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Shelby Dempsey ’21 chosen as MCLA’s ‘29 Who Shine’ Award Recipient

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. —Shelby Dempsey ’21 has been chosen as MCLA’s recipient of the Commonwealth’s “29 Who Shine” award, which recognizes 29 outstanding graduates from the state higher education system. Governor Charlie Baker will recognize Dempsey and 28 other students during a virtual YouTube Live ceremony on May 13 at 2 p.m. held by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE).


This year’s “29 Who Shine” awards will be presented in a YouTube Live ceremony on Thursday, May 13 at 2 p.m.


Dempsey, a history major from Weymouth, Mass., who plans to pursue a career in publishing, is a committed and active campus leader at MCLA who has tackled the issue of student food insecurity over the past several years. Working collaboratively with the staff of MCLA’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement and her fellow classmates, Shelby helped lead the effort to maintain student access to MCLA’s Food Pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic. They developed an online-pickup service that allowed students to continue to have access to what they need from the food pantry by using an online form. Students are able to choose a time to schedule their food pick up and their orders are organized and filled by student volunteers.


When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and students were sent home for the second half of the spring 2020 semester, the food pantry remained open for the few students still on campus and in the local area. Dempsey also led efforts to continue to help students in their hometowns. The Food Pantry volunteers researched and found resources across the Commonwealth and the Northeast and relayed that information to the students who needed those services the most.


“Her work provided critical support for her fellow students to allow them to continue their studies despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MCLA Dean of Academic Affairs Ely Janis.


“I’ve witnessed Shelby’s efforts to help her peers for years, and I’m proud that she is MCLA’s 2021 ‘29 Who Shine’ award recipient,” said MCLA President James F. Birge. “Shelby exemplifies the kind of community spirit we hope to encourage at MCLA, and her work helped many members of our community with access to food and other resources at an extremely important time. She is an exceptional student leader.”


The “29 Who Shine” awards program was launched by the DHE in 2011 to recognize and honor graduates from Massachusetts community colleges, state universities, or University of Massachusetts campuses. Students are nominated by a faculty or staff member or by a university awards committee and must show exceptional promise as a future leader in civic affairs or in business or professional activity in Massachusetts, having already demonstrated an ability to contribute to the civic and economic wellbeing of the Commonwealth.


Students must also intend to pursue a career track for which there is a demonstrated need in the Commonwealth, such as a high-demand STEM-related career or a community service role to better the lives of fellow Massachusetts citizens.


About MCLA:
At MCLA, we’re here for all — and focused on each — of our students. Classes are taught by educators who care deeply about teaching, and about seeing their students thrive on every level of their lives. In nearly every way possible, the experience at MCLA is designed to elevate our students as individuals, as leaders, communicators, fully empowered to make their impressions on the world. In addition to our 125-year commitment to public education we have fortified our commitment to equitable academic excellence. For eight of the last 10 years, MCLA has been named a Top Ten College by U.S. News and World Report. MCLA also appears on the organization’s list of top National Public Liberal Arts Colleges, as well as on the top 50 schools in U.S. News’ Social Mobility Ranking, which measures how well schools graduate students who receive Federal Pell Grants.


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