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2016 Commencement Remarks

48th Commencement Exercises
May 14, 2016

Lights dimmed

OPENING STATEMENT

Rob Marden

 

Good morning. My name is Rob Marden.

The University of Maine at Augusta’s Commencement is an important, exciting, and proud day for the graduates, their families and friends, and for UMA’s faculty, administration, and staff.  It is the University’s desire that the tone of the commencement ceremony be one of honor, respect, and dignity.

We ask that you refer to the ceremony protocol guidelines in the Commencement Program Booklet that you received as you entered the arena.  The protocol is meant to ensure that all graduates and their families have the best possible graduation experience.

Thank you for your commitment to ensuring a successful graduation event!!

Processional music begins.

Students leads, followed by faculty, then stage party.

Processional music ends.

 

WELCOME

President Conneely

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem, sung by UMA student Molly Worthley (Worth-Lee).

National Anthem. Please be seated.

Thank you Molly, for that beautiful rendition of our National Anthem. And thank you also to UMA’s student music group, Jazz on Tour, who performed before our commencement exercises began.

Good morning. My name is James Conneely and I am privileged to serve as the President of The University of Maine at Augusta. I could not be more delighted to be with you today for UMA’s 48th Commencement Exercises.

In my first 100 days here at UMA, I have had the pleasure to get to know the character of UMA students, and my first impression reminds me of something once said by Steve Jobs.

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

UMA has been serving the educational needs of students for more than 50 years now. And with humble beginnings as an entity of the UMaine Orono,

UMA has become the third largest institution in the University of Maine System, and the fifth largest in the State of Maine,and we are still growing.

UMA’s state-wide mission allows us to serve students in all 16 counties of Maine as well as our many out of state and international students.

In addition to our thriving Augusta and Bangor campuses, we have University College Centers located state-wide and cutting edge course delivery methods

which allow more than 40 percent of our students to take classes and even fulfill degree programs completely online and at a distance.

Today we are pleased to come together as a community, on this a rare occasion, under one roof, as one UMA, and celebrate. I’d like to take a moment to thank our graduates and their family and friends for traveling great distances to be here today. It is a milestone, one that is life changing for our graduates.

During the next couple of hours, we will be honoring and recognizing many wonderful people, most importantly the hundreds of graduating students listed in the program. Before we proceed, I would first like to honor and recognize a couple of special groups of graduates we have here at UMA.

Our students have worked hard to get here today, and many of them with life circumstances, as well as work and family commitments that make obtaining a degree a longer and more difficult journey. Can I ask any first generation, graduating students sitting here before me to please stand and be recognized?

Applause

Your perseverance and strength to pave your own road to success is admirable, and has made you into a courageous role model to those around you. Now I would also like to ask our graduating veterans and military personnel to please stand and be recognized.

Applause

Please accept our gratitude for your honor and service to this country. Your dedication and commitment are humbling.

Two other groups of graduates deserve special recognition today for their academic achievement. The first group are students enrolled in the Honors Program. These graduating students have maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or better and have completed all other academic requirements of the program. Their gold and silver medallions distinguish them today.

The second group of students are named on the Dean’s list, These students have maintained a 3.25 or higher grade point average.They are wearing a gold braid with their gowns. Please help me recognize the exceptional achievements of these students.

Applause

There is one other group of students I would like to recognize right now, for their leadership and commitment to ensuring an outstanding experience for all students. They are each wearing a blue and green cord with their gowns. These are students who served with distinction in our Student Government Association. Please help me recognize their achievements as well.

Applause

There are many people here who are not listed in the program and I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge those groups as well. It is UMA’s faculty and staff who superbly prepare our students for graduation and life afterwards, who are there from day one to help in any way our students need, and whose support and caring never stop. Can I ask our outstanding faculty and staff to rise and accept our sincere thanks?

Applause

And last but certainly not least, I would like to acknowledge another group whose help, support, and caring for our students was also constant and unwavering.  Their support began well before our students even enrolled at UMA. Can I ask the family and friends, and significant others of our students to please stand and accept our thanks?

Applause

It is now my pleasure to introduce Mr. Karl Turner, who will bring greetings from the University of Maine System Board of Trustees.

Karl Turner walks to podium. President Conneely is seated.

GREETINGS FROM BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Karl Turner

Good morning.

President Conneely, Faculty, Distinguished Guests, University Staff, parents and family members — and especially the graduating class of 2016, it is my honor to represent the University of Maine System’s Board of Trustees at this morning’s graduation ceremony.

UMA has been enhancing the lives of its students for more than a half century.  It engages learners of widely varying backgrounds face to face in a dozen physical locations around Maine while also providing online education and support any place the internet touches down.

