Embracing Excellence

Golden Bears Honored at the Alumni Awards

Western New England University’s mantra of “Once a Golden Bear, always a Golden Bear’’ encapsulates the loyalty woven among students and alumni of the University. It is this devotion to the University that inspires Vice President for Advancement Dean Hickey, who expressed how much this loyalty is felt within the first steps on campus. “There’s a sense of community. Faculty and staff are committed to providing students with the best possible experience, and our students feel it throughout their time here. I believe this culture leads to alumni feeling grateful for their time spent at WNE, which inspires them to give back to the University and to their community.”

This deep-seated devotion radiated brilliantly at the Alumni Awards held on Monday, June 10, at the University Commons. Three alumni were recognized for their unwavering commitment, integrity, generosity, and impact to the WNE community and beyond.

The Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award

This award recognizes the sustained and significant philanthropic service of a WNE graduate over their lifetime. The award is named in honor of Kevin S. Delbridge ’77/H’19, whose extraordinary support over 35+ years has significantly impacted the WNE student experience, including transforming the delivery of career services and providing scholarships to hundreds of students from Springfield and surrounding communities.

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Recipient John Brennan ’71 is a dedicated WNE alumnus, and since graduating, has developed a successful career advancing into positions of leadership with multiple engineering firms. Brennan has served as a trustee for the University since 2012 and was vice chair of the Board. In addition, he was inducted into WNE’s Engineering Hall of Fame in 2004, founded the Brennan Family Endowed Scholarship for College of Engineering students alongside his wife in 2007, and was honored as the 2016 Alumnus of the Year for his dedication and generosity to his alma mater. In his 30 years of giving, Brennan has graciously donated over $1 million dollars to WNE. His philanthropic endeavors exemplify his dedication to giving back and affecting positive change in others’ lives, epitomizing the core of the Delbridge Family Spirit of Philanthropy Award.

The Michael A. Serafino ’77 Alumnus of the Year Award

For more than 50 years, the Michael A. Serafino ’77 Alumnus of the Year Award has recognized an alumnus who displays an extraordinary commitment to professional achievement, civic responsibility, and high personal standards. In 2022, the award was renamed in tribute to, and in fond remembrance of, Michael (Mike) A. Serafino ’77, who passed away in November of 2021. The award celebrates Serafino’s legacy and the impact that dedicated Golden Bears like him continue to make on campus and the community.

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This year’s recipient, Leonard “Len” McCue III L’82 is a prominent personal injury attorney and esteemed graduate of the WNE University School of Law. Co-owner of multiple law firms in Florida, McCue’s legal advocacy and expertise has positively impacted countless lives. Beyond his legal pursuits, he has supported his alma mater’s visions through various generous gifts, including the Leonard and Barbara McCue Scholarship. McCue’s altruistic spirit extends further as a member of numerous bar associations, demonstrating his unwavering dedication to giving back and making a difference. His remarkable contributions reflect the essence of the Michael A. Serafino ’77 Alumnus of the Year Award.

Outstanding Young Alumni Achievement Award

This award honors a young alumnus that has graduated within the last ten years and has demonstrated a commitment to WNE and its mission in conjunction with contribution and service to society, or through accomplishment and leadership in their profession.

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Payton North ’17/G’20 is a distinguished alumna of WNE, where she graduated with high honors for both her undergraduate and master’s degrees. Rising from a reporter to executive editor at Reminder Publishing in East Longmeadow, Mass., with nearly a half-million readers, she exemplifies excellence and leadership in her field. She has garnered many accolades such as the 2023 Editor & Publisher’s 25 under 35 recognition, a 2021 Association of Community Publishers Award, and was most recently recognized in BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2024. Beyond her professional achievements, North’s commitment to volunteer service, student mentorship, and advocacy for our community embodies the spirit of the Outstanding Young Alumna of the Year Award.

Learn more about our honorees, the event, and view photos at