April 26, 2017
Communications and Marketing
Twenty students from the class of 2017 were honored for their commitment and outstanding contributions to the Meelia Center for Community Engagement during an end-of-year dinner and awards ceremony on Friday, April 21. Community partners, friends and families joined the senior student-leaders and their fellow underclassmen who manage the 50-plus agencies and 400 Saint Anselm College students that volunteer through the center.
Katherine Carey '18, a member of the Center's management staff and co-emcee for the event opened the evening with words of encouragement for the seniors. "Follow your passions and realize the potential that each and every one of you has to change the world," she said.
Alumnus and benefactor Rich Meelia '71, described the gathering as his favorite night of the year. "I'm thrilled and very proud to be involved," he said during his customarily humble remarks. The celebration comes at the conclusion of an academic year in which The Princeton Review ranked Saint Anselm sixth in the nation for campuses "most engaged in community service."
A Transformational Year
Since being established in 1989, first as the Center for Volunteers, the Meelia Center has grown under the leadership of alumnus, social work professor, and Director Dan Forbes '81. "We got going with duct tape and a prayer...but the answer has always been, 'we can make that happen,'" he said. Students have been bringing their ideas and passion to the Center ever since. Forbes now shares the day-to-day professional responsibilities of managing the Center with Nicole Lora '06, assistant director, and Jennifer Theroux, administrative assistant.
Forbes noted that one of the Meelia Center's preeminent programs, Access Academy, has recently been bolstered with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, ensuring that local refugee, immigrant, and underrepresented families will have access to expanded course options through the program.
The grant, offering up to $100,000 in matching funds, represents "a new day for the Meelia Center," says Forbes.
With teaching and mentorship by Saint Anselm students, Access Academy exposes and inspires high school students in Manchester to higher education, career opportunities, and humanities studies including critical thinking, writing, and communications with a complement of science and computer courses.
Since the program was founded in 2009, Saint Anselm students have assisted over 350 high school students from over a dozen countries including Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, Nepal, Syria, Congo, Sudan, Ivory Coast, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. Several Access Academy participants have continued their education at Saint Anselm, including current seniors Asim Elrayah, Mina Al Rais and Omer Elrayah (seen at right with Forbes and Lora).
Community Partners Recognized
The Manchester School System's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinators were recognized with the Meelia Center's Community Partner Award for the outstanding partnership that has flourished thanks to Access Academy.
In presenting the honor, Forbes commended the outstanding efforts put forth by numerous individuals in the Manchester school system for identifying and supporting students who wish to participate in the Access Academy program.
Senior Service Awards
Two seniors were presented with distinct commendations for their efforts in community service on behalf of all student-volunteers. Seamus Igo, an international relations major, and Jordan Ouellette, a business major, were singled out for their commitment to the Meelia Center's work, and proactive efforts to involve others.
The evening concluded with a series of heartfelt recognitions from various community-partner supervisors and Meelia Center staff for graduating students who have served as engagement leaders during their time as Saint Anselm College students:
Mina Al Rais (chemistry)
Carroll Bailey (nursing)
Erin Clapp (sociology)
Olivia Cummings (sociology)
Christine Drew (international relations)
Asim Elrayah (chemistry)
Omer Elrayah (biochemistry)
Hailey Grant (English)
Miranda Groux (peace & justice studies)
Margaret Harrington (education studies)
MaryCatherine Lavallee (psychology)
Meredith Lemmon (communication)
Jackie Parece (nursing)
Trevor Patton (biochemistry)
Omri de Pierre de Alpuche (biology)
Zachary Procek (English)
Lindsey Puglisi (psychology)
Donald Stokes (politics)
Amy Vachon (English, politics)
Maggie Walker (nursing)
Story and photos by Cory True '09