Neal Hansen, of Haverhill, Mass. has been named as Salem State University’s 2021 recipient of Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s 29 Who Shine Award. Each year, these awards are given to one student from each of the Commonwealth’s 29 public campuses. Students in the Class of 2021 are being recognized for their resilience in the face of pandemic-related challenges and their willingness to pitch in and support COVID-19 relief efforts.
Hansen was honored in a May 13 ceremony with higher education leaders; students, faculty and staff; and Governor Charlie Baker at the 10th Annual “29 Who Shine” Ceremony, which was presented virtually and is available at this link.
“Ten years from now, the letter grades of the ‘29 Who Shine’ won’t matter. What we will remember is their commitment to their communities in a time of crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our public colleges and universities educate homegrown Massachusetts natives – people who are here to learn, and here to stay. They have shown how much they care about where they come from, how much they care about us, and how much they will contribute to the civic and economic future of our Commonwealth.”
Hansen, a Navy submarine veteran, assisted in implementing a COVID-19 quarantine process for sailors deploying to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. He volunteered as an accounting tutor on campus during the pandemic-related shutdown. He also participated in a federal work-study program at the Lowell Vet Center to help Massachusetts veterans obtain individual and group therapy for combat-related PTSD and sexual trauma experienced during military service.
Hansen is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and graduates this month, having completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. He will begin Salem State’s Master of Science in Accounting program this summer.
Each 29 Who Shine recipient named a faculty or staff mentor to introduce them during the virtual awards ceremony. Hansen chose to be introduced by Accounting and Finance Professor Lisa Chen, and shared: “Professor Chen is more than an educator. She’s a mentor to all students that she interacts with. If there is an additional opportunity for a student to further themselves, it is guaranteed that Professor Chen will encourage them. Professor Chen represents hard work, inclusion of all students and intrinsic motivation.”
In the virtual ceremony, Chen reflected on Hansen’s accomplishments and willingness to help others. “He’s a great mentor and a tutor for his fellow accounting students,” she said. “Neal is also a nine-year Navy submarine veteran. He has been helping his fellow veterans during COVID-19. Congratulations, Neal.”
After completing the Master of Science and Accounting program that he is set to begin at Salem State this summer, Hansen hopes to be hired by an accounting firm and deliver high quality products and services to communities North of Boston.