WEDF Announces Honorees for 10th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni & Friends of the Worcester Public Schools Awards

The Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. (WEDF) is proud to announce the honorees for the 2021 Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the Worcester Public Schools Awards event. This year’s honorees are:

Sydney Taylor Brown – Educator/Social Services Leader (posthumous)
Enmanuel “Manny” Familia – Public Safety Hero (posthumous)
John Goldsberry, M.D. – Physician
Mary Beth Bolduc Heffernan – Artist/Professor of Art
Dmitry Kustanovich – Performing Artist
Barry Levenson – Lawyer/Museum Founder & Curator
Stacey Luster – Education Professional/Lawyer
Timothy MacDonald – Health & Wellness Manager
Walter Shea – Business Leader/Community Activist

The College of the Holy Cross is the recipient of the “Friend of the Worcester Public Schools” Award.

UniBank will be the Valedictorian sponsor of the event, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. UniBank’s mission is to contribute to the overall economic health of the community in Central Massachusetts by serving financial needs with a full range of banking services as well as giving back through charitable giving and employee volunteerism. 

Other sponsors and advertisers to date include Lamoureux Pagano Associates | Architects, Tony Economou: RE/MAX Advantage 1, the Educational Association of Worcester, Clark University, the Major Taylor Association, Guild of St. Agnes, and Millbury Credit Union.

WEDF was established in 2005 for the sole purpose of supporting the Worcester Public Schools.

The banquet is scheduled for October 28 at the College of the Holy Cross. Dinner tickets are $75.

What’s Next for Recent Worcester Grads?

As we prepare to kick off the 2021-2022 school year, we’re still celebrating our recent graduating Worcester Public Schools class of 2021! 

So many Worcester alumni go on to do amazing things in their lives and careers. To celebrate the post-secondary pursuits of our WPS grads, we wanted to share this amazing list.

Worcester Public Schools graduates will be attending more than 140 different institutions in 26 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada and Scotland. Though many of these graduates are traveling far, almost 500 will stay here in the city to pursue their post-secondary education.

Please join us in congratulating our recent graduates on their accomplishments and wishing them the best of luck in everything to come their way!

Below are the schools our alumni are attending.

American International College

American Musical and Dramatic Academy

Anna Maria College

Assumption College

Bay Path University

Bentley University

Berklee College of Music

Boston College

Brandeis University

Bridgewater State University

Brown University

Bryant University

Bryn Mawr College

Clark University

College of the Holy Cross

Columbia College Chicago

Columbus State Community College

Connecticut School of Broadcasting

Cornell University

Culinary Institute of America

Curry College

Dean College

Drew University

Eastern Nazarene College

Elms College (College of our Lady of the Elms)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

Emerson College

Endicott College

Fitchburg State University

Flagler College-St Augustine

Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Institute of Technology

Fordham University

Framingham State University

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

Georgia State University

Harvard University

Hellenic College-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

Howard University

Husson University

International Bible College

Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University)

Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte

Johnson & Wales University-Providence

Keene State College

Lafayette College

Lasell University

Lesley University

Lincoln Technical Institute – Lowell

Lincoln Technical Institute-Lincoln

Loyola Marymount University

Macalester College

Marine Corps Institute

Massachusetts Bay Community College

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Massachusetts Maritime Academy

