Twenty-nine outstanding students, one from each of the Commonwealth’s public higher education institutions, were feted at the State House Monday for their achievements and contributions to the state’s civic and economic well-being, including Osarumwense Agbonsalo, a 2016 health science graduate of North Shore Community College.
The celebration featured Governor Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Education Secretary Jim Peyser, UMass President Mary Meehan, chancellors, state university and community college presidents, students and family members. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy 7th Company Marching Band performed at the ceremony.
Osarumwense Agbonsalo came to this country four years ago from Nigeria. Today he is a proud “immigrant” having successfully navigated a difficult adjustment phase. He was recently featured in a national NPR WGBH Education feature on how new immigrants adapt to the US. While he waited to get his green card he was ineligible for financial aid, so he worked three jobs to save money for college. He enrolled at NSCC in the TRIO program in health science to become a nurse. He has progressed from taking pre-college courses to maintaining a 3.79 GPA in challenging coursework. His belief in “you only get what you put in” has served him well in his community and at college.
Osarumwense wants to be a nurse so he can help people. It is one of the highest callings in his home country. He also plans to pursue a master’s degree so that he can teach and supervise. Returning to Nigeria to work on public health policy is also an interest.
“Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and I congratulate all 29 of the 2016 award recipients and thank them for their substantial contributions to their campuses and local communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Each of the 29 Who Shine honorees represent our future citizenry and workforce and have already made a positive impact on the Commonwealth.”
“Each of these students is a shining example of what our public higher education system can produce,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “The outstanding students on this year’s list of 29 Who Shine honorees have come from many countries andovercome many obstacles. I am so proud of what they have achieved and look forward to seeing how they continue to put their talents to work on behalf of us all.”
Each of the 29 Who Shine named a faculty or staff mentor who provided guidance and support throughout the student’s years in college. NSCC TRIO Academic Counselor Ina Resnikoff of Swampscott was recognized as Agbonsalo’s mentor. “She is a great motivator and tremendous mentor, not just to me but to everyone she works with. She always gives me the motivation to do a difficult task. She has helped me ever since I started at NSCC. I call her my American mom!” he said.
More information on the 29 Who Shine Awards is available at www.mass.edu/29whoshine/