The Skookum Award of Excellence was established in 1989 by the Western New England University Alumni Association as a way to recognize the outstanding achievements students. The Skookum Award recognizes the commitment and dedicated service of Western New England University students throughout their college career by their demonstrated leadership roles on campus, community service/volunteer experiences, and participation in athletics and cocurricular programs. The word Skookum means excellence in the Chinook Indian culture. This annual award process takes place each spring semester to prepare for the Skookum Awards dinner the following fall.
For information on Skookum Award criteria, click here.
The 2014 Skookum Award Winners
The Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement and Skookum Award Brunch took place at Rivers Memorial Hall on September 21. The word “Skookum” in the Chinook language means “excellence,” and awards were presented to 15 seniors who have demonstrated this quality in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. This year’s award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches. View photos from the ceremony and biographies of the award recipients.
Also honored at the event was Ryan Turner ’08, who was presented with the Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award. Turner completed his PhD work in neuroscience at West Virginia University and is working on his MD at the same school. As an undergraduate, he received the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of these awards.
PJ Nassar was presented with this year’s Grand Skookum Award. Phuong Ha and Mark Martinez received Royal Skookum Awards, the second-highest accolade.
The Skookum Awards were established in 1989 by the Alumni Association.
Speakers at the ceremony included President Anthony S. Caprio; Interim Chair Biomedical Engineering Robert Gettens, who is also chair of Engineering Fundamentals at the College of Engineering; and Alumni Association Vice President Ed Lavoie ’99. Award presenters were former Skookum Award winners Alison Castellano ’03 and Andy Roberts ’13.
Pictured (L-R) bottom row: PJ Nassar, Christina Andros, Elizabeth O’Reilly, Aubrie Przybysz, Kevin Babcock, Danielle Johnson, and Grace Kucharski. Middle row: Samuel McLaren, Danyelle Bigda, Phuong Ha, Mark Martinez, and Dena Navarroli, Top row: Matthew Humerick, President Anthony S. Caprio, Erik Carlson, and Chad Woodrow.
The 2013 Skookum Award Winners
The Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement and Skookum Award Brunch took place at Rivers Memorial Hall on October 20. The word “Skookum” in the Chinook language means “excellence,” and awards were presented to 15 students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. This year’s award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches. View photos from the ceremony and biographies of the award recipients.
Also honored at the event was Matt Caron ’10, an anchor/reporter for WWLP-TV 22 New, who was presented with the Young Alumnus Outstanding Achievement Award. Speakers at the ceremony included Olivia Mazzarella ’10, volunteer management chair on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Alumni Association Vice President Ed Lavoie ’99, Professional Educator of Communications Brenda Garton, and President Anthony S. Caprio. Award presenters were past Skookum Award recipients Kristine Perrone ’13 and Mike Salva ’13. Holden Canty was presented with this year’s Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the awards. Carol Haskell and Kayla Vasseur received Royal Skookum Awards, the second-highest accolade. The Skookum Award was established in 1989 by the Alumni Association.
Pictured (L-R) front row: Sarah Wiles, Anne Mercer, Tyler Unwin, Carol Haskell, and Amy Masi. Middle row: Cassandra Deal, Alana Regan, Kevin Parma, Emily Dubuc, and Maria Francese. Back row: Thomas Notchick, Holden Canty, President Caprio, and Matthew Sherry.
The annual Skookum Award Dinner at Rivers Memorial Hall on October 12 kicked off Family and Friends Weekend. The word “Skookum” in the Chinook language means “excellence,” and awards were presented to 15 students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. This year’s award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches. View photos from the ceremony and biographies of the award recipients.
Speaking at the ceremony were Alumni Association President Mike Coffey G’79, Alumni Association Past President Mat Nelson ’93, and President Anthony S. Caprio. Award presenters were past Skookum Award recipients Alexandra Lyman ’12 and Matt LaBombard ’11.
Katelyn Mello was presented with this year’s Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the awards. Christine Galinski and Elena Radzikowski received Royal Skookum Awards, the second-highest accolade.
