SBS Senior Celebration Ceremony: Senior Speakers
Anthropology: Nora Downey
Anthropology is the study of humans, it’s the study of human kind, of humanity. (I know there are a few parents out there who are still wondering what exactly that means.) In Anthropology, we piece together the narratives of humanity: from examining archaeological artifacts, to observing our primate relatives, to people watching in Berkshire Dining Common—all right, we were probably at Earthfoods more often than Berk, but you know what I mean.
For me, Anthropology has provided a vocabulary to my intrinsic interest in, and concern for, people. It has made me more critical, but also more appreciative and understanding of others.
But, if you're anything like me, you go back and forth between knowing the value of anthropology and questioning what you're going to do with your life. The truth is, in the current frenzy of globalization, the skills and practices of Anthropology are more important than ever before. According to Wade Davis—who works at the most hip Anthropology magazine there is, National Geographic—“the central revelation of Anthropology is that this world deserves to exist in a diverse way; that we can find a way to live in a truly multicultural world where all of the wisdom of all peoples can contribute to our collective well-being.”
Our studies have taught us to revel in the diversity of humankind while uniting people according to our shared humanity.
We can start by pointing out our shared love Beyonce.
Congratulations, class of 2012.
Communication: Communication Peer Advisors
Video message, written and produced by Senior Peer Advisors: Chelsea Castillo, Stella Chen, Emily Daunt, Miyagi Jacobs, Marianne Kim, Kaitlyn Medeiros, Jennifer Nguyen, Chelsea Souza
Economics: Lauren Costello
To my fellow economics majors, and to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences as a whole, I am so proud to have the opportunity to say congratulations on making it through these four...maybe five…or six years. Regardless of the time it took, we are graduating, we are moving on into the 'real world' and I think for many of us, myself included, that's fairly terrifying. Quite frankly, though, I think the term 'real world' is a bit overused. Out of necessity, economists are very much IN the real world. I suppose now the only difference is we live in a world without world's longest sushi role...or something.
What I really want to say right now is thank you. My own experience at UMass these four years has been tenuous, or trying, at times, but I can truly say, and I think I speak for many, that I've learned a tremendous amount in the economics department-- not just a set of skills, or a method of calculation, but a standpoint, a worldview. I have something real and substantial to say, and I have the incredible faculty to thank for that. So on behalf of the economics class of 2012 and myself, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me not just an education, but a perspective.
So, my fellow economists. Go out, use your oh-so-stereotypical pragmatic brain to our society's advantage, but never forget Marx. I mean UMass.
Environmental Design: Elizabeth Moll
There is a typo on the homepage of the Environmental Design website. It reads, "This program gives you… an opporunity for personal growth and satisfaction." At first glance I was not particularly interested in this inspirational but formulaic message.
But then I thought about it: "an opporunity for personal growth and satisfaction..." The "opp" as in opting for the best ways to provide a sustainable future and the "unity" of students and professors with an integrated approach to Environmental Design.
The ED major unites people from many different backgrounds with unique life experiences and ideas. Both professors and our peers have united to inspire us to make the most of our study of Environmental Design.
We have learned how the world works and how we can play an important part in building the future. We have taken a multidisciplinary look at ecology and conservation, social justice, and community development. We have investigated systems that range from small biota to enormous built structures and landforms. Our grand synthesis of these viewpoints is indeed an opporunity for better design practices.
So yes, the Environmental Design program, whose only flaw is one typo, has allowed me to see the field of planning in a new way and shown me that a mistake may be a chance for growth or a gateway to new ideas.
May all our opportunities be opporunities as we enter this new phase of our lives. Congratulations to the Environmental Designers and all of the SBS 2012 graduates!
Journalism: Rachel Roberts
As a journalist its tough to keep this under one minute, but professor-mandated Twitter usage has taught me keep it short and sweet, so here goes:
Our years in Bartlett have shaped us as curious, persistent, skeptical and committed journalists. We’ve learned the fundamentals, including how to sustain our sleep-deprived bodies with coffee and munchkins. We may have missed the new building going up by the campus pond, but at least we witnessed the advent of video cameras without cassette tapes.
Between unreturned phone calls and complaints to our professors, we’ve learned that few like us, but someone’s got to hold the powerful accountable. We’ve survived journalism 300 and the wrath of BJ Roche. Most of us have made it without having to call Karen List to bail us out of jail, though I know you’re all dreaming of the day your journalistic endeavors land you in the slammer. Our professors are organizing a group trip to Holeshots tomorrow for Journalism Code of Ethics tattoos: they wouldn’t want you behind bars without reading material.
Who knows what great things we’ll do past the weekend’s graduation parties, but because we’re journalists, let’s hope ramen noodles stay at 23 cents a pack. For the rest of my life, I’ll be proud to say I’m a UMass Amherst J-School graduate. So excuse me while I document the last few moments of my undergraduate career (cell). It’s been real class of 2012. And even though he’s a Comm. Major, in the name of Giddens and his audio/visual YouTube production for the Class of 2012, #IllNeverForgetU.
Landscape Architecture: Kyle Jackson
I had a vague idea what landscape architecture was at first and I soon understood it was much more than glorified gardening. Most people know that landscape architects create parks by shaping spaces, placing benches and winding paths amongst them. What isn’t so clear to most is that not only create places for humans, fauna and biota to coexist, but that we create an experience through the media of the landscape.
