Under perfect skies, the 192 graduates of the UMass Worcester Class of 2011 received applause and recognition for their years of hard work from the 3,000 family, friends, faculty and staff who viewed the festivities under the giant tent on the campus green on Sunday, June 5. They also heard talks from campus leaders, distinguished guests and fellow students, who marked the significant occasion with reflections and advice.
“Touch the hands of your patients, join the hands of your colleagues, hold the hands of your mentors and you will not only bring comfort, you will find comfort,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “Your hands will be directed and your hearts will be guided with integrity and surety. And we shall take great pride in you, recognizing you as one of our own.”
Keynote speaker Donna E. Shalala, former secretary of Health and Human Services, outlined the challenges the graduates will face in trying to keep the patient first in all they do.
“You already have the keys. It’s not only your education, the best in the world, it is not only your dedication that got you this far. It’s yourselves, your intellect, and your imagination, your compassion and your concern, your ethics and your energy. But most of all, it’s your humanity,” she said.
Shalala, president of the University of Miami, received an honorary degree in recognition of her outstanding stewardship of the Health and Human Services secretariat and her steadfast commitment to the health and well-being of this nation’s children. She told the class she was honored to receive an honorary degree.
“UMass Worcester is more than just a great institution of higher learning. It is a true community built on commitment and camaraderie and the spirit of caring,” said Shalala. “I am delighted to be an honorary member of the class of 2011.”
Founding UMMS faculty member Arthur Pappas, MD, professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation and pediatrics, and Autism Speaks founders Suzanne and Bob Wright also received honorary degrees. Dr. Pappas received his degree in recognition of his unparalleled leadership in the Worcester community and his years of dedication to sports medicine along with the numerous academic and philanthropic contributions to UMass Medical School. Suzanne and Bob Wright were recognized for their impact on increasing awareness of autism as a major health threat, support for research into this complex neurobiological condition and advocacy on behalf of people affected by autism around the world.
The three student speakers, representing the three schools of UMass Worcester, all talked of a bright future for themselves and fellow graduates. “The future is ours to create. I, for one, can’t wait to get started,” said Patrick Griswold, the GSN class speaker who is graduating with a master of science in nursing in the nurse educator track.
Linzy Hendrikson, GSBS class speaker, reassured faculty and advisors, “Science will always be in our hearts. We promise never to stop being an academic. And don’t worry. We’re going to do whatever we want.”
Anthony Burrows, MD, who will soon begin his residency in neurological surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said: “The graduates of 2011 have the best combination of clinical knowledge, compassion, advocacy and humanity to face our future obstacles. It will be an honor working together for the rest of our lives.”
UMass Worcester awarded 80 MDs; 57 PhDs; one master of science in clinical investigation; five MD/PhDs; and, in nursing, 38 master of science degrees, five post-masters certificates, three PhDs and three doctor of nursing practice degrees.