2021 2021: UMass Dartmouth announces This We Believe essay contest winners
UMass Dartmouth announces This We Believe essay contest winners

The first-year student tradition showcases the values of the University community

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UMass Dartmouth recently announced the winners of the This We Believe Provost’s Essay Contest. Modeled after NPR’s This I Believe, the tradition asks incoming, first-year students to post a 500-word belief statement to share with their fellow students. The blog posts are an opportunity for students to reflect on themselves, learn about and from one another, and join the conversation about student life at UMassD.

For the incoming Class of 2025, there were more than 600 blog posts that garnered more than 9,000 views on the student-centric blog. Students were also able to submit their essays to be judged in a competitive, blind review, selection process.

“The winning essays collectively reflect the enduring character of a generation who continues to graciously persist through difficult times,” said Meghan J. Fair, Professor of English.

The following students received the honor of having their essays selected for first, second, and third place, respectively, and will have their essays read at the Convocation Ceremony on August 31:

First place - “Realizations of a Woman” by Katelyn Belmore.

First-year Biology student from Fall River, Massachusetts

“I knew that I was a woman when talking to my friends, peers, and almost every woman I know, and learning they have all had similar experiences to mine. The issue of sexual assault isn’t just confined to one gender, as one in three women and one in six men will have experienced, attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime. Sexual harassment happens to men more then we think. I believe that sexual abuse is a battle that we have to fight together and raise awareness on. We should not continue to idolize people who have sexually harassed others. We need to believe the people who are courageous enough to share their stories, and to hold people accountable for the things they say, do, and share.         

I encourage people who have been victims of sexual assault or harassment to seek help from a counselor or a parent and confide in a trusted friend, as I did. You are not alone. I believe through actively preventing sexual harassment as a community, we can change the definition of reaching womanhood from experiencing sexual harassment to becoming your own person, gaining independence, and unapologetically speaking your mind—no matter what others think.”


Second place - “Perfection is a Waste of Time” by Abigail Greenberg

First-year Computer Science student from Mansfield, Massachusetts

“My inability to replicate the works of artists with far more experience than me was frustrating. The activity I turned to as a way of escape had fallen victim to my need for perfection. I felt like I was holding my breath in order to meet my own impossible expectations. Before long, I needed to breathe. I stopped using references. I stopped using brushes. When I painted with my fingers, I was able to distance myself from my need for perfection and become closer to the piece itself. I was able to find joy and freedom in painting again. Without being held to an impossible standard, the paintings became beautiful again. By overcoming perfection, a person can become the best version of themself.”


Third place - “What does it mean to live in the moment?” by Riley Rushton

First-year Nursing student from Bridgewater, Massachusetts

“While life can be very long, it can also be taken from us at any moment. With tragic illnesses and accidents, you truly never know which day is your last. This ideology has become more prevalent in my life than ever during this past year. With my grandmother's diagnosis and the sudden death of my grandfather in March due to cancer, I have grown an appreciation for life as I have seen how quickly it can be taken away. My grandparents were two of many reasons I chose to pursue Nursing as a degree at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. I hope to use my education to help others, make a difference in people's lives, and be a source of happiness for others.”


This We Believe began in 2015 by the Departments of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs departments to engage new students in UMass Dartmouth’s values. Professor Meghan J. Fair has run the program since 2016.