Third Year Running: Journalism Student Selected as Commencement Speaker
Emily Grund ’10 (journalism) is one of two students selected as this year’s commencement student speaker. That makes three years in a row that the speaker has been from Journalism, with Katie Huston ’08 and Jackie Hai ’09 preceding her. Must be something in the water...or in the way the journalism majors are taught to present their thoughts!
About her selection as speaker, Grund says, “I am very thrilled to be representing the student population because I truly care about them. I’m proud of everyone for making it this far and think we can all relate to each other in many ways. Although I’ve accomplished a lot here, many others have accomplished way more. So giving this speech isn’t a celebration of my accomplishments, but of everyone’s. There were no requirements for trying out; you didn’t need a certain GPA or specific accomplishments to qualify, just to write something moving.”
The panel of judges, a mix of faculty and students, narrowed the field to seven finalists who then presented their speeches. “I did my best to remain confident and enthusiastic,” Grund says. “Waiting to hear the results was nerve racking. I was actually in a journalism office when I got the call that left me smiling for the rest of the day!”
Grund’s speech will focus on the importance of relationships made on campus, a complement to the one by Mark Cerasuolo ’10 (UWW). Cerasuolo, who will get his degree after leaving UMass many years ago, will focus on the importance of the education we have received. “I’m sure I’ll be nervous once I get on stage,” Grund says. “I’ve never spoken in front of that many people, but I keep telling myself it’s probably easier than speaking in front of a smaller crowd where I could actually see facial expressions!”
So, that’s the speech. But who is Emily Grund?
“I grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, and attended Rockport High,” Grund says. “After graduation in 2005, I felt burned out and unmotivated. I needed to do something different before going to college.” She joined Interim Programs, an independent gap-year counseling organization, which helped her find international programs based on her interests. From September through December through Global Routes, Grund taught English and lived with a host family in Thailand. Then, from January to April, she interned at a community newspaper in Wellington, New Zealand. “These experiences were life changing and renewed my motivation for education,” she says.
Grund chose UMass because she was familiar with the area and loved the town, plus the financial benefit of attending a state school was appealing. “I also heard they had a great journalism program,” she says.
Why journalism? “My mom saved several of my projects from elementary school that ask, ‘When I grow up, I want to be…’ My answer was always ‘author.’ I actually was telling stories before I knew how to write. My mom would write them down for me. Early on I was interested in fiction, but my interest in journalism began to grow as I explored other options. The internship in New Zealand clarified what I wanted to do.”
Her experience with the Journalism program was great, Grund says. “I was able to explore different areas, from documentary to multimedia to magazine and news writing. The small classes allowed me to get to know my professors and in many cases opened up a lot of opportunities. After I took Photojournalism and Travel Writing in Sicily with Rick Newton, he helped me get a photojournalism internship at The Gloucester Daily Times and asked me to be a teaching assistant for his class. I’ve also been a TA for Steve Fox’s Multimedia Journalism class for two semesters.”
Grund also was an editorial intern at FamilyFun magazine and GoNOMAD.com as well as a public relations intern at The Castle Group. “These experiences,” she says, “let me explore the field and find out which jobs I was good at or passionate about—and which I wasn’t.”
After graduation, Grund will join the Peace Corps. “I have been nominated to teach English in Asia, and should know my exact placement around the end of May,” she says. “Ever since I taught in Thailand, I knew I needed to do something like that again. I love traveling and exploring different cultures. Someday I hope to get a job that allows for that…and writing, of course. In the Peace Corps, I’ll keep a professional blog (pending Internet access) that hopefully will lead to more opportunities when I return. I really enjoyed the magazine industry, so working for a travel magazine would be a top choice.”
Reflecting on her overall UMass experience, Grund says, “One of the great things about UMass is when you meet someone new, you’ll likely have at least one friend or acquaintance in common. The six degrees of separation rule definitely applies. I’ve met so many amazing people in so many ways—so I wrote a speech about it. I’ve joked with friends and family that people won’t realize the girl on stage is one who has dealt with stress by going to counseling, has a very messy bedroom, a procrastination problem, and loves karaoke. I’m not the most accomplished student at this university and by no means perfect, but I love UMass and hope that my speech reaches out to a lot of people.”
April 27, 2010