The Skookum Award was established in 1989 by the Alumni Association.
Pictured (L-R) front row: Michael Salva, Barbara Meaden, Gregory Lewis, Katelyn Mello, Kristine Perrone, and Christine Galinski. Middle row: Patrick Fraser, Elena Radzikowski, Renise Washington, Carla Lynch, and Courtney Ross. Back row: Brandon Case, Michael Konarski, President Caprio, Dominic Seguro, and Andrew Roberts.
The annual Skookum Award Dinner at Rivers Memorial Hall on October 21 kicked off Family and Friends Weekend. The word “Skookum” in the Chinook language means “excellence,” and awards were presented to 15 students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. This year’s award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches. Read the biographies of the award recipients.
Speaking at the ceremony were Alumni Association Past President Mat Nelson ’93 and President Anthony S. Caprio. Award presenters were past Skookum Award recipients Danielle Remigio ’11 and Christopher Nuhfer ’11.
Elizabeth Walsh was presented with the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the awards. Christopher Milanesi and Michelle Wiggett received Royal Skookum Awards, the second-highest accolade.
The Skookum Award was established in 1989 by the Alumni Association. Pictured are (L-R), top row: Chris Chew, Alex Noga, President Caprio, and Michelle Wiggett. Middle row: Christopher Kelley, Nicholas St.John, Elizabeth Walsh, and Bryan Dickinson. Bottom row: Mikaela Berthiaume, Dan Rich, Amanda DeCosta, Alexandra Lyman, Danielle Gwozdz, Shaun Kelly, and Kevin Joslyn.
“These are our best and brightest representatives of the senior class,” said Alumni Association President Mike Coffey G’79 at the Skookum Award Dinner on October 15. The event, which kicked off Family and Friends Weekend, honored “an outstanding group of students,” said Coffey. “The decisions in selecting this group were difficult because of the many talents all of the students nominated for the Skookum Awards brought to the process.” Read the biographies of the award recipients. View photos of the awards dinner: photo album 1 and photo album 2.
The word Skookum in the Chinook language means excellence. The awards are presented annually to students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. This year’s award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches.
Also speaking at the ceremony was President Anthony S. Caprio. Award presenters were past Skookum Award recipients Olivia Mazzarella ’10 and Brian Gauette ’09.
Chris Nuhfer was presented with the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the awards. He first found his passion for involvement with Western New England College student activities through his positions with the First Year Program as a peer advisor, an orientation group leader, a First-Year Seminar assistant, a peer tutor, and an Open House Associate. Nuhfer has since expanded his extracurricular activities to include increasing awareness and action toward the College’s sustainability efforts on campus through the Sustainability Club. He has pursued his passion for preserving the environment through participation in two Alternative Spring Break trips.
Nuhfer has also taken an active role in sexual assault prevention and response with his involvement in the group One in Four. Last year he had an influential role in reigniting the Sexual Misconduct Advocate Response Team on campus.
The Skookum Award was established in 1989 by the Alumni Association. Pictured are (L-R), top row: Brittany Decker, David Griffin, Danielle Castellano, Steven Genovese, Ashley Koundry, Christopher Fontaine, Carmel Sotto, President Caprio, Jenna Swartz, Danielle Remigio, and Elizabeth Cummins. Bottom row: Matthew LaBombard, Donna Haskell, Chris Nuhfer, Sara Sullivan, and Lisa Anne Covert. Not pictured: Erin Doherty.
In a D’Amour Library Athanaeum Series presentation October 26, senior communication major Brittan Decker discussed “Reporting from Haiti and Cambodia: A Personal Perspective of Hope and Healing” in the Bear’s Den of St. Germain Campus Center. Decker, a 2010 Alumni Association Skookum Award of Excellence winner, spoke about her visits to Cambodia and Haiti to help families in some of the poorest villages.
Decker shared insights from her volunteer experiences and showed video productions about the trips, produced through the College’s Institute for Media and Non-Profit Communication. Her Cambodia video, documenting the work of The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, won first place honors for feature reporting in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island Associated Press radio and TV contest.
