Mariano Gomes & Craig Velozo
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Math and Science Program & General Studies/MassTransfer
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship Recipients
It gives a college bragging rights to say one of its graduating students has earned the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. But what if two earn it in one year?
Bristol has these über bragging rights this year thanks to students Mariano Gomes and Craig Velozo. Both were named to this prestigious award, which offers a community college graduate up to $30,000 a year for three years to earn the baccalaureate at the college of their choice. This year 73 students all over the country received the competitive award. It is highly unusual for two from the same college to be named to this program.
Both students are Commonwealth Honors Scholars, and both are hoping to become doctors. At press time, both are also waiting to hear from a number of transfer institutions. Mariano is in the Liberal Arts and Sciences/Math and Science Program, and Craig is in General Studies/MassTransfer.
Mariano was born and raised in Guinea-Bissau and came to the U.S. to pursue his studies. He purchased a small cleaning business to support himself, and he often worked through the night and attended classes during the day. Mariano worked as a Supplemental Instructor for Introduction to Chemistry with Dr. Cynthia Hahn. He is a Student Senator and a Student Ambassador.
Craig is a decorated Iraqi veteran who served in the U.S. Army for nine years. While on active duty and deployed overseas he took college courses and the guardian for his brother. As his capstone project for the Commonwealth Honors Program he created the Commonwealth Honors Mentor Program, where students get advice on creating presentations, applying for competitive awards, and other skills needed for success. He is called an exemplary scholar with wide-ranging interests.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship makes it possible for the nation’s top community college students to complete their bachelor’s degrees by transferring to a four-year college or university. The award is intended to cover a substantial share of a student’s educational expenses – including tuition, living expenses, books and fees.
Bristol Community College has had two recipients in the past few years, but it is quite unusual to have two in one year.
H. Michael A. Lasko
Business Administration Career
Before Michael Lasko of Seekonk enrolled at Bristol Community College he was working 60-plus hours as a trash collector. He was unhappy with his work and knew that he wanted more out of life. He said, “Frankly, I do not believe anyone could be satisfied with their position in life when the job is to pick up trash 14 hours a day.”
He enrolled at BCC taking a couple of courses a semester in Attleboro. After his son was born during his first semester, Michael reports that he became motivated to not just finish school but to excel both in coursework and college service. He took most of his degree program at the Attleboro Center, where he worked as a student ambassador, assisting College administration. He was elected to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society. Michael also received both the Silver Shield Award and was inducted into the the Sceptre and Scroll Society. As his Service-learning project, he led a group of students to create the Attleboro STEM Education Scholarship, raising nearly $2,000 in scholarships. He graduates with an associate in science in business administration, with a 3.78 G.P.A., on June 1.
As of last November, Michael no longer works for a trash company. He has accepted a position as a distribution manager with Panera Bread, a Fortune 500 company, overseeing logistical operations for New England and New York. He has no doubt that without the experiences in the Business Administration Program and lessons learned at BCC, none of his career advancements would have happened. “Since enrolling at BCC, I have dramatically improved by economic standing and my career potential.”
Maurice Cyr wants to make a difference – and he already has. Called Mo by his many friends, he received the college’s highest honor, the Mace and Shield, for leadership, character, honesty, and integrity, in part for all the work he has done to help the less fortunate.
He has seen the other side. He has been the one who has had to ask for help, and he’s experienced the stigma that sometimes comes along with it. So when this Fall River resident decided to enroll at BCC, Cyr dedicated himself to make a real difference in his community.
In the Paralegal Studies program, he immersed himself in as many community projects as he could, both in and outside of the college. He joined the Academic Support Club, where he eventually became President, to help students struggling to grasp certain subjects. The club held fundraisers throughout the year to provide support for community organizations, including a “Five Guys” fundraiser He joined the Commonwealth Honors Program, and he involved himself with community service following a course in community leadership with Dr. Mary Zahm, professor of psychology. Perhaps his most significant contribution on campus came from his work with Civic Engagement, where he helped bring Greater Boston Food Bank monthly Mobile Markets to the Fall River Campus. More than 1,600 people were served.
For his civic activities Cyr was also named a Newman Civic Fellow. The award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.
Now that Cyr is graduating, he’s turning his attention to how he can help his community professionally. He intends on continuing his pursuit of education in Paralegal Studies, and he completed an internship at South Coastal Counties Legal Services, which provides legal advice for low-income individuals. He plans on staying involved in food drives, helping out four different food pantries in the area, and finding new ways to make a difference.