2022 2022: Winners of the UMassD Believe essay contest announced
Winners of the UMassD Believe essay contest announced

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

UMassD Believes Logo Fall 22

UMass Dartmouth recently announced the winners of the UMassD Believes essay contest. Modeled after NPR's This I Believe, the tradition features students new to the University posting a 500-word belief statement to share with their peers. The incoming Class of 2026 wrote hundreds of blog posts and comments that allowed students to reflect on themselves, learn about and from one another, and join the conversation about student life at UMassD. 

Students could also submit their essays to be judged in a competitive, blind review selection process. The following students received the honor of having their essays selected for first, second, and third place, respectively:


First place - "Understanding Love" by Sydney Wojtunik

First-year Psychology student from Fairhaven, Massachusetts

"Everyone shows their love differently, whether it is through words of affirmation—like the boy who never forgets to tell me how beautiful I am and how much I mean to him, quality time—like my parents who never miss the opportunity to invite me to watch a show or to the store, or gift-giving—like my grandma who will buy or give anything that reminds her of someone she loves. I believe you can never love two things the same way due to each and every relationship in one's life being irreplaceable. That is the beauty of life. Every relationship in my life has shown me a different type of love that can never be replicated,".


Second place - "The Greatest Classroom" by Katia daSilva

First-year Nursing student from Dartmouth, Massachusetts

“Out of the 195 countries in the world, I’ve had the great opportunity to visit thirteen, each one unique and teaching me lessons which I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Every country I’ve been to has not only expanded my knowledge on varied cultures and backgrounds but has also transformed me into the person I am today, as I’ve taken bits and pieces from each of my travel endeavors…Due to my travel experiences throughout the years, I’ve developed the belief that the world is the greatest classroom. Although it is important to learn structured lessons within the walls of a classroom, I believe that the greatest and most significant lessons are those which we learn from simply living and immersing ourselves in all life has to offer.”


Third place - "Believe in Balance" by Grace Russell

First-year Marine Biology student from Dover, New Hampshire

“I’m working on a balance between my love of the scientifically factual and technical, and my love of expressing creativity through art. Both subjects equally pique my curiosity, and I want both to play a part in my future career. Finding this balance between two pathways I really enjoy might seem challenging now, but it’s all good practice for the future. Take your time, it doesn’t need to be figured out right away. Just as walking on stilts requires a sturdy hand or wall to lean on, you can look to others for advice and help with stabilizing yourself. Steps can start small, but with practice and attention grow into bigger, bolder strides.”


UMassD Believes, formerly titled 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.