Following the presentation, the Western New England College Department of Communication hosted a brief reception to wish Decker luck in the upcoming Miss America Pageant. Decker won the Miss Connecticut crown in June. She will also speak about her preparations for the Miss America competition in Las Vegas on January 15.
The Athenaeum Series is designed to provide a forum for communication, conversation and discussion of scientific, literary, and other topics. The program is sponsored by the Western New England College Department of Communication and D'Amour Library.
Western New England College senior Brittany Decker capped off an academic year that saw her travel the globe and claim awards for her documentary work, as well as receiving the Alumni Association Skookum Award of Excellence. Now she can put another honor on her resume: being crowned Miss Connecticut 2010.
Decker, 21, claimed the title June 26 during the 82nd annual Miss Connecticut scholarship pageant in New London. A resident of Bristol, Decker won a $5,000 scholarship and the right to represent Connecticut in the Miss America pageant next January. (Photo courtesy Mike Orazzi/Bristol Press)
Her long journey to the Miss Connecticut crown started last fall, when she traveled to Cambodia film a documentary project. The communication major connected with The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation through the College’s Institute for Media and Non-Profit Communication. “I went in expecting to film a video. I didn't know the experience would change my life,” she says.
Decker documented the work the foundation is doing to provide health care, education, and support to thousands of the poor outside the capital of Phnom Penh. The documentary went on to win a feature reporting award in a statewide Associated Press contest for college journalists, and the trip became part of Decker's “One World: Global Awareness for Global Prosperity” campaign in the scholarship pageant. Read her blog on the experience.
Her travels were hardly over, however. In March, she traveled to Camp Vacamas in New Jersey to work with underprivileged youth as part of the College’s Alternative Spring Break program, and recently traveled to Haiti to help earthquake victims.
Decker has another busy year ahead, serving as Miss Connecticut while completing work on her degree in communication and pursuing a broadcasting career. But it might take a while for the reality to sink in. “I think I'm still in shock,” she told the New London Day newspaper the day after her win. “I took everything into consideration and it all seemed to come together… I did my personal best.”
Read more about Decker's trip to Cambodia in the upcoming issue of The Communicator magazine.
2009 Alumni Association Skookum Awards Dinner
Honors the “Best and Brightest” of the Senior Class
“You have all earned the Alumni Association’s Skookum Award because you strive for excellence in all that you do,” said Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93. “These are our best and brightest representatives of the senior class.” The occasion was the Skookum Award Dinner on October 16 that kicked off Family and Friends Weekend. Read the biographies of the award recipients. View photos of the celebration dinner: Photo albums 1, 2, and 3.
The word Skookum in the Chinook language means excellence. The awards are presented annually to 15 students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. This year’s award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches.
President Anthony S. Caprio spoke at the ceremony, as did Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93. Award presenters were past Skookum Award recipients Olalekan Adeoyin ’09, a one-year Alumni Trustee, and Kellie Stanchak ’09.
Katie Manning was presented with the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the awards. A member of Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Mortar Board Senior Honor Society, Manning has been on the Dean’s List four times and was recently named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. The native of East Longmeadow, MA is a Peer Advisor and a member of the Stageless Players theatre club.
Manning has been a participant in Alternative Spring Break for the past two years, traveling to Atlanta, GA to work with a refugee resettlement organization, where she taught English as a second language. Manning’s second Alternative Spring Break to Pittsburgh brought her to the Pace School, working with children with autism and other behavioral disabilities in an alternative learning setting.
Pictured are 2009 Skookum Award winners (L-R) Olivia Mazzarella, Scott Shaw, Leigh-Ann Malke, Samantha Bashaw, Michael Sullivan, Kelly Jerzyk, President Anthony S. Caprio, Rosalie Rodriguez, Michelle Delgado, Patrick Tedaldi, Hannah Marvin, Arthur Stewart, Megan McNatt, Katie Manning, Jordyn Peck, and Kelly Kutash.
