Members of the Class of 2019 Lauded for Commitment to Service

May 14, 2019
Office of Communications
Students at the Crown and Shield Ceremony
Prominent Crown and Shield Award Bestowed Upon 16 Graduating Seniors

A day before their Sunday, May 12 commencement, a select number of exemplary students were honored with the College’s Crown & Shield Award during a luncheon with their families and College administrators.

The Crown and Shield awards is a tradition at Assumption, celebrated since 1952. The award was established as a result of students appealing to the administration to develop a special recognition for outstanding seniors. The crown and shield exist as key icons in the College seal.

Those recognized with this award have demonstrated outstanding leadership and participated in selfless service to the College throughout his or her four years of study. Students are recognized members of the Assumption College Community who have protected (shield) and furthered (crown) in the interests of the student body and the College in the various areas of leadership and community service to students and others.

“Crown and Shield recipients, your families are very proud of you today and they have that right to be proud,” said Dr. Catherine WoodBrooks, vice president of student affairs. “You have been selected as the outstanding student leaders in the Class of 2019, a designation afforded to only three percent of the graduating class. It should be noted that many of you also lead through service to others and have experienced the joy of giving that will undoubtedly continue throughout your lives.”

The following is a list of this year’s Crown and Shield recipients.

Andrew Belschner of Revere, earned a degree in history. He served in a number of important student leadership roles during his undergraduate journey including admissions ambassador and ESL Argentina program student ambassador; orientation leader; class president; Student Government Association Senator, treasurer and vice president for academic affairs. In nominating Belscher for the award, a member of the College shared that “Andrew can be described as many things – funny, smart, kind, cute. But nobody could ever call this guy negative or grumpy.” Following graduation, Belscher is travelling to Bermuda and Europe with his family.

West Boylston native Jonathan Marc Bisceglia graduated with degree in history and a minor in education. Bisceglia’s contributions to the Assumption community include service as an admissions ambassador; resident assistant; head resident assistant; and treasurer for the Class of 2019. Among his academic accomplishments, for three consecutive years, Bisceglia participated in the undergraduate research symposium. He has been described as "diligent and insightful… always eager to learn and implement new ideas and initiatives." Bisceglia has secured employment as a graduate resident director at Merrimack College as he pursues as master's degree in higher education administration.

Emily Anne Capasso of Halifax, graduated with a degree in human services and rehabilitation studies and a minor in education. As an undergraduate at Assumption, Capasso was a campus ministry student leader; participated in service trips to Camden, NJ, Imokalee, FL and Pine Ridge, SD; was a co-leader on this spring’s SEND trip to Washington, DC; Campus Ministry Reach Out Center volunteer; co-rector of the senior retreat; and a SOPHIA Collegian. Capasso reflected that her involvement in service endeavors on and off-campus created a passion with regard to social justice issues. She references a SEND service trip to Florida where she learned about exploitative labor issues in the agricultural industry, and an opportunity to participate in a “Freedom Fast” in New York City that highlighted the Fair Food Program. These experiences influenced the development of her personal values and professional goals. In nominating Capasso, a member of the Assumption community described her as a "well-deserving, passionate student leader who has a genuine understanding of servant leadership and a heart for service… She is a faith-filled young woman who truly loves Assumption and has shown her commitment to the school by using her gifts to light the way for others." Capasso will attend Bridgewater State University this fall to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.

North Haven, Connecticut’s David Michael Cifarelli graduated with dual majors in English and writing and mass communications and Italian studies, and a minor in community service learning. This year’s editor-in-chief of the student newspaper Le Provocateur, Cifarelli also served as an admissions ambassador, orientation leader and chair, as well as am Italian and general writing tutor at the Academic Support Center. He will soon begin a position at the College of the Holy Cross as a temporary office coordinator in the Office of Student Involvement as he begins pursuit of a master’s in journalism at Emerson College.

