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Massachusetts Hall of Black Achievement

These awards honors and celebrates the culmination of an undergraduate career that exemplifies academic achievement, strong leadership skills, and good citizenship both on campus and within the community. The spirit of the student achiever award recognizes these students as the future. The selection process is at the discretion of the individual participating State Colleges. However, the Hall of Black Achievement Commission provides each college with sample materials and suggested selection criterion to assist with the process only. It is recommended that students selected by the participating College to receive this award be evaluated using the following criterion:

  • A member of the senior class and participant in Winter or Spring Commencement
  • Demonstrated academic achievement
  • Demonstrated participation and leadership in academic and/or co-curricular activities
  • Service to the College and the community-at-large, and
  • Potential for future achievement


2011 MCLA Student Achievers


In 2011 our own Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed joined our Student achievers in representing MCLA as the first recipient of the Sarah Lewis Award for her community education, service, and commitment to social justice.

Ashton Darrett

AshtonAshton Darrett is a Business Administration major from Brooklyn, New York. He is on the dean's list and has received a variety of academic excellence awards and scholarships. He was the Co-founder of Voices of Unity Choir and served as the Black Student Union President.  He is a Co-facilitator for Campus Conversations on Race and serves as an orientation leader, peer advisor, and volunteer in the Admissions Office. Ashton is currently an assistant in the President's Office and supports Judicial Affairs in the Associate Dean of Students Office. He has been an active member in MCLA's Dance Company and Nexxus Step team.

Xhirley Gonzalez

Xhirley Gonzales is from North Adams, MA and is an Athletic Training major with a minor in biology. She is in the Honors Program and has been on the Dean's List each semester. She has won academic achievement and excellence awards for athletic training and variety of scholarships, including one for Medical Technology. As a Member of the MCLA Cross-country team she won MVP two years in a row and memberships on the Academic Blue and Gold Team and the MASCAC Honor Roll. Xhirley is a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, the Biology Club, and the Multicultural Student Society. Xhirley finds time to volunteer for many causes across campus and within the local community.

Michael Obasohan

Michael Obasohan is an Arts Management major with a minor in Business at Massachusetts College of Liberal arts. He is the recipient of the Thomas Herman Scholarship for excellence in the performing arts. Michael has worked in Student Development for three years as an Orientation Leader and Peer Advisor. He is also the publisher of the "What's Happening", a weekly newsletter on campus. He is the captain of the Nexxus Step Squad and has been an active member of Dance Company for three years. He has choreographed two of his own pieces and the curator of two art shows at MCLA's Gallery 51. He is the Youth Step Outreach Coordinator for The Northern Berkshire Coalition and is a co-facilitator for (CCOR) Campus Conversations on Race.

Anita Parker

Anita Parker majors in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Professional Medicine. She was born in Tarma, Peru and now resides in Littleton MA. Anita has been President of the Biology Club for three years and co-founder of the BioBuddies Mentor Program. She has been on the Dean's List since the spring of 2009 and has received the ALANA Academic Awards of Excellence. She is a Student Ambassador and Tutor. She served as Vice-President for both the Multicultural Student Society and for Colleges Against Cancer. She has volunteered at the North Adams Regional Hospital and currently at the Sweet Brook Nursing Home. 

Shataya Pride

Shataya Pride is from Brooklyn, NY and is an English/Communication major with a concentration in professional writing. She has been on the Dean's List each semester.  A member of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society for First Year Students she has added memberships to the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and the Lambda Iota Tau National Honor Society for Literature of all Languages. Shataya has studied abroad at Edge Hill University in England and has been nominated for Who's Who Among Students in American Universities. She works at the MCLA Television Studio, is a Writing Associate, and serves as the Head Copy Editor for the College's newspaper. She is a Math Teaching Assistant, a Resident Assistant, and Tutor/Counselor for the College's Summer Individual Enrichment Program. 

