UMass Dartmouth announces student speakers for 2021 Commencement Weekend

The Class of 2020 and 2021 student speakers to inspire their fellow graduates with their personal stories and different experiences that led to their success

Student Speakers Commencement 2021
(Left to Right): LaToya Rene Robertson (’21), Kevin Joseph Burchill (J.D. ’21), Maria Valentina Roa (’21), Kristine C. Goodwin (J.D. ’20), and Mary Ellen Loomis (’20)

UMass Dartmouth has announced the student speakers for Commencement Weekend. On June 11 and 12, the University will celebrate the Class of 2020 and 2021 in-person and on campus.

The schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Friday, June 11, 2021

  • Law 2020 & 2021 Ceremony – 8 a.m. arrival – 9 to 10:30 a.m. ceremony
  • 2020 Ceremony (All undergraduate and graduate students) – 2 p.m. arrival – 3 to 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

  • 2021 Ceremony I (Charlton College of Business, College of Engineering, School for Marine Science & Technology) – 8 a.m. arrival – 9 to 10:30 a.m. ceremony
  • 2021 Ceremony II (College of Arts & Sciences, College of Nursing & Health Sciences, College of Visual & Performing Arts) – 2 p.m. arrival – 3 to 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

All events are rain or shine and will take place on the Cressy Football Field at the Main Campus. Each graduate can invite up to 6 guests. Though health and safety protocols in the Commonwealth have relaxed, the University encourages everyone to wear a mask - especially if unvaccinated.

The student speakers are as follows:

Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony

Mary Ellen Loomis

Mary Ellen Loomis (’20) of Little Compton, Rhode Island works as a subcontractor for the Department of Defense; specifically working with the United States Air Force and Space Force as a software engineer and business analyst. Having graduated from the Charlton College of Business where she earned a triple Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems, Operation Management, and Accounting; she now attends Northeastern University pursuing a dual master’s degree in cybersecurity and analytics. She is a member of the National Honors Society, a Rhode Island Scholar, and a member of the Beta Alpha Psi. Mary Ellen has always been inspired by and looks up to her father, who is a Chief Engineer and Project Manager, for his hard work, extreme dedication, and motivation which has motivated her to never give up on her dreams. Mary Ellen’s ambition to work alongside the military stems from her father’s prior service in the Navy. UMass Dartmouth has allowed Mary Ellen to excel both in and outside the classroom to pursue her love of engineering and coding with business. Her faculty advisors and professors kept her driven and always supported her ambition. Mary Ellen plans to continue her work with the military and plans to pursue her Ph.D. at Northeastern University in Cybersecurity.

UMass Law Class of 2020 and 2021 Commencement Ceremony

Kristine C. Goodwin (’20)

Kristine C. Goodwin (J.D. ’20) has worked for over twenty years as a senior executive in higher education, most recently as a vice president for student affairs. Having passed the bar exam in October, she was sworn into the Massachusetts Bar in January 2021. Since that time, she has been working as an affiliate attorney with Justice Bridge Legal Center—UMass Law’s incubator program—representing low-to-moderate-income clients out of the Boston office and coordinating the practice’s Title IX services. While in law school, Kristine completed independent legal research on alternative/appropriate dispute resolution (ADR) and courses at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation (PON). She also volunteered with the NAACP. In addition to being an attorney, Kristine is a mediator, workplace investigator, ombudsperson, trainer, and conflict/negotiation coach. She owns and operates GoodWin Resolutions, LLC, a legal consulting, and law firm committed to equal opportunity in employment and education. Kristine and her husband, Bruce, have three adult sons and one daughter-in-law, and an adopted rescue dog named Boots. Kristine earned a B.A. from Westfield State University and a M.Ed. from UMass Lowell before graduating magna cum laude from the UMass School of Law in 2020.

Kevin Joseph Burchill (’21)

Kevin Joseph Burchill (J.D. ’21) is from West Tisbury, Massachusetts with deep family roots in New Bedford. Kevin went to Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, received a Bachelor of Arts from The George Washington University in International Affairs and Security Policy, and is ending his academic career at UMass Law as a Public Interest Law Fellow. Kevin has worked for the Bristol County and Cape & Island’s District Attorney’s Offices, assisting the public through the arduous court process. Through his time in the Human Rights at Home Clinic, under the mentorship of Professor Margaret B. Drew, Kevin honed his empathetic approach to practice cases in the probate and family court, with a focus on advocating for survivors of domestic violence. He also had the privilege of being Professor Gina L. DeRossi’s Teaching Assistant and took pride in mentoring students in oral advocacy and case management skills as it relates to family law. Kevin is sitting for the Massachusetts Bar in July and hopes to work in family law and domestic violence advocacy in any capacity that allows him to continue his career dedicated to being of service to others. Kevin is the son of Jane E. Burchill and the late Kevin R. Burchill, J.D. (Suffolk, ’92). He dedicates his speech to the memory of his father, who insisted that Kevin “Smarten Up and Be Good,” and to his mother, whose persistence and undying support have enabled him to succeed.

Class of 2021 Ceremony I

Maria Valentina Roa

Maria Valentina Roa (’21) was born and raised in Colombia. During the past four years, Maria majored in Business Management and Leadership for her undergraduate degree and a Master of Business Administration in Business Analytics. Maria firmly believes that mindset is everything and working hard can take you far in reaching your dreams. She started her journey in education because of a passion she had for innovative management and entrepreneurship. Maria is currently starting her second Master’s degree at Brown University. UMass Dartmouth opened doors and shaped her into the professional she is today. The University was also the place where she discovered that her personal happiness is in the service of helping others. She is grateful for all the memories over the past four years and for her parents, which she owes everything for their sacrifice to help her achieve her dreams.

Class of 2021 Ceremony II

LaToya Rene Robertson

LaToya Rene Robertson (’21) is a North Carolina native with a passion for people and progress. During her time at UMass Dartmouth, she co-created the staple campus cultural event Unity Fest, was a key player in the first on-campus food pantry which is now known as Arnie’s Cupboard, and led her team to win the Corsair Olympics. LaToya has earned multiple UMassD fellowships, including the Educational Leadership and Policies fellowship and the Service-Learning Fellowship. Armed with the gift of words, and ambition, LaToya landed a TED Talk while pursuing her degree which has amassed more than 100,000 views. She also has contributed to several books and presented at conferences including Hawai'i International Conference on Education. LaToya’s persistence and curiosity aid her mission to help build cultural connections and develop resources for the community at large. Her goal is to become a US Senator. Until that happens, she plans to create training and policies for corporations and colleges to build those connections to eliminate many of the barriers that once posed a challenge to her. LaToya has made a consistent effort to build connections and support those around her and looks forward to using her gifts (and degree) to be the change she wants to see in the world.

Learn more about UMass Dartmouth's Commencement Weekend on our Commencement website.



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