Recipient of the Diocese of Worcester’s Adopt-a-student Scholarship, Grace Clark graduated with a degree in biotechnology and molecular biology. Prior to enrolling at Assumption, Clark was a frequent traveler to Haiti where she volunteered in service of those in need through the nonprofit Be Like Brit organization. Her record of service at Assumption is impressive: participant in a SEND trip to Washington, DC and co-leader on a SEND trip to Pine Ridge, SD; Reach Out Center service director; and resident assistant for three years. Clark also served as a summer health intern in Uganda, and works as a missionary for Tree of Hope Haiti. In recommending Clark for the award, a nominator called attention to her "strong leadership qualities and… willingness to balance many leadership opportunities, while doing each one to the best of her ability." Clark has enrolled in an accelerated physician assistant studies program at the Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Senior class president and resident of Shrewsbury, Julia Demkowicz graduated with a degree in human services and rehabilitation studies and a minor in education. Her list of contributions to Assumption included a lengthy and impressive list: member of the Student Government Association all four years, as a class officer, vice president for student affairs, and student body president her senior year; SOPHIA collegian; peer minister; served on a committee to plan Founders Week; and established the Students Involved in Better Success (SIBS) mentorship initiative that matches upper class mentors to first and second year students. Demkowicz served as this year’s salutatorian at Commencement. She describes herself as someone who "grew from a very anxious student at orientation to a now very confident leader."  A nominator described Julia as an “old soul with unusual maturity. She is the posterchild for student success through her deep faith and resilient nature.” Demkowicz will attend Worcester State University Graduate School to study speech and language pathology.

Gemaers Gee Dorvil, of Everett, graduated with a degree in mathematics and minors in computer science and physics. Dorvil was a member of the ALANA Network for his four years at Assumption, starting as a general member, then executive board secretary and concluding her service this year as president. Credited with developing a number of new traditions on campus that celebrate diversity and inclusion at Assumption College, Dorvil also served as head resident assistant where he excelled in planning and implementing the Foundation Friday training sessions for his fellow resident assistants. He was also a dedicated member of Positively Achieving Leadership by Men in Society (PALMS) for three years. Dorvil is most proud of his work to create a family for students of color on campus, and empower them to pursue their goals. In recommending Dorvil for the award, a nominator shared that he, “exemplifies everything it means to be a student leader. He is a person of character, a role model for younger students, and carries himself in a mature, professional manner no matter what he is doing. He is a true asset to the College because of his dedication to leadership and service." Dorvil is seeking employment as a software engineering and plans to pursue a master’s degree.

Nashua, New Hampshire’s Benjamin John Irwin graduated with a degree in psychology, a concentration in physical therapy and a minor in biology. Irwin’s leadership and service activities is substantial and includes participation in SEND trips to Houston, TX and Baton Rouge, LA; service as an orientation leader and executive; Compass facilitator; admissions summer ambassador for EduBoston; executive member of Active Minds Club; Campus Ministry Student Leader Association; senior retreat leader; peer minister; resident assistant; and SGA senator and a peer minister. Irwin is thankful for the many opportunities provided to him to "step outside his more comfortable space" at Assumption.  A nominator described Irwin as "a shining example of the best that Assumption College has to offer. He truly embraces his faith and understands the importance of serving others… Ben is able to do more than overlook differences; he embraces them, and does so with enthusiasm." Irwin will attend Bay State College in preparation to become a physical therapy assistant.

Kelliann Antoinette Keaney, from Burlington, graduated with dual degrees in mathematics and secondary education. During her undergraduate years at Assumption, Keaney participated in SEND trips to New Orleans, LA and Tuscaloosa, AL, and co-lead a SEND trip to Baltimore, MD; served as a Reach Out Center volunteer and service director; founded the Dance Marathon Club with over 50 recruited student members, to raise funds for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; served as an orientation leader and chairperson; was a resident assistant; served as a head math tutor in the Academic Support Center; and was a SOPHIA collegian. She also served as a student-teacher at Mountview Middle School in Holden, MA. Keaney is described as, “a bright light who always seem eager to try new experiences and extend herself. I have no doubt she'll continue to be a light in the lives of others and embrace the many opportunities for service which come her way in the future.” She is currently pursuing a position as a middle school math teacher and plans to as enroll in a mathematics education master’s program.

Peabody’s Anthony Richard Mastrocola graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor in human services and rehabilitation studies. Mastroccola was a co-leader of a SEND trip to Baltimore, MD; was active in SGA as a Finance Committee member; and served as senator, vice president and president of his class. Anthony has enrolled in Assumption’s master's in clinical counseling program.

