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MLK Semester of Service Student Awards

Martin Luther King Jr. Semester of Service Student Awards

Since the 2010/2011 school year, the MLK Semester of Service Student Awards have funded community service projects initiated by students at UMass Worcester.   This program was developed as part of a five-campus UMass Learn and Serve grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service and has allowed our students to pursue innovative engaged work in local communities. Funding is now provided by the UMass Chan Diversity and Inclusion Office and the Office for Community and Government Relations.

Students are invited to submit proposals outlining community service projects they hope to undertake in the Spring semester.  The top ideas will receive funding awards of $500 with which to accomplish these projects.

Winners are announced on Martin Luther King Day on UMassMedNow, and recognized by the Dean at the medical school's MLK Day celebration in January. The judging panel is comprised of members of our Community Engagement Committee.

Priority will be given to projects that meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Enhance or strengthen existing relationships with the community 
• Address both community needs and student learning objectives
• Provide opportunities for a diverse range of UMass community members to work together
• Increase the number of students, staff and faculty engaged in the community
• Include opportunities for learners to reflect on their experience
• Contribute to the elimination of health disparities by addressing social determinants of health, including issues of racism, bias and discrimination


How do I apply?

Applicants must be current UMass Worcester students in good academic and professional standing who wish to organize and run a community service project during the spring semester. Students are encouraged to partner with a local organization that is a non-profit with 501c3 or other tax-exempt status. For assistance connecting with a community partner, interested students should speak with Heather-Lyn Haley or any other member of the UMass Worcester Community Engagement Committee.

Please submit an application containing all of the items specified below.

1. Student name(s), school, class, and contact information
2. Community-based organization name(s), contact name and information
3. Narrative (no more than three pages) that includes:
   • Project overview
   • Explanation of community needs/assets being addressed
   • Student learning objectives being met
   • Proposed activities and timeline
   • Description of target audience and participants
   • Plan for recruiting and training of participants
   • Plan for reflection and evaluation of results
   • Budget narrative

What is the deadline?

All proposals are due to Heather-Lyn Haley by the first Friday in January at midnight.

How do I submit my proposal?

Email completed proposals to the UMass Worcester MLK Award Coordinator, Heather-Lyn Haley at Heather-Lyn.Haley@umassmed.edu 

What is expected of students who receive an MLK Student Award?

All students who receive an award are expected to plan and execute a community service project during the Spring semester. A brief final report documenting the use of funds, number of participants, outcomes of the project, and lessons to be shared with future awardees will be requested, preferably in the form of a powerpoint presentation that can be uploaded for archiving on the UMass Medical School website. They will also be asked to document the numbers and types of participants involved both as volunteers and as recipients of service in the UMass Chan Collaboratory database.

History of the awards:

Building on the Promise: Learn and Serve UMass was a two-year grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (2010-2012). The grant funded work on all UMass campuses to enhance service-learning opportunities and encourage student engagement in the communities where they live and learn. The MLK Award program was developed by the UMass Worcester Learn and Serve team to support student-driven service projects in the communities that surround the UMass Worcester campus.

MLK Award Winners over time:


Improving Pediatric Oral Health in Worcester  - Fiona Splaine (SOM ‘24), Ekaterina Skaritanov (SOM ‘24), Marie McGourty (SOM ‘24), Jack Hanna (SOM ‘25) and Nadine Kridli (SOM ’25, and  Jillian Belgrad SOM/GSBS) will partner with Marie's Mission to run six oral health education sessions providing increased awareness about the importance of oral health, actionable steps families can take to improve their oral health, and the resources to schedule a child’s first dentist appointment.   

Setting the Tone  - Christopher Fay (SOM ’23), Nichita Kulkarni (SOM ’22), Jeremiah Hyslip (SOM ’23), Christian Keenan (SOM ’24), Zahin Ahmed (SOM ’25), Sumayyah Akhtar (SOM ’25), and Webb Camille (SOM and GS1 of PhD) are partnering with Family Health Center Worcester  to develop and deliver a series of educational lectures on clinical signs and symptoms in black and brown skin, creating a lasting clinical teaching resource, as well as to purchase and distribute bandages in darker skin tones at Family Health Center Worcester.   