McGill University

Merrimack College

Middlesex Community College

Mount Wachusett Community College

National Fashion & Beauty College

NE Dental Academy

New York University

Nichols College

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Northeastern University

Northern Maine Community College

Norwich University

Ohio Technical College

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

Penn Foster Career School

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Pepperdine University

Porter and Chester Institute

Princeton University

Providence College

Quinsigamond Community College

Regis College

Ringling College of Art and Design

Rob Roy Academy-Worcester

Rochester Institute of Technology

Roger Williams University

Sacred Heart University

Saint Anselm College

Salem State University

Simmons University

Smith College

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern State Community College

Suffolk University

SUNY College at Brockport

SUNY Cortland

SUNY Oneonta

Syracuse University

Temple University

The College of Saint Rose

The New School

The University of Arizona

The University of Tampa

TONI&GUY Hairdressing Academy

Universal Technical Institute of Massachusetts Inc

Universal Technical Institute of Pennsylvania Inc

University of Aberdeen

University of Bridgeport

University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College

University of Connecticut

University of Dayton

University of Delaware

University of Dubuque

University of Maine

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

University of Massachusetts-Boston

University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

University of Miami

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

University of New Haven

University of Pikeville

University of Rhode Island

University of Rochester

University of Southern California

University of Toledo

University of Vermont

Valencia College

Wellesley College

Wentworth Institute of Technology

Wesleyan University

West Virginia University

Western New England University

Westfield State University

Westover Job Corps

Wheaton College

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester State University

Xavier University of Louisiana

Yale University

Yeshiva University

Ryan P. Quinn Memorial Award and Mary Murphy Spirit Award Recipients Announced

The Board of Directors of the Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc. (WEDF), is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2021 Ryan P. Quinn Memorial Award is Talya Horton, a recent graduate of Burncoat High School and an accomplished student-athlete. Maggie McCarthy is the recipient of the Mary Murphy Spirit Award and is also a member of the class of 2021 and a gifted athlete.

Ryan P. Quinn, Burncoat High School class of 1996, was a star soccer player and golfer, earning Varsity Letters in both sports. Sadly, Ryan passed away in June of 2014. In memory of Ryan, the Quinn Family partnered with the WEDF in 2016, to establish the Ryan P. Quinn Memorial Award for graduating Varsity Athletes of Burncoat High School. After the passing of Ryan’s aunt, Mary Murphy, a Spirit Award in her memory was added. The students were recognized at the Ryan Quinn Memorial Golf Tournament on July 12, 2021. The presenting sponsor of the event was Tito’s Vodka.

WEDF Launches “Connected Scholars” Computer Scholarship Program

In Spring 2020, the Worcester Educational Development Foundation (WEDF) announced the launch of its Connected Kids Campaign, designed to support Worcester Public Schools’ urgent goal of providing every student with a computer.

The district identified the additional funds it needed to make this goal happen. With the support of WEDF, we are pleased to say it did–all students were assigned computers this school year.

With the most urgent need met, WEDF’s goal for 2021 was to assist seniors in preparing for the next phase of their education. This was the basis of the “Connected Scholars” program.

About the Program

WEDF wanted to make a larger impact so Worcester students would be able to transition into the next stage of their education prepared for everything that lies ahead of them. Part of this is outfitting students with the tools they need to get the most out of their collegiate studies.

Seniors who wished to apply for the program were required to meet the following qualifications:

  • Acceptance at a two- or four-year college or university
  • Positive attitude and strong work ethic

WEDF was fortunate to have plenty of support from guidance departments within the district, and especially that of Cathy Knowles, the College and Career Readiness Liaison. As a result, the foundation was able to provide computers to 31 WPS graduates from eight high schools.

Looking ahead to 2022, WEDF’s goal is to more than triple this number. The ambitious target is to provide 100 laptops to WPS graduating seniors next year. (Want to help us reach our goal? Click here to donate.)

We are so pleased with the success of this program and look forward to continuing to build it in the future!

2021 Connected Scholars

Ny’Asia Adams-Russell  •  Burncoat High School  •  MCPHS University – Boston
Tigist Asmare  •  University Park Campus School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Hillary Boadu  •  Burncoat High School  •  College of the Holy Cross
Shayla Bradwell  •  South High Community School  •  Salem State University
David Castillo  •  Worcester Technical High School  •  Worcester State University
Maria Diego Gomez  •  South High Community School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Kayla Etwaroo  •  Doherty Memorial High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Carla Febus-Romero  •  University Park Campus School  •  Anna Maria College
Trinity Graham  •  Doherty Memorial High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Noora Habeeb  •  North High School  •  Middlesex Community College
Evelyn HernandezMo  •  North High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Abigail Kouevi  •  Worcester Technical High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Santos Leucaris Javier  •  Doherty Memorial High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Azellie Luyo  •  Burncoat High School  •  Worcester State University
Evelyne Nibitanga  •  Doherty Memorial High School  •  University of Massachusetts Amherst
Sharlotte Nishimwe  •  Claremont Academy  •  Worcester State University
Saidah Nisubreko  •  North High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Michael Nixdorf  •  Burncoat High School  •  Worcester Polytechnic Institue
Thantei Nsafoah  •  South High Community School  •  University of Massachusetts Lowell
Paul O’Connell  •  Worcester Technical High School   •  Quinsigamond Community College
Kayla Otero  •  Worcester Technical High School  •  Fitchburg State University
Berika Pierre  • University Park Campus School  •  Fitchburg State University
Neisha Pommier  •  Claremont Academy  •  Worcester State University
Shannon Prosper  •  North High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Maroua Rahaoui  •  Worcester Technical High School  •  Worcester State University
Tirsa Ramirez  •  Claremont Academy  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Carlos Ramirez Hualey  •  North High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Seraphina Rose  •  North High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College
Julius Tionna   •  Gerald Creamer Center  •  Mount Wachusett Community College
Dayanara Velazquez  •  Burncoat High School  •  Assumption University
Maryann Waleed  •  Doherty Memorial High School  •  Quinsigamond Community College

