John G. LaBrie, dean of the School of Professional Studies (SPS) and associate provost for professional education, has announced the recipients of this year’s awards for outstanding SPS graduate students and faculty. These awards are normally revealed during Commencement activities but, due to current social distancing limitations, have been awarded virtually.
“It is with special pleasure that I am able to announce a new SPS graduate award, the Laura Myers Community Service Award, named in honor of Dr. Laura Myers in recognition of her years of community advocacy and service to Clark, its students, and the larger Worcester community,” LaBrie says.
Myers holds a doctorate in education and is a licensed clinical social worker. She was the dean of Clark’s College of Professional and Continuing Education from 1986 to 1990, and for the past five years has been the SPS internship director.
“Laura has dedicated her time and effort to helping graduate students achieve their career goals, serving as liaison between internship sites and the University. She has been truly instrumental in making a difference in the lives of our students,” LaBrie says.
The Laura Myers Community Service Award honors a School of Professional Studies graduate student who made contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents, and dedication throughout the course of their program. These contributions are outside any volunteer work done on behalf of an employer or any internship/capstone project. The honoree selected serves as a role model for Clark’s mission to make the world a better place.
The inaugural winner is Tanya Gupta, MSIT ’19, who received a master’s degree in information technology. During her time at Clark, Gupta participated in the St. Peter’s Mentoring Program, which supports children in the Main South neighborhood of Worcester by pairing them with college student mentors. The mentors help with social skills, reading, homework, arts and crafts, and games. They form caring relationships with the children and are important role models in their lives.
“I will always make sure that I am helping society in some way — to make myself happier by being a helping hand in the community,” says Gupta, now an information security compliance analyst for BNY Mellon.
The Fern Johnson Award is presented to an Accelerated Degree Program fifth-year student who has excelled in academics, and who has served as a positive influence for their fellow students and the Clark community at large. This year’s recipient is Andreana T. Nop ’19, MSC ’20.
Nop is a first-generation Cambodian American who grew up in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood. She graduated with honors from Clark University, receiving a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in communication through the Accelerated Degree Program. While at Clark, Nop was involved in the International Students Association, the Asian Culture Society, and was a marketing intern for ClarkCONNECT. She is currently on the program team at the College for Social Innovation, a Boston nonprofit dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of problem-solvers through hands-on learning experiences.
SPS students Ovidiu James Babu, MPA ’20, Leah S. Breiss ’19, MSC ’20, and Cameron R. Somerside, MSIT ’20, were recognized for earning the highest GPA in their respective master’s degree programs.
Babu is the executive officer and second-in-command for the town of Harvard, Mass., police department. He completed a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in state and local government leadership and was inducted into the Alpha Epsilon Lambda Honor Society. Babu would like to use his education to help redefine the future path of law enforcement and public safety.
Originally from the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, Breiss received a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in communication from Clark. She discovered a passion for communications during her graduate experience. Breiss is currently a technology underwriting trainee at Hanover Insurance Group and is grateful for all of the support she has received from Clark faculty.
After completing his undergraduate education at UMass Amherst, Somerside worked for a private ambulance company and acquired a passion for information technology. He received a master’s degree from Clark to further his skills in leadership and to diversify his IT knowledge. Somerside is currently an IT process and compliance specialist with Amica Mutual Insurance Co.
LaBrie also announced three faculty members who received awards based upon votes by their students.
Kevin Austin earned the Fiat Lux Award, dedicated to a faculty member who has taught for fewer than six semesters and is recognized as an up-and-coming teacher with great promise, and who is open to new ideas and approaches to teaching. Most of all, this person shows great enthusiasm for students and teaching, and has a bright future in higher education.
Austin joined Clark’s adjunct faculty in late 2018 with many years of teaching experience. Despite a limited schedule with Clark, he quickly has become recognized by students as someone who cares very deeply about their success and who creates personalized learning plans as needed to ensure they learn as much as possible.
The Semita Vitae (Path of Life) award went to Dean Cascione, MSIT ’17. This award seeks to recognize a faculty member who has proven to be an extraordinarily conscientious, supportive, and inspiring mentor to advisees. Recipients of this award are able to help students process information, refine decision-making and problem-solving skills, take responsibility, and evaluate and enhance academic strengths and weaknesses.
Cascione started teaching upon earning his graduate degree from Clark. He is deeply aware of how education has had an impact on his career success, and he combines this with a strong sense of community to consistently find ways to connect with and mentor his students in the classroom and beyond. Cascione is a true Clarkie, balancing his successful career in IT with his teaching — along with strong interests in music and motorcycles.
Peter Wyner received the Jonas Gilman Clark Award for Outstanding Teaching, presented to a faculty member for their teaching effectiveness and creativity. The award winner demonstrates effective skills in managing the art and craft of teaching, engages in activities to improve their teaching, and explores alternative methods of pedagogy.
Wyner combines a diverse career in IT leadership with deep technical acumen and the communication skills that have been honed by a passion for community theater. He brings this enthusiasm to the classroom and has established a reputation for instructing “must take” courses in several technology areas.