Last Saturday morning the Tsongas Center resounded with “Pomp and Circumstance” bringing a record 3, 478 UMass Lowell students into the future. A dozen members of the Class of 1964 – seven from Lowell State – led the Class of 2014 into the Center to the applause, cheers, whistles and warmest good feelings of family, friends and supporters as we remembered our more modest but equally meaningful commencement. This mass of students hailing from local to global got individual recognition for achievement as each name was announced, each was viewed on the large screen, each hand was shaken by the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor, each was individually photographed and each had a degrees conferred. Each student was called to serve, to make their mark, to pay it forward – first by Chancellor Meehan then by Bill Nye in his commencement address. Nye, the science guy, then challenged them to “change the world.” There was a vibe charging from Nye to these graduates… heads were bobbing, consent was murmuring and finally a cheer rose from them for him and his call to arms about climate change and how they could engage their fellow citizens of the world. It was almost an electric charge!
Photo courtesy of George Habib (spouse of a 50-year alum)
My memory of this 2014 UML Commencement will linger with me as from my own. As I look back – to experience and be part of the growth and transformation of higher education in our community over the last 50 years is a privilege… and although my role was minor the connections are of great significance to me. I viewed the passage of 50 years through my front row seat in the Tsongas Arena on Saturday. As my friend and Class of 1962 alum Pauline Golec warned, the experienced was emotional. The charge was electric!
Congratulations to the graduates and welcome to the alumni family. Kudos to the Chancellor, the faculty, the team for a world-class commencement event. Thanks to all for the warm and wonderful handling of the 50-year alums.
There’s a lot to like about UMass Lowell – and I do!