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UMass Lowell Raises $725,000 for Scholarships

Commencement Eve Gala Recognizes Outstanding Achievements

Commencement Eve Celebration
Honorees gather at the Commencement Eve celebration, which raised a record-breaking $725,000 for scholarships, from left: Bernie Shapiro ’56; Chancellor Marty Meehan; Bill Mucica, brother of Gary Mucica, and Sally Mucica, wife of Gary Mucica;  Mark ’81 and Elisia Saab; Edward Davis; Nancy L. Donahue; and Harish Hande ’98, ’00.

By Nichole Carter

UMass Lowell raised nearly $725,000 for student scholarships through its Commencement Eve Celebration, the most ever at its annual event. Since its inception in 2008, the celebration has raised nearly $3 million. 

The sixth annual “Honoring Excellence” gala provided an opportunity for the public and University community to hear from Commencement speaker Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis III and 2013 honorary degree recipients, as well as to recognize distinguished alumni and UMass Lowell students for their outstanding academic achievement and service. The event was held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. 

“Our annual Commencement Eve Celebration recognizes and honors the accomplishments of our outstanding graduates, alumni and community leaders,” says UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “Each year, the celebration raises crucial scholarship funds for our students. With the generous support of alumni and friends of the University, again we have achieved a record-breaking year in fundraising through this signature event.”

The event included a conversation with honorary degree recipients, moderated by best-selling author and Assoc. Prof. Andre Dubus III of the English Department. Honorary degree recipients include Nancy L. Donahue, a philanthropist and volunteer in the Merrimack Valley; Harish Hande ’98, ’00, social entrepreneur; and Mark ’81 and Elisia Saab, co-founders of Advanced Polymers Inc. This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients were the late Gary M. Mucica ’71, Manning School of Business Graduate Program director and golf coach, and Bernie Shapiro ’56, retired math professor emeritus. UMass President Robert Caret also addressed the audience. 

Best and Brightest Students
Some of the best and brightest members of the class of 2013 were recognized at both the Commencement Eve Celebration and Commencement exercises for their excellent academic achievement and their outstanding contributions to the community and the University. 

The co-valedictorians were Owen Welsh of Nahant, a mathematics major, and James DiMento of Georgetown, a business administration major. Both received the Trustees Key for completing all four years of undergraduate study at the University with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. In addition, both are recipients of Chancellor’s Medal for Academic Achievement; Welsh for the College of Sciences and DiMento for the Manning School of Business. 

Chancellor’s Medals for Academic Achievement were also awarded to Jenna Montgomery of Townsend, a psychology major, Heidrun Ryan of Littleton, history, and Ashley Anthony of Middleton, English (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences); Karalyn Forte of Lowell, clinical lab sciences (School of Health and Environment); Eric Kehoe of Derry, N.H., mathematics (College of Sciences); Michael Shustack of Boston, civil engineering (Francis College of Engineering); Rebecca Mayer of Brattleboro, Vt., and William Froehlich of Marlton, N.J., both liberal arts majors, and Indira Persand Hooloomann of Acton, information technology (Division of Online and Continuing Studies). 

The Chancellor’s Medal of Recognition was awarded to Riley Wetmore of Swanton, Vt., a business administration major and captain of the River Hawks men’s ice hockey team. 

The Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service was awarded to Jemima Abankwa of Worcester, a biology major; Rudy Baez of Lawrence, management; Brian Dano of Merrimack, N.H., marketing; Gianni Falzone of Saugus, business administration; Vanessa Kent of Charlton, accounting; and Eric Peary of Woburn, business administration.

The University Medal for Community Service winners were Geoffrey Korir of Lowell, biomedical engineering; Justin Kopec of South Hadley, psychology; Jessica Lynch of North Dighton, exercise physiology; and Erin Webster of Littleton, computer engineering.

Gia O’Connor of Dracut, an exercise physiology major and member of the women’s soccer team, was presented with the University Scholar-Athlete Award.