Class of 2011 Lifts Off
Campus celebrates 141st Commencement
“Welcome to the world, UMass class of 2011,” NASA astronaut and UMass Amherst alumna Catherine “Cady” Coleman, speaking from aboard the International Space Station, told 4,300 graduates at their May 13 commencement. “The possibilities for the future are limitless. You have the power of an education and there’s a lot you can do with that.”
Coleman spoke to graduates, families, and friends in a videotaped address. The 141st undergraduate commencement was held at 5 p.m. Friday in McGuirk Alumni Stadium, following the graduate school and Stockbridge School ceremonies earlier in the day.
Coleman earned her doctorate in polymer science and engineering from UMass Amherst in 1991 and is a chemist and retired U.S. Air Force colonel. She was chosen by NASA in 1992 to be an astronaut and is a veteran of two previous Space Shuttle missions.
In her remarks, Coleman stressed the importance of teamwork, crediting her UMass Amherst professors and colleagues with her accomplishments. As she finished speaking, she revealed the “little piece of UMass” she brought to the International Space Station−a Minuteman bobblehead doll, which floated in the zero-gravity environment.
This year’s student speaker was Alan Taylor Ulichney of Stow, Mass., a dual major in journalism and economics, who urged fellow graduates not to settle down right away, but to “take your sweet time to find your place in the world.”
UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub and UMass President Jack M. Wilson presided and presented an honorary degree to David Gergen, former White House senior aide to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. Jerome Paros ’60, a leader in measurement science, and Kenneth L. Brayman ’77, a pioneer in diabetes research, received Distinguished Achievement Awards.
The 2011 parade of international flags included banners from 59 nations carried by graduating seniors representing their home countries.
Holub urged graduates to stay close to their classmates. He said, “Wherever you go, you will find that your degree is widely respected and that the education and life experiences you have received here have prepared you to make a meaningful contribution to the world – and perhaps to change the world.”