Three Students Receive 2023 MLK Distinguished Service Awards

2023 MLK Distinguished Service Award recipients Image by Bill McCormack
UMass Lowell recently honored three students as this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award recipients. From left, Chancellor Julie Chen congratulates students Beatriz Martins, Fahad Alden and Cintya Gajardo-Vejar.


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UMass Lowell students whose work exemplifies the ideals advanced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were recognized by the university at a ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Now in its 12th year, UMass Lowell’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards presentation honors recipients for their commitment to social change, along with their service to the campus and community. This year’s UMass Lowell student award recipients are:

  • Fahad Alden of Bedford, Mass., is a digital media major who interviews local leaders on his podcast, “Lessons We Can Take from Today.” In 2021, he became the youngest elected member of the Bedford Library Board of Trustees. At UMass Lowell, Alden is a member of the Student Government Association and a peer leader who advances the well-being of his fellow students through one-on-one mentoring, interactive presentations and workshops for groups. He is the author of “Teen’s Guide to Level Up.”  
  • Beatriz Martins, of Somerville, Mass., is a business administration major in UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business and member of the university’s Honors College. Martins is a first-generation college student who transferred to UMass Lowell after earning her associate degree as valedictorian of her class at Quincy College. At UMass Lowell, she coordinates lunch meetings with faculty for commuter students and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She also participated in leadership sessions provided by Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honors society.
  • Cintya Gajardo-Vejar, of Lowell, Mass., is a doctoral candidate in business, with a focus on entrepreneurship. A native of Chile, Gajardo-Vejar participates in UMass Lowell’s programs and networking events for international students and began organizing these opportunities for peers. She also advocates for students with disabilities, sharing her own experience and promoting accessibility and universal design concepts. She also devotes time to helping undergraduate students develop strong study skills as a residential life mentor.

In the event’s keynote session, UMass Lowell’s Chandra Waring, assistant professor of sociology, discussed her research examining the experiences and relationships of multiracial Americans, illuminating the complex and often unseen biases and challenges these populations face. She offered strategies others can use to promote social justice in their classrooms, workplaces and lives.  

Also offering remarks was Methuen City Councilor Eunice Zeigler, who spoke about the importance of community involvement and shared her journey as a UMass Lowell student and graduate. Zeigler holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in economic and social development of regions from the university. 

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its 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.