Christine “Tina” Chasek, Ph.D., LIMHP, LADC is affiliate professor and chair of the Division of Counseling and affiliate rural growth director of UNMC’s Behavioral Well being Training Heart of Nebraska (BHECN). She was named the named the Julie Hefflinger Professor in Counseling in 2021.
Dr. Chasek has sturdy roots in psychological well being and addictions counseling with expertise in behavioral well being care administration; she is at present targeted on creating the behavioral well being care workforce in rural Nebraska. Her educating pursuits embody habit counseling, analysis, analysis and remedy of psychological and emotional issues, and medical counseling. Dr. Chasek’s analysis has targeted on habit counseling, attitudes of suppliers about habit counseling, counselor preparation, medical outcomes and the behavioral well being care workforce.
Q: How did you get within the subject of counseling?
“I at all times inform individuals, this career picked me. Rising up in a small group, I wasn’t uncovered to a variety of issues. In highschool, I wished to be a hair stylist, however a instructor inspired me to find out about psychology, which I excelled at, so that is what I studied at UNK.
“In faculty, my part-time job was cleansing workplaces on the group counseling middle. Whereas cleansing, I used to be fascinated by what was occurring there. I typically thought, ‘It could be so cool to work right here.’ Quick ahead to after I graduated, I utilized for jobs in human providers, and I acquired a job at that counseling middle doing case administration for youths within the foster care system. It was a full circle second.
“As a part of my internship for my grasp’s, I moved to the habit providers a part of the middle’s programming. I ran teams and labored with shoppers individually at a males’s midway home in Kearney. I additionally labored with girls at a remedy middle. That is when I discovered my specialty of habit counseling. I noticed households impacted by substances — the complete household system will get disrupted, particularly the children.
“Throughout my Ph.D. program, I studied the neurobiology of the mind and the way substance use impacts the mind. Principally the mind is hijacked by the substances. Whereas substance use begins as a selection, for many individuals this selection is rapidly taken away because the mind chemistry adjustments. In my work, I get to know the individuals beneath the illness, and the way laborious it’s to dwell that life, even when it seems to be completely different from the surface.”
I’m so honored to be right here at UNO and proceed the good work that’s being performed within the division and the faculty.
– Tina Chasek, Ph.D., LIMHP, LADC
Q: What’s your imaginative and prescient for the division?
“I’ll proceed the division’s mission to coach high quality clinicians and psychological well being suppliers to serve the group. As a pacesetter, my focus is on two issues: college students and the school. College students go on to develop into practitioners like we’re, and I wish to prepare actually good colleagues. Additionally, our packages are so profitable due to the wonderful school. I would like our school to really feel supported, to really feel like they’re doing their finest work. No matter their analysis pursuits are, no matter their objectives are, I would like them to have the ability to develop and develop. For me, it’s at all times, how do I make it easier to be your finest self? That, in flip, helps me be my finest self. I’m so honored to be right here at UNO and proceed the good work that’s being performed within the division and the faculty.
“Because the Julie Hefflinger Professor in Counseling, I wish to honor Julie’s work as a instructor and steerage counselor by transferring the Group Counseling Clinic into an area the place youngsters and households could be served. We’re additionally engaged on getting our faculty counseling alumni to return to UNO and take lessons to develop into licensed clinicians, to allow them to use these expertise proper within the colleges, to sort out these powerful psychological well being points of their faculty atmosphere.”
About UNO’s Division of Counseling
This story appeared in the newest difficulty of the School of Training, Well being, and Human Sciences Annual Report.
On 5 July, Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska grew to become the second lady in historical past to earn a Fields Medal, one of many high prizes within the discipline. Viazovska, who is predicated on the Swiss Federal Institute of Expertise in Lausanne (EPFL), is most well-known for fixing the issue of the way to pack spheres in essentially the most environment friendly manner in an area with eight dimensions.
Nature spoke to Viazovska concerning the award’s significance, and her imaginative and prescient for arithmetic.
How does it really feel to be one of many winners of the Fields Medal?
After all, I used to be extraordinarily pleased and honoured, as a result of only a few individuals get this award. I’ve really recognized about it for some time: Carlos Kenig, the president of the Worldwide Mathematical Union, contacted me and advised me the information in January.
Why did you change into fascinated about the issue of sphere packing?