WEDF Congratulates Elizabeth “Betty” Reidy Scholarship and Dr. Lee Gurel Award Recipients

Worcester Educational Development Foundation is pleased to announce the 2021 Elizabeth “Betty” Reidy Scholarships and the Dr. Lee Gurel Award for Teaching and Learning Advanced Placement English.

Elizabeth “Betty” Reidy Scholarships

Betty Reidy was a North High graduate who was a lifelong Worcester resident who dedicated her life to improving the quality of life for individuals in our community. She graduated from Emanuel College, received her Master’s in Social Work from Boston College, and later an Honorary Doctorate from Assumption College. She nurtured her own children to go on and become highly successful individuals.

As a testament to her commitment to children and families, her family has established the Elizabeth “Betty” Reidy Scholarship for North High School graduates who intend to pursue a course of study and career in nursing, education, social work, counseling, or the ministry. 

The 2021 Betty Reidy scholarship recipients are Georgette Adu Agyekum, who will be attending Fitchburg State University to pursue a career in health care, Angel Mensah, who has been accepted at UMASS Dartmouth to study nursing, and Wendy Williams, who will attend UMASS Lowell to study nursing.

Dr. Lee Gurel Award

The 2021 Dr. Lee Gurel Award for Teaching and Learning Advanced Placement Enlgish has been awarded to student An Nguyen and his teacher, Jon Brien. Mr. Nguyen was chosen by lottery from the pool of Worcester Public Schools students who achieved the highest ranking score on the AP English examination.

Dr. Lee Gurel is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Worcester Public Schools. He established the award in 2006 in honor of his eighth grade English teacher, Miss Wilmot, who taught at the former Woodland Street Preparatory School in south Worcester. He donated an endowment for the award to thank the Worcester Public Schools for the educational foundation he received that prepared him to eventually become a nationally recognized psychologist.

Nominations Now Open for our Distinguished Alumni Awards!

The Worcester Educational Development Foundation is pleased to announce that nominations are now open for the annual Distinguished Alumni of the Worcester Public Schools awards!

This is a very special edition of the Distinguished Alumni Awards, as it’s the 10th anniversary of the program. The program was established in 2011 by WEDF to honor and recognize alumni of Worcester Public Schools who:

  • Have made exemplary contributions to their professional fields, the Worcester community, Worcester Public Schools and/or the betterment of society
  • Serve as outstanding role models for current Worcester Public Schools students
  • Have achieved outstanding success in academics, the arts, community service, business, humanitarian efforts, research and various other fields

This year’s ceremony is scheduled for October 28, 2021 at a banquet held to honor the awardees. 

If you know of any alumni who meet the above criteria, we strongly encourage you to submit their names to the Foundation. Online and printable nomination forms are available here.

In addition to filling out the basic information about the alumnus, be sure to include a one-page biographical narrative describing your nominee’s accomplishments and why you’re nominating them. Supplementary documents such as newspaper articles about their accomplishments and resumes are also helpful in the review process.

Further instructions are available on the nomination form.

We look forward to seeing this year’s nominees, and selecting the next class of Distinguished Alumni! Be sure to spread the word!

Worcester Alumni & Friends: A Place for Alumni and Supporters to Gather

We are thrilled to announce our brand new online community Worcester Alumni & Friends, which will allow us to establish greater connections with our graduates and the community.