And Colleges include 12 Skookum Award Winners
Twelve Skookum Award winners are among the 33 Western New England College students recently selected for inclusion in the 2008-2009 edition of Who’s Who Among American Students in American Universities and Colleges. The Alumni Association presents Skookum Awards annually to graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service.
The Skookum Award winners who also received Who’s Who accolades are Kellie Stanchak (pictured with President Anthony S. Caprio and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Saeed Ghahramani), Sarah Garner, Kyle McGuire, Michael Melucci, Michael Ormsby, Amanda Poyant, Shannon Rajala, Emma Thomson, Lila West, Peter DiNardo, Brian Michaud, and Olalekan Adeoyin. To view a photo album of the November 8 Who’s Who ceremony, click here.
Adeoyin is the recipient of the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the Skookum Awards. To read more about Adeoyin, click here.
West and Ormsby are Royal Skookum Award recipients, the second-highest honor among these accolades.
West, from Hadley, MA. is a psychology major in the Elementary Education Program with a 3.98 GPA. She is a member of the Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta, Psi Chi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Mortar Board Honor Societies. On campus, she has been involved with Student Senate, where she has served as grievance chair. West is also a four year member of the Campus Chorus, and she currently serves on the Student Affairs All-College Committee. She is also in her fourth year of employment at the Office of Advancement, where she has raised over $45,000 for the College through her phonathon efforts, and she has represented the student callers at multiple campus events. This past summer West traveled to London for three weeks on a study abroad trip.
As an Education Program student she has worked at Dryden Elementary School and Talmadge Elementary School, where she was the second grade classroom intern; at The Willie Ross School for the Deaf as a classroom intern; and at Hillcrest Elementary School as a classroom aid and interventionist for special needs children. She is currently completing her student teaching at Sullivan Elementary School in Holyoke, MA. Upon graduation, West plans to teach locally before pursuing her master’s degree in either education or deaf education.
Ormsby, from Westfield, MA, is a communication major with a minor in psychology, and he has entered his senior year with a 3.89 cumulative grade point average and a member of the Honors Program. He holds memberships in a number of honor societies, including Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society. He is a member of the Honors Program, and is on the Dean’s List and the President’s list.
He has recently been voted president of Lambda Pi Eta—the College’s communication honor society. He has also served as a Junior Representative to the Senior Class Council, which helped plan and operate senior class events and senior week. A founding member of Western New England College’s chapter of One-in-Four, he has also volunteered at Gray House for the Kids’ Carnival, Bright Nights Ball, and several Make a Difference Weekends. Ormbsy has been selected as a co-leader for an Alternative Spring Break trip next semester to work on rebuilding hurricane-torn New Orleans. He also looks forward to his second year as a student representative on the Student Affairs All-College Committee. He is in his third year as a Peer Advisor, and is currently advising students with ADHD and social disorders. Next year, Ormsy plans to attend graduate school to earn his master’s degree in higher education. To read biographies of all 2008-2008 Skookum Award recipients, click here.
Shannon Rajala recalls with excitement her work with inner city youth in Chicago for Alternative Spring Break last year. “It was an after-school program at an agency called Alternatives, Inc., and one of our accomplishments was transforming an office into a wardrobe closet,” she says. “The agency collected donated clothes, and now the high school students can borrow professional outfits for job interviews.”
Because of her achievement in academics (including a 3.75 grade-point-average) and participation in community service and co-curricular programs, Rajala was one of 15 Western New England College students to be presented with the Alumni Association’s 2008 Skookum Award. The word Skookum in the Chinook language means excellence. The awards were presented during a ceremony dinner on September 19 at Rivers Memorial Hall during Homecoming Weekend. See portraits and read biographies of all the award winners. Also, view photos from the award ceremony.
President Anthony S. Caprio spoke at the ceremony, as did Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93. Award presenters were past Skookum Award recipients Chris Wystepek ’02, assistant director of admissions at the College, and Jessica Vogel ’07.
