Nine Recognized with University Alumni Awards

University Alumni award
This artwork of the UMass Lowell campus is featured on the University Alumni Award presented to recipients.


Contacts for media: Christine Gillette, 978-758-4664 or and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell recently recognized nine distinguished graduates with this year’s University Alumni Awards.

“It is uplifting, especially during times like these, to be able to recognize our graduates who have distinguished themselves in their professions, in society and in service to UMass Lowell,” said Chancellor Jacquie Moloney.

A virtual ceremony honoring the award recipients was held Thursday, Dec. 3. In addition to Moloney, speakers at the event included Vice Chancellor for University Advancement John Feudo and Executive Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Heather Makrez Allen ’06, ’08.

“Our alumni accomplish great professional and personal milestones, all while giving back to UMass Lowell. We are grateful for all that they do for our students and our alumni community. I am glad we were able to honor them with a small, virtual conversation where they shared their stories and connected with university leaders and other honorees,” said Makrez Allen.

The honorees represent each of UMass Lowell’s schools and colleges and include one recent graduate who is already having a positive impact on their profession and community. Since the awards were established in 1998, more than 150 people have been recognized for noteworthy contributions to the arts, business, education, engineering, health care, science, the university and the community.

The 2020 University Alumni Award honorees are:

  • Patrese Pierson ’05 (College of Education) – Pierson earned her master of education degree in educational administration at UMass Lowell and taught in the Lincoln Public School system. She serves on the advisory board of the College of Education and lives in Weston.
  • John Mello ’97 (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) – Mello earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the university and is now an attorney with a practice in Lowell. He serves on the advisory board of UMass Lowell’s Saab Center for Portuguese Studies. He is a resident of Dracut.
  • Joseph Blonski ’78 and Debbie Hauser ’79, ’80 (Francis College of Engineering) – Blonski, who earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at UMass Lowell is a senior principal engineer, design for manufacturing with L-3 Communications, Linkabit. Hauser, who is married to Blonski, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plastics engineering at the university and is now the principal of Best Impressions. The couple lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.
  • Fadwah ’91 and Gregory Chiklis ’92 (Kennedy College of Sciences) – Gregory Chiklis earned a doctoral degree in biochemistry at UMass Lowell and is the chief executive officer of MRN Diagnostics, as well as serving on the Kennedy College of Sciences Advisory Board. Fadwah Chiklis earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the university and operates Comforts of Home Design. The couple lives in Franklin.
  • David Laurello ’81, ’88 (Manning School of Business) – Laurello first earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering at UMass Lowell before returning to earn his master of business administration degree. He is the president, CEO and chairman of Stratus Technologies and serves on the Manning School of Business Advisory Board. He is a resident of Westford.
  • Maura Walsh ’80 (Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences) – Walsh earned her bachelor of science degree in human services administration at the university. She retired as president of HCA's Gulf Coast Division in Houston, Texas. She is co-chair of the advisory board of the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences. Walsh lives in Houston, Texas and Cummaquid, Mass.
  • Kerry Weldon ’15 (Young Alumni Award) – Weldon earned his bachelor of business administration degree at UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business. He is an assistant superintendent with Suffolk Construction and serves on the Athletics Advisory Board. He lives in Randolph.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 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 and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.