Moving the Walls: Enhancing interprofessional care and patient privacy in free medical clinics  Angela Patterson (GEP-DNP ‘24), David Runyan (GEP-DNP ‘24), Jillian Steacy (GEP-DNP ‘24), Kourtney Mantyla (GEP-DNP ‘24), Morgan Hill (GEP-DNP ‘24), Jacob Waldman (GEP-DNP ‘24), Casandra Gale (GEP-DNP ‘24), Emily Dillon (GEP-DNP ‘24), Joshan Niroula (GEP-DNP ‘24), Rachel Odillia (GEP-DNP ‘24) will partner with the Worcester Free Care Collaborative  to strengthen the Worcester Free Care Collaborative (WFCC) through incorporation of Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) students, which will expand the range and quality of free medical care provided.  Additionally, funds will be used to purchase adjustable walls, creating private space to provide medical consultation and/or learning discussions between volunteers, SOM and GSN students, and medical providers.   

Worcester CARES-Caring for Afghan Refugees through Educational Support - Sahar Peerzade (SOM ’24), Sumayyah Akhtar (SOM ’25), and Michael Mallouh (SOM ’25) will partner with Worcester Islamic Center Social Services to mitigate educational disparities during resettlement while continuing to support the endeavors of community partners, including a patient navigator program, a K-12 student tutoring program focused on school preparedness, as well as improving access to vaccines and other resources at the WICSS free clinic.   

STEM Start - Naomi Stuffers (SOM '24), Annie Ma (SOM '24) and Lyle Suh (SOM '24) will introduce a new healthcare career-oriented mentorship aspect to the STEMStart program at Worcester East Middle School, which will include a healthcare fair and mentor panel consisting of female professionals from various STEM careers.   


Developing an Adult Program at WRAP Vanessa Avalone, Nathan Yingling, and Omar Taweh, SOM ‘24; with Melanie Kossuth GSN-GEP ‘23; Anushay Mistry, SOM ‘22; and Pooja Gupta, SOM ‘21 will work with leaders at the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project to create a space where adults can come together, find social support, and  practice their English-speaking skills in a safe environment, building confidence in their ability to communicate and express themselves.  

BRAIN: Building Relationships Among our Intergenerational Neighborhoods – Darya Herscovici, Muhammet Ozdemir, and Saurabh Kumar, all SOM ‘24, will work with Christine Giguere at Beaumont Rehab and Nursing Care to facilitate supportive, longitudinal, and one-on-one relationships between residents from the Tapestry Memory Unit at Beaumont Rehabilitation and UMMS students. Students will be paired to one of thirty residents within the unit and will be expected to participate in weekly, in-person, volunteer sessions at the nursing home. 

Worcester Stops the Bleed - This year’s Stop the Bleed team, including Emmanuel Budis, Sarah Uhranowsky, Carl Adams, Paramesh Karandikar, and Alex Richard from SOM24; Michael Wang and Sassicaia Schick from SOM23; Elizaveta Reznichenko SOM22; and Lucinda Chiu SOM21 will coordinate with Family Health Center of Worcester and Center for Health Impact to complete translation of the Stop The Bleed training materials into Spanish, and print copies to distribute at local partner sites.  They will work closely with Dr. Sabato and WCCA TV 194 to create informative videos that will air on the local Worcester channel to offer a remote hemorrhage control training. 

Establishing interpreter services at the Worcester Asylum Clinic - Grant Garcia, Sabine Shaughnessy and Aya Abou-Jaoude from SOM24; Kimberly Burke, Diana Sibai and Sabahat Rahman SOM23, Divya Bhatia SOM21, and MD/ PhD student Carly Herbert will work with the Worcester Asylum Clinic to address an identified need for a more robust internal interpreter network which would be coordinated directly through the clinic. 


