Jackie Hai Will Be Student Speaker at UMass Amherst Commencement

AMHERST, Mass. – Senior Jackie Hai of Lexington, Mass., who is graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with dual majors in journalism and philosophy, has been selected to be the student speaker at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 23 at 12:30 p.m. in Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Hai was recently named one of the UWIRE 100, the best and brightest student journalists in the nation. They were selected from a pool of more than 825 nominations submitted by professionals, professors and peers and some parents from more than 135 schools.

She says, “Being chosen to be the student speaker at Commencement was a big surprise. What I’m going to say might be a little unconventional as far as commencement speeches go, but I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to share it with my classmates. My greatest hope is that we walk out of UMass with optimism and confidence that we can tackle the world’s problems, equipped with solutions we’ve already discovered during our time here with each other.”

Hai is currently a teaching assistant in the UMass Amherst journalism program in lecturer Steve Fox’s multimedia journalism class. Fox is also the faculty advisor for The Amherst Wire, a student-run, online magazine that hosts local stories and multimedia features where Hai is co-founder and an editor. She manages a staff of six editors and more than 10 reporters. Hai is the Web editor for the Western Massachusetts Community Press, which publishes online material produced by college students in the Springfield Community Journalism Project.

This year, she produced two multimedia features looking at the economic crisis titled, “Market Meltdown 101,” and “Economic Stimulus 101,” which gained considerable attention, including in the mainstream press.

In keeping with her multimedia skills, Hai is also a program director at UVC-TV 19, the student-run television station on the UMass Amherst campus where she schedules daily programming, and produces and edits video for broadcast. She serves as the liaison for a partnership with Amherst Community Television, the local cable-access station, for development of the Open Media Project.

From 2005-07, Hai was a staff writer and photographer at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at UMass Amherst. She was a member of the editorial board, a columnist and a reporter.

During her first two years at UMass Amherst, Hai played trumpet in the Minuteman Marching Band and served on the band’s administrative staff. She was a resident assistant in Van Meter and Butterfield residence halls for two years. Hai also co-founded UMass Parkour, a registered student organization that promotes safe and accessible training in the physical discipline of the same name.

In 2004-05, Hai founded and was editor-in-chief of Polyph Webzine, a monthly online magazine for student musicians at Lexington High School where she managed the reporting staff, wrote stories and produced digital media.

After graduation she plans to stay in Massachusetts and work as a freelancer and on community journalism projects.