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UMass Lowell Graduates Nearly 2,000


U.S. Sen. John Kerry Addresses Graduates

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ Chancellor Marty Meehan presided over Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 31 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell when nearly 2,000 graduates received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“Today, the University is saying to the public that you are prepared to take responsibility for the essential work that must be done. We look to you to contribute and lead,” Meehan told the graduates. “Every one of you has a story to tell: You aspired to advance yourself. You dreamed of acquiring knowledge that would allow you to contribute to society.”

U.S. Sen. John Kerry served as the commencement speaker.  

“Simply put, you and this school are the economic engine of the area. What happens at UMass Lowell is changing this region, this Commonwealth, this nation and this world. And the research that is conducted here and the knowledge you take with you when you leave are what will drive this economy in the years to come,” Kerry said.

Stephen Holstrom, president of the Student Government Association and a graduating senior in political science from Gardner, Mass., was the student speaker. “Today, we are leaving as students, but we should never lose our connection to this University. This University has given us so much ߝ it has given us our friendships, we learned skills here. This University has given us the tools to not only succeed, but do to great things ߝ and we will do great things.”

The University also recognized outstanding individuals in a variety of fields with honorary degrees. They are:

  • Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks Inc. Deshpande serves as a member of the MIT Corp., and his generous donations have made possible MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation. Deshpande was the keynote speaker at “Innovation for the Next Generation,” a signature event during the recent inauguration week at UMass Lowell. During the program, Deshpande shared his advice for students interested in successfully capitalizing on today’s innovation economy.
  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault, an award-winning journalist with more than 40 years experience.  She is a special correspondent with National Public Radio and has also worked for CNN as its Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent. Other posts include previous work for NPR as the network's chief correspondent in Africa and 20 years as a national correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS. Her numerous honors include two Emmy awards and two Peabody awards.
  • Mary Jo Leahey, class of 1937, graduated from the College of Music at the State Teachers College at Lowell, one of UMass Lowell’s predecessor institutions. Leahey is the visionary, founding benefactor and inspiration for the Mary Jo Leahey High School Summer Band Camp, a one-week program for talented students who have a passion for music. In 1998, Leahey received the Francis Cabot Lowell Alumni Award in Fine Arts.
  • Gerald Martone, class of 1979, director of Humanitarian Affairs at the International Rescue Committee. Martone is involved in advocacy on behalf of people affected by political oppression, disasters and violent conflict. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, course lecturer in humanitarian assistance at Fordham University, and a contributing editor to the American Journal of Nursing.
  • Edward O. Wilson, professor emeritus at Harvard University, where he taught for four decades and received both of its college-wide teaching awards. He is the author of 25 books, two of which won Pulitzer Prizes, “Human Nature” (1978) and “The Ants” (1990, with Bert Hölldobler). He is the recipient of more than 100 other international medals and awards, including the National Medal of Science.

Thomas O’Connor was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award. O’Connor, who received a B.S. in Biological Science in 1977 and a M.S. in Environmental Science in 1980, has created two endowed funds at UMass Lowell. He is president and CEO of DCP Midstream, LLP, one of the nation’s largest natural gas gatherers and processors, and one of the nation’s largest natural gas liquids producers and marketers.

Student award winners were recognized at a pre-Commencement scholarship fundraiser on Friday, May 30 hosted by Chancellor Meehan. Top honors awarded include the co-valedictorians, Amanda Jenkins of Methuen, Mass., and Barbara Warren of Littleton, Mass. The Chancellor’s Medals were awarded to the following students for high academic achievement:  Barbara Warren (Humanities and Social Sciences); Amanda Jenkins (School of Health and Environment); Michelle Polys of Georgetown, Mass. (Fine Arts); Robert Mello of Arlington, Mass. (Science); Hadi Sutrisno of Indonesia (Engineering); and Katherine Wolfgang of Nashua, N.H. (Management).  The Athletic Scholarship award went to Celia Merullo of Wakefield, Mass. Medals for Student Service were awarded to Heloisa Cunha of Cambridge, Mass.; Melissa Dion of Dracut, Mass.; Stephen Holstrom; Rebecca Niddrie of Worcester, Mass., and Katelyn Watt of Norwood, Mass.

In a new practice this year, the names of all graduates were called during the ceremony, which was held at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.  Following the University-wide ceremony, individual colleges hosted receptions for graduates and their guests. 

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. It offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of

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