Awardees include nationally recognized body language expert

Sept. 28, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. – The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Alumni Association held its Annual Alumni Award Ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22, when it recognized the achievements of past graduates of the College. Also at this meeting, Dan Summers ’07 was named as the new president and Dennis Ducharme ’82 was voted in as vice president of the MCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors.

This year’s recipients include Ama Bemma Adwetewa-Badu ’15, who received the Young Alumni Award; Cheryl Boillat ’79, M.Ed. ’97, who was honored with the Outstanding Service to the College Award; Jason Dalessio ’94, who was presented the Outstanding Educator Award; and W. David Halbert ’03, the recipient of the Alumni Humanitarian Award.

In addition, Janine Driver ’92 received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Hearing the stories of this year’s amazing slate of honorees personalizes and illustrates the profound impact that an MCLA education has on the lives of its alumni. I’m excited to work with the Alumni Association in a new capacity and engage further with our talented alumni to advance the work of the College,” Summers said.

Driver earned a degree in English/communications from MCLA, and went on to become a body language expert and the New York Times bestselling author of “You Say More Than You Think: A 7-Day Plan on Using the New Body Language to Get What You Want.” This book has been translated into 11 languages, and has received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly.

A body language contributor on NBC’s Today show, she has appeared on The Dr. OZ Show, The Rachael Ray Show, The Nancy Grace Show, CNN’s Headline News, ABC’s Good Morning America, and The Nate Berkus Show. Also the owner of Lyin’ Tamer Education LLC, Driver has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Psychology Today.

Driver’s previous work includes serving as a federal law enforcement officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) within the United States Department of Justice, where she trained more than 100,000 lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers in the ATF, FBI, CIA, Scotland Yard Police, Hong Kong Police, and state and local police how to read body language and detect deception. In 2008, after 16 years on the job, Janine retired from the ATF and opened the Body Language Institute, an elite certification program that offers award-winning advanced body language training, in Washington, DC.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood education from MCLA, Adwetewa-Badu received her master’s degree in English from Clark University in 2017. While at the College, she interned with the campus’s Individual Enrichment Program (IEP) and was named a 2015 Newman Civic Fellow in recognition of her commitment to the community and for demonstrating an investment in finding solutions for challenges that face communities across the country.

Now a second-year Ph.D student at Cornell University, Adwetewa-Badu’s research focuses on the intersection of politics and aesthetics as articulated through avant-garde poetics, 20th/21st century Anglophone poetry, and 20th/21st century Anglophone Black diasporic literature and culture, especially poetry.  She has presented papers at several conferences, including the African Literature Association Conferences and the Northeast Modern Language Association Conferences.

Boillat, who recently concluded her tenure as president of the MCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors, received her Bachelor of Science in education in 1979, her M.Ed. in 1997, and a certification in special education from the College. She first was elected to the Board in 2009, and has served as its president since 2015.  Under her leadership, the Board had consecutive years of 100 percent participation in giving, and stewarded the senior class spirit cords program, which acknowledged graduating seniors who made a gift to the Alumni Fund.

Bioillat taught for North Adams Public Schools for more than 25 years, with a focus on middle school and high school literacy. She moved into an administrative role as 8th grade leader in 2003, and in 2012 left the classroom to become a program coordinator of special education for the North Adams Public Schools. Currently, she is involved in the development of a teacher mentoring program, and serves as a mentor to new teachers.

Dalessio began his teaching career at Minnechaug Regional High School as an alternative learning program teacher, helping those who struggled in a traditional classroom. In his third year of teaching, Jason was approached by a group of students wanting to form the Lumberjack Club; a club dedicated to community service which he led for nearly a decade. In 2016, Dalessio founded a new club, called the “Above the Influence Club.” Also the club’s advisor, he worked with club members to raise awareness on subjects such as bullying, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and domestic violence.

For years, Dalessio has exhibited innovative leadership and dedication to youth in need, including one young man with autism whom he assisted as an undergraduate at the College, as he provides them with options to talk about their problems and address these difficulties in a safe environment.

Halbert graduated from MCLA with a bachelor’s degree in English/communications, and went on to earn a Master of Public Administration at Northeastern University in Boston. He also obtained two graduate certificates from Northeastern, one in public policy analysis and another in nonprofit sector, philanthropy and social change.

His work experience includes working as a scheduler in the office of former Gov. Deval Patrick, and a position with Trans Metro Media as an executive vice president of government and community affairs, working on legislative advocacy and transportation policy for the city. He went on to work at the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, where he served as the director of scheduling; he has since been promoted to deputy director of community affairs.

Halbert is a board member of the Charles River Rugby Club, the East Boston Main Streets, and he is the East Boston Piers Parks outreach chair. He also serves as the Affirmative Action and Outreach chair for the Boston Ward One Democratic Committee. He was made a member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education for two years after his graduation, and was a recipient of the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities award.

Summers received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, and has worked in higher education for more than a decade. He is the vice president of enrollment management at Southern Vermont College, and serves on multiple community boards. He currently serves as the president of the Consortium of Vermont Colleges, a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education and share best practices across Vermont. Summers was first elected to the MCLA Alumni Association Board in 2012.

Ducharme graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies, and went on attend Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. Following his graduation from that institution in 1985, he went on to work for 27 years as a lawyer in a civil litigation practice. He is the owner of Ducharme Resolutions, PLLC, in Manchester, N.H., which provides mediation, arbitration and litigation consulting services. In addition, Ducharme has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, in Concord, N.H.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.​

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