2013 Senior Speakers


Anthropology: Ashley Cox

Heather CoxOne thing I’ve learned from the Anthropology Department, is that you’ll spend about 10% of your energy being excited about your new project, 2% of your energy explaining to outsiders that you don’t want to be Bones or Indiana Jones, and the rest of your energy wondering why you got yourself into this mess to begin with. 

But despite the excitement, frustration, and abundant amounts of caffeine, you eventually reach the end. And even if the results are not quite what you expected, you still can reflect on and appreciate the people and places encountered on your journey. 

This appreciation is what Anthropology, and UMass, have given me. I hope that all of you are also grateful for the awesome faculty, staff, and students you have met during your time here. 

Thank you to all my wonderful faculty, mentors, and friends these past four years. And a shout out to my other department, Legal Studies. 

I love you all and best of luck to the class of 2013. 

Communication: Rachel Levine

Rachel LevineOn behalf of my fellow peer advisors, congratulations Communication graduates! Our department has been intellectually engaging and full of supportive professors, graduate students and staff. Thanks for guiding us to pursue meaningful and challenging paths.

These paths will go in various directions, but we’ll all take away some shared wisdom from studying Communication:

We’ve learned to look past the surface—whether we're critiquing media conglomerates or deciding not to buy bottled water. We draw deep connections between our intellects, values, and actions. 
Our studies have completely changed how we shop and watch TV. We will never again view a Barbie or GI Joe commercial without considering their gender implications, and we will always question the origins of a diamond. 
We have acquired knowledge to be socially responsible, successful intellectuals in the ‘real’ world. When asked, “What do you do with a Communication degree?” We answer “Anything!” Our options are endless. We encourage you to  pursue your passion—and we have faith that the money will follow. 
Class of 2013, now is our time.

Economics: Sanjay Singh

Sanjay SinghGood afternoon. I’m proud to say that I am a graduate of the UMass Economics Department.  Studying Economics at UMass has triggered my curiosity about the world around me, leading me to ask questions such as: How did I get a 40% average in Intermediate Microeconomics with Professor Katzner, and still end up with an A?  Should I double check my spreadsheet for errors?  How many years does Machmer Hall realistically have before it collapses? 

Economics has allowed me to see the world through a new lens.  It has taught me that one must understand the Neoclassical model, but also not be afraid to question it.  Economics has taught me to always consider the costs and benefits before making a decision.  Lastly, Economics has taught me to always maintain a dynamic worldview, when reality proves that our economic models were wrong.  Like in 2007.

On behalf of all Economics graduates, I’d like to thank all members of the Economics faculty, all graduate student assistants, all of our peers, and all of our families, for supporting us along the way.  None of us would be here today if it weren’t for you all.  

Congratulations, class of 2013, and good luck on all of your future endeavors!

Environmental Design: Melissa Panter

Melissa PanterEver since I applied to UMass Environmental Design has been my major of choice. So like most of my fellow Environment Design graduates, it’s been a long 4 years of having to explain what exactly my major IS. Rest assured everyone, this will keep happening, even after today. 

Environmental Design combines all my passions. It is working with the environment, allowing me to study sustainability in India. It is working around urban policies that have given me the drive to bike across the country this summer to work with Affordable housing. It is envisioning design to create a better future for us and those we love. It is using Hills North as our home base, and it is gaining friends from laughing, learning, and crying through classes like History of Architecture and Landscapes 2 with Patricia McGirr— I’ll never look at gardens the same, ever again. 

So after today, I’ll be glad to explain what exactly Environmental Design means, because doing so will bring me back to these fabulous 4 years here at UMass. 

Congrats my fellow Environmental Design graduates, we did it!

Journalism: Amy Chaunt

Amy ChauntGreetings fellow journos! 

This speech is supposed to be one minute, so if Steve Fox hadn’t taught us how to write concisely for Twitter, that’d be nearly impossible.

Who among us hasn’t heard this: “Journalism? That field is dying; good luck finding a job. You’ll be eating ramen noodles for the next decade.”

OK, the ramen noodle part may be true.

Four years ago, I had doubts too. In my first college class, introduction to journalism, David Perkins gave us handouts that read, in big bold print: “Journalism is dying and print is dead.” I almost left the class in tears!!

But if it weren’t for professors like BJ Roche, making all of her courses boot camps, Karen List laying down the law, Raz tweaking all of our SPIRE accounts to get into classes we needed, and Steve Fox crushing dreams, the field of journalism would be dying.

But because of them it’s not. And it won’t. Ever. It is just forever changing. 

