MCLA Announces Dennis Scholarship Winner

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — This year's recipient of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Pamela P. Dennis '82 Scholarship is junior Bri Sarno of Ashland, Mass., who received the award at the 16th annual Undergraduate Research Conference on April 19.

A psychology major with a minor in applied behavior analysis, Sarno is a two-time URC participant. In spring 2017 she and fellow students examined the relationship between aggression and driving behavior. This year, she presented a study that focused on her investigation of different reinforcement schedules involving duration requirements and reinforcement delays.

Recipients of the Pamela P. Dennis ’82 Scholarship must participate in the URC, demonstrate high potential, and have overcome adversity in their lives. Students who wish to be considered for the scholarship also must submit an essay that speaks to the idea of human triumph and how it relates to their life.

Sarno, who works two jobs to pay for her education, was nominated by Dr. Ruby I. Vega, an assistant professor of educational/school psychology at MCLA, and who has served as Sarno's academic advisor for the past three years.

"This recognition is a reminder to continue to keep going," Sarno said. "No one thought I would be where I am today because of the things I have been through, and I continue to prove them wrong. More so than just surpassing the expectations of others, I have exceeded my own expectations for what I can accomplish. Receiving recognition for my determination and resilience in honor of such an amazing woman, Pamela Dennis, is more fuel for the fire within me to always strive to keep going.

"I am so grateful to have received this generous scholarship, and to be recognized for the work I have done," she said.

In addition to serving as a research assistant for psychology professor Thomas Byrne, Sarno acts as Vega's teaching assistant for the "Applied Development" course. Besides her studies and work obligations, Sarno is an active member of several student clubs at MCLA, including the Psychology Club and Dance Company.

The Pamela P. Dennis '82 Scholarship is funded by the Pamela P. Dennis '82 Achievement and Triumph Fund, which underwrites the cost of the URC, a $2,000 scholarship for a student each year, and an annual student internship at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Mass.

Announced by Diane Sammer, Class of 1981 in 2014, the fund honors Pamela P. Dennis, a psychology major who graduated from the college in 1982 and who passed away in 2008.


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