Berkshire college students named among '29 Who Shine'

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BOSTON — One studies psychology. One's a rising engineer. Both represent multicultural communities and have been named among the recipients of the state's "29 Who Shine" awards celebrating top students at state colleges and universities and their teachers.

Earlier this month, Rosy Gil Diaz of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Liliana Atanacio of Berkshire Community College celebrated their achievements with the other scholars at an awards ceremony with Gov. Charlie Baker held earlier this month at the Massachusetts State House.

Meet the winners

Rosy Gil Diaz of Dorchester recently graduated from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and minors in behavior analysis and Spanish. Originally from Santiago, Dominican Republic, she has a passion for helping those with mental health and behavioral issues and aspires to earn her Ph.D or PsyD in clinical psychology, with certification in behavioral analysis. She would like to work in a hospital or mental health institution, and perhaps launch her own practice.

"The "29 Who Shine" honor is very meaningful to me and my family," Diaz said in a press statement. "Being a first- generation, immigrant, student of color, I have experienced many struggles along the way. Knowing that I have been recognized for all of my hard work means a lot; it is an honor that makes me very proud of what I have accomplished."

Diaz was the secretary of the MCLA chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. As an intern in MCLA's Office of Student Affairs, she worked to facilitate focus groups comprised of fellow students, to promote higher retention rates. Prior to MCLA, she received college attendance support through Massachusetts-based programs, Bottom Line and the Massachusetts General Hospital Youth Scholars Programs.

Gil Diaz chose to recognize psychology professor Maria Bartini, and writes: "Maria Bartini was my lacrosse coach before she became my adviser and mentor. ... As a result, she was able to push me harder. She gave me advice that has helped me make good decisions with my academics and my life."

Liliana Atanacio of Pittsfield is an active full-time student at Berkshire Community College who also worked full-time while raising two children and earning her associate degree in engineering.

She moved to the United States from Mexico in 2008, and began taking English as a Second Language at the BCC South County Center before enrolling as a full-time student at the college.

"I like challenges," Atanacio said about why she moved to the U.S. "And I feel like in this country, whatever you want, whatever you dream, you can achieve. That kind of hope drove me to go and work hard and succeed here."

She is a member of Student Government and the STEM Starter Academy, a peer mentor, and a Team Leader of the first Hackathon at BCC. She has received outstanding achievement awards from the college in mathematics and science. Atanacio is affiliated with the American Nuclear Society, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She also serves as a member of the Community Legal Aid board and leads the Multicultural Students Organization, which encourages diversity and tolerance among students through activities. She plans to continue her studies in biomedical engineering at Western New England University.

Atanacio chose to recognize engineering and technology professor, Gary Bradway, and writes: "Professor Gary Bradway has been there since the beginning of my BCC journey. He has been my advisor and my professor during these three years. He is a mentor, a friend, and a role model for hard work as a professional engineer."


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