Olaleken Adeoyin (pictured) was presented with the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the awards. Better known as Lincoln, Adeoyin is an electrical Engineering major with a 3.42 GPA. The native of Brockton, MA has been a member of the Review of Art and Literature since 2005, and serves as the Editor-in-Chief. He serves on the Engineering Student Council, The Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers and is a member of United and Mutually Equal (U&ME). He is a published poet with the International Society of Poetry and the Western New England College Review magazine. Lincoln applied for and received approval to establish a chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers the College in 2007 and he served until May 2008 as the club’s Pioneer Chapter president. He has been a committed member of the Campus Chorus since his freshman year.
Adeoyin has been serving as a peer advisor since 2006, and was chosen to serve on the Steering Committee of the Peer Advising program in December of 2007. A member of U&ME since 2005, he became chairperson of the 2007 World Festival Committee. Since fall 2007, he has been chosen as one of the two student representatives on the College’s Strategic Planning Committee. When not at the College, Adeoyin volunteers at his church as the editor of the church magazine Overcomers Quarterly, he also volunteers as a Sunday school teacher and as a youth coordinator, organizing activities that help to spiritually enrich young teenagers, encouraging them to believe in themselves and maximize their potential.
A member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa and Mortar Board honor societies, Adeoyin is also a 2006 USAA National Collegiate Minority Leadership Award Winner, a 2007 Western New England College Student Life Award Winner, a 2007 Western New England College Alpha Lambda Delta Jo Anne Trow Scholarship Nominee, and was named the pioneer Western New England College Student of the Month in January 2008.
Rajala is one of four 2008 Skookum Award recipients to participate in the Alternative Spring Break Program. Amanda Poyant traveled to Atlanta last year to assist resettled refugees from warring and conflict-affected areas of Burma and Burundi. Two years ago Michael Murray went to Baltimore, where he lived in a halfway house and volunteered in a soup kitchen, as well as in a home for the elderly and in an institution for the mentally ill. Michael Ormsby, a Royal Skookum—the second highest honor of the Skookum Awards—has been selected as a co-leader for the Alternative Spring Break next semester to assist in rebuilding efforts in hurricane-torn New Orleans.
An English major who is minoring in philosophy, Rajala also lead a team of volunteers for Alternative Spring Break next March at a site to be determined. Volunteering is certainly nothing new to her, as she has also tutored children at the Vietnamese Civic Association in Springfield and participated in the Crop Walk for Hunger. In high school, the native of Windsor Locks, CT volunteered at her town’s public library and the Bradley Elementary School. Like her fellow award winners, Rajala is involved in a plethora of student organizations, as well as programs and societies for the College’s top students, including the Honors Program, the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Mortar Board Honor Society, and is on the Dean’s List and the President’s List. She chose to attend Western New England College “because of the small class sizes, which give students the opportunity to get to know their professors.” As for her future, “I plan to apply to law schools and hope to one day work in public interest and environmental law,” she says.
The Skookum Award was established in 1989 by the Alumni Association. This year’s 15 award recipients come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches. The 10 others are: Christopher Talbot, Kellie Stanchak, Sarah Garner, Nicole Hagerty, Michael Melucci, Brian Gaouette, Kyle McGuire, Brian Michaud, Peter DiNardo, and Lila West, who received a Royal Skookum Award.
2008 Skookum Award Winners, back row (L-R) Christopher
Middle row: Sarah Garner, Brian Gaouette, Michael Melucci,
Front row: Kellie Stanchak, Michael Murray, Nicole Hagerty,
Three Alumni Association Skookum Award winners received further accolades recently: Jonathan D. O'Hara ’08 of Derby, VT, received the Hampden Bank Award following from the College of Business, Ryan C. Turner ’08 of Yorkville, IL, received the Marston Engineering Award, and James E. Tierney ’08 received the Honor Graduate in Economics Award.
Tierney, a Grand Skookum Award honoree, is pictured with Assistant Professor of Economics Michael Enz (left) and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Saeed Ghahramani at the Baccalaureate Ceremony at Rivers Memorial Hall on May 16.
