A UMass Dartmouth peer health educator was among the public college and university students chosen as this year’s “29 Who Shine” honorees for their civic leadership and academic achievements. The group was celebrated at the State House today by Governor Charlie Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser, Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago, and University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan.
Evangeline Sarah Kuzmech, of Sandisfield, MA, is a double major in Crime and Justice Studies and Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish. Nominators describe Her as “a living billboard for the UMass Dartmouth motto, ‘Corsairs Care.’”
Ms. Kuzmech has served on campus as a Senior Resident Assistant, a Resident Assistant, an Orientation Coordinator, a Peer Health Educator, and a Peer Health Educator Coordinator. Eve received a grant to research the effects of the online sexual assault prevention program, "Not Anymore," used with first-year students at UMass Dartmouth. Upon graduation she’ll join Teach for America as an ESL teacher serving in western Massachusetts.
In receiving the award, she chose to recognize Beth-Anne Guthrie, Assistant Director of Health Services, Health Education and Promotion. “Beth-Anne has served as a catalyst for my development as a student and a leader. Her guidance and support throughout my journey has been unparalleled. I will always recall the open chair in front of her desk for me to come and talk with her whenever I needed support.”
The 7th annual “29 Who Shine” awards are presented at the start of each commencement season to students from each of the Commonwealth’s twenty-nine public campuses, including its 15 community colleges, nine state universities and five campuses of the University of Massachusetts.
“We congratulate the honorees recognized today for their academic accomplishments and look forward to their continued contributions to the Commonwealth,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “The ‘29 Who Shine’ awards are an important recognition of the impressive work Massachusetts’ college students do to make the Commonwealth’s workforce the best in the country.”
“The 29 honorees represent a wide-range of academic programs from across the Commonwealth,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “Seeing young people like these contribute so much to their communities, assures us that the future of our state remains bright.”
The 29 public college and university campuses in the Commonwealth selected the honorees for the “29 Who Shine” awards based on criteria established by the Department of Higher Education. Students are required to be state residents who have strong academic profiles and a record of civic leadership and engagement.
“The ‘29 Who Shine’ honorees are exceptional student leaders who saw a way to improve something and acted on it, and for that we are grateful. They are a credit to the colleges and universities they attend. We are proud of their contributions to their communities and the Commonwealth,” Education Secretary James Peyser said.
“I am always humbled to read the stories of students who are making a mark on their communities even before earning their degrees,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Many of them work full-time, some are parents, all carry heavy loads. Yet they believe that giving back should not come last on a citizen’s ‘to-do’ list. Collectively, the ‘29 Who Shine’ give us reason to hope that the future of the Commonwealth is in good hands.”
Among this year’s student honorees, 12 are graduating with degrees in STEM or healthcare-related fields, 11 are adult students (ages 25+), two are combat veterans, and six are recent immigrants to the United States.