Undergraduate Commencement Student Speaker
Brandi Bass, the student speaker for the 2017 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, is receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in business administration.
Active & involved in campus life
Brandi has been deeply involved in campus life. She has served as a peer mentor for the Center for Access and Success and as an admissions ambassador, introducing prospective students to the benefits of a UMass Dartmouth education.
She is the president and founder of Helping Each other Rise Organization (H.E.R.O.), a student organization that focuses on self-advocacy, self-discovery, self-determination, and community service. She has also been a member of the student organization C.A.R.E., Creating Acceptance Through Relationships and Empowerment.
In the Student Government Association, Brandi has served as a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, and has also served as public relations officer for the Resident Student Association. She has contributed many hours of service to the student service organization Share Esperanza and to the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement.
Brandi is also a member of the International Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society.
As an admissions ambassador, Brandi focused on reminding prospective students that "going to college isn’t just about doing well and growing academically."
She stressed that "college is also a chance for you to grow socially and learn who you are, what you want to be, and what you want to do. It's a chance to step outside of your comfort zone and become either a different person or a better version of yourself."
She added: "I always reminded students that college is a time for them, and to enjoy every moment of it."
Of her work as an ambassador, Brandi said: "I really enjoyed working alongside my fellow colleagues, learning more about the school, and meeting different students and their families in the hope of positively influencing them to make the same choice I did."
She cited the inspiration of assistant undergraduate admissions director Tabitha Marsden, who oversees the ambassador program.
"She is an amazing leader, and she really homed in on each of our strengths as tour guides," Brandi said. "With her guidance and big heart, she treated us like family and made going to work and giving tours an enjoyable and memorable experience. I’ll never forget all that she’s done for me and for so many others."
For Brandi, some of the most memorable learning moments during her years as a UMass Dartmouth student were "working alongside faculty and staff like Monica Faria, Tabitha Marsden, Latoya Robertson, Jess Harris, Dr. Linda Kent Davis, Deirdre Healy, Dr. Milstone, Shelly Metivier Scott, Wayne Williams, Trina Kershaw, and Sarah Conklin."
"Each of these selfless people helped and have had a positive impact on me and on so many others," she said.
"Each of them bring something to UMass Dartmouth that makes it special, that makes it unique, and are part of the reason why students like myself don’t give up. Each of them taught me how important it is to get to know someone’s story, to learn more about what’s beneath the surface, and to understand that everyone has their own path. They are what makes UMass Dartmouth so great."
Creating H.E.R.O. to help others rise
Brandi founded and served as president of the student organization H.E.R.O., Helping Each other Rise Organization.
"I founded H.E.R.O. because of a traumatic event that happened to me during my freshman year of college," she explained. "While healing, I was fighting Lyme disease and depression and trying to find any way that I could to be 'saved' from what was tearing me apart.
"Being at UMass Dartmouth taught me that the only thing that can save me is myself, so I created H.E.R.O. to help others rise above what is holding them back or tearing them apart—while also teaching them the skills they need to be their own hero, become a better version of themselves, and give back to the community."
The process taught Brandi how to lead and how to encourage others to lead: "I learned how to speak up for those who can’t, how to advocate for those who can’t, and how to help others who need it most. I learned how to lead others, and how to teach others to become leaders.
"H.E.R.O wouldn’t be what it is today without my amazing team and members," she said. "Everything I did for H.E.R.O was for them, for their own journeys of personal self-development. As Albert Einstein once said: 'a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.' "
Next step: management training at Aetna
Brandi has been accepted to Aetna Inc.’s General Management Development Program, accelerating her career development.
"Through my three 18-month rotations, each in a different state, doing a different position, I'll be learning about Aetna’s core businesses, working with executives, and learning management skills to increase my strengths."
The program will position Brandi to become a future leader for the company.
"I learned about Aetna’s Management Development Program while interning with their Community Relations and Urban Marketing team this past summer," Brandi said.
Interns were offered the opportunity to apply to and interview for different post-graduation development programs.
"None of this would have been possible without my MGT 201 class taught by Dr. Kaisa Holloway-Cripps who required us to make a LinkedIn profile, Ms. Kimberly Robinson Williams who reached out to me on behalf of Aetna on LinkedIn, and my mentor Qi Feng at Aetna who motivated me to apply."
About her next step, Brandi said, "I’m scared, excited, nervous, happy, anxious, and thankful at the same time. I continue to thank God for this opportunity, and though I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do or become, I pray that this is a step in the right direction, a step in helping me change the world or inspiring someone who can.
"I feel that growing up in Springfield with my family and friends, attending the Zanetti and Renaissance schools, and graduating from UMass Dartmouth have all prepared me for this jump. If I don’t make this jump now, I won’t be able to see how far I can go or how far I may fly."