A native of Champlain, NY, Tierney graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Tierney served as President of the Student Senate, and was selected for inclusion in the 2007-2008 Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and College. He plans to continue his studies in the fall, pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics.
O'Hara graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He is a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies, and served as editor of the College's newspaper, The Westerner.
A native of Yorkville, IL, Turner was presented with the Marston Award, given annually by the entire Engineering faculty to the student judged to have the most mature understanding of the principles of professional engineering practice. It is named after George Marston, Dean Emeritus of the Western New England College School of Engineering. His senior project, which centered on the studying the biocompatibility of materials used in implants, was published and will appear on Compendex, a comprehensive bibliographic database of scientific and technical engineering research. In addition, Turner was chosen to be one of 16 students worldwide for the Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship Program at the National Institute of Health, where he worked on using Magnetic Resonance Imaging to study stroke. He also spent a summer at Albany Medical College studying treatments for brain cancer.
Turner graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. He was inducted into the Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Beta Tau, Mortar Board, and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies and recognized in Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
“I stand before you today, in complete awe of what we have accomplished as a class and with total faith of what is to come in the years ahead,” said Deana Ste. Marie ’08, a 2007 Skookum Award recipient who delivered the student address at the 2008 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.
“Soon, many of you will apply for your first job, have your wedding and name your first child, and attend your very first alumni weekend. When you leave campus today, take us with you, each and every step of the way,” said Ste. Marie, who was selected as student speaker through a competitive process. You can read the entire text of here speech by clicking here.
Want to enjoy Commencement 2008 all over again? Or perhaps you missed the ceremonies in May and need a dose of pomp and circumstance. Here’s your chance to check out the Undergraduate, Graduate, and School of Law graduation ceremonies by viewing Photo Albums/Slide Shows of the events.
We also have College President Anthony S. Caprio’s addresses, as well as the student speeches from the other ceremonies. To read the texts, click here. The College conferred 737 bachelor’s degrees on May 17, making it the largest Commencement in the institution’s history. The School of Law graduated 159, and the College conferred 114 master’s degrees.
The senior class gift to the College was a $1,500 contribution to Transformations: The Campaign for Western New England College. The gift was specifically earmarked toward the Alumni Endowed Scholarship.
Include Three 2007 Skookum Award Honorees
Gina M. Magliozzi ’08, pictured with Student Association President Lila West (left) and Dean of Students Richard M. DiRuzza, received the Andrew J. Mulcahy Jr. Student Leadership Award. Deana L. Ste. Marie earned the Student Association Student Life Award, and James E. Tierney was presented with the Parents Association Student Citizenship Award.
The three Skookum honorees were among 18 outstanding members of the campus community to earn Cocurricular Awards. The Alumni Association presents Skookum Awards annually to graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service.
Magliozzi, of Burlington, MA is a graduated on May 21 with a degree in political science. The Andrew J. Mulcahy Jr. Student Leadership Award is given to a student who has held a position of elected or appointed leadership, demonstrated a notable contribution to the organization that was served, and exemplified outstanding characteristics and ideals of leadership. The student also must have a cumulative average of 3.00 or higher.
JD Lee to Lead Alternative Spring Break Trip to Atlanta
The Western New England College Alumni Association, through its grants program, funded the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Pasta Dinner on February 23 at the Church of the Acres. More than 100 diners enjoyed great food, listened to music from the College’s Choral Program, and watched an incredible performance by the College Step Squad. Click here to see a photo album/slide show of the dinner.
“This event captured the true spirit of community, sharing, and unity,” says ASB Coordinator Rose Gage. “Our students raised over $1,300 and were intricate in creating a very special event.” Nine ASB students, led by 2007 Skookum Award recipient JD Lee (left), will travel to Atlanta March 15-22 to work on refugee resettlement efforts, and another team of nine will volunteer at a multicultural youth development agency in Chicago. To read profiles of the ASB students and more information about the ASB program, click here.
