SPHHS Celebrates Class of 2021

Hannah Guard (left) and Jyotika Vallurupalli (right) flank Dean Anna Maria Siega-Riz

Public Health Sciences graduating seniors Hannah Guard (left) and
Jyotika Vallurupalli (right) flank Dean Anna Maria Siega-Riz.

May 14, 2021

Over the course of May 13 and 14, 2021, the University of Massachusetts Amherst conferred over 2000 advanced degrees and 6,400 undergraduate degrees to the Class of 2021, including nearly 650 SPHHS graduating seniors and over 150 graduate students.

The Graduate Commencement on May 13 featured student speakers Alisha Jean-Denis and Ellen Smithline and brief remarks by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. Graduate School Dean Jacqueline Urla presided over the ceremony, during which graduate students representing 56 countries and the U.S. were conferred their advanced degrees.

UMass ice hockey Coach Greg Carvel delivered the keynote Undergraduate Commencement address at four smaller, socially distanced ceremonies held on May 14 at Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium under sunny skies. He shared with graduates some of his maxims for success with the 2021 national champion men’s hockey team, including daring to make bold decisions, developing a strong identity and treating others with dignity and respect. UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, who presided at the ceremonies and conferred degrees, praised the graduates for their strength, resilience and innovation during the trying times of the global pandemic.

Joining Coach Carvel and Chancellor Subbaswamy at the podium during the 3:00 pm ceremony for SPHHS majors were Dean Anna Maria Siega-Riz and student speaker Jyotika Vallurupalli ‘21, a Commonwealth Honors College student who earned her degree in public health sciences. Vallurupalli, who volunteered at the UMass Public Health Promotion Center as a contact tracer, reflected on the pandemic and how it impacted her and her classmates. “If there’s anything that this year has taught us, it’s that your voice matters,” she said. Public health sciences major Hannah Guard was also honored as a 21st Century Leader during the ceremony.

In lieu of its annual senior recognition ceremony, the School of Public Health and Health Sciences created a series of video messages to celebrate its graduating class of 2021. Dean Anna Maria Siega-Riz led an address to the graduating class alongside student speaker Parker Sweet ’21 and guest speaker Jessica Collins, Executive Director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. Additional messages were provided by SPHHS leadership, including associate and assistant deans and department chairs, along with the school’s outstanding teaching award winners. Faculty and staff from across the school also came together to congratulate the class of 2021. The SPHHS also celebrated its students in a special tribute video featuring a message from graduating senior Frenika Valcin ’21 and using photos submitted by students.

An online program including the videos and a list of the entire SPHHS graduating class of 2021 is available on the school's Class of 2021 webpage

Detailed coverage of the commencement activities at UMass Amherst, including photos and video of the commencement ceremonies, can be found online at the University's Commencement website at the links below.

UMass Amherst Links: