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The Class of 2019

Western Mass. Regional Manager, Training Resources of America Inc.; Age 30
Education: Bay Path University (BS)

Jynai McDonald

Jynai McDonald

How do you define success? Success is not always this blanketed, isolated event of one super-amazing happening. Instead, it can be incremental. I encourage anyone struggling with the idea of success to keep it simple. Set compact, realistic goals, and execute them. You will then be able to celebrate so much success throughout your life, and pessimism will be more avertable.

What three words best describe you? Unapologetic, persistent, inspiring.

What are you passionate about? Advocacy in all forms has been a staple of my personality since my teenage years. Throughout my life, I have been a sounding board and strategist against injustice — not just for myself, but for friends, family, and others in the community. I intend to make advocacy a part of my life’s work.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My grandmothers are my best mentors. They are on different sides of my family, with totally different perspectives and different personality types, and show their love for me in completely different ways. As the matriarchs of their families, they are my confidants, financial advisors, and career coaches.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? My first goal of the day is waking up for Fajr prayer. The discipline of my day starts with my ability to roll out of bed and beat the sun rising. My morning du’a consist of asking Allah to allow me to successfully complete all the tasks that are put before me.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? I really identify with Issa Rae from Insecure. Her character is an awesome narrative of a black Millennial woman balancing work, romance, and recreation. We are both awkward girls at heart, and, like her, I thrive on obstacles and push harder when I’m told something can’t be done.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “She’s nice, sometimes.”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Director of Community Relations, Sunshine Village; Age 38
Education: UMass Amherst (BA); Northeastern University (MS)

Amie Miarecki

Amie Miarecki

What are you passionate about? I am most passionate about having a positive impact on my community — and my world — by advocating for positive change and being the change I want to see. In order to be the best version of myself, lifelong learning is critical in all aspects of my life. I am naturally curious, and I want to get the best information available before making a decision or forming an opinion. This means talking with people and reading multiple sources to understand the other side of the story.

What three words best describe you? Dynamic, driven, dedicated.

Whom do you look up to, and why? Both of my parents exemplify what it means to be a loyal, hardworking employee and an unconditionally loving, supportive parent. They gave me the road map to balancing work and family. I am eternally grateful to both for their excellent example and strive to be the same role model for my daughter.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? I’ve always enjoyed the sunny disposition, contagious optimism, quick wit, and intense determination of Anne of Green Gables.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? She had a great sense of humor.

How do you define success? I think it is different at each stage of life as perspectives change. For me right now, success is the feeling of happiness when I remember I have the things that I always dreamed of — my husband, my daughter, a fulfilling career, and a full life. Later in my life, that may change as my goals change. No matter what, I will measure success by how peacefully I can rest my head at night knowing I tried my hardest and did what I thought was right.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Business Account Executive, Comcast Business; Age 37
Education: Smith College (BA)

Amelia Mosley

Amelia Mosley

How do you define success? What do Apple, Google, Amazon, Harley-Davidson, and Disney have in common? They all began with a big idea in someone’s little garage or home. Start with one push-up, one cup of water, paying down one debt, making one sale, walking one lap, writing one paragraph. Start today. Repeat tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to fail, recover, and persevere. Success follows persistence.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? The way I define success stems directly from my parents, whom I deeply admire and who are my most respected mentors. Throughout my life, they have led by example in parenting, their marriage, careers, and civic responsibilities despite whatever adversities came their way. My mother is a third-generation college graduate in a family of women who valued education during a time when racial segregation and gender inequality prevented most African-American women from equal access to learning. Though he never even had a lesson in geometry prior to college, my father used his self-taught knowledge to earn a BA in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and later a Fulbright scholarship to Oxford University in England. They were both civil-rights activists who began traveling the world at young ages. Their inspiring lives have shaped my interests, passions, and access to everything the world has to offer.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Before today, I never really considered what my colleagues would say about me at my funeral. So I asked two colleagues — Phil, who is also a professional comedian, and Malik, who is more like a would-be comedian (in the best sense of that moniker). Here’s what one said: “Amelia was hardworking and inspirational. She possessed a combination of qualities that made her a great salesperson and made everyone feel like a friend. Amelia was innovative, always willing to learn better ways and share new ideas. Her high-energy, bright disposition and warm smile always filled a room, and people took notice.” The other? “Now that’s she’s gone, the rest of us can finally make money!” The tearjerker came from the professional comedian.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? If I could just have lunch with Beyoncé, I’m certain that would be the beginning of a lifelong friendship!