Lee participated in last year’s ASB trip to Baltimore, where he volunteered at Our Daily Bread, an inner-city soup kitchen and pantry. “It was an incredibly eye-opening experience,” he says. “It was very powerful and impacting to be in the middle of the issue and see people affected by hunger and homelessness every day. This was my first ASB experience, and it changed my life and inspired me toward more activism and social awareness.”
Lee and the eight other students traveling to Atlanta will work with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of the oldest and most established organizations addressing refugee issues. Last year the committee helped restore hope and opportunity to more than 15 million conflict-affected people, resettling 5,000 newly arrived refugees and asylum-seekers into the United States. The students will be working with the IRC’s Atlanta regional resettlement office, supporting the work of the committee in assisting refugees in adjusting to a new life in the U.S. Students will engage in direct service and interact with recently resettled refugees as they participate in English as a Second Language classes, work in the on-site thrift store, shadow case workers, and assist in job development projects.
“I am very excited to serve as advisor for the Atlanta team and to grow with the students throughout this experience,” says Gage, service coordinator for the College’s Volunteer Connection Center. The Chicago team, led by student Tara Monzo and staff advisor Michael Mitchell, residence manager of Hampden Hall and a graduate student at the College, will work with Alternatives Inc., whose mission is facilitate personal development, strengthen family relationships and enhance the community well being. Alternatives Inc.’s programs and services use an asset-based model that focuses on enriching youths’ lives by building upon individual strengths within the context of their families and communities. It provides comprehensive, accessible and affordable programs that increase young peoples’ opportunities to succeed and grow as individuals and community members.
STUDENT PROFILE: JD Lee is from Amity, OR and is an English major with a Political Science minor. He has been involved as a writer for The Westerner since 2005, has been a contributor to The Communicator, our alumni magazine, serves on the Academic Affairs Committee-Arts and Science., and was a Junior Class Council member. He has also been involved with the Pre-law Society since 2004, was the 2006 Alumni Association student representative, and is a staff assistant with the Marketing and External Affairs Division. Most recently Jeff was an Orientation group leader for incoming freshman, participated in the LEADS Conference and is on the Senior Class Council.
Honorees Include 11 Skookum Award Winners
Eleven Skookum Award winners are among the 44 Western New England College students recently selected for inclusion in the 2007-2008 edition of Who’s Who Among American Students in American Universities and Colleges. The Alumni Association presents Skookum Awards annually to graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence in academics, cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service.
The Skookum Award winners who also received Who’s Who accolades are Jonathan Kemp (pictured with President Anthony S. Caprio and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Saeed Ghahramani), Christie Anglade, Erica Dodge, Jeffrey Lee, Corey Mott, James Tierney, Stephanie Ganser, Diana Sigona, Matthew Cosgro, Amy Peca, and Ryan Turner. To view a photo album of the November 17 Who’s Who reception, click here.
The word Skookum in the Native American Chinook language means excellence. When asked how they manage to balance schoolwork with their extracurricular activities and responsibilities, the Skookum Award winners agreed that among the most important traits are good time management skills and the ability to prioritize. Kemp compares the balance to a tightrope walk: “That can translate into some late nights or early mornings, but ultimately I’m proud of the products,” he says.
However, the students also agree that their balancing act requires forgoing other activities, including sleep and social life, according to Kemp. “There is never enough time to get everything done I want to in one day. For me that will be true until we make 30-hour days,” he quips.
With so much going on in their lives, how do these students overcome the stress that might bubble up? “I do feel overwhelmed many times, but I have become accustomed to this and do not let it affect my life in a negative manner,” says Turner. “I think true leaders step up in times of pressure and work more effectively and efficiently in order to complete the necessary tasks. The most successful individuals thrive when placed in these situations and ideally do so without conveying their level of stress. Life is far too short and enjoyable to spend stressed out—perhaps my greatest ability is to not become buckled down by the stress.”
When Kemp feels overwhelmed, his outlets include working out, as well as winding down with a good novel. “The gym is a great place for releasing frustration,” he says. “When I’m inundated, I play video games with my friends to escape the world for an hour. When I'm really overwhelmed and I need to escape campus for a time, I like going to Starbucks. Walking away for an hour and coming back refreshes my perspective and readjusts my attitude.”
