Date: May 27, 2012
Department: Chancellor's Office
Roxana Saberi, an award-winning author, journalist, and human rights advocate who was jailed by the Iranian regime in 2009, delivered the undergraduate Commencement address. Drawing on her harrowing personal story, Saberi encouraged graduates to "follow your passions; listen to your conscience and be true to your core values," reminding them that, "even if we can't control anything around us, we can always control how we look at things; and finally, you may be just one voice, but always remember that voice can make a world of difference."
In her last Commencement as Chancellor, Jean F. MacCormack reflected on the power of education as a "great gift," telling the graduates, "You will face you share of challenges, as every class before you has. We have confidence that you will use your talents, passions, and knowledge to confront and conquer those challenges."
Sigute "Siggy" Meilus '12, of Millbury, was the undergraduate student speaker. Before accepting her BA in Sociology, and reflecting on her activism in the University community and in the surrounding cities and towns, "I stand here and proudly say I am a member of the UMass Dartmouth Community and will be for the rest of my life. Here, there is a long tradition of giving access to education that is truly world class within reach. As a student at UMass Dartmouth, that is exactly what I received... I urge you, do not just dream, do. A dream is what you want but still have not pursued."
Also honored with the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal was US Congressman Barney Frank, who has represented the SouthCoast for more than 25 years and is retiring at the end of his current term.
Hubie Jones, a civic entrepreneur and educator who has played a key role in the formation, rebuilding and leadership of at least thirty community organizations across Boston, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Gil Santos, a Fairhaven native educated at a UMass Dartmouth predecessor institution and famous for his decades of work as the "Voice of the New England Patriots," also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
This year's graduates represented a diverse class, coming from 14 countries, 28 U.S. states and more than 200 cities and towns across the Commonwealth.
The following number of undergraduate degrees were conferred, listed by college: Arts and Sciences: 604; Charlton College of Business: 470; Engineering: 198; Visual and Performing Arts: 187; Nursing: 114.
More about Undergraduate Commencement honorees and speakers
Roxana Saberi / Undergraduate Commencement speaker / Journalist, activist
Roxana Saberi is a journalist, author, filmmaker, activist and political prisoner who was imprisoned by the Iranian regime. Saberi was raised in Fargo, North Dakota, the daughter of Iranian and Japanese immigrants, and went on to earn master's degrees from Northwestern and Cambridge Universities. She began her career as a freelance reporter after moving to Iran in 2003, broadcasting her work worldwide. In 2009, she was arrested without warning and placed in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. After a short trial, she was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment -- a sentence quickly overturned after an international uproar. Since then, Saberi has distinguished herself as an advocate for social justice and human rights around the world.
Hubert E. Jones / Doctor of Humane Letters / Civic entrepreneur
Hubie Jones is a vital member of the social justice movement in Boston where he has held numerous positions in academia, served on multiple boards and played a leadership role in the social development of the city and its people. Mr. Jones is Dean Emeritus of the Boston University School of Social Work, and served as Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Urban Affairs at the University of Massachusetts and acting President of Roxbury Community College. Professor Jones has played a key role in the formation, rebuilding and leadership of at least thirty community organizations within the black community and across the city. In twenty of these organizations, he served as chairman of the board or executive director. Since 2002, he has been founder and president of the Boston Children's Chorus.
Gil Santos / Doctor of Humane Letters / Broadcaster
Gil Santos is the longtime radio play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots of the National Football League, and morning sports reporter for WBZ radio in Boston. He retired from WBZ was inducted into the WBZ Radio Hall of Fame in 2009. He has called Patriots games continuously since 1966, except for a stretch between 1980 and 1990. His 30 years of service makes him the longest-serving current announcer in the NFL, tied with Merrill Reese of the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is the last play-by-play announcer from the American Football League era still broadcasting. He was born in Acushnet, Massachusetts and grew up in neighboring Fairhaven. From 1959 to 1971, when he joined WBZ full-time, Mr. Santos worked at WBSM and WNBH in New Bedford, and WSAR and WALE in Fall River.
Barney Frank / Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal / Congressman
United States Representative Barney Frank represents the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts, and he is also the Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee. Last year, he helped pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a new law that the Washington Post has called, "the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's financial regulatory system since the Great Depression." Congressman Frank began his career in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served for eight years before winning a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1980. Although he is widely-recognized for his work on national issues, Congressman Frank has also fought to help New Bedford fishermen, bring commuter rail to the SouthCoast, and provide affordable rental housing.