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UMass Lowell Honors Outstanding Alumni

Awards Go to Graduates Who Personify Hard Work, Integrity

2019 University Alumni Awards recipients Photo by Tory Wesnofske for UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell recently presented its 2019 University Alumni Awards. Shown with Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, center, and Heather Makrez Allen, executive director of alumni and donor relations, second from right, are Janis Raguin ’92, Richard Juknavorian ’98, Paul Bessette ’73, Lawrence Acquarulo ’81, Thalia Chodat ’16, Frank Talty ’77 and David Ameen ’84.


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

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

“Through their professional achievements, public service and personal character, each of the individuals recognized with these awards epitomize the university’s core values of hard work, integrity, compassion and stewardship,” said Chancellor Jacquie Moloney.

A ceremony honoring the award recipients was held Thursday, April 25 at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. In addition to Moloney, speakers at the event included Robert Manning ’84, ’11 (H), chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees; UMass Lowell Vice Chancellor for University Advancement John Feudo; and Executive Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Heather Makrez Allen ’06, ’08. 

The honorees represent 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 140 people have been recognized for noteworthy contributions to the arts, business, education, engineering, health care, science, the university and the community.


The 2019 University Alumni Award honorees are: 

Lawrence Acquarulo ’81 of Lisbon, Conn. (Francis College of Engineering) – Acquarulo is the president and CEO of Foster Corp., maker of polymer compounds for medical devices and drug delivery. A graduate of UMass Lowell’s plastics engineering program, he endowed the Acquarulo Family Scholarship Fund for UMass Lowell students in that field, participates in the university’s Plastics Engineering Advisory Board and was previously inducted into the Francis Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

David Ameen ’84 of Salem (Manning School of Business) – Ameen is the director of investments and senior PIM (private investment management) portfolio manager for Wells Fargo Advisors. A Lawrence native and former longtime Andover resident, he is one of six children and the son of a World War II veteran and former POW, Samuel J. Ameen, in whose name he endowed a scholarship for UMass Lowell business administration majors. He also serves as a member of the Manning School of Business advisory board.

Paul Bessette ’73 of North Dartmouth (Kennedy College of Sciences) – As president of Triboscience & Engineering Inc., Bessette brings his expertise in tribology – the study of interacting surfaces in motion – to work ensuring that safety systems, including anti-lock brakes, function properly. Bessette earned a chemistry degree at UMass Lowell and has served on the university’s advisory boards for the Department of Chemistry and the Kennedy College of Sciences, and as an ambassador for the DifferenceMaker program, which teaches entrepreneurship skills to students in all majors.

Thalia Chodat ’16 of Midland, Mich. (Young Alumni Award) – A Newburyport native who received her degree in business administration just three years ago, Chodat has already launched her own company, Esile Marketing, which works with tech companies in both Massachusetts and Michigan. She founded the university’s Marketing Club and was president of the Dean’s Student Leadership Council. She is a member of the Young Alumni Council and the executive committee of UMass Lowell’s “Our Legacy, Our Place” campaign.

Richard Juknavorian ’98 of Methuen (Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences) – Juknavorian is the vice president of product strategy at Centene Corp., which works with state governments to administer health coverage to millions. Inspired by his first job after college as a medical records clerk to further his education, he earned his master’s degree in health informatics and management at UMass Lowell. A member of the university’s Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences advisory board, he has also served as an ambassador for the DifferenceMaker Program.

Janis (Erickson) Raguin ’92 of Acton (College of Education) – Raguin, originally from Groton, earned a degree in hotel management before coming to UMass Lowell for her master’s in education. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher and later earned a degree in counseling, and is now a therapist at the New England Center for Healthy Minds. She and her husband, John, established a scholarship for students from communities that are underrepresented in the teaching profession and support UMass Lowell’s UTeach program and renovations to Coburn Hall, which will be home to the College of Education when the work is completed next year.

Frank Talty ’77 of Fort Myers, Fla. (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) – Talty recently retired from a long career at UMass Lowell that included serving as a faculty member, assistant dean, pre-law adviser and director of the Center for Public Opinion and the Center for Irish Partnerships. A Lowell native, Talty has also worked as an attorney, including arguing cases before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He and wife Patricia Sullivan Talty, also a UMass Lowell graduate and former faculty member, have supported the G. Douglas Sullivan Endowed Scholarship for teachers in the Lowell school system pursuing graduate degrees, and have endowed a new fund to assist students in the Pre-Law Society and Mock Trial Program.

“The university is proud to celebrate these outstanding alumni, all of whom have used their UMass Lowell education to make a lasting impact on their communities and professions, as well as their alma mater,” said Makrez Allen.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers 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, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.