The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ryan Duggan Selected as 2021 Celebration of Excellence Student Speaker


Ryan Duggan ’21, a natural resources conservation major with an environmental concentration, has been selected as the student speaker for the 2021 Commonwealth Honors College Celebration of Excellence. Although virtual, the convocation ceremony will take place on May 13 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. when Duggan will deliver his speech. 

During his recitation, Duggan plans to touch on the many experiences he’s had as an undergraduate in the Honors College that has shaped who he is today. In highlighting why this speech is so important, he says, “I got really excited because I thought it would be enjoyable for me and because I thought it would be fun for everybody I know to say, ‘Oh, I know the speaker—it’s Ryan!’”  

Although brief, Duggan’s time with the Honors College is not to be overlooked. After transferring from North Shore Community College in his junior year, Duggan hit the ground running. He became president of the Beekeeping Club, a member of the poetry, knitting, and archery clubs, and is an RA—all in the span of two years.  

When he’s not tending to bees, reciting poetry, or hitting targets, he’s working on a variety of naturistic projects, such as his Honors Thesis. Duggan decided to focus his thesis on everything environmental, saying, “I want to be an author; I want to teach people things, and I want to talk about nature all day. All of that melded nicely into this project.” 

Despite attending a technical high school with an environmental focus, Duggan attributes much of his newly-found love for the environment to his thesis research. “I’m getting a degree in things people should know more about,” says Duggan. “Whatever line I go down, I can point to this and say I did this really cool thing and I’m competent.”  

For the last eight years, Ryan’s work has centered around all the qualities that make life interesting. While he hasn’t decided on what he wants to do next, he knows nature is in the picture. “I’m hoping to go into environmental education, whether it be an environmental educator or park ranger or a professor,” he says. If not the Smokies, Duggan someday hopes to visit and possibly work in the Washington State Parks. But his dream to patrol the parks and environmentally educate will always come back to New England.