UMass Dartmouth
Print Click to Print      Back Back to Main Article

UMass Dartmouth Graduate Commencement features innovators from campus and beyond

First-ever graduate student-only commencement due to campus enrollment growth

UMass Dartmouth today held its first-ever graduate student-only commencement, featuring speakers who are current and future leaders in health care, technology and the arts. The University needed to separate the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies this weekend due to rapid enrollment growth. The undergraduate ceremony will be held tomorrow.

A total of 377 graduate students, including three doctoral students, received their degrees today in the Vietnam Veteran's Peace Memorial Amphitheater with an estimated 1,000 family, friends, faculty, and university staff in attendance. The national anthem was performed by Teddy Mathews, a student at Wareham Middle School.

"This commencement is a celebration of our evolution as a university, a region and a commonwealth," UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "Our future will be determined by our willingness and ability to innovate, to break down barriers of time and distance, and to figure out new ways to solve problems and seize opportunities. Here our graduate students and faculty are actively involved in those things that matter most to our region and Commonwealth: health care, the creative economy, life sciences, math education, environmental protection, marine technology, renewable energy, building connections to other parts of world. It all really is about Teddy Mathews' American Dream. Ten years from now, when that young man and his peers are graduating from college, what will our world look like?"

The keynote speaker was Dr.Onesky Aupont, a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who is a key leader of the Massachusetts arm of the National Children's Study, the largest study to be conducted in the United States to assess the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health. He told the graduates, "As graduate professionals somehow throughout your training, education, thesis or dissertation work, you have worked on theories, policies, and/or case studies that are very applicable to the needs of our world today, thus you must act on them as we leave the campus today and NOT wait for actions in the future. UMass trains professionals to address local, global, real lives, and today's needs; hence we count on you to step into the world, to think globally, take responsibility, and contribute in making a change today, not tomorrow."  

The alumni speaker Yong Zhang (Class of 1993), chief operating officer of, a Massachusetts-based company that provides companies with the tools to "manage and inspire their most important asset - their people."  Mr. Zhang received graduate degrees in engineering and physics from UMass Dartmouth. Mr. Zhang advised graduates, "Soon, you will pursue your own post graduate dreams by beginning to build a successful career or create a new business.  There are often many paths to achieve these new milestones.  Some of these pathways may be brand-new due to technological advancements or social development, but these ventures often sound risky and uncomfortable.  I encourage you to take risks and follow your heart. When you are the first, there are no books you can read, no conferences you can attend, or no one to guide you through the process.  That said, you will be surprised how quickly success can come, and how satisfying your journey can be."

Speaking from a graduate student perspective was Master of Fine Arts student Jennifer Ling Datchuk (Class of 2008). She said, "What I think best describes this experience is the ability for everyone to remain curious in his or her fields.  To quote Cormac McCarthy:  'To me, the most curious thing of all is incuriosity.  I just don't get it.' These curiosities led me to pursue my Master of Fine Arts in Artisanry at UMass Dartmouth.  Making this leap from undergraduate to graduate school was both extremely exciting and terrifying.  I chose graduate school to challenge myself by continuing to ask questions, pursue research in my craft and to most importantly to nurture creativity."

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  24-May-2008
Department:   University Relations

You can find this article at: