Subject: Advance the cause of others, speakers tell 1,500 UMD grads

South Coast Today

Advance the cause of others, speakers tell 1,500 UMD grads

By Curt Brown

May 24, 2010 12:00 AM

DARTMOUTH - One teacher walks two hours up a mountain road to teach students. Another packs books on two donkeys and delivers them to the poor in remote villages.

"These are extraordinary, unknown heroes," East Timor President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta told the approximately 1,500 UMass Dartmouth undergraduates who were gathered for the last time as a class Sunday at the university's 110th commencement exercises.

"You can be one of them," he said. "Your education will be more meaningful if you use it to do good for somebody else."

Ramos-Horta, who was elected president in 2007 and was shot by rebels in an assassination attempt on Feb. 11, 2008, outside his home in Dili, East Timor, was one of three to receive honorary degrees from the university. The others were: Julia R. Plotnick, a Fall River native, graduate of St. Anne's Hospital School of Nursing and retired U.S. assistant surgeon general and chief nurse of the U.S. Public Health Service; and Gerald Mauretti, a UMD engineering graduate, class of 1965, and president and founder of EY Technologies in Fall River.

Ramos-Horta described the two teachers from his country as his personal heroes, and his message about helping others less fortunate was echoed by other graduation speakers.

"Your education is for you, but not just for you," Chancellor Dr. Jean F. MacCormack told the graduates.

David J. MacKenzie, executive director of the UMass Building Authority who was representing UMass President Jack M. Wilson, said the graduates are entering the world at an exciting time and there is an opportunity to make a difference.

He reminded this year's class that previous UMass graduates have worked to improve food supplies and helped to bring health care to third-world countries, fought for social justice, led companies and served in elected office. He encouraged the students to follow in their footsteps.

Wilson couldn't attend the commencement because he was at his son's high school graduation.

Student speakers urged their classmates to be themselves and to push their personal boundaries in the quest for success.

"Protect yourself from going down a path you don't want to go," Student Trustee Matthew Hoyt said. "Be true to yourself."

"Life comes down to a few moments and this is one of them," said Brian Stanton, class president, of the significance of their graduation.

At a time when the country's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, graduates interviewed Sunday indicated a wide range of post-graduate plans.

And some who don't have jobs lined up said they will be living with their parents while they either look for work or save money for graduate school.

Kelly Boehm, a nursing graduate from Lynn, said her goal is to work in a psychiatric facility in the South, but first she wants to do some traveling.

"I want to go someplace warmer for a while," she said, adding she has been applying for positions, but is not concerned that she is graduating without a job.

Marissa Blais, a nursing graduate from Granby, said she starts working at a cardiac unit at Holyoke Medical Center in mid-July.

John Jameson, a painting graduate from Somerset, said he plans to go to graduate school and study painting at the New York Academy of Art.

Beyond graduate school, though, he said he hasn't made up his mind about what he wants to do. "I may teach, but I would also like to get into the galleries."

Roger Coughlin, a biomaterials engineering graduate from West Springfield, said he is applying for jobs with medical device companies, but has yet to land one.

He isn't concerned about it. "I'm going to enjoy the summer, find a job and work for a living," he said.

Alyssa Medeiros of Acushnet, who is also a biomaterials engineering graduate, said she wants to work in research and development for a drug delivery company, but is also applying to graduate school.

She is currently working at the UMass Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center in Fall River, and hopes it leads to a job.

Jodi Tucker, a psychology graduate from Worcester, said she has an interview with a home-based behavioral monitoring company.

Veronica Hanley, a painting graduate from Framingham, said she plans to move back home, take a break from school, save some money and go to graduate school in a few years.

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