My time here at UMASS has evoked some unforgettable experiences. One in particular was our introduction studio with the honest, intimidating and passionate Professor Joe Volpe. Starting as a class of 30 we emerged the following semester with a mere 14 who made it through the academic gauntlet. I hadn’t realized that such a frightening transition would result in such an unforgettable camaraderie. I wouldn’t want to spend an all-nighter trying to prepare a presentation with any other group of kids, if you can believe that, parents.
Congratulations to all of you. We finally made it! I know we wish we had a couple more weeks, or months, to just enjoy this place, but as we follow our separate paths, we’ll soon be immersed in so many other great opportunities and experiences. I urge you to make the most them and take on new challenges.
And when you see a bench, take a minute or two to sit down—that’s what its there for. Enjoy the view, enjoy the experience and enjoy the ride.
Legal Studies: Holly Galvin
The path to becoming a Legal Studies major began while I was lounging in my grandmother’s recliner watching “Mean Girls.” My brother Jack strolled in, having ripped open my college acceptance letter. Plopping the torn envelope down, he casually said, “Yo, you got into UMass.”
A few maroon hooded sweatshirts and tens of thousands of dollars later, they may have to drag the Class of 2012 out of the Mullins Center kicking and screaming, because we love UMass. But in a few short months the class of 2016 will get to hear the most beautiful words a Legal Studies major can hear at 2:00 am on the fifth floor of the library: “Thank you for calling Wings, pick-up or delivery?”
The best thing I’ve heard at UMass happened while I was sitting next to two of my wildest friends, whom —it is no coincidence—are Legal Studies majors. We’d just concluded a trial advocacy competition against Cornell University when the presiding judge asked us what schools we represented.
When my co-captain Sheryl Klein said, “We’re from UMass,” the judge leaned back and replied, “Oh!”
So here’s to graduating from a world class public research university that’s going to keep surprising people.
Here’s to our conscientious faculty, our dedicated SBS and pre-law advising offices and our classy Legal Studies grads.
And lastly, here’s to our families who helped get us here—it was going to be a long wait in the parking lot afterwards if I didn’t thank my parents. Go UMass.
Political Science: Amanda Orth
Good afternoon. My name is Amanda Orth, and I am one of many today, celebrating a graduation. I have been told to keep this short, and largely free from sentiment. I will try my best!
I am sure we are all appropriately freaked out at the prospect of leaving College by now. Today I will not be focusing on our bright futures, or how much we have to add to the world. I am sure this is something that time, family and friends will convince you of. Instead, I would like to remind you of the immediate past. Right after finals like this it might be tempting to want to “block it out” – don’t!
These past few days – weeks – have been necessarily hectic, getting ready for this weekend. So right now I would like to ask you all to take just fifteen seconds to stop everything else and look around. Right now. All of these people are here for you. This day was not inevitable. You all made it happen. You all are sitting here today because you have accomplished something great. These robes are not just to make you uncomfortable or stand out, but signify work and achievement. They mark you as graduates.
I hope that many more people will tell you this in the coming weeks and years - Congratulations, graduates.
Now, to wrap up, a final note taken from a favorite author, Douglas Adams: To my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts - So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Sociology: Kelsey Cintolo
So, I wanted to open with a joke but, to be honest, sociology jokes are just not funny. Especially to non-sociologists. For instance, we asked the sociology faculty to come up with something, and the best one they came up with was:
-Why did the sociologist cross the road?
Yeah, that was the best one. A good joke would have touched on a common experience of all sociology majors but, there’s so much variety in our interests and pursuits that there isn’t much that creates a unified experience among us-- besides maybe scrambling to get into 401 by the end of senior year.
And while the variety made it hard for me to write this, it’s part of why we are one of the best majors. Some of you will go on to be lawyers, social workers, counselors, researchers, business professionals, and correctional officers--pretty much anything.
As sociology majors though, there is one thing that unites us: we all have the ability to see the uncommon in the common, to be aware of and then examine what most people take for granted.
So I know that we won't take the amazing memories and education we've received at UMass for granted either. Congrats and best of luck in the many and varied paths you're about to take!
STPEC: Adam Leader-Smith
Hello everyone! Speaking on behalf of Social Thought and Political Economy students is a difficult task. To be honest, I’m much more accustomed to chanting in solidarity outside Whitmore than I am giving a speech alone on stage. I even considered writing this speech democratically, but as we learn in STPEC, practicing democracy takes a long time, and unfortunately I’m stuck with just a minute to say my piece.
Thinking about life after graduation isn’t easy for a STPEC student. We spend a lot of time learning about social theory, much to the dismay of those who see college as strictly a vocational training ground, but it can be hard to figure out what all that theory means once we leave college.
Considering this, I was inspired by the writer Charles Lemert: he said, “Social theory is what we do when we find ourselves able to put into words what nobody seems to want to talk about. When we find those words, and say them, we learn to survive.”
A lot is happening in the world that many would rather not talk about: racism, sexism, economic inequality, environmental degradation, and more. Reflecting on the sometimes endless, exhilarating, frustrating, revelatory conversations in STPEC classes about these issues, I realize our education has molded us into people with the ability to survive, thrive, and fight for justice. To me, there is no better vocation.
Congratulations, class of 2012, and to our Director, Sara Lennox, who after 31 years is very deservedly graduating to the title of Emeritus.