It’s a really pure, very good geometric drawback — an issue with a quite simple formulation, and infrequently very tough to resolve. There are nonetheless many open questions surrounding it. Additionally, what made me within the packing drawback in dimensions 8 and 24 was, in fact, the work by Henry Cohn and Noam Elkies, the place they proposed the way to resolve it, and got here very near an answer. So it appeared like low-hanging fruit. Even now, after it’s solved, we nonetheless have infinitely many dimensions for which the issue remains to be open and the identical strategies don’t work. There are nonetheless so many discoveries to be made.
Calling it low-hanging fruit sounds very modest, given how your work has been hailed as an enormous breakthrough.
Sure, nevertheless it’s perhaps within the nature of arithmetic that to make an enormous breakthrough, you must chase low-hanging fruit — and a few of our low-hanging fruits are nonetheless fairly excessive! In arithmetic, after we consider open issues, we don’t assume when it comes to months and years to resolve them — typically, we expect when it comes to a long time and centuries.
Does the prize have a particular significance at such a tough time for the Ukrainian nation?
I hope so. Possibly this information made any person’s day higher. However in comparison with how a lot we’re dropping proper now, in fact it’s not comparable.
I used to be chosen as a winner earlier than the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February. I consider that this determination is about arithmetic and never about anything — that’s the way it needs to be.
And it’s additionally an vital win for ladies in arithmetic?
My dream is that girls getting main prizes will likely be a routine occasion, not an important day. It shouldn’t be. Possibly this prize might have a constructive impact on younger ladies, however what’s far more vital is what occurs early in school — the arduous, on a regular basis work that’s finished by dad and mom, academics, college professors.
Arithmetic is without doubt one of the fields the place we will simply get pleasure from our variety — the place it’s not an issue however a bonus.
How does variety enrich the mathematical group?
All the pieces we do is in some very oblique manner linked to our on a regular basis expertise. Even in a really summary discipline, individuals with totally different backgrounds may need totally different working habits, or vital core beliefs that aren’t instantly associated to arithmetic however can affect the way in which they assault issues.
How would you describe your model of doing arithmetic?
I desire engaged on concrete examples, not on large, summary theories. My view of arithmetic is that I’m like a pioneer discovering an unknown land. So, I don’t attempt to construct castles, however relatively I’m going right into a jungle and comply with a path, and hope that this path will lead me to new, undiscovered land.
How is arithmetic analysis evolving? Do you see any specific tendencies?
On the one hand, arithmetic — a minimum of, pure arithmetic — may be very conservative and does go its personal manner. However now we reside on this thrilling time when know-how is altering our lives, and, in fact, it’s altering mathematicians and arithmetic. We get a whole lot of enter not from inside arithmetic however from exterior.
A subject that’s attracting increasingly more consideration is mathematical points of machine studying. There are numerous instructions; one which pursuits me is how I might use a few of these new thrilling instruments in my very own analysis. One other very formidable and noble purpose is to create a mathematical idea of machine studying. When does it fail, and after we can we hope for good outcomes?
Additionally, the thought of quantum computing comes with an enormous variety of fascinating mathematical issues.
Is there an enormous function for arithmetic in quantum error correction, which is essential to creating quantum computer systems work?
Finding out sphere packing may be very shut in some methods to the issue of error correction — many approaches and strategies translate from one to the opposite.
As mathematicians, we can not construct a quantum pc, however perhaps, motivated by the opportunity of its existence, we will show fascinating, significant theorems.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
BRIDGEWATER — Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School’s Class of 2021 graduated during an outdoor ceremony on June 5.
These students were the top performers in their class.
The following information was provided by the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District.
(Editor’s note: The seventh student in the Class of 2021 opted not to be included in the list provided by the school district.)
1. James Peterson
Jimmy Peterson, son of Tim and Beth Peterson, of Bridgewater, was the recipient of the John Reilly Award, Principal’s Club Award, Foreign Language Department Award, Social Studies Department Award and English Department Award. He was class president; National Honor Society president; a member of the lacrosse, winter track, cross-country teams; and a lector for St. Thomas Aquinas parish.
“My favorite memory of B-R is my lacrosse team’s annual gold fever competition and scrimmage where the winning team gets gold fever pizza!” Peterson said. He will attend the United States Military Academy at West Point and plans to commission as an officer in the United States Army.
