring 21st century literacies. For her innovative work in both literature and pedagogy, and for her ability to bring the complex world of literary studies outside the realm of academe, we are glad to award Melody the Crossley Prize.

The History Program Book Award for Excellence:  Charles S. Carroll, MA

In his time at UMass Boston Charlie has impressed all of us in the history department with his commitment to medieval history, his work ethic, his creativity and his intellect. He participated actively and thoughtfully in graduate and undergraduate courses, constantly striving to promote an amicable, productive classroom environment. During his two-year tenure here, his writing improved in clarity and precision while also becoming noticeably more daring and creative. By last spring, it was clear to all who knew Charlie that he had a successful career as an academic ahead of him.

Charlie fully appreciates—and embraces—the challenges of being a European historian in the 21st century. He has worked on his linguistic and palaeographic skills and has already presented his scholarship at conferences, both on and off campus. At present, he is finishing a provocative and original MA thesis on the ways in which notions of clerical masculinity changed in the High Middle Ages. Even as he has pursued this busy academic agenda, Charlie has also proved himself a committed member of our new History Graduate Student Association and an invaluable, and much missed, teaching assistant to a certain professor. His achievements were recognized this winter by his admission to Brown University’s PhD program, and we are confident that he will excel there, as he has here. This book award represents the history department’s appreciation of his dedication, his good humor, his hard work and his innovative intellect.

The Barbara E. Leudtke Book Award for Academic Excellence in Historical Archaeology:  Joseph Bagley, MA

This year’s recipient of the Historical Archaeology Master’s Program thesis award is Joseph Bagley. A native of Maine, Joe attended Boston University for his B.A. in archaeology, intending to study Roman archaeology. However, he developed an interest in Native American history while working on summer excavations. During his senior year, Joe studied the Native American artifacts found in Boston Common while volunteering at the City Archaeology Laboratory. He also helped to develop some of the interpretive panels currently installed at some MBTA Green Line stations. It was during this time that he decided to further his graduate education at UMass Boston.

Joe entered and completed the graduate program with initiative, enthusiasm, and ambition. For his master’s thesis, he studied the Native American material culture from the Sarah Boston Farmstead in Grafton, Massachusetts. The farmstead was home to four generations of Nipmuc female-headed households between 1727 and 1840. Through a detailed analysis of the stone tools and pottery from the Native American site, he was able to confirm that stone tool production and use continued well into the 19th century. He also demonstrated the innovative approach that the farmstead’s residents took to incorporating European material culture into their daily lives while maintaining Native production of lithic tools and baskets.

We are proud that Joe was recently chosen as Boston’s newest City Archaeologist, which brings him full circle and further anchors him in the city with his wife, Jen, who is also a graduate of the Historical Archaeology Master’s Program. We are pleased that he will continue to pursue his interests in Native American archaeology and the history of Boston.

The Award for Academic Excellence in Latin and Classical Humanities:  Madeline M. Kolodziej, MA

Madeline Kolodziej has been the type of graduate student that every program director longs for – motivated, responsive, collegial, and appreciative of every word of direction or support. From the moment she arrived at UMass Boston it was clear that she was both determined and ready to immerse herself in her studies, to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, to grow, and to become a valuable member of our program and the wider Classics community. From the beginning her coursework has been impeccable; Madeline is a sensitive reader of Latin literature, a skilled researcher and writer, and a creative and thoughtful student teacher. In addition, she has been a superb teaching assistant for several faculty members. Indeed, she has excelled in every aspect of her graduate education, all the while sharing her positive and upbeat attitude with her fellow students.

The supervising teacher with whom Madeline has completed her teaching practicum in her final semester at UMass Boston has repeatedly remarked that we sent him a good one. Indeed, not just a good one, but a great one. The joy she gets from interacting with her students is readily apparent to even the casual observer, and her commitment to their success is unshakeable. It is with great pride that we send Madeline forth, as the first graduate from the licensure track of our Masters program, to share her knowledge and love of Latin as a classroom teacher. We have absolute confidence in her bright future.

