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On the Bright Side, These River Hawks Shined in 2020

Students, Alumni Find Silver Linings Despite Pandemic Challenges

Collage of students and alumni


For many people, 2020 is a year that they’d rather forget. But across the UMass Lowell community, there have been bright spots, with students, alumni, faculty and staff staying focused, working hard, pursuing their dreams and making us all proud to be part of the River Hawk family.

As we get ready to send this challenging year on its way, let’s take a look at some of the people who brought the good, who managed to find silver linings in these difficult times and who are giving us hope for 2021.

InvisaWear Closes the Year with a Big Deal 

InvisaWear, maker of smart safety accessories that emerged from the DifferenceMaker program, finished the year with a new partnership that is expanding the young company’s reach.

On Dec. 9, invisaWear and ADT, the nationally known home security company, announced they are collaborating to bring advanced mobile safety and monitoring features to invisaWear’s wearable personal safety accessories. 

It seems a perfect match. ADT is known for home protection and invisaWear markets safety on the go with its line of jewelry and accessories that also act as SOS signals to emergency contacts and authorities.

sun-invisiwear-adtInvisaWear began its journey in 2016, when CEO Rajia Abdelaziz ’16 and CTO Ray Hamilton '17 pitched the concept at a DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge and won $4,500 as Innovative Technology Solution. 

The idea was a unique take on personal safety: Buy the jewelry, download the free app, add five emergency contacts and pair it to Bluetooth. Danger? Fear? Just tap twice on the back of the jewelry to alert contacts of one’s location.

Now, under the new partnership, ADT will power invisaWear’s companion app, allowing users who feel unsafe to discreetly connect by voice or text with ADT. ADT will notify the customer’s emergency contacts, alert authorities and share their location, as well as other information to help emergency responders find them.

InvisaWear has been on a roll in 2020. The Lowell-based company took home the Smart Living category honors at last month’s New England Innovation Awards.
Runner and UML alum Noelle Lambert mid-stride.

Noelle Lambert ’19 Proves Worthy of National Honor

First it was Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren. Then entertainer Kelly Clarkson and actress Aja Naomi King. Some serious star power shined a light on Noelle Lambert ’19 and her nonprofit Born to Run Foundation after the former UML women’s lacrosse player was named the 2020 Women of Worth National Honoree by L'Oréal Paris on Dec. 1.
Ketan and Ronak Muni

Father-Son Alumni Beat the Sound of Silence

Ketan Muni ’87, senior director of research and development at Earlens Corporation, a privately held medical technology company, and his son, Ronak Muni ’19, who works for Earlens as R&D engineer and strategic marketing specialist, are part of the team that developed an innovative hearing device, which was recently recognized by Time magazine as one of the “Best Inventions of 2020.”
Lena Dziechowski on the TV set

Double River Hawk Weathers Challenges, Lands TV Meteorology Job

Lena Dziechowski ’19, ’20 studied business part-time at a community college and worked in retail and hospitality for eight years before she decided to study meteorology. She transferred to UMass Lowell as a sophomore majoring in atmospheric science with a concentration in meteorology, and went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years. Just three months after graduating, she landed her first television job, as a weather forecaster at Western Mass News in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Mayara Reis

Young Activist Gives Visibility and a Voice to her Community

Mayara Reis, a Black Latina, who was born in Brazil, is making sure the Black, brown and Indigenous people in the region can connect, find support and celebrate being part of a community as cofounder of Merrimack Valley Black and Brown Voices.
Ben Kenney does homework at the counter of his tackle shack Photo by Ed Brennen

Business Student Tackles Entrepreneurship

Manning School of Business senior Ben Kenney’s schedule was jammed this semester as he sprinted toward the finish to wrap up his bachelor’s degree in business administration. Like most students, Kenney took courses remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike most students, though, Kenney took his online courses while sitting behind the counter of his very own business: Ben’s Tackle Shack, which he opened in May.
Amina Mohammed speaks at Youth Poet Laurete Ceremony at Mechanics Hall, Worcester Photo by City of Worcester

Youth Poet Laureate Helps Young People Heal

First-year nursing major Amina Mohammed wants to help young people heal, whether through words or with compassionate care. In January 2020, during her senior year of high school, Mohammed was honored as the first Youth Poet Laureate of Worcester and the first youth poet laureate in the state.
Junior Kamryn Richard sings her part in "The Great Gig in the Sky" for UMLs Pink Floyd Ensemble

Music Students’ Rendition of Pink Floyd is on the Money

Final projects don’t usually spark praise from around the globe, but that’s exactly what happened when a music ensemble class posted a video of their performance of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” on YouTube. The nearly 44-minute video quickly went viral, earning rave reviews from far and wide and racking up more than 20,000 views in its first day online.  
Karin Loach works with a student in a classroom

Doctoral Graduate Stands out for STEM Teaching Research

Karin Loach ’11, ’20, an eighth-grade science teacher in Auburn, Massachusetts, researched STEM teacher preparedness for her doctoral thesis. Her work earned her honors from the Eastern Educational Research Association.