Photo of Michael Kushmerek with President Lapidus, Carissa Kushmerek, and Dawn Morton

Alumni Awards: Michael P. Kushmerek '08, '13

November 17, 2023
The recipient of the Alumni Leadership Award said Fitchburg State inspired a call to serve.
Photo of Michael Kushmerek with President Lapidus, Carissa Kushmerek, and Dawn Morton
Michael Kushmerek speaks at 2023 Alumni Awards
Michael P. Kushmerek '08, '13

Anticipating the speech he would give when accepting the Alumni Leadership Award this fall, State Rep. Michael P. Kushmerek retraced his earliest steps as a student at Fitchburg State. He found the classroom in the Conlon Fine Arts Building where he attended his first class, with Professor Robin Dinda. A high school dropout, he was afraid that he was an impostor as he sat in a college classroom.

But that feeling evaporated when Professor Dinda told his students that they would begin by throwing out their preconceived notions about what they were to study.

"Right there, in that moment, Fitchburg State gave me a home and gave me a family," Kushmerek said. "It's where all the best parts of my life have happened."

This included meeting Carissa (Scottfenton) Kushmerek '11, now a licensed social worker and program director at Aging Services of North Central Massachusetts. Together, they have a son, Gabriel Kushmerek.

Carissa Kushmerek introduced her husband and described the passion for service that has guided him to elected office. "Over the past 15 years, I've watched in awe as he's set out every goal he strived to achieve," she said.

Kushmerek began his tenure as State Representative for the 3rd Worcester District in January 2021. Prior to his role in the state legislature, he served as a Fitchburg City Councilor from 2014 – 2021, including five years as Council President from 2016 – 2021, during which time he became Fitchburg’s youngest ever Council President.

Fueled by a passion to provide the region’s residents with access to affordable higher education opportunities, Kushmerek has held positions in higher education administration and development at Northeastern University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Fitchburg State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in history. 

As a high school dropout, and the product of a home that battled substance abuse, mental health and homelessness, Kushmerek is passionate about dismantling financial and socioeconomic barriers to success and ensuring that everyone has an equitable opportunity to pursue their dreams and goals. 

As a State Representative, Kushmerek proudly serves as the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development and sits on the Public Service and Mental Health, Substance Use & Recovery Joint Committees. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, he has secured critical district funding for the Fitchburg State University Theater Block Renovations, the Historic Crocker Field Restoration, the Fitchburg Police Department Dispatch Center, the Fitchburg and Lunenburg Public Libraries and M.O.C., as well as funding for mental health and homelessness coordinators within the Fitchburg Police Department.