Despite having such hectic schedules, recipients of both the Skookum Award and Who’s Who honors have been able to not only survive college, but thrive—simply because they genuinely enjoy their activities. “I don’t do the things I do on campus for awards and recognition,” says Ganser. “I do them because I love what I do.”
To be sure, James Tierney (left), a dual major in economics and mathematics, is a busy student. At present he is a Career Center assistant and a Math Center tutor, as well as president of the varsity bowling team, Student Senate president, a Student Senate grievance chairperson, and transfer student mentor.
Tierney, because of his diligence inside and outside the classroom, is the recipient of the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor of the Alumni Association’s 2007 Skookum Awards. The word Skookum in the Chinook language means excellence, and the accolade is presented to graduating seniors who have demonstrated excellence in cocurricular activities, athletics, volunteer work, and community service. The awards were presented during a ceremony dinner on September 28 at Rivers Memorial Hall. To read biographies of all the award winners, visit the Skookum Award photo album.
Tierney’s balancing act of academics and other activities is successful because this level involvement has forced him to “develop great time management skills,” he says. “I have learned a great deal about prioritizing.”
He has also done much community service, including arranging for seven local comedians to perform at last year’s Rock 4 Relief concert. As Student Senate president, he helps sponsor the Pioneer Valley Ball, a dance for special needs people in the area. In addition, his improve troupe is participating in a benefit concert this year for the Pioneer Arts Center of Easthampton (MA). “I think it’s very important for students to get involved in the community,” he says. “It makes you feel more connected to the surrounding area. When students feel this connection, they are more apt to stay here all four years and enjoy it.”
This year’s 15 Skookum Award recipients, who boast an average GPA of 3.48, come from diverse backgrounds and were nominated by faculty, staff, and coaches. The 14 others are: Jonathan O’Hara, Corey Mott, Erica Dodge, Matthew Cosgro, Gina Magliozzi, Christie Anglade, Deana Ste. Marie, Amy Peca, Stephanie Ganser, Jonathan Kemp, Emma Thomson, Diana Sigona, Jeffrey Lee, and Ryan Turner.
In order to be considered for the Skookum Award, students must be in good academic standing and be a first semester senior in the fall of their senior year. The selection process begins with a call for nominees to all faculty and staff members. The nominated students who are qualified must complete an application and submit a resume with their GPA included.
A team of alumni and University administrators makes up the Credentialing Team who reviews the applications and ranks each one according to specific criteria. This ranking narrows the group down to thirty finalists. From there the Interview Team meets with each of the thirty finalists to learn more about each student. The nomination and interview process occurs in the spring semester of their junior year.
The interview Team uses criteria to narrow the group to the top fifteen winners. In addition, there are three levels of the Skookum Award: twelve Skookum award winners, two Royal Skookum awards and one Grand Skookum award winner. The Grand Skookum award is granted to the highest ranking candidate. The Royal Skookum awards go to the second and third highest ranking award winners.
At the Skookum Brunch held during Family and Friends Weekend in the fall of their senior year, each recipient receives a Skookum Rock, which is a miniature replica of the Western New England University Rock with his or her name engraved on the plaque and a certificate of achievement. Individual and group photos are taken of each recipient. The Royal and Grand Skookum winners also receive a monetary award from the Alumni Association.
Past Skookum award winners are part of this process from credential reviewers and interviewers, to presenters of the awards.
Benefits of becoming a Skookum Award recipient
• The honor of being recognized by the Western New England University campus community and alumni as being one of the top fifteen students of your class to excel in academics, leadership and volunteerism.
• It is the highest honor given by the Alumni Association to the students of Western New England University.
• The opportunity to be asked to speak at the Presidents Dinner, Scholarship Reception and other annual alumni events as a well-respected representative of the student body.
• You will be invited to each subsequent Alumni Awards Dinners and recognized as a past Skookum Award recipient.
• The opportunity to become part of the Skookum Awards Team as well as a candidate to present future awards.