Nearly 90 First-year Students Recognized by Dean Noureddine Melikechi at Dinner Reception

Student Serena Nguyen with Dean Noureddine Melikechi. Image by Joson Images
Sciences Dean Noureddine Melikechi congratulates Serena Nguyen, a biology freshman from Randolph who made the fall Dean’s List.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

The Kennedy College of Sciences celebrated nearly 90 freshman students who made the fall semester Dean’s List at a recent dinner reception at the UML Inn & Conference Center’s Grand Ballroom in downtown Lowell.

“You should all be proud of your accomplishment,” Dean Noureddine Melikechi told the crowd, which included dozens of parents, family members and guests. “Your success represents not only your hard work and determination, but also the whole community of people who are here to support you – the teachers, faculty, the chairs, the dean’s office, the provost and university leadership, and also your families and friends. Everybody contributes to make sure you succeed.”

All 181 freshmen who qualified for the Dean’s List by earning a minimum GPA of 3.25 while carrying a full course load were invited to the event. All in all, 842 Kennedy College of Sciences students made the fall Dean’s List.

Among those honored was Timothy Beck, a freshman from Arlington majoring in math.

Student Alberto Chavez with Prof. Fred Martin. Image by Joson Images

Computer science freshman Alberto Chavez receives a gift from Prof. Fred Martin, the Kennedy College of Sciences’ associate dean for student success.

“It’s very nice for us to be treated to such a fancy dinner; I know other colleges don’t do it,” said Beck, who was inspired by his math teacher at Arlington High School to pursue the field.

Beck’s mom, Marcy, was elated to see her son’s River Hawk career get off to a running start. “We’re very, very proud of him. It’s such a big achievement, especially in his first semester,” she said.

“I’m really proud of my fellow Dean’s Listers. This is such a great college experience,” said Serena Nguyen, a biology freshman from Randolph who plans to pursue a pre-med program, so she can be a research biochemist or a physician.

Lucia Cheney agreed. “I’m very excited and truly appreciative of this recognition from the dean,” said the environmental science major from Sharon.

Student Eric Fan with his parents. Image by Joson Images
Computer science major Eric Fan with his proud parents, Nancy and Tony.
Cheney is very interested in the environment, so she’s taking a geoscience concentration. “I hope to work for the EPA or a New England consulting firm,” she said. “There’s more awareness now about the environment because of climate change.”

Being on the Dean’s List has inspired Tracy Freire to accomplish more. “I plan to pursue a career in forensic science,” said the chemistry freshman from Brockton. “I’d like to work in a private company or in state or federal law enforcement like the FBI.”

For Alberto Chavez, the recognition is affirmation that he’s doing well in school. “It’s great to celebrate this accomplishment with other students who are working as hard as I am in making our parents proud,” said the computer science freshman from Worcester, who plans to pursue a career in genetic research.

An Inspiring Message

The reception featured guest speaker Kate Tsui, a triple River Hawk. Tsui received bachelor’s and master’s degrees (both magna cum laude) in 2004 and 2008, respectively, and a Ph.D. in 2014, all in computer science.

Alum Kate Tsui addresses the students and their parents. Image by Joson Images

Guest speaker and UML triple alum Kate Tsui addresses the students and their parents.

Tsui is currently a user experience researcher at the Toyota Research Institute in Cambridge, where she is studying the needs of senior drivers and what technologies can be developed to assist them. She is also investigating human-robot interaction in the context of automated driving technologies.

“I literally apply everything that I had learned at UMass Lowell almost every day,” Tsui told the students as she recounted the career path she took, from her internships at Sun Microsystems and Google to her postdoctoral work at Yale University and her present job with the automotive giant.

Eric Fan, a computer science major from Westford, found Tsui’s success story inspiring. “It’s great that she’s an alum. That means she had been through all the classes that I’m going to take, with the same professors. It’s great to hear from someone who had already been through it all,” he said.

Aside from Melikechi, also on hand to congratulate the students were Prof. Julie Nash, vice provost for student success, Prof. Fred Martin, associate dean for student success, and Prof. Matthew Nugent, associate dean for research, innovation and partnerships.