Len and Cherylann Gengel, Founders of Be Like Brit, to Address Class of 2013 Len and Cherylann Gengel, founders of the Be Like Brit Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in memory of their daughter Britney, who died in the 2010 Haitian earthquake, will address MCC’s Class of 2013. Commencement exercises will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 23, in Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Britney Gengel, a 19-year-old from Rutland, Mass., traveled to Haiti with students from Florida’s Lynn University on a “journey of hope” to work with Haitian orphans. Arriving just one day before the earthquake struck, Britney sent a text message home that read, “They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and they work so hard to get nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to move here and start an orphanage myself.” Shortly after the devastating earthquake took Britney’s life, the Gengels established the Be Like Brit Foundation in her honor. The organization’s mission is to serve the children of Haiti by establishing a safe and nurturing orphanage. In 2010, the foundation broke ground on a sustainable, earthquakeproof orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. It is currently home to 33 boys and 33 girls. i For more information about the Be Like Brit Foundation, visit http://belikebrit.org/ Alumni Award Winner... continued from page 11 teaching classes to the girls. “I taught Swahili and African customs in one class, and exposed the kids to people with disabilities through a partnership with Easter Seals in another,” she said. In the meantime, her mother, Susan, a teacher in Hudson, N.H., where her family lives, was encouraging Adams to take more education courses. “At first, I said ‘No way.’ But thanks to teaching at Girls Inc., I soon knew it was what I wanted to do,” she said. At MCC, Adams participated in a two-week International Fellowship Program to Ireland. She also received the 2007 Engaged Scholar Award, in recognition of her dedication to Service-Learning in the community. Adams loved Middlesex, but knew she needed to move on to complete her education. In 2007, after earning her associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, she transferred to New Hampshire’s Keene State University. There, she worked as a resident assistant in the dorms and became a “passionate feminist.” She majored in education and feminist anthropology, and graduated magna cum laude with dual degrees in 2010. That fall, Girls Inc. hired her. Adams is well suited for the job, said the organization’s executive director Carol Duncan. “Kate’s position may be the most demanding in our facility,” said Duncan. “She directly supervises part-time staff, oversees and maintains innovative, meaningful programs, interviews and schedules more than 40 volunteers a year, and interacts with our girls and their families. She’s dedicated, enthusiastic and a positive representative of Girls Inc. on-site and in the community.” Adams feeds her ardent feminism by serving on the Lowell Women’s Week Planning Committee. As an MCC ServiceLearning Program success story, she is now a member of the Service-Learning Advisory Board. And, coming full circle, she also supervises Middlesex students who participate in Service-Learning at Girls Inc. Adams loves what she does, but, given her passion to empower women, she might also enjoy working as a women’s studies professor someday. “I haven’t even started my master’s degree yet, but I love reading feminist studies just for fun, so you never know,” she said. For now, though, she loves her work at Girls Inc. and thanks Middlesex for paving the way. “MCC was definitely like home to me,” said Adams. “If I could have stayed four years, I would have – I loved it that much. The professors are amazing and care so much about their students.” And, she added, “I am honored to receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award.” • Nancye Tuttle Profiles [ 12 ]