Through this new alumni network, all Worcester Public Schools alumni, supporters and community members will be able to stay connected and receive regular updates and news articles. Over time, we aim to expand through special events, mentoring and volunteer opportunities. An Alumni Directory allows you to easily find and connect with other alumni, no matter where they’re located.

In addition, we are continuing to conduct an alumni and community interest survey. We began collecting responses in June seeking feedback regarding the information, services and updates that are important to you. If you haven’t completed the survey yet, it’s not too late! Take the survey.

Worcester alumni and local residents are a tremendous base of support for our schools, and it is our mission to keep the public and our alumni engaged in the challenges and opportunities our schools have. This community interest survey is helping us learn more about what it would look like for our school district to create stronger bonds with alumni and community members.

We are very much looking forward to moving ahead with this initiative! 

Graduates of Worcester schools, former school district students, supporters and all local residents may sign up for the alumni network and receive regular news and updates. This includes information on district news and events, community points of pride, class reunions and how alumni and residents can get more involved in Worcester schools. There will also be regular profiles on alumni who have gone on to serve their communities in notable ways.

We invite you to check out the alumni network and all that this online community has to offer. We look forward to connecting with you!

WEDF 2019/2020 Annual Report

• Field trip experiences for more than 22,000 students
• Warm winter outerwear for over 2,500 children
• College prep for hundreds of students
• Mini-grants for creative teachers
• Technology, uniforms, instruments, and more 

“As we celebrate this holiday season of giving, I look back over the past accomplishments of WEDF with pride, appreciation and affection for the many people who have made our work possible. Fifteen years ago, a small group of us had two things:  $ 10 and a belief that many people throughout the Worcester community care about and are willing to support the Worcester Public Schools. Today, realizing that WEDF has invested more than $ 6 million in the district, that belief has proven to be true.” — Stephen Mills, President



Major Taylor Association Supports WEDF’s Connected Kids Campaign

Worcester Educational Development Foundation thanks the Major Taylor Association for its generous contribution to our Connected Kids campaign. The funds have provided Worcester Public Schools students with Chromebooks, a much needed resource during the district’s shift to remote learning.

Leveling the playing field was central to the struggles and successes of 1899 world cycling champion Major Taylor, aka “the Worcester Whirlwind.” As an African American, he was often denied equal footing, in his career and in other aspects of his life, because of his race. He used the term “square deal” 30 times in his autobiography, and he prefaced the chapters with verses about “a fair field and no favor.” He addressed advice directly to youth. 

Through its free downloadable curriculum guide, as well as events and activities of Major Taylor cycling clubs across the country, the Major Taylor Association aims to teach and learn from Major Taylor’s trailblazing experiences to help shape a fair future for all.

“When we saw how the COVID-19 pandemic forced a sudden and speedy transition to online education, and how it exposed inequities on many levels, we looked for a way to respond to this urgent need,” said Lynne Tolman, president of the Major Taylor Association. “We’re grateful that the Worcester Educational Development Foundation got right on it, and we’re pleased to be able to help the Connected Kids effort to bridge the ‘digital divide’ and ensure all Worcester students can participate fully in their education.”

To learn more about the Connected Kids campaign, or to donate, click here.

Worcester Resident Runs Marathon to Support WEDF’s Connected Kids Campaign

On Sunday, August 30, Ken McCormack of Worcester ran a marathon distance around Worcester’s North Pond. He took on this challenge to raise funds for WEDF’s Connected Kids campaign. To date, his fundraiser has raised almost $2,000 from nearly 40 donors.

“I couldn’t have asked for better running weather in August,” noted Ken after completing his run.

Ken launched his fundraiser in late July. “Recognizing the many uncertainties faced by school communities ahead of the fall semester, I felt compelled to chip in however possible,” he said. “Combating uncertainty with programs like Connected Kids highlights the critical role WEDF plays in supporting Worcester’s schools.”

WEDF congratulates Ken on both completing the marathon and surpassing his fundraising goal. We are incredibly grateful for his commitment to this fundraiser. Huge thanks go out to Ken, as well as everyone who donated on his behalf.

Worcester Alumni & Friends, WEDF’s new network and community of support for the Worcester Public Schools, allows anyone to set a goal and run a personal fundraiser. If you’re interested in learning more, or starting a fundraiser of your own, email

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