UMass Dartmouth celebrates the Class of 2019

University awards nearly 2,000 degrees

Student graduating in regalia

UMass Dartmouth held four Commencement ceremonies to honor the Class of 2019. Two Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies were held on May 10 on Cressy Field for approximately 1,450 students. On May 13, UMass School of Law held its ceremony in the Main Auditorium on campus where 48 law degrees were conferred. Later that day, nearly 500 graduate students received their diplomas on Cressy Field.

“This is your time to seek out and build a better world that is grounded in civil discourse, civility, mutual respect, and a strong sense of humanity,” Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said. “I now charge you, the Class of 2019, to take your collective genius and go forth with a strong sense of humanity and an unyielding faith to transform the world as a global citizen.”

“I am the first president to graduate from UMass and I know what a UMass education means firsthand. I also know what a UMass Dartmouth education does and the impact it will have on your life. You have the tools, you got the education, now you can set out and accomplish anything in your careers.” said UMass President Marty Meehan.

At the morning undergraduate ceremony for the College of Nursing, Charlton College of Business, and the College of Visual & Performing Arts, commencement speaker Ellen M. Zane, Chief Executive Officer & President Emeritus of Tufts Medical Center, received an honorary doctorate degree and addressed students. Speaking on her groundbreaking career, Zane told graduates “risk is good. If it were easy, anybody can do it. Taking jobs that are hard, harder than other people will want, will differentiate you and will give you opportunities others won't have…But be cautious, though not cowardly. Be courageous, because courage is contagious.”

The morning student speaker was Silavong Phimmasone (Management Leadership) of Springfield, MA. A student member of the UMass Board of Trustees, Phimmasone told his fellow graduates, “It is a time to embrace the idea that every experience will make us stronger and prepare us to achieve our dreams. And remember, even when life is hard and it rains on us, we will continue to grow from it and the sun will shine again.”

The afternoon undergraduate ceremony for the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences featured Congressman William R. Keating, who received the Chancellor’s Medal and delivered the commencement address. Congressman Keating told students “the first thing to remember in this changing world when people say to you that you’re too young for a certain job or to follow a certain path - don’t concede that, don’t be swayed by that. There’s no time for that.”

The afternoon student speaker was Nneoma Ugwu (Civil Engineering) who came to UMass Dartmouth from Nigeria. Ugwu spoke of overcoming societal hurdles to becoming a black female engineer. “In Igbo, my mother tongue, there is a saying which is ‘Nwa Agu anaghi ata ahihia’ - meaning a lion’s child does not eat grass,” she said. “You see, a lion always knows they are a lion, even as a child. The lion in me is an engineer. Looking at all of us graduating today, I see a pride of lions.”

Justice Elspeth B. Cypher of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was the 2019 Commencement speaker for UMass Law. “Be as courageous as you can. There will always be difficult times, some harder than others. Be courageous. We the people. We are the steam energizing the Rule of Law. Class of 2019, how are you going to be in the law? How are you going to breathe life in the Rule of Law?” said Justice Cypher, who received an honorary doctorate degree from UMass Law to honor her tireless work for justice in the Commonwealth.

Law student speaker Casey Shannon, of Taunton, Massachusetts, asked her peers to think back on their experience: “As we look forward to our bright futures as district attorneys, immigration lawyers, corporate lawyers, and more, it is imperative that we see where we are today compared to where we were on our first day of law school.  As we look back on the past several years, it is important that we call out and recognize the efforts of the faculty and staff that surround us, as well as our loving family and friends who I know are smiling from all areas of this room.”

At the afternoon graduate student ceremony, Commencement speaker Travis McCready, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, encouraged students to remember a time when someone made an exception for them. “Acknowledge and reciprocate those moments of exception that you have received, and with any luck, will continue to receive throughout your personal life and professional career,” he said. “Keep your eye out for these moments, be thankful for them, and hopefully have the courage to return the favor to those around you in need.” McCready was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for his contributions to the Commonwealth’s rapid progress in creating an innovative science and technology environment.

The graduate student speaker was Kebeh Sando (Clinical Psychology), who immigrated to the United States from West Africa during the Liberian Civil War and earned her master’s in psychology. Sando shared with her peers the power of second chances: “I stand here representing all of us. All who have struggled but kept the faith. All who wanted to give up but persevered. All who imagined receiving a degree but saw life get in the way. Fellow graduates, we all represent each other, and we are all now a part of the UMass Dartmouth family forever. Through faith, hard work, and perseverance we earned ourselves countless second chances!”

More about the UMass Dartmouth Class of 2019:

  • Graduates come from more than 33 countries, 34 states, and 257 Massachusetts communities.
  • The average age of graduating undergraduate students is 24.5 and graduate and law students 30.3.
  • Male graduates made up 48.2% of the class of 2019, while 51.8% of the class is females.
  • Students of color made up 31% of the Class of 2019.
  • For undergraduates, the most degrees were conferred in Psychology, Marketing, Nursing, Accounting, and Crime & Justice Studies.
  • The most graduate degrees were conferred in Computer Science, Business Administration, Accounting, Teaching, and Mechanical Engineering.
  • The university awarded 32 Ph.D.’s and 48 Law degrees.

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