15 Students Receive Scholarships for Outstanding Community Work

Marian L. Heard Scholarship Program provides students with $10,000 scholarship and e-coach mentor for college success

BOSTON – United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley officially welcomed 15 new students to the 2015 class of Marian L. Heard Scholars at a luncheon today at the Omni Parker House in Boston.  These students, who come from Boston, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, and Quincy, were selected as Scholars and honored for being not only excellent academic students, but outstanding community leaders.

“These students are all smart, compassionate, hardworking individuals who have been actively engaged in their communities,” said Michael Durkin, President and CEO United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Today we are proud to recognize their great work so far, and celebrate their great potential for the future.”

Each scholar who qualifies financially will receive up to $10,000 over the four years they attend college, as well as their own “e-coach” – a United Way volunteer who will regularly meet with, email, and provide their scholar with advice and support throughout their college journey.

This year, 11 students will receive full Marian L. Heard scholarships, while 4 will receive e-coaching and support only (these students received other scholarships or financial aid and did not meet the requirement for financial support). The 15 new students join a group of 57 total Scholars over the last 4 years. Next year will mark the first graduating class of MLH Scholars.

MLH 2015 Nehemie and Greg

Nehemie and his e-coach, MLH co-chair Greg Moore

Nehemie Alcindor, of Lawrence, became a MLH Scholar in 2012 and just finished his junior year at Suffolk University. At the luncheon, he addressed the crowd of scholars, e-coaches, and donors. “My e-coach Greg has been by my side since freshman year. We talk about everything from good food, to fantasy football, to how to leverage LinkedIn,” he said.  “Thank you to Greg, United Way, and Marian Heard for all you’ve done, for me and for all of the MLH Scholars.”

The e-coach mentoring is a unique aspect of the program which aims to position students for college success academically as well as financially. The relationship has proven to be a valuable asset for the students, providing trusted advice on college issues ranging from navigating housing concerns to course selection and internships. This year, 50 United Way volunteers are participating in the program as e-coaches.

MLH Committee co-chairs Greg Moore (Nehemie’s e-coach) and Paige DeGregorio have helped shape and grow the scholarship program, both leading the MLH selection committee and coaching students themselves.

“Every year I am so inspired by these students and their stories of all they have accomplished,” said DeGregorio. “It’s an honor to be able to give them this opportunity, not only with a check, but to work with them and see them grow over 4 years.”

Scholarship awardees are chosen by a group of United Way donor volunteers from companies like Bain Capital, Deloitte, and Brown Brothers Harriman, who judge based on the following criteria:

  • Must be from low-income families
  • Must intend to pursue a two-year or four-year post-secondary degree
  • Must have held leadership positions in a United Way-funded youth-serving organization for at least two years.

The Marian L. Heard Scholarship was created as a legacy in honor of Marian L. Heard’s service as president and chief executive officer of United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

The 2015 MLH Scholars are:


Isahiah Erilus, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Sociedad Latina

Kamay Gordon, Emory University, Health Resources in Action

Gavin Hui, Boston University, CPA

Chi Kwok, University of Southern California, West End House Boys & Girls Club

Kenny Le, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston Asian Youth Essential Service

Wengzheng Liang, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston Asian Youth Essential Service

Liz Torres, Simmons College, Ellis Memorial

Roger Xie, Boston University, West End House Boys & Girls Club


Clarice Rwakabuba, Bridgewater State University, Community Teamwork, Inc.


Kearvyn Arne, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Lynn Youth Council

Crisbelly Medina, Clark University, La Vida Inc.

IB Polanco Perez, Providence College, La Vida Inc.

Vanessa Vu, College of the Holy Cross, Raw Artworks


Keven Jacques, Bunker Hill Community College, Malden YMCA


Mandy Chen, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston Asian Youth Essential Service