May 26, 2017

Here at MassPolticsProfs.com we discuss politics, government, and policy and what they mean for the commonwealth. But for one day I'm going to brag on a public institution: my school UMass Boston, Boston's great public research university.

We have the most diverse student body of any university in the state. This year the university will confer degrees to 4,139 students — 2,840 undergraduates and 1,299 graduate students, including 83 doctoral candidates. Graduates come from more than 100 countries and speak more than 90 languages. About half of our graduates each year are the first in their family to earn a college degree. Think about that.

Our students may be the most resilient you have ever seen. We teach veterans thriving in an academic environment, others struggling with physical and psychological injuries. I've had students fighting through serious medical issues, and recovering from addictions. More than a few of my students have been on the streets long before their sixteenth birthday. We have a food bank on campus. Almost all UMB students hold down jobs to help them get through school, and quite a few are parents of young or even grown children. Don't get me started on the wonderful students from Belarus who struggle through years of hardship to get their education. They are outstanding and so are the students from Bosnia, Nigeria, Haiti, Dominican Republic, -- well there are over 100 countries represented so I have to stop there.

This week my department hosted a senior dinner for political science majors. We had a lot to celebrate. Our department has an award named for our late colleague Roger Feinstein, who loved urban policy and sustainability, and this year we had the perfect awardee: Ashley Pierre-Louis. Her Honors Thesis was on development in her hometown of Brockton; Ashley will be attending the Tufts University Masters in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Program. Angelika Katsinis’s Honors topic stayed close to home too – the impact of the opioid crisis on her hometown of Dedham inspired her thesis on how Massachusetts is addressing the crisis. Daniel Lucey reminded us all what a Marine is made of – he overcame all challenges and will be studying at Northeastern University School of Law in the fall.

When I talk to colleagues who teach at some of the elite institutions in the country they sometimes lament how entitled some of their students seem. Not here. Our students work hard and they couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to get a good education.

As someone who transferred from another university then dropped out twice before finally getting my undergraduate degree from UMB I'm grateful for the opportunities an education here offers. When you are looking for not a second chance but a third, you need a place like UMB.

So as a faculty member now and a proud graduate, I'm delighted to welcome the class of 2017 into the ranks of our alumni

UMass Boston, UMB

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