BOSTON -- Berkshire Community College student Raymond Dunham and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student Doris Behanzin were among the stand-out students honored at the annual "29 Who Shine" student recognition ceremony held Thursday at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
The ceremony celebrates stand-out students, one from each of the state public colleges and universities. Honorees are chosen because of their academic achievements and record of student leadership and community service, and because they stand poised to contribute greatly to the civic life and economic well-being of the state.
The event included a ceremony on the Grand Staircase, featuring MCLA’s a cappella group, The Allegrettos, followed by a luncheon, co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the state Department of Higher Education. In addition to honoring students, each student also chose to honor a faculty or staff member from their institution whom they felt had the greatest impact on their college education and experience.
Doris Behanzin, 21, has been a compassionate, effective mentor for youth in the communities near the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus.
Originally from the Ivory Coast, Africa, Behanzin -- a sociology, anthropology and criminal justice major in the Class of 2013 -- moved to the United States at age 15, when she and her family relocated to Pittsfield.
Behanzin, whose parents did not have the opportunity to attend college, was encouraged by a high school guidance counselor to continue her education.
As an AmeriCorps Student Leaders in Service Scholar, Behanzin has served at both the Youth Alive Program and the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program in Pittsfield, providing support, mentoring and leadership development for young women. She’s worked at Mohawk Forest in North Adams, a low income housing community where she provided development activities for youth. She also inspired local youth to stay in school and attend college through her work with the MCLA Pathways Program.
Most recently, Behanzin was awarded the Lift Evr’y Voice Scholarship, allowing her to travel for two months with Semester at Sea, a global study abroad program. She plans to volunteer with AmeriCorps before graduate school, and hopes to one day work in humanitarian law.
She chose to honor Spencer Moser, coordinator for MCLA’s Center for Service and Citizenship, as part of the 29 Who Shine program.
Raymond Dunham, 46, came to Berkshire Community College after suffering a serious spinal injury at his job. Unable to work, he found himself at a crossroads. A Pittsfield father of six, two of his daughters encouraged him to go back to school. After hearing inspiring stories other adult students at BCC, Dunham enrolled and quickly became a role model for his own children and other students. He has served as a Student Government Ambassador and as the elected student representative to the Board of Trustees for two years. Dunham is a criminal justice major with a 3.7 GPA.
This honors student was also recently named one of 50 Gold Scholars for the 2013 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team. That award is given based on scores earned in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, for which more than 1,800 applications were received this year. The program is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and is administered by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In addition to being awarded $1,500, Dunham also received a gold medallion.
Dunham is on track to graduate this year and plans to continue his studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and eventually earn his law degree.
The BCC staff mentor he has chosen to honor is Deborah Carderella, administrative secretary for the Humanities Division at the college.
Previous winners from BCC: Karla Patu (2012), Amanda Garceau (2011)
Previous winners from MCLA: Amanda Ok (2012), Anita Esperanza Parker (2011)
Learn more about the program: www.mass.edu/29whoshine