The Award for Academic Excellence in Applied Sociology:  Amanda Lee Aykanian, MA

Amanda Lee Aykanian arrived on campus with a tremendous skill set and is simply one of the most generous, hard working young women we have had the pleasure of teaching, mentoring , and working side-by-side with. She earned high marks while not only working full time as a research associate at Advocates for Human Potential, a program evaluation firm, but also enthusiastically adopting additional responsibilities including teaching her own undergraduate Methods course as well as being the Teaching Assistant (TA) to our highest order statistical class in the MA program as well as the Masters Paper class. She has handled the parallel roles of being both a peer and teacher among her peers with grace. Amanda is steadfast in her scholarly interests in homelessness and evaluation research. Similarly, she is equally committed to the activities and institutions that form the rounds of her life. Amanda is a leader in our graduate student club. She attends faculty graduate committee meetings. She also is the editor of our excellent program newsletter. Amanda is far and away the most stellar student we have had go through the MA in Applied Sociology program at UMass Boston in recent memory. She is amazingly competent, energetic and bright and our program is better off for having had her.

The James E. Blackwell Prize in Applied Sociology:  Diego Gomez-Aristizabal, MA

Diego Gomez-Aristizabal came to us as a promising undergraduate student at UMass Boston through our accelerated 5-year BA to MA program. He has earned the Blackwell Prize for Excellence in Applied Sociology due to his commitment to social justice and his persuasive sociological vision. Diego’s engagement on campus and in the community reveals an individual tremendously engaged with the social world whether he was teaching his own course as a TAII, managing the campus art gallery, being collegiate and thoughtful in the classroom, or at his internship at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, leading focus groups with survivors of homicide, or traveling to Colombia to do his thesis research. During his internship Diego worked in the Executive Office of Transportation developing educational programs related to biking and public transportation. Continuing along those lines, his thesis compares bicycle friendly Bogotá to lesser so Boston. Diego’s research agenda is well developed and his interests in cityscapes and ethnographic ways of knowing will require him to remain emerged in the culture of his studies as a catalyst for social justice and social change.

College of Management

The Master of Science Award for Academic Excellence in Accounting:  Qian Wan, MS

Qian Wan, also known as Henry, is happy to share that his name in Chinese means “one out of millions”. His curious and searching nature which has led him to complete 2 bachelor’s degrees, (in business and economics) and now 2 master’s degrees, (MSF June 2012, MSA Spring 2013) certainly suggests that he is living up to his name sake.

Qian has travelled throughout his life, having visited 22 out of 34 provinces and districts of China, and has also travelled to England, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Indonesia and now the United States. He credits his travels with imparting to him a global vision to do business and he looks forward to using his extensive language and travel experience towards his international business goals. He hopes to work for large multinational companies where he can use the skills gained during his time here at UMass Boston.

The Master of Business Administration Award for Academic Excellence:  Nicholas Scott Stewart, MBA

Nicholas Stewart is completing his MBA degree this year with a concentration in human resources as well as leadership & organizational change. Nicholas is an inherently inquisitive person, with a genuine desire to garner greater understanding as a means for improving the greater business community through research. His passion for higher education goes beyond his education at UMass Boston as he is an active member of a local toastmasters club where he continues to hone the skills of public speaking and leadership that he one day hopes to put to good use working in a higher education classroom.

Nicholas has worked with several professors over his time at UMass Boston, including research with Professor Leon Zurawicki, in the field of Neuromarketing, research with Professor Goldman which has  included both direct field work as well as a robust project on the state of “meditation and mindfulness” in both business schools and higher education at large, as well as serving as a teaching assistant for Professor Pacey Foster where he has been able to engage the students in regards to group work and performance as well serve as a sounding board. His academic and professional passions arise from an understanding and focus around research that focuses on testing whether “mindfulness” can provide a basis for predicting aspects of workplace performance in an experimental setting.

The Master of Science in Finance Award for Academic Excellence:  Yang Li, MS

Born in a small town in central China, Yang has dedicated herself to her studies since she was young, and is thankful to her parents who guided her along the way. Since arriving at UMass Boston, Yang has felt she has found a home in this academic institution, excelling in her studies and being invited to join Golden Key International Honor society.

Having received her MSF in December, she will also be completing her MSA this spring, and believes that finance shapes forward thinking, while accounting is needed to based reasonable predictions and assumptions for future decision making. Yang is proud to express “I am so lucky to get a chance to study [at UMass Boston] and I’ve achieved so much all the way for myself and my family”.

The Master of Science in International Management Award for Academic Excellence:  Samia A. Bagdady, MS
The Master of Science in Information Technology Award for Academic Excellence:  Joseph De Vivo, MS

Joseph De Vivo is an information technology (IT) professional with a combination of technical and managerial experience. He has received his Bachelor of Science in Management with a specialization in information systems (summa cum laude), a Master of Business Administration (June 2012), and now a Master of Science in Information Technology which he will complete this spring 2013.