2. Sarah Petit
Sarah Petit, daughter of Mary-Beth and Kris Petit, of Raynham, was salutatorian of the Class of 2021, recipient of The 84 Movement’s 2021 Statewide Youth Leadership Award, The George Washington University Book Award, an AP Scholar Award, The Principal’s Award (all four years of high school) for high academic achievement, an English Department Award, a Social Studies Department Award and high honor roll (all four years of high school). Petit was National Honor Society member, captain of the varsity debate team, board member of the Bridging L.I.V.E.S. Peer Leaders, student council member, school committee student advisory board member and volunteer through the Nemasket Orphaned Animal Haven where she fostered kittens.
“Favorite memory is the dedicated teachers and staff who helped me achieve my academic and personal goals,” Petit said. Petit will attend Boston University and major in chemistry on a pre-medical track. “I am also hoping to continue volunteering in my local community,” she said.
3. Vincent Forziait
Vincent Forziait, son of Tracey and Lenny Forziati, of Bridgewater, was a National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar, AP Scholar, received Science Technology and Engineering Department Award, Principal’s Award and a member of winter track & field (captain), spring track & field (captain) and chess club.
Favorite memory was Miss Jerome’s AP chem class. Forziait will attend the Francis College of Engineering at UMass-Lowell (honors college), majoring in chemical engineering.
4. Tessa Devine
Tessa Devine, daughter of Elizabeth and Dermot Devine, of Bridgewater, was a National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Student, AP scholar with honor award, national honor society member and a member of varsity winter and spring track, sign language club, science Olympiad, culture club and student council.
Devine will study biology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and will be a part of the honors program there.
5. Karissa Davis
Karissa Davis, daughter of Tracy and Todd Davis, of Bridgewater, received Principal’s Award and highest honors all four years, College Board’s AP Scholar Award and National Honor Society. President and founder of American Sign Language club, president of science Olympiad, blood donor ambassador and volunteer for American Red Cross, varsity winter track, varsity spring track, teen CERT member and student council club.
Davis will major in neuroscience and behavioral biology at Emory University in Atlanta.
6. Shane Bridges
Shane Bridges, daughter of Kathi and John Bridges, of Bridgewater, received Principals Club for three years, Physical Education Department Award, Mathematics Department Award. B-R swim and dive team captain for two years. Recipient of the Most Improved Award, Most Valuable Player Award and the Sportsmanship Award for the B-R swim and dive team.
“I have been on the varsity B-R swim and dive team for all four years of high school. I have been dancing for 13 years at Dance Theater of New England. During high school I was also a part of the math team and ASL club for two years. My favorite thing about B-R is our swim and dive team. I have made so many fun memories with my teammates during practices and meets as well as during our annual Pizza Bowl and banquet. They are like family to me and I will miss them,” Bridges said.
She was a member of the National Honor Society for two years, as well as NHS secretary. She was also recognized during the graduation ceremony for having perfect attendance at school since the sixth grade. She will attend College of the Holy Cross in Worcester in the fall.
8. Neil Barbour
Neil Barbour, son of Krysten and Bernard Barbour, of Raynham, was a National Honor Society member, recipient of the AP Scholar Award, Principals Club Award, Rensselaer Medal Award, English Award and was a member of the cross-country team for four years, a member of the lacrosse team for four years, newspaper club and played club lacrosse for King’s Lacrosse.
Barbour will attend the Boston University College of Engineering and study mechanical engineering with an aerospace concentration.
9. Andrew Robles
Andrew Robles, son of Jose Robles and Jannet Hernandez, of Raynham, received a Science and Engineering Academic Award and Math Department Award. He was a Red Cross blood ambassador, unified player for the Special Olympics, tutor for Latino student fund and a member of Edufuturo.
Robles will attend Williams College in Williamstown.
10. Elise Watson
Elise Watson, daughter of Traci and Evan Watson, of Raynham, received the Principal’s Award (three times), the Art Award, was a National Honors Society member and was art club co-president, math team vice president, varsity math team member. She has been a dancer for 15 years. Her favorite memories are pep rallies and pre-calculus with Mrs. Cooley.
Watson will study behavioral neuroscience at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
By HERALD STAFF
1. Samuel Latzman
Samuel Latzman, valedictorian of Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Brown University this fall. He plans to study biochemistry and molecular biology.
