Michael B. Shanahan Scholarship

Lt. Col. Michael B. Shanahan Scholarship presentation at UMass Lowell.

Awilda Pimentel Receives Scholarship Established in Honor of Lt. Col. Michael B. Shanahan at UMass Lowell

LOWELL, Mass. – A Lawrence woman with the same spirit of determination and devotion to law enforcement as the late Lt. Col. Michael B. Shanahan, a former state trooper who lived in Andover, is the recipient of a scholarship in his name.

Awilda Pimentel, who will be a senior at UMass Lowell this fall, is a criminal justice major known not only for her dedication to her education, but her commitment to her community and family. Pimentel juggles being a parent and student while leading efforts in her hometown including helping neighbors displaced by fires, organizing holiday meals for those in need and hosting benefits such as “Lawrence for Haiti,” which raised more than $6,000 in two hours for earthquake relief.

The Lt. Colonel Michael B. Shanahan Memorial Scholarship is the first at UMass Lowell specifically for criminal justice majors. It was established in 2008 by Shanahan’s wife, Diane, and children, Michael, an Andover police officer, and Christina. The scholarship fund reached the status of endowment in less than a year, placing it in perpetuity and creating a lasting tribute to her late husband. What is unique in this case is that the fund reached endowment status so quickly with the support of family, friends, numerous law enforcement agencies, and businesses.

The 2010 scholarship, the second award in the fund’s history, was presented to Pimentel at a reception held at UMass Lowell during the spring semester. Attendees included Chancellor Marty Meehan,  faculty, students and alumni of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, members of the Shanahan family, as well as friends and former colleagues from the Massachusetts State Police, including keynote speaker Superintendent Marian McGovern, and other members of local law enforcement.

Pimentel said the news she would receive the scholarship “brought her to tears.”

“I am so honored and humbled to receive this award. Lt. Colonel Michael B. Shanahan was a hero, a true legend. I can only dream to be like him. I will always do my best to continue [the legacy] of your honorable husband,” Pimentel told Diane Shanahan after the honor.

Lt. Colonel Michael B. Shanahan, a 1985 graduate of UMass Lowell, was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving two tours of duty in the Vietnam War and earning the rank of sergeant. He received numerous awards and was honorably discharged in 1970. In 1971, he joined the State Police and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring after 25 years of service. He joined the Bank of America as a senior corporate security investigator/manager in 1998.Shanahan, who fought a valiant battle with cancer, succumbed to the disease in 2006.

“I am so touched that Mike’s legacy will continue to motivate students in the field of criminal justice,” said Diane Shanahan, who worked with University Advancement to establish the scholarship. “The recipients we have chosen truly exemplify who Mike was: accomplished, dedicated and hardworking. Our family wishes them continued success.”

“Our faculty and students are extremely impressed with Diane Shanahan and her dedication to the memory of her husband and to our department,” said Eve Buzawa, chairwoman of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “Thanks to Diane’s commitment, our department now has not only the first scholarship, but its first endowed scholarship. We are deeply indebted to her for her generosity.”

Pimentel came to UMass Lowell after graduating magna cum laude with an associate’s degree from Northern Essex Community College and dreams of becoming an FBI agent. She earned a perfect score on the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Exam.

The 2009 recipient of the scholarship was Steve Parent of Leominster, the first in his family to earn a college degree, who is pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice.

“I am grateful to the university and especially to the Shanahan family,” Parent said. “As an independent student paying for my education, this help goes a long way.”

More than 300 graduate and nearly 800 undergraduate students are enrolled in the criminal justice degree programs at UMass Lowell. Established in 1974, it has continued to attract many of the best and brightest dedicated to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.

Shown in the photo, from left, are Prof. Eve Buzawa, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Christina Shanahan, daughter of the late Lt. Col. Shanahan; UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan; Awilda Pimentel; Diane Shanahan, wife of Lt. Col. Shanahan; Michael Shanahan, son of Lt. Col. Shanahan; and Col. Marian J. McGovern, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police.