BCC, MCLA students among '29 Who Shine'

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PITTSFIELD — Two city residents were honored at the Statehouse in Boston on Friday during the ninth annual "29 Who Shine" awards ceremony. The program honors public college and university students who have given back to their communities while excelling academically and, in many cases, overcoming personal hardships.

Berkshire Community College Student Flavio Olazabal and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student Lindsey Carter were honored, and each were able to recognized influential educators in their lives.

The awards are presented to one student from each of the commonwealth's 29 public campuses, including the 15 community colleges, nine state universities and five University of Massachusetts campuses.

About the honorees

Flavio Olazabal came to the United States from Peru at the age of 12, speaking no English. He overcame his language barrier while also working several jobs through high school and college to support his family. As a BCC Student Ambassador and member of the Student Government Association, he was a leading voice not only for his peers but also for future students. He visited local high schools throughout Berkshire County talking with students about the value of a college education. Olazabal also served his community by volunteering in the soup kitchen at St. Mark's Church in downtown Pittsfield and as a teacher's assistant for kindergartners at Sacred Heart School. He plans to transfer to a state university or UMass campus to complete an accounting degree.

Olazabal chose to recognize BCC Multicultural Center Coordinator Eleanore Velez. He writes, "Eleanore has been a great mentor to me. She helped me so much not only academically, but also with any other questions I had. I see the passion she has for her students to achieve their dreams and goals and that's something I've admired. Thanks to her, I met other great staff like Karen [Ruiz Le n] who works as an outreach counselor."

Lindsey Carter will graduate magna cum laude this May with a bachelor of science degree in computer science with a software development concentration. She earned an associate degree in dental assisting from BCC before deciding to follow her brother to MCLA. This honors student has devoted considerable time to helping fellow computer science students succeed academically and socially. Due to her excellent work ethic as a team leader and learner, Carter was offered a coveted internship as a full member of a software development team. As a result of the internship, she has accepted a full-time position as software engineer with General Dynamics in Pittsfield.

Carter chose to recognize Mark Cohen, MCLA associate professor of computer science. "Professor Cohen went above and beyond to help me understand the material and get to where I am today," she writes. "He was there when I was unsure of my place in this major. He is a great mentor and always had faith in me that I would be able to accomplish great things."

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