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Department of Higher Education Names Suhaily Penix as One of 29 Who Shine

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Suhaily Penix, a biotechnology student at MassBay Community College, has been selected as one of the “29 Who Shine,” a group of exceptional students from Massachusett’s public colleges and universities who have demonstrated excellence in academic achievement.

WELLESLEY HILLS (April 29, 2015) — Suhaily Penix, a biotechnology student at MassBay Community College, has been selected as one of the “29 Who Shine”, a group of exceptional students from Massachusetts’ public colleges and universities who have demonstrated excellence in academic achievement. She will be honored by Governor Charlie Baker and the Commissioner of Higher Education Richard M. Freeland at a ceremony with the other honorees at the State House on May 14.

“I want to congratulate Suhaily Penix and all 29 of the outstanding Class of 2015 graduates for the recognition they have received and thank them for their substantial contributions to their local communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Each of the ‘29 Who Shine’ honorees, in addition to being an accomplished student, is civically engaged in ways that improve the quality of life in Massachusetts.”

Penix’s academic excellence is far-reaching. In March, she received Honorable Mention from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, the awarding body for the highest and most prestigious undergraduate prize in science, engineering, and mathematics. She was the only student nationwide from a community college to receive such an honor.

She is currently a finalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship, a highly competitive scholarship for the nation’s top community college students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees at four-year colleges or universities. If named a Jack Kent Cooke scholar, she would receive up to $40,000 per year for up to three years, making it the largest private scholarship for community college transfer students in the country.

This spring, Penix will be the first graduate at MassBay Community College to earn an associate’s degree in three areas: biotechnology, marine biology, and forensics DNA science.

Suhaily plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree, and eventually her Ph.D., at one of the area’s top four-year institutions. She has been accepted into the Davis Scholars Program at Wellesley College and the University of Massachusetts Boston. As part of her continuing research, she plans to study gene regulation in response to membrane receptor-mediated extracellular signaling, while teaching and mentoring undergraduate students in the Boston area.

“I have a goal to earn my Ph.D. in molecular biology,” said Penix, 35, who lives with her husband and three daughters in Hyde Park. “I know I have the power and ability to achieve that because of the education and support I’ve received at MassBay.”

As part of the award, Penix named Professor Bruce A. Jackson, chair of the biotechnology and forensic DNA science department at MassBay, as her mentor. In naming him as a faculty mentor, she credited Dr. Jackson with “challenging myself in way I never thought possible.” Dr. Jackson will also be honored with other mentors at special lunch at the State House on May 14.

“Each one of our 29 honorees is from Massachusetts and planning to remain in Massachusetts,” noted Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “Through their dedicated scholarship and deep engagement in their local communities, these students are making good on the taxpayers’ investment in their education.”

MassBay Community College is a comprehensive, open-access college dedicated to student learning and achievement through academically rigorous courses and programs. MassBay awards associate degrees and certificates in more than 70 academic programs in the liberal arts and in career-driven fields, such as business, health sciences, and automotive technology. On the college’s three campuses in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland, as well as online, MassBay offers day, evening, and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career-minded life-long learners.

More information about MassBay and the upcoming academic semesters can be found at, or by calling (781) 239-2411.