Latzman was involved in a range of groups and activities during his time at West, including Science Olympiad, Math Team, Academic Decathlon and Science Bowl – serving as a captain for all four – as well as Freshman Mentors, Peer Tutoring, Class Council, Student Council, Teen Leadership Club, National Honors Society and Model UN. He was vice president of the Red Cross Club, and outside of school, he taught Hebrew and religious school at his temple.
His list of special awards and honors is also lengthy. He has received the Rensselaer Medal, Heart of a Mathematician Award, Science Department Award, Social Studies Department Award, Harvard Book Award, Jae S. Lim Excellence in Science Award and the Outstanding Achievement in AP US History Award. Additionally, he was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Merit Scholar Finalist, and a member of both the National Honors Society and the Rhode Island Honors Society.
What will Latzman remember most from his high school career?
“The people; I will remember my friends most,” he said. “Aside from making long study sessions immeasurably easier, my friends made high school fun. In class, at meetings for extracurricular activities, or somewhere outside of school, I was always lucky enough to have a friend nearby. Some of my fondest high school memories take place in classrooms after school, laughing with my friends about all the beakers we broke in chemistry class or fighting to win that week’s practice Science Bowl round. I may forget some – or most – of the material I learned in class, but I can only hope I will never forget the people with whom I learned.”
Asked who has been most responsible for his success in, and enjoyment of, high school, Latzman cited his “family, friends and teachers.”
He added: “Thank you, Mom, for providing a nurturing, loving environment for me to grow. Thank you, Dad, for always pushing me to be the best at everything I do. Thank you, Nate, my brother, for always keeping me on my toes. Thank you, Nana, for teaching me to read before kindergarten and forging a lifelong love of learning. Thank you, Papa, for teaching me to be a kind person. Thank you to my teachers for providing the information – and friendship – I need to succeed. Lastly, thank you, each and every one of my friends, for making the past four years of my life fun. I could not have made it this far without all of you.”
In terms of his motivation to excel, Latzman said that since a young age, “I have striven to always do everything to the best of my ability.”
“I have made it a point to avoid comparing myself to others; I believe I am motivated by the desire to be a better student than myself the day before, not a better student than anyone around me,” he said. “To me, school was not simply a means to an end. My goal was not to ‘win’ or end up somewhere in particular; I wanted to learn as much as possible, and I am proud to report that I am making limited progress.”
Latzman also reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the class of 2021 and his own plans for the future.
“This year has been mentally, emotionally, and physically challenging for all of us,” he said. “I did not experience a so-called normal school day until the last day of senior year when I finally attended in-person class to bid farewell to my friends and teachers. To cope with remote learning and isolation, I spent an unhealthy amount of time talking to my friends this year, whether via text, discord message, or FaceTime.”
He added: “With regards to my future plans, the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed my aspirations to become a physician. I watched from home as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers saved the lives of thousands of COVID patients, communicated public health information to the world, and helped us recover as a society. I decided I, too, want to be a part of that group, and I am excited to see what the future holds for me.”
2. Catherine Consiglio
Catherine Consiglio, salutatorian of the Cranston High School West class of 2021, will attend Duke University this fall to study biomedical engineering.
A member of the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center’s Pre-Engineering and Robotics program, Consiglio’s time at West has included involvement in a number of activities and groups. She played on the varsity cross country, soccer and track teams, served as a tutor and Freshman Mentor, and earned a state bronze medal in the SkillsUSA competition. She served as president of the Student Council and as a member of the National Art Honor Society Executive Board.
Consiglio has received numerous awards and honors for her academic and extracurricular pursuits, including the Rhode Island Interscholastic League 2020-21 Student-Athlete Leadership Award, 2020 Civic Leadership Award, Massachusetts Maritime Future Women Leaders in STEM Award, Stonehill College Book Award, Society of Women Engineers Award, Bausch and Lomb Excellence in Science Award and 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Leadership Award. She was additionally named to the 2020-21 Girls Soccer Academic All-Division team, earned All-Division track honors, and received the RI Cross Country Coach’s Award.
Consiglio said as she moves on to the next chapter in her life, she will remember “the people in the Cranston West community.”
