For the past 15 years, Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS) has awarded two $5,000 scholarships to college-bound high school seniors who attend one of the eight high schools in its service area of Lynn, Lynnfield, Nahant, Saugus, and Swampscott. The Lique Human Services Scholarship, named in memory of GLSS' long-time Executive Director Vince Lique, honors students who are interested in pursuing careers in health and human services and who have made an impact in the world through community service.
"Every year, it is a challenge to choose just two honorees from among the many incredible students who apply," said Kathryn C. Burns, MHA, GLSS' Chief Executive Officer during the "virtual" award ceremony recently held with the two winners, Lubbi Angel and Jennifer Cartagena, both recent graduates of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute (LVTI) earning Certified Nursing Assistant licenses. "I hope you hold this among your great accomplishments," she said, stating that the two were chosen from a pool of 24 applicants by a committee that includes Vince Lique's wife Kathy, staff from GLSS, and community members. "I knew Vince Lique, and he would be incredibly proud of your achievements, your commitment to our community, and your compassionate approach to helping others," Burns said, noting that they are also the first Lique Scholarship recipients from LVTI.
Lubbi Angel is currently attending Mt. Holyoke College, studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. In her application, she describes having the desire to help others in need from a very early age, an "epiphany" which occurred during a penny drive in elementary school for victims of the devastating 2010 hurricane in Haiti. "I was certain that I wanted to help people in need, and that determination continued to flourish and grow throughout my life," she said. "This is why Vince Lique's quote, 'Compassion first, bend the rules if you must, but make sure when a person reaches out, that we reach back with a warm and gentle hand,' resonates so deeply with me--we must serve our community but in a compassionate, dignified manner." Angel is considering a career working with premature babies.
Angel has served her community well, volunteering in the Healthy Living Group, a program that helps children learn to live healthier lifestyles; and at My Brother's Table, Reach Out and Read, and The Haven Project. Using her CNA license, she worked with residents at a local nursing home and noticed the anxiety and loneliness that residents often feel and spent time learning their life stories. "This experience made me realize that as a healthcare provider, it is important to provide safety and reassurance to patients," she said. "I would never want my patients to feel lost or alone." Academically gifted and a standout writer who loves to read, she served as Tech's lead Peer Mentor.
Jennifer Cartagena is currently enrolled in the Pre-Med program at Endicott College, studying Psychology. She moved from Boston to Lynn in her junior year of high school. Prior to attending LVTI, she attended the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers and was offered a coveted position to serve on the Boston Mayor's Youth Council, working to restore parks, build community centers, and provide other opportunities for Boston youth. She received first place in the Boston Citywide Science and Engineering Fair for her research work during a mentorship program at a pharmaceuticals company, which contributed to the ban on plastic bags in both Boston and Lynn.
In Lynn, Cartagena and her friends led a clothing and hygiene products drive for homeless teens and volunteered at My Brother's Table. She worked with the Lynn Community Health Board to provide contraceptives in Lynn Public Schools, which has since decreased teen pregnancy rates. "As a 'Dreamer,' I understand that my job is not only to accomplish my own dream but, more importantly, to help others accomplish theirs, without encountering obstacles such as poverty, pregnancy, or lack of resources."
Cartagena's goal is to continue activism to give a voice to those who feel silenced. She hopes to become a plastic surgeon, helping cancer patients, especially women recovering from mastectomies, recover and heal as well as open a nonprofit pediatric clinic in Guatemala. "I hope to give back by offering high school students the chance to do hands-on learning in a clinical healthcare setting," she said. "This is why I love Lynn Tech so much--it gave me the chance to practice so early on." Using her CNA license, Cartagena worked at an extended care facility and in the Oncology department at a local hospital, where she plans to continue volunteering. Jennifer hopes that her future career will allow her to continue serving people internationally.
Also academically gifted, Cartagena earned the Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar Award, served as a Peer Mentor, and a member of the Student Immigration Movement. She was recently elected to serve on the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Committee, choosing to focus on combating educational disparities in both Lynn and across Massachusetts, among many other activities such as distributing food to homeless youth and speaking at elementary and middle schools.
Both hard-working young women stated that the Lique Scholarship will allow them to continue pursuing volunteer and internship opportunities at college as a result of not having to work as many hours to help pay for their education.
The Lique Scholarship application process will begin again in early spring. Interested seniors who attend Kipp Academy, Lynn English High School, Lynn Classical High School, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, Lynnfield High School, Saint Mary's High School, Saugus High School, or Swampscott High School should see their guidance counselors for an application.
"It was a real delight to meet these incredible young women and to wish them well as they begin their college careers," Burns said. "There is no doubt in my mind that they will both make a significant difference in the world through both their professional and volunteer endeavors."
Caption: Those attending the "virtual" presentation from left to right, top row, Michelle Hughes and Dan Collier from GLSS' Planning Department and Jennifer Cartagena; bottom row, Kathryn Burns, GLSS' CEO, Valerie Parker Callahan, GLSS' Director of Planning & Development; and Lubbi Angel.