News: Featured Stories

Shane Heger and Zack Sullivan
October 30, 2015

UMass Boston Honors Two Ryan Award Winners: Juniors With Perfect GPAs


  • Boston
John W. Ryan Award Commemorates First Convocation, First Chancellor, and Academic Excellence

Each year, UMass Boston recognizes the student with the highest GPA at its fall convocation. This year, there was a tie: nursing major Shane Heger and information technology major Zack Sullivan both entered this academic year with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Both are the 2015 recipients of the John W. Ryan Award, named after UMass Boston's first chancellor.

Not only have Heger and Sullivan earned all A's all four semesters at the university, they are both involved in on- and off-campus communities.

Heger, a Hanover resident whose mother and uncle studied at UMass Boston, is part of the Student Nurses Association. He has also tutored his classmates in Physiological Chemistry. He volunteers at St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Hillside Humane Society, and Unconditional Love Pet Rescue, and has done clinical work at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and South Shore Hospital. A student in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, he is interested in emergency nursing and public health nursing, as well as continuing his studies after graduation.

“I am incredibly grateful to have won this award,” Heger said. “I couldn’t have done it without my family, friends, and professors who helped me achieve this honor and I look forward to my remaining time at UMass Boston.”

Sullivan works as an office assistant for the College of Management and volunteers as a Peer LEADer for the learning community Management LEAD. He also helps peers as a MASTer, or Mentor for Academic Success Techniques, and last summer, served as an academic peer advisor in the University Advising Center. He is the graphic design director of Enactus UMass Boston, a group which works on sustainable projects centered around a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible premise. He’d like to get into IT consulting after graduation, and may also work in higher education someday.

“I am so excited to try to strive for this success in the next four semesters of my experience here at the university,” Sullivan said. “I am so very thankful to everyone who has helped me get this far; notably my close friends with whom I share many of these positions, and my academic advisor Mara Sidman.”

“I congratulate both Shane and Zack on their academic achievements. Both here and outside UMass Boston, they are making us proud!” Chancellor J. Keith Motley said.