Meet Wheelock's Passion Scholars

Class of 2018

Freddy Mata
Freddy MataFreddy is deeply passionate about racial equality and has started a group that helps minority students with their college applications, which he hopes to continue while a Wheelock student. Freddy is a first-generation college student from Randolph, MA. He graduated from Cristo Rey Boston High School, a college-preparatory school for low-income students. Since the age of 10, he has been involved in service at his church, and he helps teach Sunday school. He volunteers in many youth programs, as a math tutor, and as a mentor to younger high school students. During his junior year, Freddy took an international trip with his school to Nairobi, Kenya, where he uncovered his passion for service. He is planning to double major in Communications & Media Literacy and American Studies.

Sara Mendez
Sarah MendezSara graduated from Boston Community Leadership Academy, a pilot high school in the Boston Public Schools system. She is passionate about Wheelock's mission, improving the lives of children and families, and would like to assist those who are homeless or lacking a support system. Sara has always had an inner passion for service, but an experience during her junior year of high school solidified her calling. Working with buildOn, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education, Sara volunteered in multiple locations monthly. Her most empowering service experience was when she traveled to Senegal to help build a school in a village, and learned about a new culture and the importance of education. When she returned to school, she became part of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), a program that empowers individuals through education, workforce development, and arts programs and creates vibrant affordable housing communities. Sara was motivated to come to Wheelock because of its mission and commitment to service and social justice, and she plans to study Social Work.

Carishmar "Cari" Moore
Cari MooreCari graduated from the Commonwealth School in Boston. Her passion is working with children. During high school, she volunteered at Excel Charter School and Beacon Academy and served on her school's Diversity Committee. Cari was a pivotal member of the committee and represented her school at the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference. She also helped the Commonwealth School to engage in challenging conversations about race and class. Her favorite service experience was through the Amigos de las Américas program, where she was able to travel to Mexico and work with young people. The experience was empowering for Cari, because as she educated others about healthy living and intercultural acceptance, she learned about herself and grew as a person. Cari is pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education at Wheelock and hopes to manage her own child care center one day.

Amarielis "Amy" Morales
Amy MoralesAmy graduated from Boston Community Leadership Academy, a pilot high school in the Boston Public Schools System. Her passion is helping families in need. She strives to create opportunities for all members of her community, including children, adults, and animals. During high school, Amy volunteered in homeless shelters and animal shelters, but her most meaningful service project was through the organization buildOn, which aims to build a better future for the youth of America while building schools in some of the world's poorest countries. With buildOn, Amy traveled to Senegal, stayed with a host family, and built the foundation of a school. While at Wheelock, she hopes to devote her time to early intervention reading programs for young people and would like to engage in service learning opportunities to other communities and countries. Amy is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education.

Jazmin Wallace
Jazmin WallaceJazmin is a graduate of Taunton High School. Her passion is working with underprivileged kids and she feels that her core purpose in life is to serve others. As a high school student, Jazmin was actively involved in community service from organizing canned food drives and tutoring to volunteering at a nursing home. She was the president of her school's Key Club, a student-led service club, and used her leadership position to organize students' efforts to support several programs, including collecting donations for Toys for Tots and creating Thanksgiving baskets for families in need. Her most meaningful service experience was being involved in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. As a team captain, Jazmin recruited 20 students to walk and fundraise for the cancer-prevention program, and raised $5,200. At Wheelock, Jazmin is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education and hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

Class of 2017

Alexandra "Lexi" Abrecht
A;exandra AlbrechtLexi graduated from Chapel Hill - Chauncy Hall 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 has dedicated more than 1,000 hours to service, including time spent volunteering at Weston Windows, a preschool program for children ages 3 to 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 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. At Wheelock, Lexi has continued her work with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Starkey Hearing Foundation. She is studying Child Life.

Zachary "Zach" 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. Zach recently led sessions at the Born This Way Foundation's Born Brave Youth Retreat, helping young people develop new skills to enhance their advocacy and find strength in a new community of peers.

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. While at Wheelock, she hopes to create a support program for young girls who have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused. Karen's favorite service experience was traveling to New Orleans with fellow Wheelock students and faculty to support ongoing rebuilding efforts. She describes the experience as transformative. Karen is currently one of the leaders in her youth group at church and is a Sunday school teacher who works directly with infants and toddlers.

Danielle Spivack
Danielle SpivakDanielle graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, where she was heavily involved in service activities. After finding her passion for working with children, Danielle began volunteering at Boston Children's Hospital Boston. She has now been a volunteer there for three years. While at Wheelock she is pursuing a major in Counseling Psychology and plans to graduate a year early, after which she plans on bringing her passions abroad to Israel.

Class of 2016

Rachel Copans
Rachel CopansRachel is from Salem, MA, where she graduated from Salem Academy Charter School. She is passionate about safe schools, equality, and basic civil rights. 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. Recently, she became the first Wheelock student to receive a Sylvia Earl Innovation Award. The award will support the improvement of her organization's online presence, potentially through the expansion and redesign of her website,

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 is pursuing a double major in Early Childhood Education and Psychology & Human Development, and is continuing 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 & 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. Her most empowering service experience was traveling to New Orleans with fellow classmates. She was struck by Wheelock's positive presence in that community and proud of our commitment to work alongside the citizens of New Orleans to rebuild their city. Carmen plans to study abroad in spring of 2015 and hopes to nurture her passion for service and travel.

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 high school senior, she created a workshop to help other seniors with the application process for college. Syndie is pursuing a 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

Jacqueline "Jacky" Elias
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 and media literacy for children. In the winter of 2012-2013, Jacky started a blog ( to document her volunteer experiences and her journey as a Passion Scholar. Last year, she traveled to Ghana with Wheelock faculty and students.

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 serves 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 originally from the North Shore of Massachusetts and graduated from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. Since a young age, Claire has been actively involved with a number of ballet programs, has gained an appreciation for music through her love of the violin, and has been an active member in her community through her volunteer experience at local hospitals. Motivated by her appreciation for the arts, Claire is a Visual Arts major and is in the Child Life Dual Degree Program, and she will be continuing her studies at Wheelock for an additional fifth year to receive her MS in child life. This past summer Claire traveled to Munich, Germany with faculty and students of Wheelock to study the effects of the Holocaust on today's society. She worked with various groups of professionals ranging from art therapists to employees of refugee centers. Claire's interest and awareness of cultural difference has evolved throughout her time at Wheelock. In the future, she hopes to continue her passions of working with children in medical settings, stretching her artistic abilities, and embracing cultural differences by combining her child life degree with alternative forms of expressive therapy in hospitals with children and their families.

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.

Passion for Action Alumni

Lea Bartolo '14
Amanda Belair' 14
Tamera Boggs '13
Monique Brunner '12
Laylin Chong '12/'13MS
Emily Daddio '13
Ariel Folkerts '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

inspire a world of good

200 Riverway, Boston, Massachusetts 02215 | 617-879-2000
© 2014 Wheelock College is a registered trademark.