UMass Dartmouth held four Commencement ceremonies to honor the accomplishments of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement Weekend. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restricting an in-person ceremony for graduates in the spring of 2020, both classes were celebrated in ceremonies on June 11 and 12, 2021. All events were held in-person on the Cressy Football Field on the Main Campus in Dartmouth.
“I am in complete awe of what you have accomplished. No generation of students can lay claim to an experience comparable to this unusual – unprecedented – conclusion to your time at UMass Dartmouth,” said Interim Chancellor Mark A. Fuller. “You’ll always be the classes whose educational journey took an unexpected detour because of the global pandemic, but you made it to graduation anyway. This was uncharted territory for all of us, and you navigated it beautifully.”
The Weekend began with a UMass Law ceremony that honored both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. The ceremony featured a student speaker from each of the graduating classes. Kristine C. Goodwin (J.D. ’20) of Boston, Massachusetts told her fellow law graduates “This commencement ceremony represents our voluntary commitment to knowingly apply the lessons we learned in law school—to use them— to pursue justice—where we live, where we work, and where we serve.” Kevin Joseph Burchill (J.D. ’21) of West Tisbury, Massachusetts said “We have endured alone and at six feet. We have pursued our dreams amidst insurmountable odds. And despite it all, we find ourselves here today.”
The ceremony on Friday afternoon celebrated the undergraduate and graduate students of the Class of 2020. The student speaker was Mary Ellen Loomis of Little Compton, Rhode Island who earned a triple Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems, Operation Management, and Accounting from UMass Dartmouth. Loomis told her peers that “UMass Dartmouth has not only allowed us to grow into bright intelligent people both in and outside the classroom, but it has opened our eyes up to never limiting our self to one direct path.”
The Class of 2021 was split into two ceremonies by colleges. The first ceremony on Saturday featured undergraduate and graduate students from the Charlton College of Business, College of Engineering, and School for Marine Science & Technology. The student speaker for the morning ceremony was Maria Valentina Roa who was born and raised in Colombia before coming to UMass Dartmouth to earn both her Bachelor’s in Business Management and Leadership, and a Master of Business Administration in Business Analytics. “Now more than ever, let's pursue every ambition, let’s go as far as we can possibly can to achieve our dreams, and let’s be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild our community,” said Roa.
The Saturday afternoon ceremony featured undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Nursing & Health Sciences, and College of Visual & Performing Arts. LaToya Rene Robertson of North Carolina who earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies told her classmates “You are a dream realized. Protect and honor yourself. Respect yourself. Create and manage healthy boundaries. Speak to yourself and about yourself like someone you love. Uplift yourself. Set goals and adjust them when you need to. Be ambitious. Live with gusto as if each day was your last, but with deference as if you may live forever.”
The ceremonies also featured video congratulations from UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass Trustee Stephen Karam as well as representatives of the Alumni Association welcoming the Classes of 2020 and 2021.
The University expects to confer nearly 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students to the Class of 2020 and more than 1,800 to the Class of 2021.
The ceremonies were livestreamed for those that could not attend and can be viewed on the UMass Dartmouth Commencement website.