2024 2024: Class of 2024 Undergraduate Students honored in unforgettable ceremony

2024 2024: Class of 2024 Undergraduate Students honored in unforgettable ceremony
Class of 2024 Undergraduate Students honored in unforgettable ceremony

Despite the weather, students and guests commemorated success and received a surprise gift from philanthropist Robert and Karen Hale

The ceremony's highlight came when the founder and CEO of wholesale telecommunications provider Granite Telecommunications, Robert Hale, Jr., received the UMass Dartmouth Chancellor's Medal for his incredible philanthropy work. Hale told the crowd about his career, including losing $1 billion nearly overnight, and urged them not to let failure define them, using his own life as an example of resilience and perseverance.

As the degree conferral was about to begin, Hale came forward and let the graduates know he had one more bit of advice for them. He told the eager crowd that for him and his wife Karen, "the greatest joys we've had in our life have been the gift of giving." Hale let the Class of 2024 know that the two large duffle bags being brought up on stage by security were packed with envelopes full of cash.

"Our community and our world need our help now more than ever," said Hale. Hale followed that up by announcing that each graduate who crossed the stage would receive one $500 envelope to keep as a gift. They would then receive a second $500 envelope to give to someone in need or a charity or cause close to them.

Students react to $1000 gift from philanthropists Robert and Karen Hale

During an abbreviated speaking portion because of the weather, Chancellor Fuller got the crowd ready for student speaker Alexis Petty, who told her fellow graduates, "As we stand on the precipice of new beginnings, it's natural to feel a mix of excitement and apprehension about what lies ahead. But let me assure you that uncertainty is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a testament to the infinite possibilities that await us."

Watch the full Class of 2024 undergraduate ceremony.

Two students in graduation regalia smiling

Of those 1,200 students, the undergraduate Class of 2024 comprised 40% first-generation students and 31% of students of color.

To learn more about the incredible accomplishments of the graduating class, visit the UMass Dartmouth Commencement Spotlights.