LYNN — Yoscairy Raymond is a shining star among her Salem State University peers.
The Lynn native and soon-to-be SSU graduate received the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s “29 Who Shine” award on May 3, during a ceremony at the State House with Gov. Charlie Baker. The commencement season awards program honors one student from each of the 29 community colleges, state universities, or University of Massachusetts campuses throughout the state.
The “29 Who Shine” recognizes outstanding students who show exceptional promise as future leaders in civic affairs, business, or professional activity and plan to remain in Massachusetts.
“It was so surreal to be there and really nice to see all these people from across the state that share the same passion to work for the community,” said Raymond. “We joked that we should all start an organization with all the brilliant minds in the room.”
Raymond said Baker gave a beautiful speech and encouraged each of the 29 honorees to continue their work.
“It inspired me because at one point I looked around like ‘why am I here?'” she said. “All these people have accomplished so many things. It really didn’t register until my family stopped me and reminded me of all the things that I have accomplished.”
The Lynn English alumna fell in love with social work after she got an internship with “We Rise,” a program created by Centerboard, a Lynn non-profit. She volunteered more than 520 hours to help bring sexual exploitation survivors together with key community allies to prevent and intervene against commercial sexual abuse and to promote the recovery of its victims.
Raymond’s community involvement did not stop there. She was a student advocate at Chelsea High School, held positions at Lynn Community Health Center, and is currently a youth director and voice worshipper at the Iglesia Peña De Horeb Es La Roca Church in Saugus.
The current Marblehead resident most recently accepted a full-time position with Centerboard as assistant program director for the non-profit’s Supported Teen Employment Program (STEP).
“I had some struggles growing up because a lot of the schools in Lynn didn’t offer support for low-income or only Spanish-speaking students,” Raymond said. “Most recently there was a situation where a female in STEP couldn’t afford her graduation fees and there’s no program in her school to help with that.”
Raymond said she grew attached after growing up in Lynn, which is why she decided to stick around and continue her work there. A job in social work allows her to help people in her community develop tools to be successful, she said.
A college student, a youth church director, a non-profit volunteer, a wife and the mother of a 5-year-old, Raymond said it was the support of SSU, Centerboard and her family that got her through it all. She will graduate on Saturday, May 18 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in psychology.
“Sometimes I get overwhelmed but knowing I have all this support gets me through every single day,” she said. “I’ve gotten like three cakes since I got the award, so it’s been a pretty great week so far.”