“One thing that has been the most important to me during my time at West is making meaningful relationships with everyone around me,” she said. “Cranston West is filled with some amazing teachers, faculty, staff, and students, and over my four years, I’ve tried to learn as much as possible from all of them. Although I’m graduating and moving on in my educational career, the relationships I’ve worked so hard to build are pieces of high school I will never lose and will have for the rest of my life.”
Consiglio expressed gratitude to several family members, coaches, educators and friends. She thanked her parents, Mike and Alyson, and younger sister, Michaela, “for all of their love and encouragement”; Mrs. Velino and robotics teacher Mr. Spidell, “who have invested so much time and effort into me”; Coach Soscia and Student Council advisor Ms. Barlow “for their constant support”; and “my best friend of 18 years,” Isabella Corso.
“I’ve used the last four years to challenge myself in as many ways as possible,” Consiglio said. “I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t have to choose one avenue of high school. I think that’s a message that can easily get lost in translation for a lot of people, but being able to graduate as a well-rounded community member is something that I’ve strived for, and can only hope it sets an example for the underclassmen behind me.”
In terms of how the pandemic shaped her senior year and future plans, Consiglio said: “It’s been really hard spending the majority of my senior year apart from a lot of my classmates, as this is the final year we all have to share together. However, being someone that’s made on-the-go a personality trait, I think that taking a step back and having normalcy put on pause definitely presented itself as a blessing and a curse. I’ve been able to use that time to reevaluate my perspective before I begin the next chapter of my life, and I think it’s caused me to grow up a lot quicker.”
3. Samah Alam
Samah Alam, who ranks third in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Brown University in the fall. She has yet to choose a major.
At West, Alam took part in an array of extracurricular pursuits. She was captain of the Science Olympiad and Academic Decathlon teams, a participant in the Science Bowl, a member of the Math Team and a peer tutor. She sang in the Chamber Choir and was selected for the All-State Choir.
Her academic achievements earned her membership in the National Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. She has also been honored as a National Merit Scholarship finalist and Presidential Scholar semifinalist. She received the Math Team Award and Jae S. Lim Scholarship in Mathematics, and has been recognized for Excellence in Spanish 5 Honors/EE, Excellence in Choir and Excellence in AP United States History.
“I will remember my incredible teachers, who were thoughtful and understanding, and all the hard-working faculty who assisted students and made Cranston West a welcoming space,” Alam said of her high school career. “I will also remember my interesting classes and clubs, where I had the opportunities to travel around New England and meet extraordinary people. I will keep the valuable lessons and memories from these experiences with me.”
Who contributed most to Alam’s success during, and enjoyment of, high school?
“My friends and family kept me grounded and pushed me to do better,” she said. “They made school something to look forward to and enjoy. Without their continuous love and support, I would not be where I am today. I will cherish all the laughs we shared along the way.”
Alam said her parents’ experience has been a significant motivating factor in her approach to her studies.
“The people around me and my desire to make them happy motivated me to excel,” she said. “My mom and dad immigrated here from Bangladesh, and continue to work hard and sacrifice so much to provide me with a good education. Their dedication to academics has been a huge inspiration for me to try my best. I hope to make them, as well as my teachers and friends, proud. “
Asked how the pandemic affected her class and her plans for the future, Alam said: “I try to keep a positive mindset in face of hardship, and feel the support of the people around me. I hope to use my education to help anyone in need and work towards a more equitable and just future.”
4. Marc Cabral
Marc Cabral, the fourth-ranked member of Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall to pursue a doctorate at the College of Pharmacy.
While at West, Cabral took part in Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad, Math Team and marching band. He received a silver medal in the Decathlon’s essay competition. His other recognitions and honors include the Science Department Award, AP Calculus Award and Excellence in Band Award.
What will Cabral remember most from his time at West? “Playing yard games in the quad during recess with my friends,” he said. “Most notably hacky sack.”
Cabral credits his success to his mother and said his friends made high school enjoyable. His primary motivator to excel, he said, “was fear of being left behind and fear of not being good enough for others and myself.”
Asked how the pandemic has affected his future plans or changed his outlook, Cabral said: “COVID-19 has not changed my plans. I still plan on attending college and becoming a pharmacist in the future. As for outlook, I see how vulnerable humans are and why it is important to always take care of yourself and others.”
5. Cheyenne Chin
Cheyenne Chin, who ranks fifth in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Northeastern University this fall to major in biology on a pre-med track.
