MCLA Student Receives 29 Who Shine Award

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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).  
 
"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.  
 
According to a press release, Dempsey, a history major from Weymouth, Mass., who plans to pursue a career in publishing, is an 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.  
 
"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. 

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Juneteenth Celebrated as State, National Holiday

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Saturday is the first time that Juneteenth will be celebrated as state holiday but also as a national holiday. 
 
The date has long been celebrated in parts of the country, sometimes as Emancipation Day, the day in 1865 when Union Army Gen. Gordan Granger proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in Texas, completing the end of slavery in the areas of the United States after more than 300 years. Juneteenth has been a state holiday in Texas for nearly 40 years.
 
President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation nearly three years earlier but it would take the advance of the Union Army into the Confederacy to make freedom a reality. 
 
Former Gov. Deval Patrick had first signed a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth in 2007 and, last July, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill making Juneteenth a state holiday.
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