Natasha Robinson

Natasha Robinson is an English/Communication Major with a Concentration in Corporate Communications and minors in Anthropology and Health Aging & Society. She is a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society (MASS Beta Chapter), the Lambda Iota Tau (International Literary Honor Society), and the American Anthropological Association. She received ALANA Academic Excellence Awards and has been on the Dean's list since 2008. She has presented at the Undergraduate Research Conference, participated in a summer program on Disability Studies in Guatemala, and this Fall studied abroad at the Danish Institute in Copenhagen. Natasha was Public Relations Chair, Vice President and, for two years, President of the Multicultural Student Society. She also is a tutor, peer advisor, and a volunteer in support of multicultural admissions.

Monique Symes

Monique Symes is a English major with a minor in Broadcast Media. She completed two internships one with the MCLA Admissions Office and the other with North Adams City Hall Veteran Services. She is a member of Lamda Iota Tao Literary Society. She serves as a writing tutor and the Senior Academic Tutor for the Individual Enrichment Program. For three years, she was an Editor for the Mosaic newsletter and co-hosted a College radio show called Relevant Radio. Monique has received several scholarships and leadership awards, including Executive Board member of the year for her accomplishments and community contributions as the Nexxus Step Team President.

Michelle Webb

Michelle Webb is an English/Communication major with a concentration in Broadcast Media and a minor in Business Administration. She is in the Honors Program and has been on the Dean's List every semester. She is a member of the Alpha Chi and Lambda Iota Tau honor societies and has received many academic achievement awards. She has served as Secretary of the Multicultural Student Society and Vice President for Christian Fellowship. She has served as a Resident Assistant and the Resident Advisory Board. She has done a significant amount of volunteer work and fundraising for community causes.

Some Past Achievers

Erica V. Allen is a Boston native who transferred to MCLA from UMASS Boston. She was on the Deans list, earned the ALANA Academic Achiever and Center for Service Scholar awards, and was inducted into the National Honor Societies for First Year Students, Juniors, and Seniors. She combined her Excellence in the classroom with leadership as the Vice President of the MCLA Dance Company, Peer Advisor, and a Co-Facilitator for our Campus Conversations on Race. She also volunteered in community outreach and after school programs.

Juana (Maria) Arias commuted to MCLA from Lee, MA and transferred from BCC. In addition to attending school full time, Maria also worked at a local service agency providing women life skills. She was on the Deans list, inducted into the National Honor Society, and received a number of ALANA Academic Achievement Awards. On campus she conducted an independent study project to identify the impact of economic, racial, and social factors for minority students attending college and represented MCLA, presentating at national and regional conferences. She participated in efforts to increase awareness of world hunger, supported homeless shelters in Berkshire County, and volunteered in local schools as a translator for non-English speaking parents.

Patrice Payne transferred to MCLA from UMass Amherst to major and pursue a degree in the performing arts. Academically, the Boston native made the Dean's list from 2004-2006, earned Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, and was awarded the College's Excellence Award. She was a role model both in and outside of the classroom. Patrice was an actress and member of the technical crew for a number of major theater productions held at the College. She was active with many co-curricular activities, including the Judicial Board, the African-American Studies Club, performed community service including collecting food for the Katrina Relief Fund and raised money for an event called BET Rap-It-Up. She received the ALANA Honorable Mention Award and was instrumental in earning the Club Excellence Award for the African Americans Studies Club.

Brandon D. Pender is a native of Queens, NY, who transferred to MCLA from East Carolina University. He received a degree in English/Communications with a concentration in film and broadcast media. He has a long list of achievements in academics, athletics, and co-curricular activities. He earned the Margaret Hart Scholarship and Mitchell West Scholarship in 2006, as well as an Excellence Award; participated in the NCAA Leadership Conference; was nominated for Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. He was president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and Vice President of the Multicultural Society. He served, as an officer in the African- American Studies Club, was a Peer Advisor, and a choreographer for the College's Dance Company. From 2005-2007, he was captain of the men's basketball team. He taught dance to children at the Northern Berkshire Creative Arts Center, where he served as an intern.