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.   The program has grown to now support five projects each year.  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 UMMS Diversity and Inclusion Office.

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 both internal and external groups involved in community service and service learning.

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 January 5, 2018 at midnight.

How do I submit my proposal?

Email completed proposals to the UMass Worcester MLK Award Coordinator, Heather-Lyn Haley at  or deliver to

Heather-Lyn Haley, PhD
UMass Medical School
55 Lake Ave N, Benedict A3-219
Worcester, MA 01655


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.

2017 Winners

  1. Bridging Language and Culture Towards a Healthier Tomorrow       

Yan Emily Yuan SOM20 with Dr. Bill Lian and community partners at the Marlborough Chinese Free Clinic and The Confucius Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

  1. STEM Start: Engaging Worcester Girls in Science and Technology

Jacqueline Chipkin, Colleen Gabel, and Shruthi Srinivas, all SOM20, with Robert Layne and community partners at Worcester East Middle School  

  1. Implementing Wellness Initiatives in a Refugee Youth Program Expansion

Meme Tran SOM19, Courtney Temple SOM17, Mark Fusunyan SOM17 and Kevin Gao SOM20, with Meredith Walsh and community partners at the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project, Southeast Asian Coalition, and Tower Hill Botanic Gardens

  1. Refugee Resource Collaboratory

Samia Ahmed GSN19, Steven Purcell GSN19, and Kaleigh Timmins SOM19, with Dr. Olga Valdman and community partners at Family Health Center Worcester, Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center and the FMCH Global Health Fellowship 

January 2016 Winning Projects

Young Men of Today: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow
Goal: To assist young men of color in the Worcester area in their pursuit of health-based careers and activities
 Students: Jessica Long SOM ‘17, Michael Buckner SOM ‘18, Kayla Elliot SOM ‘19, and Marian Younge SOM ‘19
Community partners: North High School, WooFood, Worcester Pipeline Collaborative, Student National Medical Association
Civics and Citizenship Course for Worcester Refugee Youth
Goal: to develop a “Civics and Citizenship Course” designed to equip and encourage youth leaders to continue deepening their civic engagement and to achieve full citizenship
Students. Courtney Temple SOM ‘17, Mark Fusunyan SOM ‘17, Conor Grogan SOM ‘18, and Meme Tran SOM ‘19
Community partners: Worcester Refugee Assistance Project, The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts
Adolescent Sexual Health Education in Barre, MA
Goal: to lay the groundwork for evaluation, improvement and sustainability of sexual health education for adolescents in the Barre community
 Students: Rachel Meyer Bensen GSN GEP ‘17 and Christina Janssens GSN GEP ‘17
Community partners: Barre Family Health Center, Quabbin Regional High School
Integrative Medicine Oncology Initiative: Hand Massage for Patients and Caregivers
Goal: to offer hand massage training to medical and nursing student volunteers as well as family caregivers
Students: Jesse Moskowitz SOM ’18 and Molly Cain SOM ‘18
Community partners: UMMHC Division of Palliative Medicine and the Integrative Medicine Oncology Initiative 

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.

January 2011 Winning Projects

  • WooFoods healthy menu restaurant education initiative
  • Family Health Night with the Burma Youth Organization
  • Healthy Foods Rotating Potluck Nutrition program with African Community Education Program
  • GEAR-UP reading group with North High School students

January 2012 Winning Projects

  • Kelley Backpacks for children entering foster care
  • Integrative Oncology Project bringing meditation and alternative therapies to cancer patients
  • Free Clinic Laptop Project helping to bring efficiency to the care of patients across free clinics
  • Free Clinic Medication Management Project to more safely manage and distribute medication to those in need

January 2013 Winning Projects

1. Worcester Free Clinic Medical Interpreter Project: Miriam Madsen, Aurian Garcia-Gonzalez, Israel Molina and Wei Sum Li will work with the St. Anne's Clinic and the UMass Memorial Interpreter Services to improve the quality and availability of Spanish-language interpreters for patients who currently rely on the Free Clinic system. 
2. Department of Youth Services Health Education Curriculum: Rahela Aziz-Bose and Julia Randall will work with the Central Region DYS to create and teach a series of health education classes on topics of interest to the youth housed within the detention system, including nutrition and exercise, drugs and alcohol, anatomy and puberty, STIs and contraception, and healthy relationship. 
3. Integrative Medicine Gynecological Oncology Initiative: Building on the success of last year's Oncology Initiative, James Doolin, Nicole Koulisis, Emily Levoy and Ye Li will work with the Division of Gynecological Oncology to extend the provision of wellness classes to include free individualized integrative medicine sessions to those with sensitive gynecological oncology issues. 
4. Mentoring Local Refugee Youth for Storytelling and Performance: Jennifer Perez, Sarah Tracy and Meredith Walsh will work with the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project to mentor local youth as they reflect on their life experiences and personal goals. The program will culminate in a story-telling performance at the annual African Children's Education Program Spring Festival.