Chin’s extracurricular pursuits at West included musical, athletic and academic activities. She was a drum major in the Marching Band, a member of the Chamber Orchestra and a player on the varsity girls hockey team. She was a member of the Science Olympiad, Academic Decathlon and Science Bowl teams, part of the Multicultural Student Union, a Class Council delegate, a freshman mentor and peer tutor, and a member of the Math Team.
In Science Olympiad, Chin was honored with several medals, including silvers in the Boomilever and Geologic Mapping competitions and a gold in Forensics. Musically, she was recognized for Demonstrated Excellence in Solo and Ensemble Festival, Highest Honors. She received a bronze medal and honorable mention on the National Spanish Exam and was named an AP Scholar with Honor.
“The most prominent memories that come to mind when thinking about high school definitely have to do with the extracurricular activities I was a part of,” Chin said. “Traveling to UConn for Science Bowl, having Science Olympiad competitions at RIC and Brown, being in the stands and running cheers, leading the band downfield during halftime, playing hockey as both an offensive player and defenseman, marching down Main Street in Disney, and so much more. These events have truly played an integral part to my core memories at Cranston West.”
Who contributed most to Chin’s success and enjoyment of high school?
“Though my parents haven’t put much pressure on me to excel in school, I truly wish to make my family and friends proud through my hard work and success,” she said. “Being able to have such brilliant friends to turn to when I have a dumb question about biology or calculus – thanks, everyone – has been truly remarkable as they take the time to truly help me understand anything academically. And of course, the hard work my teachers have put into their classes to truly teach me the nuances of each subject is irreplaceable.”
Asked what motivated her to excel, Chin said: “For me, I find it very important to give it your all in everything you do.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, Chin said while it has been an “unconventional year” that involved spending most of her time at home, the experience “has taught me that perseverance is key to maintaining success in difficult circumstances.”
6. Liandro Feliz
Liandro Feliz, who ranks sixth in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will study neuroscience this fall at Princeton University.
Outside of the classroom, Feliz took part in a range of activities during his time at West. He was a member of Science Olympiad, the Math Team and Academic Decathlon, as well as the varsity tennis team. He spent three years in the Chamber Orchestra, serving as first violinist and principal violinist, and four years with the All-State Orchestra as first and second violinist.
Feliz’s academic achievements earned him membership in the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. He is a National Hispanic Recognition Program Awardee, a 2020 National Spanish Exam bronze medalist, a 2021 Science Olympiad gold medalist in Forensics and Sounds of Music, and a 2020 Academic Decathlon bronze medalist in Interview and Mathematics. He has received the 2021 American Mathematical Society Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics Award, the Cranston West Excellence in Chamber Orchestra Award, the 2021 Ken Hopkins Mayoral Scholarship and the 2021 Picerne Family Scholarship. He additionally earned “Superior Level” honors in the Rhode Island Music Education Association Solo & Ensemble event.
“I will always remember being able to go into the quad during lunch and being able to relax with casual games of hacky sack and badminton,” Feliz said. “I will also always remember the videos I would make for Spanish class and the how fun they were to make. Of course, I will also never forget the bonds I have been able to forge with my teachers and classmates.”
Feliz attributed his success to his teachers, as well as the leadership of Cranston Public Schools.
“I’m lucky to have had such great teachers throughout my years to guide my intelligence as a way to grow and learn,” he said. “I’m also lucky to have a great school administration and school board; I’ve had the opportunity of being able to take part in many new classes and experiences because of these people.”
He added: “Most of all, my friends have always been a beacon of hope by my side. I’m glad to have classmates such as Sam Latzman, Samah Alam, Marc Cabral, Cheyenne Chin, Isaiah Fernandez and Pallavi Kamsani by my side to both help me with my studies and to help me grow as a person. Not only have they been great classmates, but they have grown to become the greatest friends one could ask for.”
Feliz also spoke of how his parents’ story has driven him to excel.
“All of my motivation to succeed comes from my parents,” he said. “Both my parents emigrated to the U.S. from small villages in the Dominican Republic. They came for a chance at a better life and family. They instilled in me the importance of learning, community and respect – ideas that resonates with CHSW’s identity. Every day, I am grateful to see how far we came from our humble beginnings.”
