Maryellen Rooney Moreau '68 is one alumna who has turned her undergraduate thesis into a lifelong career.
Over 40 years ago, Moreau completed an honors thesis on language development in the department of communication arts and sciences, which is now known as communication disorders.
Her thesis prompted a continued interest in researching the link between oral language development and literacy, turning Moreau into an entrepreneur whose business has changed the way educators teach. In 1994 she began MindWing Concepts, Inc., a company that develops and patents teacher manuals and educational tools for language and literacy, including the patented Story Grammar Marker ©.
MindWing develops research-based products that aid students in building the oral language skills necessary to be competent in retelling stories, reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking. Located in Springfield, MA, only 25 miles from UMass Amherst, the local business has grown into a worldwide corporation. In classrooms across the globe, over a million children are using MindWing's visual, kinesthetic and tactile tools to assisting them with oral and written expression.
Even decades after graduating with honors, Moreau continues to conduct research, building on her undergraduate thesis. “I have just completed a new manual and game called the Autism Collection to show teachers and parents of children with autism how my tools and methodology relate to that disability,” she said.
Typically completed in their senior year, the comprehensive, research-intensive Capstone thesis or project of original scholarship gives Honors students a chance to delve more deeply into an academic subject of their interest. Students build on the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired by pursuing research, creating art, engaging the wider community in action efforts, or by working diligently on one of a variety of other academic projects. The Capstone is designed to provide all Commonwealth Honors College students with the opportunity to integrate their undergraduate experiences and prepare for their careers—professional or academic.
For Honors students like Moreau, the Capstone Experience can not only culminate an academic career but also commence a professional path.
Sheila M. Moreau, M.Ed. is vice president at MindWing Concepts. Her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology is from St. Anselm College and Master’s of Education degree from Cambridge College. Sheila has twenty years of experience in marketing and sales in the telecommunications, commercial real estate, fundraising and educational publishing industries. Sheila co-authored The Essential SGM® with Maryellen Moreau, drawing upon her experience in her graduate studies. Sheila was on the Early Literacy Advisory Board of Cherish Every Child (Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation),; she sits on the Board of Directors for the International VolleyBall Hall of Fame and serves as Co-Chair of Marketing and Sponsorship for the St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke, Inc.