He has developed his professional experience through technical roles such as programmer, technical support, and database developer and has also developed managerial skills through roles such as project manager and IT administrator.

Through the combination of his professional and educational experiences, Joseph plans to contribute to the IT field by developing partnerships between IT and business professionals in order to foster development of dynamic and rugged information systems, and allow him the opportunity to play an important role in this partnership.

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

The Award for Academic Excellence in Nursing:  Catherine Benacchio, MS

Kate epitomizes what it means to be a clinical nurse specialist! She is empathetic and caring, well respected by her classmates and a pleasure to her faculty. She has the engaging warm personality and well-honed communication skills that will ensure her success as an advanced practice nurse. She has faced challenges during her education, and during her studies became a first time mother; which slowed her progression through the program but she not her desire to complete her graduate education. Her success once again demonstrates a woman who can do it all.

Her achievements are across all three of the CNS  spheres of influence:  the patient, the nurse, and the organization. She demonstrates expertise in patient care as a certified critical care nurse who works in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Her clinical competencies are impressive, including Advanced Cardiac Life Support and the highly technical modalities of CVVH (Continuous venovenous hemofiltration)  and ECMO (extracorpeal membrane oxygenation). In her advanced practice nursing clinical rotations at the Mount Auburn Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital she has developed expertise in prevention and treatment of complex, difficult to heal wounds. In the nurse sphere of influence, she educates undergraduate students, having provided essential content to students in the nursing laboratory using 1:1 tutoring, small classes and simulation. She has developed individualized “Plans for Success” for those undergraduates facing academic challenges, and worked with them as they strove to improve. This semester, as a student teacher, she has made wonderful contributions to Dr. Stuart-Shor’s course on Global Health.

Kate has influenced the organization as a leader on her unit, and has been instrumental in developing the role of the “Attending Nurse”, a new way of delivering nursing care to ensure quality patient outcomes. We in the CNS track and the MS Program in nursing have been fortunate to have a student as accomplished as Kate and we know that she will continue to make a difference for the good of her patients, nurses and organization as an a newly graduated Clinical Nurse Specialist.

The Award for Academic Excellence in Nursing:  Hermine Poghosyan, PhD

Hermine Poghosyan, PhD, MPH, RN is graduating from the MS-to-PhD Health Policy Program in Spring 2013. She defended successfully her dissertation entitled “Racial Disparities in Health-Related Quality of Life Following Lung Cancer Surgery” in February 2013. Recently, Hermine had a paper accepted for publication in Lung Cancer entitled “Health-related quality of life after surgical treatment in patients with non-small cell lung cancer: a systematic review.” The paper is a result of her doctoral work and coauthors are CNHS faculty, Dprofessors Suzanne Leveille, Mary Cooley, and Lisa Kennedy Sheldon. She also published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Cancer Nursing and the Journal of Clinical Nursing while she was a student at UMass Boston.

Currently, Hermine is pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, University of California, Davis. She received her BSN from the School of Health Sciences at Jönköping University in Sweden and her MPH from the American University of Armenia. Her areas of interest include tobacco control policy, smoking cessation programs, health disparities, and health related quality of life of patients with lung cancer. The PhD program in Nursing and Health Policy at UMass Boston has given her the opportunity to work with nationally and internationally known researchers and policy experts, and obtain new skills and knowledge. Hermine is a member of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS), Sigma Theta Tau International, and Academy Health. She is a recipient of the Anne Kibrick Award, the ONS Foundation/ ONS 11th National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research Scholarship, a Global Supplementary Grant from the Open Society Institute, and an Excellence in Health Care Studies and Leadership Award from the University of Michigan.

The Award for Academic Excellence in Nursing:  Ellen Latour, DNP

Ellen Latour is this year’s Book Award Winner representing the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in recognition of her successful academic career while here at UMass Boston. Ellen is a 2005 BSN graduate of Elms College, and a 2007 graduate of UMass Worcester with a Master's in Nursing Education. Ellen worked as a cardiology study coordinator and a sexual assault nurse examiner before assuming a nursing faculty position at Greenfield Community College working with Associate Degree Nursing Students in 2007. She came to UMass Boston in 2008 to pursue a Post Masters Certificate as an Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner and continued on into the DNP program. Ellen has since had a productive career as a primary care provider caring for  a diverse population of adults/older adults in Springfield Mass. She is completing her Capstone project entitled "Implementation of the LEARN Weight Management Program in the Primary Care setting Utilizing Shared Medical Visits to Manage the Components of Metabolic Syndrome in Hispanic Women". She presented this at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ Research and Scholarship Day on May 16th. We are very proud of Ellen’s accomplishments and know that she will continue to bring a committed level of excellence to her professional practice.

