By Jackie Hennessy ‘13
“In a way, my involvement in high school propelled me toward UMass,” says Liam Keller Lynch ’13 (STPEC). Besides being president of his class junior and senior year, Lynch was a member of National Honor Society and marching band, was a prom planner, and worked on various fundraisers. For college, he sought a big school with many opportunities and broad acceptance of the queer community.
As an identifying transgender male, Lynch found UMass’s open and friendly reception, its strong Stonewall Center and vibrant student queer group vital aspects that helped him decide to attend.
Because of his interests in history and cultural studies, Lynch entered UMass as an anthropology major. But, shortly into his first semester, he discovered the social thought and political economy major (STPEC). “After reviewing the website and meeting with the STPEC staff, I was positive that this was the major for me,” he says.
Having always been fascinated by economics, Lynch was captivated by STPEC’s understanding of capitalism and globalization. “I am attracted to STPEC’s dedication to promoting social and environmental justice and its recognition of how racism and colonialism have shaped our world.”
STPEC has equipped Lynch with a set of tools to critically view the world and understand its complexities. This has challenged Lynch to comprehend and dissect identity, economics, and social theory as well as to understand how his standpoint and experiences shape his personal perspective of the multifaceted world.
Last spring, Lynch interned with the Amherst Survival Center (ASC) in North Amherst. As a kitchen assistant, he served hot lunches and packaged food boxes. “I was able to connect with the Amherst community on a more intimate level, deepen my bond with Amherst as a whole and understand ASC’s potential for creating and promoting social change.”
As a STPEC major, Lynch has participated in consensus-based decision-making within the department as part of the Student Executive Committee, office staff, and student advising. Through these opportunities, Lynch was able to experience how the STPEC major at UMass operates. “STPEC provides these opportunities for its majors to become heavily involved, and this involvement has made my time here at UMass a more fulfilling experience.”
For the past few years, Lynch has also been a member of Pride Alliance. This year, he became vice president, responsible for organizing and facilitating weekly meetings and events. “Being an officer has been very rewarding,” he says, “I am part of a strong united queer community here at UMass. It is very empowering to be accepted for who you are.”
Throughout his career at UMass, Lynch excelled. Last spring he received the William F. Field Alumni Scholarship, which celebrates third-year students for their academic achievements. “Being awarded this scholarship was such an honor,” he says, “I have worked very hard throughout my high school and college career and it is nice to see performance recognized and appreciated.”
Lynch’s ambition is to dedicate his life to promoting social justice. Through STPEC, he has been inspired to earn his master’s degree in UMass’s labor studies graduate program. “I aim to go out into the world and organize workers under the notion that we all have right to a living wage,” says Lynch. Armed with his UMass education, Lynch has his sights set on ultimately becoming a union organizer.
Jackie Hennessy '13, who is majoring in communication, is an intern in the SBS Dean's Office and a Communication Peer Advisor.