Neydi Anahi Ramirez, of Southbridge, graduated with a degree in international business and minors in philosophy and Spanish. During her four years at Assumption, Ramirez was a Reach Out Center volunteer; treasurer and vice president of the Social Justice Ambassadors Club; co-president of the Student Philanthropy Club; served in the Student Government Association for three years as a chairperson for the student Budget Planning Priorities Committee and the Finance Committee; and as vice president for financial affairs. Neydi credits Assumption College with helping her explore her religious convictions through Bible study, SEND trips, and leadership roles. This helped her solidify the calling to her vocation which is to provide for others through service, preferably in a non-profit institution. Neydi is described as a "hardworking and dedicated person who is committed to following through with her responsibilities until the very end."  Neydi is seeking full-time employment in her field of study.

Emily Elizabeth Rizza of South Windsor, Ct. graduated with a degree in English literature and minor in psychology. Rizza was a member of Campus Ministry Association and Council; co-rector of this year's Horizon Retreat; Augustine Scholar recipient; certified writing tutor in the Academic Support Center; SOPHIA collegian; and student ambassador for the President's Council Dinner. Rizza values the opportunity she had to study abroad in Galway, Ireland during her junior year. In addition to studying Irish literature, culture and language at the National University of Ireland Galway, she also traveled throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as France and Portugal. This fostered a passion for culture and travel that she hopes to continue in the future. A nominator described her as "a compassionate, kind, intelligent, deeply thoughtful and humble young woman who has modeled for her peers what servant leadership is, what a vibrant faith life looks like, and what it means to be an authentic disciple of Christ." Through the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) program Rizza will teach high school English and psychology at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, RI, while pursuing her M.Ed. at Providence College.

Jacqueline Marie Ryan of Wilmington graduated with a degree in environmental science with a concentration in policy, and a minor in law, ethics and Constitutional studies. Ryan participated in a SEND trip to Imokalee, FL and co-lead a SEND trip to Georgetown, DE; served as a Reach Out Center volunteer; was an Eco Rep program sustainability intern’ served as the Sustainability Club vice president, spearheading many new initiatives including the College's first farmers market; and was a staff writer for the student newspaper, Le Provocateur. A nominator spoke of Ryan sharing, “Jackie will be greatly missed for her passion and commitment to efforts to improve this campus. I am convinced her actions will continue to inspire those who follow after her." Ryan is pursuing employment in the field of environmental science.

Mark Richard San Clemente of Medway graduated with a degree in human services and rehabilitation studies and a minor in education. His service and leadership activities include member of the Campus Ministry Association; leader for SEARCH and START Retreats; orientation leader; Student Government Association Senate speaker; Student Engagement chairperson; Class of 2019 senator; SOPHIA collegian; and COMPASS program facilitator. A nominator described San Clemente as a "humble, passionate young man who has truly taken advantage of the opportunities Assumption has afforded him. He is well-liked and has served as role model to many younger students." Mark continues to work as an assistant director at a summer program working with kids of all abilities. Following a year off, San Clemente will begin the application process for graduate schools in pursuit of a career as a school counselor.

Kara Lynn Sczerbinski of Cranston, Rhode Island graduated with dual degrees in elementary education and Spanish. She also served as an admissions ambassador; ambassador for the Argentina and Columbia summer exchange program; Campus Activities Board chairperson and executive; and orientation leader. Sczerbinski planed a spring concert that attracted the highest number of attendees to date. This summer, Sczerbinski will serve as a student ambassador for Assumption’s Summer Exchange program that hosts 38 high school students from Argentina. During this time she will also be searching for a full-time job and plans to begin graduate school next spring.

Zachary William Sneeringer of Lowell graduated with dual degrees in mathematics and music and a minor in education. During his undergraduate years, Sneeringer was a member of the Assumption College Chorale/VOCE; admissions summer ambassador for EDU Boston; orientation leader and executive; served as a resident assistant and head resident assistant; and was a Campus Ministry Liturgical minister and coordinator all four years. A nominator shared that Sneeringer’s, "Ability to listen and care for others is unmatched… he is a standout student leader, and a shining example of the best that Assumption College has to offer." Sneeringer is taking a gap year to work as a resident director at a college or university in New England.