The Class of 2021 is made up of 1,351 first-year students from 256 Massachusetts cities and towns, 15 other states, and 5 foreign countries. The first-year students are joined by 654 new undergraduate transfer students, 435 new graduate students, and 82 new law students.
As they moved in to their residence halls on September 3, first-year students and their families were assisted by hundreds of student, faculty, and staff volunteers, as well as Chancellor Robert E. Johnson, who is also starting his first academic year at the university.
The new Corsairs spent the summer engaging with each other—and with their own beliefs—through UMassD Believes blog project.
The initiative gave the new students an opportunity to reflect on what they care about, to learn about each other, and to join a wider conversation about student life at UMassD.
They wrote about topics such as anxiety, faith, family, loss, gratitude, justice, living in the moment, love, perseverance, and self-esteem.
Students were able to compete in the Provost's Essay Contest by composing a longer essay. Winners were:
First place - Jade L. Figueroa of Bellingham, MA whose essay was about "Perseverance Through Resilience." Jade is interested in a career in the military. She plans to enroll in the ROTC program and is interested in criminal justice. She said, "I believe in the ability of self-control to push and work through problems. I plan to trust in my belief and set an example for those who are unable to be as resilient as I. Also, I will continue to help those in the foster care system by providing backpacks and hope."
Second place - Brianna N. Johnson of Plymouth, MA who is an applied mathematics major. Her essay, "I Believe in Ketchup," used the popular condiment as a symbol of American culture—to be shared with the world even as we learn about other countries' "ketchups." Brianna said, "I plan to utilize being a member of the Endeavor Program to help build community outreach through community service and help one another realize the differences in each individual's life."
Third place - Lexus Vasques of Dartmouth, MA who wrote about her father's heart attack and her own faith journey in "In Faith, I Believe." She is a biology major with an interest in dental medicine. "I plan to put my faith into action by taking risks, getting involved, and living my life every day the right way through faith and leaving no stone unturned," she said.
Students who earned honorable mentions:
Grace Muir of Sagamore Beach, MA who is a biology major. In "Horse Girl," she describes how horseback riding is her primary motivator. She said, "I would love to be able to help my colleagues find their passions, enabling them to experience gratitude as I have with horseback riding. I plan to take up a leadership position so that I can encourage a wider range of people not to play it too safe in life and do something that they can look back on with gratitude."
Catherine Abrams of Stow, MA who wrote in "Believing in Acceptance" that "within everyone is the capacity for acceptance—of both things they cannot control and past mistakes on the part of themselves and others." A nursing major, she said, "My goal throughout these next four years is to accept these different changes and obstacles we all face during our college journey as part of the road to success."
Marissa K. Chan of Douglas, MA who is a biology major. Her essay "Rachel and The Ocean" described the death of a friend. She wrote: "I believe that even though people pass away, they are never really gone. Rachel will always hold a special place in my heart." Marissa said, "I plan to challenge myself to maintain my relationships as well as create new ones. I have already made some incredible connections, including some of the best friends, in my first week of exploring campus that I will cherish for my next years at UMass Dartmouth."
On September 5, UMass Dartmouth formally welcomed the Class of 2021 at Convocation, the annual ceremony that marks the beginning of the academic year. Following an academic procession to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Amphitheater, students were greeted by faculty and staff as the newest members of the academic community.
"We embark on this journey together," Chancellor Johnson reminded the students in his energizing keynote address. "You have a social responsibility to leave the world a better place than you found it."
He issued the "UMass Dartmouth Challenge for the Class of 2021," a message of motivation, encouragement, and action. "Take an A, and accept this challenge," Dr. Johnson began, and closed with, "Take a Z, and zealously pursue your dreams, your goals, and your aspirations."
Weeks of Welcome
UMassD's Office of Student Affairs created a Weeks of Welcome calendar offering a variety of campus activities and events for both new and returning students. Ice breakers, outdoor movie night, magic, theater, comedy, a Red Sox/Boston trip, informational fairs, service projects, and Corsair sporting events were some of the activities planned for the first two weeks of the new academic year.
A popular highlight was the annual Corsair Olympics, held on Labor Day, in which teams of first-year students competed in lighthearted feats of strength.