John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies

The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Conflict Resolution:  Tal Lieber, MA

Tal Lieber is a superior student. Though working in her second language (Hebrew is her first) Tal is intellectually fluent. She handles the theories of conflict and its resolution with the same mastery that she handles the skills of negotiation and mediation.

Tal is a major contributor to any discussion, in class or out. It is not the quantity of her contributions that stands out but the quality. Each question or comment can be counted upon to move the discussion forward, to add a new idea or perspective, to challenge everyone involved.

Tal participated as a teaching assistant in the creation and development of a course on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. There were many intense discussions of pedagogy, the role of politics in class, and the selection of materials. The other two teaching assistants were of Arab descent, and all three were remarkable for their ability to manage their political commitments, their focus on preparing a useful and stimulating course, and their respect for the views of each other. Tal was able to be forceful and tactful, certain and doubting, engaged and detached. The topic of course easily elicited passion, but Tal never let that intrude on her purpose: to create an excellent course.

The Gerontology Award for Outstanding Achievement:  Kimberly Johnson, PhD

Kimberly Johnson was selected as the recipient of the Gerontology Award for Outstanding Achievement on the basis of her excellent dissertation, entitled, “Volunteering among Surviving Spouses: The Impact of Volunteer Activity on the Health of the Recently Widowed.”

Kim’s dissertation research examines the relationship between widowhood and health outcomes, specifically self-rated health and depressive symptoms. Her dissertation examines that relationship, but also focuses on the ways in which volunteer activity may help to offset the reduced health outcomes frequently experienced by recently widowed adults. Kim’s study uses longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study to explore this complex set of relationships. Her results indicate that volunteering decreases the probability that older adults will be in poor health or experience depressive symptoms. However, volunteering does not reduce the health risks of widowhood. Kim’s work supports the idea that participating in volunteering helps older adults remain socially integrated through playing meaningful roles in their communities, but no special advantage for recent widows is established.

Prior to entering the PhD Program in Gerontology, Kim received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Evansville, and an MSW in Clinical Social Work from the University of Southern Indiana. Kim’s major interests include the association between productive activities (such as volunteering) and health outcomes, public policies and programs associated with economic security, and ways of enhancing opportunities for social engagement and productive activity for adults. Kim will be joining the faculty of the Indiana University School of Social work as an Assistant Professor in the Fall.

The Richard A. Hogarty Award for Academic Excellence in Public Affairs:  Stacy T. Randall, MSPA
The Award for Academic Excellence in Master of Science in Public Affairs (International Relations):  Kyle James Emge, MSPA

In his time in UMass Boston’s Master’s program in International Relations, Kyle Emge clearly made the transition that professors hope for in their graduate students, from student to scholar.  His record has the hallmarks of an award-winning student, including an almost perfect GPA.  But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. He not only did well in class, but consistently showed a genuine intellectual curiosity and thoughtfulness in all of his work.  Furthermore, Kyle did all of this while working full-time off campus. His Master’s thesis, “National Passenger Rail Policies and the Effect on Investment, Ridership, and Congestion,” is exactly what a Master’s thesis should be. It contains original research – Kyle compared national rail policies in a way that had not been done before. It is well-designed and creative, and the results are not what one might necessarily expect. And he draws useful policy prescriptions from the research that can inform more effective passenger rail policy. And it came from a thesis-writing process in which Kyle’s professors learned as much from him as he did from them.

The Book for Excellence in Public Policy (PhD):  Danny Garcia, PhD

College of Public and Community Service

The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Services:  Danielle E. Asselin, MS

Danielle E. Asselin is honored for her perfect grade point average in the MS in Human Services program and for her strong commitment to the field of human services. Danielle is highly regarded by faculty and her peers for her sensitivity, professionalism, and her drive to make the world a better place.

Danielle earned her B.S. in Environmental Sciences and Human Ecology from Cook College at Rutgers University in 2001. She worked as the Membership Coordinator and Scientific Research Associate for the Center for Health, Environment & Justice in Falls Church, Virginia from 2002 to 2004. She then served as a Natural Resource and Rural Community Development Volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco from 2004 to 2006. From 2007 to the present Danielle has worked as an Academic and Career Coach and Instructor for the Vocational English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program at the Jewish Vocational Service in Boston. For her work Danielle earned the Certificate of Appreciation and Excellence award in 2008.

