CMASS holds eighth annual senior recognition reception

Students and faculty were recognized with awards


(Collegian File Photo)

By Lisa Ladas, Collegian Correspondent

The Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success’s eighth annual senior recognition reception took place at the University of Massachusetts on April 28, with a crowd of over 200 people.

The ceremony recognized students and faculty in the Campus Center Auditorium. Seniors leaving CMASS were encouraged by faculty, family and friends with advice.

The ceremony started with emcee Oscar Collins, the interim co-director at CMASS.

Collins made a welcoming speech and thanked the CMASS faculty and staff of 45 for their outstanding contributions to students’ lives in planning the annual senior recognition. Following his speech was a luncheon and a slideshow, showing pictures of CMASS graduating seniors.

Collins said this event is primarily to honor all seniors graduating that have been affiliated with CMASS. “It’s a great way for the community to come together and celebrate the achievements of students of color on this campus,” he said.

Tenzin Dawa Thargay, a senior political science and Chinese Language & Literature double major, was the student keynote speaker. He became aware of CMASS through Chona Lauyan, the Assistant Director of CMASS.

“CMASS has been absolutely wonderful to me; it has been a launching pad for my successful career at UMass,” Thargay said.

Thargay advised future students to use CMASS’s resources, “because they are here to help you.”

Several people were recognized for their achievements, including faculty and students.

Michelle Youngblood, assistant director of CMASS, won an award for 20 years of service. Marjorie Rubright, associate professor in the English department and Crystal Paul, director of administration and research in the political science department, both won Outstanding Staff Awards.

The graduate student awards, handed out by Wilma Crespo, an interim co-director of CMASS, were awarded to Maria Ximena Abello Hurtado, a Ph.D. student in Afro-American Studies and Ghida El-Banna, who is studying for a Master’s degree in public policy.

The assistant director of student development Willie Pope gave the CMASS Pride and Commitment award to Charlotte Mills, an anthropology student. The Social Justice award went to Stephnie Igharosa, a who is a double major in women, gender and sexuality studies and social thought and political economy.

Assistant Director of CMASS Chona Lauyan gave the Quiet Influence Award to Shanelle Bonilla, a journalism and political science double major. Allen Tan, a mathematics student, received the Unsung Hero award. Olivia Laramie, a journalism and anthropology double major, accepted the Cross-Cultural Consciousness award.

Sonia Chiyerem Jethro-Enedouwa, who is a CMASS member and a senior sociology major, also spoke at the event. When asked how CMASS was able to help her, she replied, “CMASS is very instrumental, especially with Ms. Lauyan. She has been there for me. [CMASS] helped mentor me, [and made] sure I was on track.”

Jethro-Enedouwa suggested to future students, “Make sure that you take hold of the opportunities offered to CMASS… No one will hold your hand in the real world, but as long you asking the right questions and making those good connections.”

Johnny P. Tooson, executive director of student engagement and leadership, also spoke at the reception, saying that “CMASS provides support to students across cultures and cares about student success in achieving their educational goals from start to finish.”

“Every student to know that they count, and they are important,” Tooson said.

According to the UMass website, CMASS opened its doors in 2011 to provide “academic support, cultural enrichment, student development as well as support for institutional diversity.”

CMASS members have opportunities to be involved with peer mentoring, making social connections and receiving help in various ways, like navigating the campus community. CMASS makes a point to have the resources so their students can thrive in an inclusive and multicultural environmental setting.

Lisa Ladas is a Collegian correspondent can be reached at [email protected]