PITTSFIELD >> Berkshire Community College student Jose Alfredo Cruz on Monday was honored at a "29 Who Shine" awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House. Presented by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the award program honors outstanding students representing each of the state's 29 public higher education campuses.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker congratulated Cruz and the other students, and thanked them for their contributions to the state's communities and colleges, noting that they "represent our future citizenry and workforce."
A native of Oaxaca, Mexico, Cruz is the first in his family to go to college. After graduating high school, he moved to Wilmington, N.C. He later relocated to the Berkshires and worked at a bagel shop in Great Barrington.
The Pittsfield resident began taking classes at BCC in 2013. He is a dedicated scholar and student leader. The 28-year-old is president of the Student Government Association, a member of the Multicultural Student Services Organization; volunteers with MassPIRG and has been involved in the institution's Latino American event series. Most recently, Cruz served as a lead organizer of BCC Hacks, a 24-hour hackathon held last month on campus.
"Jose Alfredo Cruz is a shining example of a student who has made good on the taxpayer's investment in his education," said Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago.
Each student honoree was asked to select a faculty or staff member who had the greatest impact on their college education and experience. Cruz selected Eleanore Velez, BCC's multicultural admissions counselor and coordinator of the institution's multicultural center. Cruz and Velez attended Monday's ceremony with BCC President Ellen Kennedy, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Services Michael Bullock and several friends and family.
He will graduate this spring with an associate degree in business administration, plans to continue his education and eventually start his own business.