MARLBOROUGH — Executive Director Steven C. Sharek is pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) hosted six students from across the state last week during their general membership meeting.

The students have been selected as U.S. Presidential Scholar nominees. Each of them was present for MAVA’s spring membership meeting, held Thursday, March 3 in Marlborough, which was also attended by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.

To conclude the meeting, Commissioner Riley presented each student with an award on behalf of the state and an administrator from each student’s school shared a list of their accomplishments for those in attendance.

The U.S. Presidential Scholar Award is a prestigious award given to distinguished high school students across the country. The award is one of the highest honors given to high school students, as only around 3,000 students across the country are nominated per year. As part of the process six students from local technical high schools were nominated this year..

The six students recognized last week included:

Lourdes Luna Ceballos

Ceballos is a senior at Greater Lawrence Regional Technical High School in the Medical Assistant Program. Ceballos is a certified medical assistant and will continue her education by entering the psychology field with hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. She has been a member of the National Honor Society since her sophomore year and is 14th in her class with a 4.11 GPA.

Along with her academic accomplishments Ceballos has been active in her community volunteering to tutor students, and as a member of the Interact club. Ceballos also designed the uniform for the medical assistant program.

“Lourdes is a very caring and compassionate student who has displayed these qualities to everyone she has come in contact with,” said Greater Lawrence Superintendent John Lavoie. “She has made significant contributions to the community and we are excited to see how she will continue to change the world after she leaves Greater Lawrence.”

Piper Culp

Culp is a senior at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, and is from East Bridgewater. Culp has been on the honor roll every term of her high school career and will be graduating with her associate’s degree along with her high school diploma this year.

Culp is a peer tutor, a member of the math club and captain of the beekeeping team. She is an intern at Massasoit Community College and is part of the school’s Natural and Life Sciences Program.

“Piper has been such an active member of her community, and has shown great dedication to education,” said Southeastern Principal Leslie Weckesser. “She is a wonderful student and I wish her the best of luck. I’m very proud that she’s pursuing a career in STEM.”

Beck Hermann

Hermann is a senior at Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School in the Landscaping and Turf Management Program. Hermann plans to continue with his education and become a landscape architect.

Along with taking all six of Essex Tech’s AP courses, he is a member of the student government, a student mentor, and captain of the winter track team. He also holds the school record for the 55 meter dash, which he ran in 7.23 seconds. Hermann also helped to create a student body fan section at athletic events, and coined the tagline “#RollHawks.”

“Beck exemplifies our graduate profile of being kind, responsible, entrepreneurial, tenacious, culturally proficient and collaborative,” said Essex Tech Superintendent Heidi Riccio. “What sets him apart from others is the humility with which he is able to continuously carry himself despite his successes. Beck is quick to acknowledge and will graciously give praise to those who have helped him achieve.”

Shanay Patel

Patel is a senior at Worcester Technical High School, graduating top of his class in the Advanced Manufacturing program. Patel is a freshman tutor who has excelled in CAD, CAM and CNC operation, as well as manual manufacturing skills and machine skills.

Patel hopes to continue his work in the field while attending Quinsigamond Community College in mechatronics and then attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute to continue his education in astronautical engineering.

“I’m proud to say how remarkable Shanay is both as a person and as a student. He has exceeded all of the required competencies, but more importantly during the pandemic, he went way beyond what his studies entailed,” said Worcester Tech Acting Principal Siobhan Petrella. “He availed himself to every single platform that was available to him to make sure that he succeeded in advanced manufacturing.”

Chloe Simard

Simard is a senior at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, graduating from the Allied Health Program with high honors and a 4.22 GPA. Simard is a member of the National Honor Society with hopes of continuing her education and becoming a pediatric surgeon. She is OSHA certified, a licensed CNA, certified in CPR, first aid, and basic life support. Simard is also a varsity athlete playing volleyball and lacrosse.

“Chloe is a dedicated athlete, student and member of our community,” said Whittier Superintendent Maureen Lynch. “She is one of the hardest working students in our senior class. She expects nothing short of excellence in everything she does.”

Sophia Zoghbi

Zoghni is a senior at Worcester Technical High School in the Biotechnology Program. She is a SkillsUSA leader, a member of the National Honor Society, a member of both the outdoor club and the ski club, and an employee at the UMass Medical Hospital in the OBGYN department. During the pandemic, Zoghni helped create an Instagram account dedicated to informing Massachusetts residents about the COVID-19 vaccine and as a result became the gold medalist national winner for SkillsUSA.

“Sophia’s teachers describe her as an outstanding student who is generous with her time. She is also hard-working, thoughtful and passionate about saving the earth and ensuring humankind has long longevity of life,” said Acting Principal Petrella. “She has an incredible desire to make an impact in the field of biology and we know she will go on to accomplish great things.”

The families of each of the nominees were on hand to celebrate the students’ recognition, and met with Commissioner Riley and MAVA members following the event.

“This is a tremendous day, because what we do on a daily basis and what drives us and what we’re passionate about, is our students,” said MAVA President and Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School District Superintendent Ernest Houle. “We’re lucky any time we get to celebrate our students like this, and we applaud each of them for their years of hard work and dedication. Not only are each of these students academically deserving of this honor, but they are all terrific young men and women who will undoubtedly make significant contributions to their careers and communities moving forward.”


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