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UMass Lowell Welcomes, Implores Class of 2020 to 'Do the Right Thing'

Freshmen Ania Burgess and Lily Green have a good laugh listening to UMass Lowell's 2016 Convcation Speaker at the Tsongas Center. Photo by John Love/Lowell Sun
UMass Lowell freshmen Ania Burgess, left, of Newbury and Lily Green of Brockton had a good laugh listening to convocation keynote speaker Cory Ciocchetti.

Lowell Sun
By Amelia Pak Harvey

LOWELL -- Freshman Elizabeth Osborne enters UMass Lowell with a great ambition: to help find a cure for cancer.

The disease has impacted her family. Her grandmother has skin cancer and her father, a UMass Lowell alumnus, is currently battling leukemia.

"I've seen the toll that it's taken on people's lives," she said. She hopes to become part of the push to fix it.

With a love of chemistry and a devotion to her studies, the Merrimac native is already engaging in science-oriented activities.

She's living with other science lovers in the Women in Science and Engineering living-learning community, which groups students in housing based on their interests.

And she's already been in touch with a faculty member in the chemistry department, she said, looking for opportunities to engage in the field.

"I like just the endless possibilities of things you can do," she said of chemistry. "Really you can create all these different medicines, you can create everything."

Osborne's drive is just what school officials stressed as they welcomed the new Class of 2020 on Wednesday -- an ambition to do something for the greater good.

The message came as the university also announced a $1 million donation from community philanthropist Nancy Donahue and her late husband, Richard.

The funds will create the Donahue Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, which will expand business ethics courses in the Manning School of Business.

The courses, currently offered to upperclassmen, will extend to freshmen, according to university spokeswoman Christine Gillette.

Students of all majors will be able to study ethics through a new Student Ethics Fellows program that will offer faculty research opportunities. The center will be located in the new Pulichino Tong Business Center set to open next year.

As she welcomed the university's newest class, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney broke down hours of the week, noting that students will have 60 to 70 hours of their own time.

"Some of you will hold down jobs in that time to support yourselves, and we understand that. We all need time to relax and exercise," she said. "But if you have something left over, consider how you can use that time to do the right thing and make a difference, because God knows this world could use your help right now."

Keynote speaker Corey Ciocchetti, an associate professor of business ethics and legal studies at the University of Denver, shared his story as a first-generation college student focused on getting rich.

He described a job interview with a law firm after he graduated from Duke University Law School.

One attorney followed him into the bathroom, he remembered, and gave him a warning.

"He leans in and he whispers, and he goes, 'Don't come here. This place sucks. You will hate these people, and they will hate you,'" he said.

Six months later, he said, that attorney proved himself right. He later resigned and was offered a job at his alma mater, the University of Denver.

Ciocchetti urged students not to let money define them.

"The world is telling you, seek wealth and you will be happy. Seek to be pretty or handsome and you will be happy. Seek to be popular and renowned, and you will be happy," he said. "I had all those things and I was miserable. Why? Because all those things don't have the capacity to make a human being happy."

He also asked students to leave a legacy, making at least small changes while they're here.

"I would ask you to fight here for some little things," he said. "You may not stop all sexual assaults, but let's stop one. You may not stop everybody from cheating, but can you stop one person? Can we stop one person from getting blackout drunk on the weekends?"

This year marks the university's largest incoming group of students yet, with 2,900 freshmen and transfers.

The 1,700 first-year students also bring the school's highest average GPA and SAT score, at 3.59 and 1179, respectively.