 

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Assistant Executive Officer, Massachusetts State Universities Council of Presidents; School Committee Member, Ludlow Public Schools; President Emeritus, Massachusetts Assoc. of School Committees; Regional Director, National School Boards Assoc.; Age 32
Education: Framingham State University (BA)

Jake Oliveira

Jake Oliveira

What did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut — until I realized I was scared of heights and tight spaces. For most of middle school and high school, I wanted to be an architect. I still have an appreciation for architecture, but physics class made me reassess that dream.

How do you define success? Feeling fulfilled at the end of the day.

What three words best describe you? Passionate, articulate, outgoing.

What are you passionate about? Public education and lifelong learning, as well as voting rights and civic engagement.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To find enjoyment, even from the little things in life — a sunset, a conversation, a smile.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? FDR. He was described as being so charismatic and engaging. Plus, he’s one of the presidents I admire most.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Apparently, some of my friends see a resemblance.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “He was one of a kind.”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

President and Co-owner, Adams & Ruxton Construction Co.; Age 39
Education: Springfield Technical Community College (AS),
Elms College (BS, MS, MBA)

Dorothy Ostrowski

Dorothy Ostrowski

What did you want to be when you grew up? I originally thought I wanted to be a police officer. But you only live once, so I figured I’d try being a military police officer, then a nurse, and now I own a construction company … who would’ve thought? I guess anything is possible if you put your mind to it and what you do truly makes you happy. Never settle, never have regrets.

How do you define success? Success is a smile on the faces of my husband and children.

What three words best describe you? Energetic, compassionate, loyal.

What are you passionate about? My family. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Especially my husband, who encourages me and stands behind me 110%.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Dorothy Jacques. She is an amazing mother to her three boys, a smart and compassionate nurse to her patients, and her will to overcome adversity and challenges is a force to be reckoned with. She may be a southern belle, but she taught me a lot above life and love.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Wonder Woman, because sometimes it feels like I should have super powers. Wife, mom, president, co-owner, Little League team mom, daughter, veteran … that should cover it!

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Lynda Carter.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To be the best person I can be, to keep my side of the street clean, and to be a good example for my kids. And to kiss my family good morning and kiss them good night every day.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “She never missed an opportunity to know more or do more. She worked hard and never gave up. She supported us and encouraged us to always keep learning. She was determined to succeed.”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Attorney, Law Office of Leah M. Phillips; Age 36
Education: Westfield State College (BA),
Western New England College School of Law (JD)

How do you define success? My definition of success is knowing that my work and involvement helps others. Assisting a client with legal issues, working with a child or family on one of the youth sports teams, or participating in other community volunteer activities all give me purpose.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I most look up to my husband, Clint. Since the day I met him, I have admired his willingness to help others. As a police officer, EMT, volunteer firefighter, husband, parent, and friend, he is that person you can call at any hour, and he will drop everything to help. I think about all those times he has left for an ambulance or fire call in the middle of the night, sacrificing much or all of his sleep, or when he missed Thanksgiving dinner because he was cutting up a fallen tree for a neighbor who otherwise couldn’t get to their own dinner. This selflessness is what I most admire and love about him. I am truly grateful that our boys have him as a role model.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? It would be incredible to have lunch with my Oma again. She was an amazing woman and made a mean tuna-fish sandwich. Oma was a successful business woman in a man’s world. But family always came first. She raised five kids and still found time for fun. She was that person I would call when I needed some guidance. She had a way of giving advice without really giving you any advice. She would lead the conversation in a way that, in the end, I always knew what to do, but came to the conclusion on my own. Her strength was admirable. Oma had a way of keeping it together during the hardest of times. Even as the cancer took her, she remained the rock I have always known. I remember her telling me in the very end, “I have lived a long, happy life. I have done everything I wanted to do. I have no regrets.” I am trying to live my life so that, when the time comes, I can feel the same way.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Executive Director, DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services; Age 38
Education: Greenfield Community College (AA, AS)

Phillip Ringwood

Phillip Ringwood

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about helping young people have a chance to identify and work toward their own dreams. That passion is made manifest in my work with DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services over the last 20 years.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Remember to breathe and try to stay positive. I try to make sure to work in time for at least a minute or more of standing meditation.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I would like to have lunch with world traveler, philanthropist, and motivational speaker Leon Logothetis. Leon has traveled the world twice without spending money, relying solely on the kindness of others for gas, food, lodging, and other needs. He then made meaningful gifts to people along the way as he was moved by their stories and kindness. He documented this in a documentary series called The Kindness Diaries. I think his stories and perspective would be very motivational.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My most influential early mentor was my sixth-grade teacher. His words on the first day of class were something along the lines of, “you can do anything you want in my class, as long as you are ready to face the consequences.” Those words — and his encouragement of creativity and individuality balanced with accountability — have served me well over the years.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