Feliz said he plans to pursue a career in medicine due to his “passion for community service” and desire to “continue helping and healing others in need of it.”
“I am thankful for the life and opportunities I have been given, and I continue to be motivated by these things every day,” he said.
Feliz said after a year with limited social opportunities due to the pandemic, he has a busy summer plan. On his list? Making a short film, visiting every city and town in Rhode Island, dining out, and making an album of music.
“In regards to changes to my outlook, I’ve become more grateful for life and the things I have,” he said. “Several family passings have shown me that life is precious and you have to cherish every second of it. A bit cliché, but an all too necessary revelation during these stressful and demanding times.”
7. Isaiah Fernandez
Isaiah Fernandez, who co-ranks seventh in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend the University of Rhode Island this fall. He plans to major in cell and molecular biology.
During his time at West, Fernandez played on the boys tennis team, performed with the Chamber Orchestra and was a member of Science Olympiad, Academic Decathlon and the Multicultural Student Union. He earned a silver medial in the National Spanish Exam and won a pair of medals in Science Olympiad – a gold in the Sounds of Music event and a bronze in Chemistry Lab.
“I will remember most the friendships I made along the way and the times I spent with my friends,” he said of his high school years. “I will also remember the strong sense of community and belonging I felt at Cranston West.”
Asked who contributed most to his success, Fernandez said: “My amazing ensemble of friends made going to school an enjoyable experience everyday. My teachers have also contributed immensely, especially my orchestra teacher, Mrs. Richardson. She not only is an excellent music teacher but also provided countless life lessons. My family also contributed to my success. They provided the love and support I needed to do well in school.”
Fernandez said his drive to excel stemmed from a “deep interest in the courses and material being taught” and the “excellent job” his teachers did in “making the material interesting and making me want to do well in their classes.”
Fernandez said during the pandemic, he coped by “focusing on my hobbies such as music and language learning,” as well as by “keeping in contact with friends and family digitally.”
The events of the past year, he added, have “reaffirmed my conviction to become physician in the future.”
7. Abigail Shellard
Abigail Shellard, who co-ranks seventh in Cranston High School West’s class of 2021, will attend Clemson University in the fall. As a member of the university’s Honors College, she plans to major in graphic communications.
Shellard has been involved in numerous groups and activities during her high school career. She was vice president of the Class Council, a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards District 7950 student leader, a lector and retreat leader for the Holy Apostles Life Teen Program, and a member of the Cranston West Student Leadership.
She played on the girls soccer team, participated in club soccer, took part in Holy Apostles Teens on a Mission in 2020,served as a freshman mentor and served on West’s I.L.P. Committee. She was a member of the school’s Media Club and Advanced Teaching of Modern Science, or A.T.O.M.S., group, and she also earned admission to the National Honor Society.
Shellard’s list of special honors and recognitions is also lengthy. She received the 2020 Rhode Island Civic Leadership Award and earned a gold medal in the Advertisement Design portion of the SkillsUSA Rhode Island competition, giving her a spot in the national competition. This year, she has been awarded the Picerne Family Foundation Scholarship, the Cranston Teachers’ Alliance Scholarship and the Rotary Club of Cranston Community Service Scholarship.
In an outline of her recognitions, Shellard adds: “Additionally, I have been recognized for my efforts in the study of the Italian language (National Italian Exam Achievement Certificate, Level 2 and 3, A Level, grades 9 and 10), in writing (Letters About Literature RI State Semifinalist, Level 3, grade 9), and in media (New England Scholastic Press Association Journalism Award in Scholastic Editing and Publishing- Special Achievement, grade 9).”
“I think what I am going to remember most about high school are all of the little things that make the stress and commotion of high school just a little better,” Shellard said. “Whether it was eating a Culinary breakfast with the Student Leadership team, running to get a calzone at lunch before they sold out, cheering on the football team with my friends at Cranston Stadium, or seeing the coffee cart rolling down the hallways, there were special moments in each day at West that made bad days a little bit better. Those little things are so unique and special to high school and overall made my experience that much more memorable.”
Asked who contributed most to her success and enjoyment of high school, Shellard cited the “amazing teachers that I have had throughout my time in high school, especially my senior year teachers.”
“They really made sure to support us in any way possible throughout such a difficult year, but still pushed us towards success each and every day,” she said. “The teacher that had the most lasting impact on my four years, however, was my Graphic Communications teacher, Mrs. Regina Hogan. She was the one who opened my eyes to a career in the graphic design field, and inspired me to develop my passion for the field.”
Shellard also said her family has been a “major source of support in my life, especially my parents these past few years.”
“I also can not forget about my friends, who truly made high school an unforgettable experience,” she added. “Throughout the years, they have stood by my side and cheered me on through all of my endeavors. I truly would not be the person I am today without them.”
Shellard described herself as “self-motivated” and said academic success has brought her “a sense of satisfaction and validation.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, she said: “This year was super challenging for me, not only academically, but emotionally as well. I struggled with accepting the fact that our last year of high school was going to be anything but normal. However, these feelings were able to bring about a new perspective that life can change in an instant, and to make sure to take advantage of every opportunity presented to you … I have learned to live my life with no regrets and look to find opportunities to live life to its fullest potential.”
9. Pallavi Kamsani
Pallavi Kamsani, who ranks ninth in the Cranston High School West class of 2021, will study computer science at Northeastern University this fall.
During her time at West, Kamsani was founder and president of the Cranston West American Red Cross Club, captain of varsity swim team and a member of the varsity girls soccer team, Math Team, Academic Decathlon, Chamber Choir, Hunger Awareness Club, Rhode Island Youth Council and Teen Leadership Committee.
She served as a tutor, was a corporate CFO for a Prepare RI internship and served as social media director for The Empowerment Factory. Her volunteer work has included the Save the Alarm event, Healthy Living Community event, RI Annual Summer Readathon, Providence Thanksgiving Food Drive, Elisha Project, 5K charity runs and park clean-ups.
Kamsani’s academic achievements earned her membership in the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Rhode Island Honor Society. She has earned highest honors and received the AP Scholar Award, Departmental Award for Excellence in Choir and COVID-19 Innovation Challenge Scholarship. Athletically, she was a state qualified in swimming and played club soccer for Bruno United, which won several titles, including URI College Showcase Champions.
“I will remember the friendships and bonds I made with my classmates, teammates and school faculty who helped me navigate through high school,” Kamsani said of her time at West. “My parents and brother were the major contributors to my academic and extracurricular success through their support and efforts to help me reach my full potential. They always recognize my hard work and I hope to make them even more proud in the future.”
Kamsani said her motivation to excel “came through the people around me who always gave words of advice and encouraged my academic and personal endeavors.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, she said: “Although COVID-19 stripped me of a normal senior year, I still tried to make the most out of the situation. Whether it was during online classes or when I went to swim practice, I always maintained a positive attitude and remembered to appreciate the little things around me.”
10. Ava Santamaria
Ava Santamaria, who ranks 10th in the Cranston High School West class of 2020, will attend Boston College in the fall and major in neuroscience at the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.
During her time at West, Santamaria was active in a number of groups and activities. She was a four-year member of the varsity golf team, being named captain in her senior year, and served as a team leader for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraising efforts. She was also a Class Council delegate, a peer tutor, and a member of the groups Students Against Destructive Decisions, Best Buddies, A.T.O.M.S. and Find a Cure Club.
In terms of honors and recognitions, Santamaria has earned induction into the National Honors Society, Rhode Island Honors Society and Italian Honors Society; received First Team All-State Girls Golf honors in 2019 and 2021; was named Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Student of the Year in 2020; won a bronze medal in the 2019 SkillsUSA competition; and received the Michael J. Palmer and Honey Dew Donuts Scholarship.
“I will remember the strong bonds I have formed with my classmates and teachers and all of the fun football games and spirit weeks that united our school together,” Santamaria said of her time at West. “My success is credited to my supportive teachers pushing me to be the best version of myself, alongside the everlasting encouragement from my parents. In terms of enjoyment, the past four years spent with my best friends certainly made my high school experience unforgettable.”
Asked about her motivation to excel, Santamaria said: “Ever since I was little, I have possessed the drive to succeed academically. I have always truly enjoyed being in the classroom and learning new things, and I think this translates into the hard work I have put forth throughout my high school career.”
Reflecting on the pandemic, she said it has “made a major impact on my graduating class” and “taught all of us to appreciate every moment spent together and not take anything for granted.”
“I am grateful that we were all able to come together with a high school graduation and prom to celebrate our achievements,” she said.