Cervical Cancer Screening: Understanding Barriers to Access and Implementing Free Screening at Organized Medical Programs - Students Katherine Cooper SOM22, Rachel Anderson SOM22, and Grace Masters GSBS21/SOM23 will work with Dr. Tiffany Moore-Simas and community partners at the Worcester Free Clinic Coalition (WFCC), using a multi-step approach that will evaluate the need for and barriers to cervical cancer screening; their findings will then be used to implement free pap testing at Worcester free medical programs.

 Worcester Stops the Bleed - Students Michael Wang SOM23; Lucinda Chiu SOM21; and Elya Reznichenko SOM22 will work with Dr. Stacey Valentine, Dr. George DeBusk and community partners, including the Recreation Worcester program run by the City, to train youth workers to save lives by raising awareness of basic actions to stop life threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters.

Bringing Electronic Medical Records to the Worcester Free Clinic Coalition - Student John Romano SOM22 will work with Dr. Jim Ledwith and the Worcester Evening Free Medical Service Program, hosted at the Epworth Church,  to pilot the implementation of an EMR that will improve continuity and quality of care by allowing outside providers to log in and access records of care.

TaMI: Tutoring and Mentoring Initiative - Students Cindy Le SOM23 and Thomas Kania SOM23 will work with Michael Cardin at North High School to build a program giving students at North High School a platform to receive tutoring in the fundamental subjects they will need, subjects including math and science courses as well as SAT exam preparation, while establishing relationships with people who have successfully navigated the journey already.


  • STEM Start: Engaging Worcester Girls in Science and Technology: Maimuna Ahmad and Delia Sanders, SOM22
  • The Worcester Consent Initiative: Alice Kennedy and Shervin Rezaei, SOM22; Carly Herbert, MD PhD Candidate, Year 1; Abiola Ogunsola, MD PhD Candidate, Year 2
  • Making Worcester Home: Meme Tran, SOM19, Pooja Gupta, SOM21, and Anushay Mistry, SOM22


  • Day of Service, Night of Fun: Jugert Bango , Jonathan Kassira, Elisabeth McGovern, Katherine Sadaniantz, all SOM ’21
  • STEM Start: Engaging Worcester Girls in Science and Technology: Brittany Dacier, Nadia Eshraghi, and Christine Hebert, all SOM ‘21
  • Young Men of Today: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow: Michael Buckner ‘18, Kayla Elliott ‘19, Marian Younge ‘19, Pawan Mathew ‘20, Fatoumata Bah ‘20, Kevin O’Connor ‘20, Anupama Singh ‘20, Krist Tase ‘20, Arielle Stopa ’20


  • Bridging Language and Culture Towards a Healthier Tomorrow: Yan Emily Yuan SOM20
  • STEM Start: Engaging Worcester Girls in Science and Technology: Jacqueline Chipkin, Colleen Gabel, and Shruthi Srinivas, all SOM20
  • Implementing Wellness Initiatives in a Refugee Youth Program Expansion: Meme Tran SOM19, Courtney Temple SOM17, Mark Fusunyan SOM17 and Kevin Gao SOM20
  • Worcester Refugee Resource Collaboratory: Samia Ahmed GSN19, Steven Purcell GSN19, and Kaleigh Timmins SOM19


  • Young Men of Today: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow.  Jessica R. Long, SOM, Class of 2017, Michael Buckner, SOM, Class of 2018, Kayla Elliot, SOM, Class of 2019, and Marian Younge, SOM, Class of 2019. 
  • Integrative Medicine Oncology Initiative: Hand Massage for Patients and Caregivers.  Jesse Moskowitz, SOM, Class of 2018 and Molly Cain, SOM, Class of 2018.
  • Civics and Citizenship Course for Worcester Refugee Youth. Courtney Temple, SOM, Class of 2017, Mark Fusunyan, SOM, Class of 2017, Conor Grogan, SOM, Class of 2018, and Meme Tran, SOM, Class of 2019. 
  • Adolescent Sexual Health in Barre, Ma. Rachel Meyer Bensen, GSN GEP, Class of 2017, and Christina Janssens, GSN GEP, Class of 2017.


  • ACEing Autism Tennis Program: Nisarg Chhaya, SOM; Mary Pat Cavanaugh, SOM; Hannah Hoerner, SOM; Geneva DeGregorio, SOM; Socheata Ly, GSBS; and Joana Sun, GSN
  • Farm-to-Health Center Initiative: Community Cooking Project: Cassidy Mellin, SOM; Jessica Plager, SOM; and Blair Robinson, SOM
  • Florence House Workshop Series: Gianna Wilkie, SOM
  • STEM for WRAP: Health education and exploration of STEM careers for local refugee youth: Mark Fusunyan, SOM; Jennifer Perez, SOM; David Ramsden, SOM; Courtney Temple, SOM; and Alyse Wheelock, SOM
  • Young Men of Today: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow: Jessica R. Long, SOM, and Michael Buckner, SOM


  • Farm-to-Health Center Initiative: Prescriptions for Food Insecurity: Kathryn Bailey MSII, Rachel Erdil MSII, Jeremy Malin RN GSN, Liz Rosen MSI
  • Worcester Free Clinic Tobacco Cessation Project: Lauren Veit, School of Medicine, MSIII,  Wei-Sum Li, School of Medicine, MSII
  • Mentoring Local Refugee Youth for Healthy Lifestyles: Courtney Temple, MSI, Alyse Wheelock, MSII, Alison Bialecki, MSII, Jennifer Perez, MSII, Michael Richardson MSIV
  • Increasing STEM Career Opportunities in the Worcester Latino Community: Glen Gallagher, PhD Candidate, GSBS, Regino Mercado‐Lubo, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow,GSBS


  • Worcester Free Clinic Medical Interpreter Project: Miriam Madsen, Aurian Garcia-Gonzalez, Israel Molina and Wei Sum Li
  • Department of Youth Services Health Education Development and Delivery: Rahela Aziz-Bose and Julia Randall
  • Integrative Medicine Gynecological Oncology Initiative: James Doolin, Nicole Koulisis, Emily Levoy and Ye Li 
  • Mentoring Local Refugee Youth for Storytelling and Performance: Jennifer Perez, Sarah Tracy and Meredith


  • Kelley Backpack Project: Heather Busick, SOM ’12,  Anne Barnard, SOM ’14 Alison Little, SOM ’14 Scott Pascal, SOM ’14 Anna Plourde, SOM ’12 and Aubrey Samost, SOM ’14 .
  • Complementary and Integrative Medicine Oncology Initiative: Megan E. Furnari, SOM ’13. , Vincent J. Mitchell III, SOM ’13 .
  • Free Clinic Laptop Project: Reza Hosseini Ghomi, SOM ’14, Jennifer MacDonald, MD/PhD ’14 
  • Free Clinic Medication Project: Christopher Perrone, SOM ’14 


  • Reducing Trans Fat Through Outreach to Worcester’s Diverse Restaurant Owners: Matthew DeWolf, Mitch Li and Alan Chin, MS1
  • Reading Forward: Career Exploration and Personal Development Through Literature Discussions with North High School students: Micaela Bayard, MS3, and Matthew Zanghi, MS2
  • Obesity Prevention Curriculum for African Refugee Children: Toy Lim, GEP2
  • Family Health Night for Refugees from Burma: Sarah Tracy, MS1, Nang Maung, GSBS student, Meredith Walsh, GEP2



What is Learn and Serve UMass? 

Learn and Serve UMass was a UMass system-wide grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, supporting student involvement taking place on all five UMass campuses from 2010-2012. The overarching goal of this UMass initiative was to expand service learning and community service opportunities for students, with specific focuses on youth work, economic development, and community partnerships. At UMass Worcester, it was managed by the department of Family Medicine and Community Health: Suzanne Cashman, PI, Heather-Lyn Haley, project manager.

Carnegie Recipient 2015