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UMass Lowell Student Receives National Scholarship

Local Business Owner Inducted into Honor Society is Pursuing a Double Major


Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or

LOWELL, Mass. – A UMass Lowell student who is also a mother, ballet studio director and pre-school teacher is one of 10 people nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship from an honor society specifically for non-traditional students.

Clarissa Eaton of Ayer was recently awarded $2,200 from the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society in recognition of her academic performance as a student enrolled in UMass Lowell’s Division of Online and Continuing Education. Eaton, who will begin her junior year in September, is pursuing dual majors in English and psychology.

Eaton maintains a perfect 4.0 grade-point average while working more than 60 hours a week and volunteering in the community. In April, she was inducted into the honor society, which recognizes the academic achievements of students around the country who are pursuing their undergraduate degree while balancing school, home and work.

After Eaton completes her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in community social psychology at UMass Lowell. She has a message for adult learners who may be hesitant to return to the classroom.

“Just do it,” she said. “UMass Lowell has been wonderful to me. It’s pretty much the best decision I ever made.”

A member institution of Alpha Sigma Lambda for 29 years, UMass Lowell nominated Eaton to receive the scholarship because of her academic excellence and “everything she does in addition to being a student,” said Ryan Masson, a Division of Online and Continuing Education staff member who works with students. 

Eaton, 45, began her college education elsewhere in the 1980s but left school to pursue her dream of owning a dance studio. In 1986, she opened L’Ecole de Ballet in Littleton, which offers ballet, tap and jazz dance classes. In addition to running her business, Eaton is a single mother of two children. She also holds down two part-time jobs, including teaching Spanish and French to preschoolers, and volunteers with a nonprofit ballet company.

After watching her son and daughter succeed in college, Eaton was inspired to return to school in 2012. UMass Lowell worked with her to tailor her coursework to fit with her schedule. As such, she is pursuing her education through a combination of on-campus and online classes. Easton has been impressed by the diversity of fellow students she has meet while studying at UMass Lowell. 

“It really adds to the classroom environment to have so many people from so many difference experiences,” she said.

UMass Lowell has offered on-campus classes for working professionals for decades and launched its online program in 1995 under the direction of Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, who is an internationally recognized pioneer and expert in the field. Today, with more than 20,000 enrollments annually, UMass Lowell’s Division of Online and Continuing Education’s dedicated staff oversees one of the largest public programs of its kind in New England, offering undergraduate and graduate courses, degrees and certificate programs to students and customized corporate education around the world. The division has received international awards for its teaching, innovative programming and faculty development.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 17,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.