So congratulations class of 2013…for rolling with the punches and adapting to the evolving field we choose to practice. And LOVE!


Landscape Architecture: Krystal Ford

Krystal FordHello Everyone! First, I'd like to clarify what it is we as Landscape architects actually do. No, we do not just mow lawns, trim trees and spread mulch. There’s much more to it than that.

We are creators of space. Space that connects human interaction with our land. We consider the human experience in every aspect of our designs. Our small group can make a big difference in the way our world is designed. 

The Godfather of Landscape Architecture, Fredrick Law Olmstead, said, "We respect the genius of a place, believing that every site has ecologically and spiritually unique qualities.” Our goal as Landscape Architects is to access  infuse this genius in all design decisions. That is what we have learned to do.

We made lifelong friendships,shared special moments full of laughter. We became a small community through hours of bonding in our endless—and unforgettable—studio nights.

Congratulations to the Landscape Architects and to all the SBS 2013 graduates! Remember as we begin our journey into the "real" world, the possibilities are endless. Live and love life!

Congratulations to us all!!

Legal Studies: Ashley Berger

Ashley BergerI came to UMass as a declared Legal Studies major, but by the end of first semester I was going to transfer. Some valuable advice from my mom convinced me to stay, and four years later, I’m grateful not only for that, but also for the lessons learned along the way.

First off, I learned almost everything there is to know about global warming in Legal 450, particularly that we’re all going to die because of air pollution – thanks Professors Burland and Holmes! Leah Wing effectively taught us how to peel an orange while simultaneously mediating disputes, and Diane Curtis taught us that contracts don’t actually matter. From Professor Gaitenby and Legal 250, I quickly learned the Stop and Frisk Rule and other useful facets of police power, which probably helped all of us at some point. But, I still wonder what Judge Carhart expected on that final. 

Most us found a certain comfort in knowing Lori and the advising team were always right around the corner with advice, cookies, or a hug. 
Thank you, faculty and friends! You made my UMass experience incredible. Congratulations to all the 2013 graduates! We did it!

Political Science: Laurie Roberts

Laurie RobertsI realize that it’s a cliché of graduation speeches to start out with a quote, but it’s somewhat appropriate. Gandhi says we need to be the change we wish to see in the world. That’s what our time studying political science has prepared us to do. We know how to think, how to be critical about what we are told by those in power, and how to make our arguments hold the full strength of our convictions. 

These skills are particularly relevant as we graduate into an increasingly uncertain global community. Most of us can barely remember a time when our country was not at war, or a time before massive ideological division, or a time before governmental and economic dysfunction. But this is our generation’s watershed moment; the opportunity is vast for you and me to take the inspiration these halls have given us, and translate it into tangible change.

Some of us will do this by working for the government, in non-profit organizations, in companies small and large, on campaigns and in small businesses, and even in jobs that have not been invented yet. But wherever we end up, our work will carry forward UMass Amherst legacy and the values of our generation.

Thank you, and congratulations to the class of 2013! Go Minutemen!

Sociology: Heather Wood

Heather WoodC. Wright Mills describes sociological imagination as “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.”  

Throughout our time here at UMASS, we have developed a unique sociological imagination. We all fondly remember those painful hours pouring over Marx and Durkheim,hoping to gaining some insight. we have looked critically at large themes that challenge our society.  While our culture so deeply focuses on individual freedoms and opportunity, sociology has given us some much needed perspective into a bigger picture.

I am proud to look at all of you here today and know you are committed to exercising your sociological imagination to bring us into a bright future.

I am deeply honored to have spent four years along side the sociology faculty, staff and peer advisors here at UMASS. without them I would have never been able to stand in front of you today. And thank you to my wonderful and supportive family.

Congratulations to everyone! I leave you with the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” 

STPEC: Liam Lynch

Liam LynchGood Afternoon, I feel extremely honored to speak on behalf of my friends in STPEC. 

I know we have a rather long-winded title for our major. It seems like a lot of times our friends and family have no idea what we are studying…. and I think for some time I had no idea either. But fortunately, I think I get it now. 

STPEC offers an education that values 
collective provision, collective wisdom, and collective strength. 

It is a space that builds community among its students and reveres communal achievement. 
And Community is extremely valuable when you’re examining all the injustice that prevails within society today, confronting these issues can feel isolating. But my peers and I have spent our undergrad cultivating our imaginations in order to envision a better future.  

So I stand here today feeling very fortunate to be graduating alongside people who are going to be accountable to their values and will be active participants in the world. 

I love you guys. Thank you