Meet Wheelock's Passion for Action Scholars

Class of 2018 Passion Scholars

Freddy Mata
Sarah Mendez
Amarielis Morales
Carishmar Moore
Jazmin Wallace

Class of 2017 Passsion Scholars

Alexandra Abrecht
A;exandra AlbrechtLexi graduated from Chapel Hill, Chauncy High School in Waltham, MA, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and received the Headmaster's Book Prize for social consciousness, bravery, and leadership. She is passionate about working with children and spent time volunteering at Weston Windows, a preschool program for children ages 3-5, some of whom are identified as having developmental delays or sensory-motor, fine motor, and gross motor development difficulties. As a brain tumor survivor with a hearing impairment, Lexi is committed to giving back and helping others deal with their challenges. She currently volunteers regularly at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At Wheelock, Lexi hopes to continue her work with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Zachary Kerr
Zachary KerrZach graduated from Methuen High School, where he was president of the Gay-Straight Alliance. As president, he developed multiple programs to educate not only his classmates but also his teachers and the staff at the school. In addition, he has spoken to students from more than 200 schools across the state to raise awareness about transgender students. As a member of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth, he met with Governor Deval Patrick and Commissioner Mitchell Chester (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) to advocate for updating the regulations on the recently amended student anti-discrimination law to include gender identity, a change that went into effect just a few months after that meeting. Zach also met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss ways in which the DOE can support transgender students most effectively.

Karen Morales
Karen MoralesKaren graduated from Fenway High School, where she developed her commitment to supporting others and building community. Through her church, Karen has helped disadvantaged communities improve their access to food and basic health screenings. While a student at Fenway High School, she served as a student ambassador. With her time at Wheelock, she hopes to create a support program for young girls who have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.


Danielle Spivack
Danielle SpivakDanielle graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, where she was heavily involved in service activities. As a senior, she participated in the first-annual Unified Bocce Tournament and planned a Special Olympics kickoff event. Her passion is working with children, so she would like to pursue her interest while volunteering at Children's Hospital. While at Wheelock, she hopes to pursue a career path to become a child life specialist and eventually work with children and families in hospital settings.


Class of 2016 Passion Scholars

Rachel Copans
Rachel CopansRachel is from Salem, MA, where she graduated from Salem Academy Charter School. In 2010, she founded a Web-based nonprofit called Stand Up, Speak Out: On a Mission to End Bullying in response to personal experience and hearing stories of young people taking their lives. Stand Up, Speak Out aims to educate children and adults alike about the issue of bullying and its often everlasting and sometimes fatal effects. In 2012, Rachel's anti-bullying efforts gained the notice of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, and she was invited to attend the launch of the Foundation at Harvard University. The University's researchers were assisting the Born This Way Foundation, and Rachel was one of a handful of youth doing anti-bullying work already whom they interviewed for input. She is passionate about safe schools, equality, and basic civil rights.

Seaniece Martin
Seaniece MartinSeaniece is a first-generation college student from Dorchester in the city of Boston. She graduated from the Boston Arts Academy, a school for the performing arts. During her high school years, she played many student roles, such as Peer Mentor, Student-Advisor, Youth Empowerment Leader, and more. Seaniece also volunteered for community service projects that included work at OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center, a dance studio, and elderly homes. It was at A Child's View Early Learning Center that she developed an anti-bullying program for preschoolers. The program was based on song, dance, and poetry. Seaniece was honored for her service by NECN TV in a special titled "Future of Black History." At Wheelock, she plans to double major in Early Childhood Education and Psychology and Human Development, and hopes to continue her work inspiring young children.

Carmen Piedad
Carmen PiedadCarmen lives in Jamaica Plain and graduated from Concord-Carlisle High School. She is double majoring in American Studies and Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy and is in the Honors Program. She participates in the Colleges of the Fenway Chorus and is a member of CAB, a club that organizes fun activities for the students on campus. This year, Carmen is volunteering for a nonprofit organization called the Boston City Singers, where she is an active member of the Board of Directors as well as works with the students in the youth choir. She is excited to continue her years at Wheelock College and give back to her community.

