1,800 examples of student success celebrated during four ceremonies across campus
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth held four Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2023 on May 11 and May 12. Crowds gathered at Cressy Football Field and the Auditorium to cheer on their graduates as they crossed the stage.
The University expects to confer 1,800 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and law degrees. Of those 1,800 students, the Class of 2023 represented 249 cities and towns in Massachusetts, 33 states, and 25 countries. The UMassD Class of 2023 comprised 25% first-generation students and 35% of students of color.
"You leave this institution better off than when you arrived, thanks to your scholarship in the classroom, your compassion for others in the community, and your fierce advocacy on campus and beyond on the issues you care deeply about," Chancellor Mark A. Fuller told graduates. "What defines a university community is its students. Our students are not ordinary, you are extraordinary. You drive our progress and you set the tone for our campus culture. You tell us—and even more so, you show us—the path forward in delivering the highest quality, most rewarding educational experience possible."
The first ceremony featured undergraduate and graduate students from the School for Marine Science & Technology, College of Engineering, and Charlton College of Business.
During the ceremony, undergraduate student speaker Capri McLucas who graduated with a degree in Accounting discussed all the support she received as a student leader on campus. "One day, I will have my connections to thank. And UMass Dartmouth. And even COVID. But I won't thank them with money. Who wants that anyway," asked Capri McLucas. "I will thank them with the one thing more valuable than money. I will turn around and do the same for the next generation as the generation before did for me."
The afternoon ceremony on Thursday brought together all doctoral students for their hooding ceremony. Thirty students and their advisors crossed the stage as their dissertation titles were read to a crowd of family and friends. Marilyn Naeem, who received her PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry, is originally from Pakistan and came to the U.S. with her family to pursue her doctoral degree. Marilyn Naeem told her peers, "My fellow graduates, as we embark on the next chapter of our lives, I invite us to take steps of faith, no matter how small; have hope, to see the unseen; and love to keep ourselves growing since it is these experiences that shape our lives into what it was meant to be: a journey."
During the doctoral ceremony, the University awarded honorary degrees to Jessie Little Doe Baird, Loretta "Lee" Blake, and Mark Dion. Baird is a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe citizen and linguist working toward the reclamation of her once-silent language of heritage and working with her people to restore a vital piece of cultural clarity. Blake is an educator and president of the New Bedford Historical Society. She has spent much of her life raising awareness about Black history and New Bedford's important role in the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. Dion was born in New Bedford, and his artistic work examines how dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. These individuals were chosen because of their outstanding contributions to their community and the landscape of higher education through their work.
Friday morning's ceremony featured undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Visual & Performing Arts, the College of Nursing & Health Sciences, and the College of Arts & Sciences. Student speaker Anne Jean, who began her UMassD journey in College Now before earning her bachelor's in Nursing, came to America from Haiti and has been inspired to be a nurse since a young age. "Today, we are graduates. No matter what path you were on in order to get here, what's most important is that we are here today as graduates," said Anne Jean. "After today, we are going into different avenues of life. Some of us will continue our education to be doctors, lawyers, artists, scientists, business executives, nurse practitioners, and so much more. I am proud of all of us. Once a Corsair, always a Corsair!"
The UMass Dartmouth School of Law ceremony was held on Friday afternoon as more than 100 law students earned their Juris Doctor. Student speaker Natalie Peters, who served as Lead Editor of the UMass Law Review and President of the Federalist Society during her second and third years, addressed her fellow legal professionals. "We celebrate a great success today. Savor this moment. It is the celebration of an end, but it is also a beginning. No matter where you go in life or what you must go through to get there, remember this moment,” said Natalie Peters. “Remember where you’ve been and what you’ve sacrificed. Remember how you persevered. Remember how you succeeded. And whatever the future holds, no matter the situation, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem, always persevere.”
Throughout the two days, graduates also heard from Steve Karam, Chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, Vice Chair Trustee Mary Burns, and Trustee Julie Ramos Gagliardi, MBA '87, and Brian Kelly '88, President of the Alumni Association.
To learn more about the incredible accomplishments of the graduating class, visit the UMass Dartmouth Commencement Spotlights.