Westfield State alumnus Travon Godette chosen as 29 Who Shine recipient

May 25, 2016

Westfield State alumnus Travon Godette chosen as 29 Who Shine recipient

WESTFIELD, Mass., May 25, 2016- Westfield State University alumnus Travon Godette ’16 of Orange, Mass. has been named the Westfield State recipient of the 29 Who Shine award by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. These awards honor 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university, and UMass campus in the state, for their academic achievement and community service.

The students were honored earlier this month at a State House ceremony attended by Governor Baker, state education officials, campus presidents, faculty, and students.

Godette, who graduated on Saturday, majored in English and was a member of both the Sigma Tau Delta and the Kappa Delta Pi honor societies. He served as a Training Active Bystanders (TAB) Delegate and an editor of Persona, the university’s literary magazine. He also served as chair of the Cross-Cultural Symposium and as a workshop assistant for Race in the English Classroom.

In the fall, Godette was honored with a President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. His community service efforts include volunteering at the Westfield Boys and Girls Club 5K, Half Marathon, and Road Race and at the Special Olympics Football Assessment in Westfield.

“Leadership is all about setting an example for others to follow, but a leader doesn't have to be perfect or the best at what they do,” Godette said. “A good leader just needs to be human and acknowledge that everyone else is human too. This world is in constant need of more leaders-whether they be found in a classroom or in a governing body, and I am more than honored that I am considered a leader by the other members in my community.”

Godette chose Dr. Sophia Sarigianides, associate professor of English, as his faculty mentor to accompany him to the State House.

“What distinguishes Travon from other great students is not only his discipline and dedicated ambition, but his integrity that requires him to mean everything he does,” Sarigianides said. “This has led Travon to some important decisions including switching his focus within his English major, and facing those decisions has made all the difference to him in achieving his academic and personal goals. On top of his academic performance, Travon is beloved by professors and peers alike.”

Godette’s athletic achievements cannot go unnoticed. A four-year member of the Westfield State University track and field team which he served as captain, Godette won the 2015 NCAA Division III national championship in the javelin.  The first male student-athlete to win an NCAA title at Westfield State, his notable accomplishments include setting school records in the javelin and high jump. He is a three-time qualifier for the NCAA championships (twice in javelin, once in high jump) and has won six Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference titles (four in high jump, two in javelin) in indoor and outdoor track and field. He was named one of three male Scholar-Athletes of the Year by the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2015.

“Travon has been an extremely hard worker during his career at Westfield State,” said Dick Lenfest, director of Athletics. “You can see the effort that he puts in both in his performance on the field, which has made him a national champion, and he puts the same effort into being both a team leader and a strong student as well.”

Godette will be attending McNeese State University in Louisiana in the fall to pursue an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in literature. He will also serve as an assistant coach for the track and field program. Godette said his experience at Westfield State helped contribute to the type of educator he hopes to become.

“The illustrious students and faculty members that make up the English department at Westfield State University have become a family for me here on campus,” Godette said. “I believe that whatever future successes I come across as a future teacher, writer, and coach, is due to the strong sense of community I felt during the entirety of my undergraduate studies.”

Each of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses selected its own honoree for the 29 Who Shine awards based on criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Students were required to be residents of Massachusetts who had a strong academic record and a history of civic engagement. Please visit http://www.mass.edu/29whoshine/home.asp for more information.