In addition to her volunteer work in the Peace Corps, Danielle has a rich history of volunteerism including serving as an ESOL and Literacy Instructor for Lutheran Social Services of new England in Worcester and as a Mentor and Community Volunteer for the Refugee Immigration Ministry in Malden, MA.

We honor Danielle for her strong spirit, her integrity, and her helpfulness to others. There are many clients and colleagues who will benefit from Danielle’s very bright future.

College of Science and Mathematics

The Biology Book Award for Outstanding Achievement:  Jennifer Curtis, MS

Jennifer Curtis successfully completed two projects for her Masters’ thesis. The first was a comparative genomics project designed to identify possible cis-elements that regulate the timing of translation of mRNAs that are expressed in haploid mammalian spermatogenic cells. The second project was to clone the full-length coding regions of the long and short isoforms of mouse Y-box protein 3, MSY3L (long) and MSY3S (short). In spite of many difficulties in the laboratory, Jennifer successfully completed both of these projects. It is tribute to Jennifer’s hard work, persistence and laboratory skill that she was successful when labs at other universities with far greater resources had been unsuccessful. She maintained her enthusiasm and good nature through many unsuccessful experiments. She is an exceptionally fast worker who often completed experiments before it was thought possible.

The Bettina Harrison Award for Outstanding Teaching in Biology:  Neermala Poudel, MS

The Bettina H. Harrison Biology Prize was established in 1987 to provide an award to a biology graduate and undergraduate student, which best combines teaching at the university level with scholarship, with teaching as the primary consideration. Neermala Poudel was a teaching assistant (TA) for the biochemistry lab course twice, Fall 2011 and Fall 2012. Neermala has been an exemplary TA in the six-hour biochemistry lab course and has exemplary evaluations and comments. Laboratory students work individually, rather than in teams, and there are 20-23 students per section. Each instructor for a section has their own set of lab exercises, and we rotate the students through a four-week section with each instructor. The TA prepares the reagents, which is really a double lab exercise.  Furthermore, the TA has the exceptional task of training the students in molecular biology laboratory skills as most of the student come in with little to no laboratory skills. Thus the TA helps instruct and guide the students in technique and protocol in addition to grading the lab reports each week.

The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Molecular, Cellular and Organismal Biology:  Adal Abebe, PhD

Adal Abebe worked under the tutelage of Professor Manickam Sugumaran on the biochemistry and mechanisms of cuticular sclerotization and other hardening processes that occur in nature. He took a very tough subject of unraveling the molecular mechanisms of transformation of a group of unique dehydrodopa derivatives that are involved in these processes. He painstakingly elucidated oxidative transformation of three representative compounds. First, he successfully demonstrated that each of these compounds undergo unique biochemical as well as chemical transformations. Then he showed that 1,2-dehydro-N-acetyldopamine is primarily oxidized to a novel quinone methide by tyrosinase, while it was converted to a transient semiquinone by laccase, a sister enzyme. Adal also dissected the nonenzymatic pathways that paved way to understand what was going on in insect cuticle during sclerotization. His work on 1,2-dehydro-N-acetyldopa demonstrated a new mode of production of coumarin type molecules in marine organisms. He was instrumental in demonstrating an unusual Diels Alder type addition in a biological system. His work illuminated the mechanism of hardening of insect cuticle, biosynthesis of coumarin metabolites in marine organism and hardening mechanism in mussels and other bivalves. He has published two major papers of his work already. Two of Adal's papers are resubmitted as revised manuscripts, one paper is under revision and another is in preparation. In addition, he has mentored numerous undergraduate students in Professor Sugumaran's laboratory.

The Chemistry Program Award for Outstanding Achievement:  Christine Lee Schifone, MS
The Chemistry/Green Chemistry Program Award for Outstanding Achievement:  Zijuan Zhang, PhD
The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Computer Science:  Swaminathan Iyer, PhD

Swami started his PhD studies in the fall of 2006. This is his second degree from UMass Boston following an MS in Computer Science which he earned in 2001. After working for BMC Software in Waltham for five years, Swami went back to school and engaged in research involving dynamical processes in complex networks.

Swami is a productive scholar. He co-authored a book on compiler construction (with Professor William Campbell and Bahar Akbal), published at CRC Press in 2012 and co-authored several papers, some of which are part of his dissertation. Swami is a gifted teacher and made a significant contribution to our department as a web administrator.