UMass Dartmouth announces student speakers for 2018 Commencement

A master degree candidate looking to make a difference in humanitarian aid; an undergraduate political science major who wants to be governor; and a law student seeking to help children with disabilities have been chosen by a committee of students, faculty and staff to address their classmates at UMass Dartmouth’s 2018 Commencement exercises May 12–14.

commencement student speakers for 2018
Left to Right: Chioma Judith Okafor, Andrew Tyrrell, Alicia Blanchard

Chioma Judith Okafor – Graduate Ceremony – Master of Business in Business Analytics

Chioma Judith Okafor, of Festac Town, Lagos, Nigeria is a resident of the Town of Dartmouth. Ms. Okafor holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Covenant University, Nigeria and is now receiving an MBA degree in Business Analytics from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

An active student on campus, Ms. Okafor served as a Professional Development Influencer at the Charlton College of Business, enabling students to enhance their personal and professional development and prepare themselves for fruitful and successful careers. She also served as the Secretary of the Graduate Student Senate, Vice President of the MBA Association, founding member, Social Chair, and Vice President of the Charlton Student Entrepreneur & Start-Up Club, and a member of the Public Speaking & Professional Development Network.

Additionally, she served as an Orientation Leader for the UMass Dartmouth Global Student Program, formerly known as Navitas, and a three-time co-host for their End of Term Gala. Currently, Ms. Okafor is endeavoring her career as a Business Analyst at Stonewall Solutions Technologies. Also, she has earned a Public Policy scholarship to participate in the Leadership SouthCoast program and is a candidate for the October 2018 graduating class.

Ms. Okafor is passionate about the empowerment of women and humanitarian services. Since her time in the United States, she has developed more interests in community services of which, in the near future, she plans to dedicate more time to serving her community, in spite of her professional career. Similarly, she intends to launch an inspirational blog with the aim of developing individual’s personal, professional, and spiritual constitution.

Andrew Tyrrell – Undergraduate Ceremony - Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science

Andrew Tyrrell is a 25-year-old from Fall River, Massachusetts. He was born April 1, 1993, and is the youngest of three children.

After a seven-year undergraduate career at UMass Dartmouth, Mr. Tyrrell is receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Over the course of his career, he has studied a wide variety of topics, from the history and thought of American jurisprudence to the dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels, which ended up as a primary tool in his critical theory-based research projects.

During the course of his undergraduate career, he has been active with the campus theatre company 20 Cent Fiction, where he performed in the plays Cartoon and the French absurdist classic Rhinoceros, playing the role of curmudgeonly Botard, and was understudy to his good friend James Dooley, who portrayed Jean. Andrew was also a participant in the last One-Act Showcase staged by 20 Cent Fiction, where he played Luka in a stirring rendition of Anton Chekov’s The Boor.

For the past three years, Mr. Tyrrell has been involved with UMass Dartmouth’s student-led newspaper, The Torch, spending this past year as its Editor-in-Chief. During his tenure, Mr. Tyrrell guided The Torch through a steady year that saw one of the few investigative pieces published in recent memory and was grateful to be along for the ride.

After graduation Mr. Tyrrell plans to pursue a career in communications in the public sector, utilizing the skills he has built as a journalist and political scientist. He intends to apply to graduate programs in strategic communication. He hopes to one day be Governor of Massachusetts.

Alicia Blanchard – Law School Ceremony - Juris Doctorate

Alicia Blanchard has served UMass Law as the Student Bar Association President in 2017-2018. She was elected to the position of 1L student representative to the SBA and has served as its Vice President and on many student organization executive boards. As a member of the UMass Law Review, she served as an Associate Editor and Lead Editor. Her Law Review note, “We’re Going to the Clerk’s Office and We’re Not Going to Get Married,” was published in the Fall 2017 edition.

A native of Littleton, Massachusetts, Ms. Blanchard was raised on Nashobaside Farm and credits her parents, John and Teresa Blanchard, with the work ethic she learned there. After studying International Relations at Saint Anselm College in 2012, Ms. Blanchard worked in hospitality and management at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Upon her return to Massachusetts in 2014, she worked at the Discovery Museum in Acton where her dream of attending law school was solidified as she worked with children with disabilities.

More about Commencement 2018

The undergraduate and graduate ceremonies will be held at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield on Saturday, May 12.

The graduate ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. President and CEO of Southcoast Health System, Inc. and Southcoast Hospitals Group, Inc. Keith A. Hovan will receive the Chancellor’s Medal and deliver the commencement address.

The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. Senior Vice President, Marketing Operations, Consumer Products Division for Hasbro Bryony Bouyer ‘86 will receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement address

The School of Law ceremony will be held at the Main Auditorium on the UMass Dartmouth campus at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 14. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will receive the Chancellor’s Medal and deliver the commencement address.

The university expects to award more than 1,400 undergraduate, nearly 600 graduate, 50 law, and over 40 doctorate degrees this spring.


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