by Olivia Laramie
On Thursday, Oct. 1, the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst celebrated its fifth anniversary as an organization. CMASS staff, students and members of the UMass community gathered in the Durfee Conservatory garden across from Wilder Hall to recognize the efforts of CMASS over the past five years. Food was provided by UMass Catering, and guests were also treated to “I am CMASS” t-shirts.
“Advocacy, commitment, expertise, compassion, love.” These are the five words, interim co-director of CMASS Oscar Collins, said he uses to describe the center.
“CMASS has become a family away from home for a lot of undergraduates, said Dr. Shelly Perdomo, Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor of UMass. “I’m sure in celebrating your 10-year anniversary, you will continue to not only provide outstanding services and programs to [the university] and surrounding communities, but you will continue to play an instrumental role in creating a positive and inclusive campus climate.”
Astrid Esquilin Nieves, a sophomore linguistics and French major, spoke on her experience with the center. “I’ve been a part of CMASS for a little over a year. [They] have impacted my life in a very positive way. They really, truly care for us. I [feel] such a positive energy everywhere in Wilder Hall.”
Sophomore mathematics major Allen Tan, one of the Creative ITs at CMASS, talked about CMASS’s effect on his life on campus. “CMASS has definitely changed my life. I love the people here. I walk in and I’m home.”
Mary Nguyen, a recent UMass graduate, returned to campus to speak at the anniversary celebration. “I met my lifelong friends and lifelong mentors at CMASS. They’re here for you. I understand what people meant by home away from home. I graduated with a sense of community. They became more than CMASS, they became my friends.”
Nguyen spoke of her excitement to come back, reflecting on her last day on campus, saying she couldn’t bring herself to say goodbye to her friends at CMASS – she knew she would see them again and it “wasn’t goodbye.”
To conclude the celebration, everyone crossed the street back to Wilder Hall and took turns shoveling soil onto a new tree symbolizing CMASS’s place on campus, as both the tree and organization will continue to take root and grow.