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UMass Lowell Convocation Opens Academic Year

Event Welcomes Students to Community of River Hawks

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney
UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney addresses students from the classes of 2024 and 2025 at Convocation.


Contact for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell kicked off the start of the 2021-2022 academic year today with Convocation, the official welcome for first-year and transfer students in the Class of 2025. 

Held at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, the event also served as an introduction to campus for students in the Class of 2024, many of whom arrived at the university for the first time this week after learning remotely for the past year. Classes begin on Wednesday.

Close to 2,600 new freshmen and transfer students will become River Hawks this fall. Seven-hundred first-year and transfer students are joining UMass Lowell’s Honors College, bringing its total enrollment to a new high of 2,097. In addition, hundreds of new students who are the first in their families to attend college will join the UMass Lowell River Hawk Scholars Academy, a nationally acclaimed program that provides academic and support services tailored to their needs to enhance their educational, campus and community experiences. 

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney praised the incoming students for the resiliency they possess as they weather the challenges of the pandemic era. She predicted those skills will serve them well and be put to new use as they launch their UMass Lowell careers. 

“Let’s imagine what the next four years have in store for you,” she said. “Imagine a way to improve our campus community and even better the world around you. We have the most brilliant, talented faculty and staff all here working for you around the clock to make what you’re imagining today possible.” 

For Moloney, who announced last month she would step down from her post in June 2022, the event marked her last Convocation and the start of her last year as UMass Lowell’s leader. Unanimously appointed in 2015 as the university’s first woman chancellor, she has overseen a campuswide transformation launched in 2007 that has realized record gains in student enrollment, academic preparedness, diversity, and graduation and retention rates. 

“When you graduate, remember just how far your imagination took you while you were here at UMass Lowell,” she said to incoming students. “I look forward to getting to know all of you.”

Education expert Nana Younge, a 2018 UMass Lowell graduate and executive director of the Get Girls Going, delivered the event’s keynote remarks. Younge founded the nonprofit, which empowers Black teen girls to be change-makers and find purpose through entrepreneurship, while pursuing her undergraduate degree in business administration.

“The college journey and process is most important. It’s learning about how you contribute,” she said. “Embracing the process could lead you to your purpose. Know that you are in a place where opportunities and resources exist that can help you succeed.” 

Student Government Association President Neyder Fernandez, a double-major in political science and peace and conflict studies, and student-athlete Halle Anderson, an exercise science major and member of the 2021 UMass Lowell women’s soccer team who helped clinch the America East regular-season championship, also addressed their classmates. Both Fernandez and Anderson live in Lowell. 

The event included presentations by three student teams from UMass Lowell’s DifferenceMaker Program, which teaches students in all majors skills they can use to launch their own businesses and nonprofits. Since the program began in 2012, it has helped students establish 40 companies, raise $5 million in seed funding and file 11 patents in support of their ventures.

Other participants in Convocation included Provost Joseph Hartman and the deans of the university’s schools and colleges. UMass Lowell’s Air Force and Army ROTC units presented the colors while Andrew Marshall, a 2021 UMass Lowell graduate from Boxford who competed last season on NBC’s “The Voice,” performed the national anthem via a video broadcast in the arena. The UMass Lowell Marching Band performed the university’s fight song, “River Hawk Pride,” under the direction of Daniel Lutz, director of university bands.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.