Meet Wheelock's Passion for Action Scholars
Alexandra Abrecht, Class of 2017
Lexi 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, Class of 2017
Zach 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, Class of 2017
Karen 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, Class of 2017
Danielle 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.
Rachel Copans, Class of 2016
Rachel 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, Class of 2016
Seaniece 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, Class of 2016
Carmen 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, Class of 2016
Syndie 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.
Emily Jestus, Class of 2015
Emily 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, Class of 2015
Claire 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.
Asia Madison, Class of 2015
Asia is a Roxbury native. She graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Brighton, where she was very active in her school community. Here at Wheelock, she has also made a name for herself by serving on her class council for two years as Senator and then as Class President. At the end of her sophomore year she was elected by the student body to serve as the Public Relations Coordinator for the Student Government Association for the 2013-2014 school year. As a Passion for Action scholar, during her freshman year, Asia, along with two other scholars, founded a girls self-esteem group titled "I Love Me" for middle and high school girls. During her sophomore year, she and two other scholars participated in a service learning trip to New Orleans that included a 15-week-long course about our central Gulf Coast states pre- and post-Katrina. During her junior year, Asia hopes to travel to Germany and continue giving back to her community. For the past nine years, she has volunteered at Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan as a Sunday school teacher for children aged four to six. She also did volunteer work for City Year Boston, completing more than 100 hours of community service. Through the Passion for Action scholarship and her various community service projects, Asia has decided to major in Psychology and Human Development with a focus in Counseling Psychology and to complete the Community-Based Human Services Certificate Program.
Jacqueline Orellana, Class of 2015
Jacky 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 (www.inspiringaworldofgood.blogspot.com) to document her volunteer experiences and her journey as a Passion Scholar.
Melissa Catherine Tineo, Class of 2015
Melissa 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.
Lea Bartolo, Class of 2014
Lea graduated in 2009 from South Shore Christian Academy in Weymouth, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and participated in many outreaches to children and families. Since high school she has been a part of service trips to New Orleans, Mexico, and Belize, on which she helped bring medical supplies to health centers and clothing to children and families in need while also working alongside educators at local elementary schools. These trips have enabled her to apply all that she has learned in the classroom to real-life situations. Her experiences have allowed her to be an encouragement and a light to less fortunate children and families in different countries. She hopes she has planted a seed of motivation to see change in those communities. Lea is currently pursuing a dual degree in Human Development and Psychology with an expected graduation of 2014 and a master's degree in Child Life that she hopes to receive in 2015. She hopes to establish her career in Boston, assisting hospitalized children with acute and chronic medical conditions and supporting families as they begin their journeys of caring for children with severe medical needs.
Amanda Belair, Class of 2014
Amanda Belair is from Lynn, MA. She graduated from St. Mary's Jr./Sr. High School, which she attended since the seventh grade. At St. Mary's, she played varsity lacrosse her junior and senior years. She also danced for 15 years at LeAnne Leslie's School of Theatrical Dance, where she has volunteered assistant teaching and helped organize summer dance camp programs. In February 2010, Amanda volunteered at Camp Sunshine, where she worked with toddler-age children, some of whom had terminal illnesses. She is studying Elementary Education and Mathematics and is a Senator of the Sign Choir club on campus. Amanda has been to New Orleans to rebuild houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina three times since her first trip in January 2012. She has also been to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to learn about the anti-violence curriculum they use in their early childhood classrooms.
Lyonel Traversiere, Class of 2014
Lyonel was born in Boston and grew up in Mattapan. He is the youngest son of a couple who left their native land of Haiti to search for opportunity and try to create a future in this country. As he watched the struggles and hardships of his parents, he always said to himself that he would give to them, and to anyone else with whom he was fortunate enough to come into contact, the gifts of affection, safety, and motivation. At Wheelock, he is studying Human Growth and Development with a concentration in Psychology, works in the Student Life Office and the Library, and serves as a resident assistant. Through his studies, hard work, and extracurricular activities, Lyonel feels he is one step closer to helping the world around him and showing his parents that their sacrifices were not in vain.
For information about the Wheelock College Passion for Action Scholarship Program or the Passion for Action Leadership Award Dinner, please contact Rebecca Smokowski, Associate Director of Annual Giving, at 617-879-2328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.