Syndie Pierre
Syndie PierreSyndie moved to Boston from Haiti when she was 10 years old. She graduated from Dorchester Academy in Dorchester and is a first-generation college student. At Dorchester Academy she was heavily involved in her school community. As a part of the Emerging Leaders Club, she worked with other students and the administration on ways to positively improve and change the reputation of the school and encouraged the student body to take their educations more seriously. Through the Emerging Leaders Club, Syndie and her fellow Emerging Leaders organized a project that involved painting the school for an entire summer. As a senior, she created a workshop to help other seniors with the application process for college. Syndie plans to major in Social Work and Developmental Psychology while at Wheelock and has a long-term aspiration of creating a foundation to help immigrant students pursue higher educations. She also hopes to help immigrant families seek better opportunities in the United States.

Class of 2015 Passion Scholars

Emily Jestus
Emily JestusEmily graduated from Norton High School in Norton, MA. While in school, she earned the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards, the highest achievements in Girl Scouting, for her community service projects. While at Wheelock, she has co-created two theater-based youth empowerment programs, one for the Brookview House in Dorchester and one for the Mattahunt Community Center in Mattapan. She is actively involved in several organizations on campus as well, including the Gay-Straight Alliance, the Catachresis literary magazine, the Honors Program, the Peer Tutoring Program, and the Writing Center Program, and holds leadership roles in each of these. Emily, currently a junior, has recently started to serve on the newly created Passion for Action Scholarship Program Coordinating Council. She brings a student's perspective to the Council's work of planning and facilitating meetings and making sure the other committees work well together. She is studying Special Education and Performing Arts at Wheelock and hopes to work to enrich children's schooling experience through the arts.

Claire Kawski
Claire KawskiClaire is a graduate of Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School and is originally from the North Shore of Massachusetts. Since she was very young, she has been actively involved with a number of ballet programs, she has gained an appreciation for music through her love of the violin, and she has been an active member in her community. Motivated by her appreciation of the arts, Claire is a Visual Arts major and is in the Child Life Dual Degree Program. She hopes to continue her passions of working with children in medical settings and working for the arts by combining her Child Life degree with art therapy. Claire's involvement in the Wheelock community includes serving as a college buddy for Best Buddies and as a Peer Tutor.

Jacqueline Orellana
Jacqueline OrellanoJacky is from Chelsea, MA, and is the first in her family to attend college. She graduated from Chelsea High, where she was president of the Drama Club and secretary of the National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society as well as a member of the Interact Club. Jacky volunteers at her church's soup kitchen and sings every year at the Jewish Nursing Home. For two summers, she worked as an actor instructor for Summer Stage, a program that worked with English Language Learners. She has been acting and singing for 10 years and has been in more than a dozen musicals and plays. Her proudest role was Tracy Turnblad in "Hairspray." Jacky loves performing arts, and her passion is making the arts accessible to everyone. She hopes to graduate from Wheelock with a degree in Communications and Performing Arts so that she can promote the importance of arts education for children. In the winter of 2012-2013, Jacky started a blog ( to document her volunteer experiences and her journey as a Passion Scholar.

Melissa Catherine Tineo
Melissa TineoMelissa was born in the U.S., moved with her parents to the Dominican Republic for part of her early childhood, and then moved back to Boston. Despite the challenges she faced due to the language barrier, Melissa strived to be the best that she could be. Beginning in sixth grade, she attended Mother Caroline Academy, a school for girls that taught her the importance of women's empowerment, something she still advocates for today. She continued her education at Mount Saint Joseph Academy, where she served as a leader in Student Government and performed countless hours of community service. Her passion for giving back to her community and her love for people are what brought Melissa to Wheelock, where she is studying Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy. She has helped start and is vice president of the College's Service in Action Club and is very committed to the ALANA (Asian-American, Latino, African-American, and Native American) organization.

Read more about Melissa in the Jamaica Plain Gazette and Mission Hill Gazette.

Passion for Action Alumni

Lea Bartolo '14
Amanda Belair' 14
Tamera Boggs '13
Monique Brunner '12
Laylin Chong '12
Emily Daddio '12
Ariel Folkers '13
Ava Jennings '12
Lisa Kriszun '12
Rachel Robohm '13
Lindsey Snyder '13
Lyonel Traversiere '14

For information about the Wheelock College Passion for Action Scholarship Program or the Passion for Action Leadership Award Dinner, please contact Rebecca Lombardo, Director of Annual Giving, at 617-879-2328 or

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