Twenty-nine outstanding 2012 graduates of community colleges, state universities, and the University of Massachusetts were honored for both academic achievement and their contributions to the Commonwealth in a State House ceremony on May 10, 2012. Karla Pauta, a liberal arts major with a concentration in biological sciences who came to the United States from Ecuador as a young teenager, is the "29 Who Shine" award winner from Berkshire Community College (BCC).
Governor Deval Patrick presented the awards to each of the students.
"Karla Pauta story reminds us all of the power of education to transform lives," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Investing in them is exactly how we invent a brighter future for Massachusetts."
Pauta is a 2008 graduate of Pittsfield High School and enrolled in developmental English at BCC the following year. An Honors Program student, she has maintained a 3.5 GPA. Outside of the classroom Pauta has been an active member of the Student Government Association and a leader in the Multicultural Student Services Organization. She participated in a highly successful cancer awareness walk coordinated between BCC and MCLA. Additionally, Pauta is served as the student representative on BCC's presidential search committee.
"Karla's personal experiences of loss, migration, adaptation, struggle and achievement have strengthened her character. Karla has a great sense of empathy for children, the elderly and anyone in need," said Eleanore Velez, BCC's community outreach counselor who nominated Pauta for the award. "As a first generation college student, Karla values her education, is always making sure she gives back to her community and never takes her opportunities for granted."
Pauta plans to transfer to a four-year college and pursue a career in biotechnology. She would ultimately like to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. She has certainly demonstrated the intellectual capacity, interpersonal skills and personal determination necessary to meet this goal.
"Being a 29 Who Shine honoree has proved to be both a humbling and astonishing experience. I never expected that my work both at school and at the community would be recognized by the state of Massachusetts. I never imagined that doing the things I like the most-- following my dreams-- could lead to such an important recognition," said Pauta. "I am thankful to the state of Massachusetts for having this award because not only does it inspire others by seeing our hard-work and dedication, but it also pushes us, the nominees to continue our quest for success. I can't wait to continue my education and reach my life-long dream of becoming a pediatrician!"