Remarks delivered by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy at the Undergraduate Commencement on May 9, 2014 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Hello! I would like to extend a warm welcome to the families and friends who join us here today for this momentous and joyful occasion. And, most especially, to all of our graduates: congratulations!
Today, we celebrate one of the most significant accomplishments of your lifetime. For while you will go on to achieve many things in the years ahead, much of your future successes will be directly related to your undergraduate experience at the University of Massachusetts.
Over the course of the past few years, the university provided a living and learning community that fostered your intellectual and personal evolution. In turn, each one of you used your individual and unique intellectual energy to create your own path toward success.
This past December, with the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world lost one of the greatest leaders in the history of mankind. President Mandela understood the profound connection between education and self-empowerment. “Education,” he said, “is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
In accepting the challenge to attend the university, you set off to change the course of your life. In succeeding in that challenge, you now possess what President Mandela so aptly called, the “great engine of personal development.”
Shortly – very shortly – with the turning of your tassels, you will become alumni of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Today, you are ready to live the life you imagine for yourself. You have the confidence that comes from having participated in deep and broad intellectual exploration, with enriching peers who have been fellow travelers on this journey. It is now up to each one of you to decide how to use your talents and potential as you begin a new phase in your life.
I know that you will find your place in the world. The intellectual and personal experiences of the past few years will serve you well. It will not always be easy, by definition life is challenging, but you are now prepared to live the life you want to lead.
And, remember, you will always be a part of the University of Massachusetts. Stay connected to campus. Be an active alum. Continue generating pride for the university as you make your way in the world.
The power to achieve is found in each one of you. This I know.
Congratulations and GO UMASS!