January 2014 Winning Projects

1. Health Education in Department of Youth Services Central MA Region Correctional Facilities.  Medical students Rahela Aziz-Bose; Jennifer Fishbein; Julia Randall; and Gianna Wilkie will expand a health education curriculum taught by medical students for the residents in the DYS Central MA Region Correctional Facilities. Through a series of health-focused workshops, the students hope to continue to empower the facilities’ teenage residents with the information and skills needed to make healthy decisions both during their stay and after they leave secure treatment.

2.  Farm-to-Health Center Initiative: Prescriptions for Food Insecurity.   Second year medical students Kathryn Bailey and Rachel Erdil, Graduate School of Nursing student Jeremy Malin RN, and first year medical student Liz Rosen will work with the Community Harvest Project and Dr. Melanie Gnazzo, assistant professor and Family Medicine Physician at the Family Health Center Worcester, to assess the level of food insecurity among patients at the Family Health Center of Worcester (FHCW), to improve patient access to farm-fresh vegetables, and to educate physicians and UMMS medical students about food insecurity and resources for hungry families in Worcester.

3.  Worcester Free Clinic Tobacco Cessation Project . Medical students Lauren Veit and Wei-Sum Li will work with the Worcester Free Clinic Coalition to train a small number of committed medical and nursing students in tobacco cessation methods, and to use the free clinics as a venue for these students to develop these skills on a regular basis.  This will increase the availability of effective tobacco cessation counseling to free clinic patients, to connect these patients with the free Massachusetts Quitworks tobacco cessation support program, and ultimately, to decrease tobacco-dependence among these patients.

4. Mentoring Local Refugee Youth for Healthy Lifestyles  Medical students Courtney Temple, Alyse Wheelock, Alison Bialecki, Jennifer Perez, and Michael Richardson will work with Quinsigamond House and the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project (WRAP) to develop leadership among refugee youth through the design and production of weekly sessions on (1) healthy eating and (2) exercise and stress-reduction techniques.  The project will culminate in a Nutritional Celebratory Session, at which they will distribute a “Student Cookbook” of recipes modified in the sessions.

5. Increasing STEM Career Opportunities in the Worcester Latino Community.  Glen Gallagher, PhD Candidate, GSBS, and Regino Mercado‐Lubo, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, GSBS, will work to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) awareness and education in the Latino community within the greater Worcester area. To meet this goal, UMW students will partner with Elias Medina, a clinician with the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) of the Latino community organization, Centro Las Americas, and the EcoTarium science museum to host STEM education events and a volunteer fair.


January 2015 Winning Projects

  1. ACEing Autism Tennis Program. Students Nisarg Chhaya, SOM; Mary Pat Cavanaugh, SOM; Hannah Hoerner, SOM; Geneva DeGregorio, SOM; Socheata Ly, GSBS; and Joana Sun, GSN to establish a local, permanent resource for bringing the sport of tennis to children with autism spectrum disorders, working with community partners ACEing Autism, Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts.
  2. Farm-to-Health Center Initiative: Community Cooking Project. Students Cassidy Mellin, SOM; Jessica Plager, SOM; and Blair Robinson, SOM to enhance impact of farm-fresh produce delivery by providing cooking classes in partnership with Community Harvest Project and the Family Health Center of Worcester.
  3. Florence House Workshop Series. Gianna Wilkie, SOM, to pilot a health and parenting curriculum for adolescent mothers living at Florence House, in partnership with Ascentria Care Alliance.
  4. 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 to focus on adolescent health education and exploration of STEM careers for refugee youth at the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project and the Southeast Coalition of Central Massachusetts.
  5. Young Men of Today: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow. Students Jessica R. Long, SOM, and Michael Buckner, SOM to assist young men of color in the Worcester area in their pursuit of health-based careers and activities, working with WooFood, UMass Medical School, and the Student National Medical Association.


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.