2 local students win state honors

Thursday May 10, 2012

Today, Berkshire Comm unity College student Karla Pauta and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student Amanda Ok will be traveling to the Statehouse in Boston to be celebrated as part of the state’s second annual "29 Who Shine" awards honoring top community college, state university and University of Mass ach usetts graduates for their academic achievements and civic contributions to the commonwealth.

Pauta came to the United States from Ecuador as a young teenager, according to a profile compiled by the state program. She graduated from Pittsfield High School in 2008, enrolled in developmental English at Berkshire Community College the following year and has since pursued a degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Biological Sciences. An Honors Program student, Pauta has maintained a 3.5 GPA.

Outside of the classroom Pauta has been an active member of the Student Government Association and a leader in the Multicultural Student Services Organization. She participated in a successful cancer awareness walk coordinated between BCC and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. Pauta is currently the student representative on the BCC presidential search committee, and is considered by the college as "an extraordinary young student leader."

Pauta plans to transfer to a four-year college and pursue a career in biotechnology. She would ultimately like to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.

Her professors said she has demonstrated the intellectual capacity, interpersonal skills and personal determination necessary to meet this goal.

"Karla’s personal experiences of loss, migration, adaptation, struggle and achievement have strengthened her character," wrote an admiring BCC professor. "Karla has a great sense of empathy for children, the elderly and anyone in need."

Amanda Ok is an MCLA biology student from Ayer. Aside from being a full-time student, she is described as an especially hard worker who has been employed as a pharmacy technician at CVS for the past seven years. Her studies in biology and work experience in the pharmacy have helped her identify a goal in life, which is to pursue a career in medicine in order to help others.

Like many college students who are financially independent, Ok has struggled to afford a college education. She transferred to several colleges before finding a home at MCLA. While living in North Adams she has successfully navigated the worlds of work and academia. On her own since age 17, she has lived off campus, paid her own bills and maintained high grades. Aside from her studies, Ok is a deejay on the college radio station. She enjoys sharing her love of music with listeners and is proud of her radio production skills.

In addition to learning about Western pharmacology, Ok is very much interested in integral medicine and acupuncture. She plans to move to the Boston area and apply for a master’s program that would allow her to study acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

To learn more about the 29 Who Shine program and other student honorees, visit www.mass.edu/29whoshine.


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