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First Annual Mary Herlihy Gearan Award

When international students arrive at HWS, almost all of them find a source of welcoming, interest and understanding of foreign culture in one outstanding woman. For many international students, one of the reasons they have arrived and go on to stay is because of that same extraordinary person: Mary Herlihy Gearan. In recognition of her involvement on campus, the International Student Association (ISA) created and awarded the first annual Mary Herlihy Gearan Award for Outstanding Contributions to the International Community.

“The award honors the longstanding commitment of Mrs. Mary Herlihy Gearan to the development and nourishing of the international community on campus,” the ISA said. “Mrs. Gearan has been an adamant advocate for international students and has actively participated in promoting policies beneficial to the recruitment and retention of students from abroad.”

“Mrs. Gearan has been a wonderful support for the international students; she has been extremely caring toward us,” said Prabi Basnet ’09 of Nepal. “She has intimately understood our problems and issues as being thousands of miles away from home. This award was essential to express our heartfelt appreciation for her support and love.”

“Since my first day here, Mrs. Gearan has opened the doors of her home and invited the international community for various receptions,” said Daniel Vallejo ’11 of Colombia, who was involved in the award’s creation. “Moreover, she has always been alert for any problems that we may face.”

“She has been a strong advocate for policy changes that will better prepare this campus to attract and retain international students,” added Felipe Estefan ’08 of Colombia. “She has also been crucial in connecting us with members of the Geneva community.”

Last week at the annual ISA dinner, the first Mary Herlihy Gearan Award was given to Chevy DeVaney ’95, the former International Student Advisor and Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs and a William Smith alumna.

“Chevy came to mind immediately as a person who embodies the qualities that we are hoping this award will always represent,” Estefan said. “Chevy is understanding of world cultures, and during her time at the Colleges, she always did all she could to ensure the well-being of international students.”

Gearan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Emmanuel College in Boston and a law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She has worked for two members of Congress: Congressman Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.) in his Mass. District Office and Congressman Joseph Moakley (D-Mass.) on Capitol Hill. She later served as Vice President at the Wexler Group, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C., created and headed by three women, working there until 1992.

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