State Representative, First Hampshire District; Age 38
Education: Wellesley College (AB), University of Edinburgh (MSc)

Lindsay Sabadosa

Lindsay Sabadosa

How do you define success? Success is not settling into complacency but constantly striving to do better, try new things, and keep learning. We are all works in progress, but recognizing the need for evolution and leaning into the new and the uncomfortable keep life interesting and fresh.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I look up to the women who have spent their entire lives as activists and organizers and who have kept their finger on the pulse of social-justice movements, evolving as the movement evolves and welcoming in people of all ages. People like Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Dolores Huerta, who understand the importance of intersectional, intergenerational organizing as the sole way to fight against social and economic inequities.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To balance the need for patience with the need to be demanding, to balance diplomacy with passion and drive, and to give my all to my work while still making time for family and friends. Also, every day, I make a commitment to get enough sleep, drink enough water, and exercise, so that I have some semblance of internal balance.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I would like to have lunch with my grandparents, who passed away when I was 11. My grandfather was the first person who told me to run for office, so I would love to hear what he thinks now that I am elected. They were both more conservative, so it would be an interesting conversation because we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. I wonder if they would still be conservative in our current political climate and where (and if) we would find common ground.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? The answer to this question has changed at different times in my life, but the fictional character I would most like to emulate is Miss Rumphius, the titular character in a children’s book who decides to do three things in life: travel the world, live by the sea, and make the world a more beautiful place. This was one of my favorite books to read to my daughter when she was little because it emphasized the components of a life well-lived: learning, feeding the soul, and serving others.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Innovation & Design Thinking Manager, MassMutual; Age 25
Education: College of the Holy Cross (BS), Bay Path University (MS)

Payton Shubrick

Payton Shubrick

How do you define success? Success is living a life of intentionality — one that allows you to smile unwillingly with excitement because of what you do, understand that hard times are a necessary evil to get to good times, and live a life that you and the ones you love are proud of.

What three words best describe you? Innovative, tenacious, visionary.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about challenging the status quo. It is not easy, nor is it ever comfortable, but one fearless choice at a time, one brave decision at a time, one courageous action at a time, you can change the world. In the end, some of life’s best moments are on the other side of fear.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I have always looked up to my grandfather, Hercules Shubrick. As a young man, he grew up in the racially torn South, yet, as I grew up, he continued to show me a world full of possibilities. He taught me my first lessons of sharing, caring, and strategic thinking. To me, he was a giant man with a big heart, though stern when necessary. He has been my best mentor because, despite his passing many years ago, I still use the many lessons he taught me daily.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Each day, I remind myself of the wise words of Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” As I remind myself of this each and every day, it allows me to stay in control of the things that I have control of. I can’t always change people, places, or things, but I can change how I perceive them.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Michelle Obama, without question. She was more than a first lady, but a model for grace and excellence for every African-American woman who has had to hold her head high when publicly disrespected. She so artfully reminded us that fear, anger, and vengeance are not proper motivators for life because, “when they go low, we go high.”

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “She was gentle pressure, relentlessly applied.”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Founder and Executive Director, Springfield Prep Charter School; Age 37
Education: Bates College (BA), Pace University (MS), Brooklyn Law School (JD)

Bill Spirer

Bill Spirer

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about ending educational inequity and closing opportunity and achievement gaps for Springfield students. All children should have access to great public schools, and this shouldn’t be dependent on whether a child grows up in an affluent city or town. I refuse to believe that, in the richest country on earth, we cannot figure out how to give all students, including our highest-needs students, an excellent education. This is the work that has motivated me since my first job out of college, when I was a public high-school teacher, and giving all kids the education they deserve is the mission our team is committed to at Springfield Prep.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’m lucky to have had a number of mentors I’ve learned from, not just one. As a teacher, I had a colleague, Suzette, who showed me that excellent teaching is about attention to the smallest details and about building strong relationships with students. I was fortunate enough to share a classroom with her, and my teaching improved drastically. This experience of collaboration and learning was so positive that it informed the two-teacher-per-classroom model we use at Springfield Prep. Having two teachers in every classroom helps meet students’ needs and simultaneously creates natural opportunities for mentoring and collaboration. I also worked with a principal, Elana, who taught me about the importance of having a clear, unwavering vision for excellence, and about the tenacity it requires to build a school (or any company or organization) from the ground up. The influences of Suzette and Elana are built into Springfield Prep, and I’m very grateful to them.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I’m glad I won’t be around to hear it! But seriously, I think they’d say I’m driven, direct and candid, and pretty intense when I’m focused on my work or believe strongly about an issue. I think they would also say I am incredibly dedicated to our students and families and will go to bat for them and our school. I’d want them to say that I’m funny, but I think that’s mostly wishful thinking.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography