Image of Rebecca Hewitt

Rebecca Hewitt, assistant professor of environmental studies at Amherst College, was the speaker for the Commonwealth Honors College’s annual Daffodil Lecture on Sustainability and the Environment. Hewitt’s research focuses on the environment hidden to the naked eye, meaning the ecology of interactions between below ground soils, microbes, and plant roots. Given the rapidly changing environments of the northern boreal and tundra ecosystems present in Alaska and Siberia, Hewitt focuses her research there, specifically on the mechanisms behind the advancing tree line in Alaska and forest regeneration in eastern Russia.

Image of Ashley Braziel and Elm Building with text reading: Talking with Women Leaders of the College, Ashley Braziel Coordinator of Events and Programs

Before crowds of dancers swarm the Latinx Heritage Month Fiesta and rows of students line up for the annual Daffodil Lecture, Ashley Braziel works tirelessly to plan Commonwealth Honors College events that uplift a sense of community on campus.

"If we can provide programming that helps to support learning outside the classroom just as much as learning inside the classroom, I think that's the goal. It's a different kind of learning, but it's very valuable," she says.

Headshot of University of Massachusetts faculty Lorraine Cordeiro

Lorraine Cordeiro, associate professor in nutrition, will be hosting this semester’s Pizza & Prof lecture. As the director of the Center for Research on Families, Cordeiro’s work dives deep into the relationship between food insecurity, high risk-health behaviors, and nutritional outcomes among adolescents and women in a variety of social and cultural settings. So, who is Lorraine Cordeiro? And why Pizza & Prof? Read on to find out more!

Charmaine Nelson speaks at the University of Massachusetts

Photos by Rob Skinner

Renowned art historian and Provost Professor of Art History Charmaine A. Nelson delivered the keynote address for the  annual Black Heritage Month Celebration this year at the Honors College. Nelson’s lecture unearthed the history of enslaved Black people in Canada and dived deep into how they continuously resisted their enslavers.

Nelson began her lecture with a quote and a fugitive slave advertisement from Quebec to provide commonplace examples of enslaver control, and how enslavers had power over both the inner and outer worlds of enslaved people.

Thompson Hall at the University of Massachusetts

Almost everyone has some type of story or motivation of why they chose their major. Whether it be due to basic interest, future prospects, or pursuing their passions. With the multitude of options, I can easily see how it can be difficult to choose. However, I hope that by sharing why I chose my major, those exploring majors can draw insights to find their own path, while those already declared can reflect on why they chose their field.

Image of Charmaine Nelson with text reading: Commonwealth Honors College Presents: Slavery, Mobility, and the Creolized Counter-Knowledge of Resistance, Charmaine A. Nelson, UMass Amherst, Provost Professor of Art History, Department of History of Art & Architecture, Feb. 22, Annual Black Heritage Month Celebration  CHC Events Hall 5:00 p.m. Reception to Follow, This event is supported by the Williamson Lecture Funds

From researching enslaved Black people in Canada to emphasizing the importance of understanding creolization, Charmaine A. Nelson’s highly anticipated Black Heritage Month Lecture dives deep into Black history and the parts of it that are often misunderstood. So, what is the lecture about? What can the audience expect? All your questions answered, right here.


Image of DuBois Library

The spring of your junior year is always such a strange time as an Honors student. You have to start thinking about your thesis but also not? There’s not much you can do right now, but you also have to use this time to prepare for everything that’s right around the corner as you start senior year.

So, for all my fellow juniors who aren’t sure exactly what to do about their thesis right now, here’s what I’ve been doing to plan it out!

Honors Alumni Share Their Flight Paths

Commonwealth Honors College alumni met with current Honors students on Thursday, April 7 to share how they adapted to life post-graduation. Gathering on Zoom, CHC graduates from the Class of 2021 offered attendees personal and heartfelt advice as many students prepare to take flight from the University of Massachusetts.

Costume designer Ruth E. Carter gestures with her hands while speaking at the University of Massachusetts

On Thursday Feb. 17, the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst welcomed costume design visionary Ruth E. Carter to present “From Honoring Culture to Creating Marvel’s Worlds" in celebration of Black Heritage Month.

Tabacco-Schmidt Herlin with Joe 2021

Family, faculty, and donors gathered in the Honors College Events Hall on Saturday, November 6 to celebrate Honors students receiving over $350,000 in scholarship awards. 

The Poetry of Social Justice with Martín Espada

The 2021 Commonwealth Honors College Plenary lecture was a soulful event made even more special for being the first in-person, collective experience of art many participants have been able to share since the beginning of the pandemic.



Dean Mari Castañeda welcomes Commonwealth Honors College students to the 2021-22 academic year on behalf of all Honors faculty and staff. "We are so excited to be back in person and to engage with everyone"


Nef A. Walker, PhD, Vice Chancellor & Chief Diversity Officer, acknowledges the distress and angst felt by our community, especially our Black community members who are living through the very public and all-too-common assault against their humanity, and urges us all to take good care of ourselves, and continue to support and lift each other. 

Mt. Ida

If you’re considering an internship in the Boston area, as a UMass Amherst student you can take advantage of our Mount Ida Campus in Newton, Mass.

Student Blog

Tree in fall colors in front of CHC Building at the University of Massachusetts

By Xavier Aparicio and Caelyn Nordman

Welcome to the new recurring blog series, ‘A Student’s Guide to CHC!’ In this blog series, our writers will highlight the key elements of the Honors College, including helpful resources, academic opportunities, places to eat and study, fun events, and more! We hope this guide will help any incoming or prospective Honors students as they start their journey at CHC.

Picture of Chicken Tikka Masala with Naan and rice at the University of Massachusetts

It's no secret that UMass has one of the best on-campus dining programs in the world. The collection of Worcester (Woo), Franklin (Frank), Hampshire (Hamp), and Berkshire (Berk) Dining Commons, along with all the cafes and restaurants (like Roots Café, Blue Wall & People’s Organic) is what truly puts this campus on the map. So, if you just got here, how do you navigate this food cornucopia? Well, here’s my way of getting the ultimate dining experience here, and making sure you get the best of the best from each dining hall. Warning: I may be biased towards Frank (just a little bit), but nonetheless, this should be a perfect guide to the halls.


Mahi takes a selfie above the London skyline while studying abroad as a University of Massachusetts student

In this final installment of his study abroad series, Mahi recounts his final thoughts on his student exchange program in London and what he's looking forward to as he makes his way back to UMass.