College graduation marks a major passage. For many of you, this accomplishment and recognition comes with great sacrifice. The students of UMA are unique in that they have many competing demands, as mostly adults, to earn this incredible recognition.

Your ability to reach this goal tells me that you will do great things in your respective communities. Earning your degree sets a wonderful example for those within your inner circle (children, family members and friends).

Be proud of your accomplishment and carry it with pride. You’ve earned it!

My congratulations and best wishes to each and every member of the Class of 2016.

Thank you.

When Karl Turner finishes his remarks, Janet Parkhurst goes to lectern.

GREETINGS FROM BOARD OF VISITORS

Janet Parkhurst

The board of visitors is charged by the Maine State Legislature to:

Advocate for the university

Raise funds

Advise the university president

Make final recommendations to the system trustees around tuition, programs & planning of the university

This board is made up of community leaders from Bangor, Rockland, and the Greater Augusta Area.

As chairperson of the Board of Visitors, I am here to say a sincere congratulations on behalf of all the board members.

You are often called non-traditional students.  One reason being 80% of you are not the traditional age of getting out of high school and entering college.  At one board meeting this year a board member said, I wish we could come up with a better label than Non traditional.

I am going to take a stab at that.  Many years ago when my husband and I were school teachers and had some flexible summer time, we took our two young boys on a van trip out west.  In Nebraska there is a memorial to those who travelled in the wagon trains along the Oregon and California trails to settle the west.

So pay attention, this is where your new label comes in.  The memorial says.

The Cowards Never Started

The Weak Died along the Way

Only the strong Arrived.

They were the Pioneers.

You are the strong.  You are the pioneers.  And not just the 80% of you who are non traditional age but those of you who are the first in your family to go to college, those who are not first but have expectations to live up to and the so many of you doing the balancing act of family, jobs and schools.

All of you receiving diplomas today.  You are the strong.  You are the pioneers.

So to all of you who have that human spirit that brought you to this point today—the very big deal of graduation—congratulations.

When Janet Parkhurst finishes her remarks, Diane Boone goes to lectern.

GREETINGS FROM FACULTY SENATE

Diane Boone

My name is Diane Boone; I am President of the Faculty Senate and I bring greetings from the faculty of UMA and congratulations to you, our graduates.

Today we honor you for accepting and completing the challenges we have laid out for you.    We are proud of your accomplishments and we look forward to your future success.

I now ask my colleagues to stand and express their congratulations.

Thank you.

When Diane finishes her remarks, Sheri Fraser goes to lectern

INTRODUCTION OF STUDENT SPEAKER

Sheri Fraser

It is a pleasure to welcome our student commencement speaker Brittany Hanson. Brittany is graduating with her Associates Degree in Nursing and she is well on her way to completing her Bachelors in Nursing from the UMA RN-BSN program.

Brittany has shined brightly throughout her years at UMA. Many students across the disciplines here at UMA may recognize Brittany, as she has been an academic peer tutor in math, chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, math, and the  biology lab. She has served the nursing programs in a work study position for the Nursing Learning Lab and she is the President of the Student Nurses Association. Outside of UMA, she has worked with mentally challenged young adults in a group home and Brittany is a caring and involved Mom of 2 young children, Izzy and Parker.

Nursing school is a huge commitment, and Brittany worked 2 jobs, cared for her children and maintained her impressively high GPA.   Brittany will be beginning her career in nursing in a few weeks as an Intensive Care Unit nurse as she continues to focus on her RN-BSN studies here at UMA. The nurses and patients she works with in the future are in for a breath of fresh air as they experience Brittany’s wit, leadership, and caring qualities.

Would you all please join me in welcoming Brittany Hanson to the podium?

Brittany Hanson goes to lectern; Sheri Fraser is seated.

STUDENT REMARKS TO THE GRADUATING CLASS

Brittany Hanson

Students, Friends and Families, Faculty and Staff, what a beautiful day to celebrate!  Thank you all for being here today for this very important moment in our lives….graduating from UMA!  Thank you for supporting us through this journey called higher education.  Here we are, at graduation, ending one chapter and beginning of another.

Congratulations graduates! You did it!  Take a moment to reflect on the challenges you faced, the people who supported you…how hard you had to work for this honor.  For many of us it has not been an easy road, one of long days, sleepless nights, and occasional tears, but you are here now. Your hard work, resilience and dedication has paid off. You have earned this.

When writing this speech, I contemplated how to integrate UMA’s academic theme of interdisciplinarity.  For those of you who do not commonly use the word interdisciplinarity –mostly because it is a mouthful, it means combining of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It is about creating something new by crossing boundaries, and thinking across them. In nursing we call it being part of the interdisciplinary team.  Same concept only in healthcare vs education. Could there be a better example of interdisciplinarity than nursing?  As nurses our education and job roles involve the sciences, social sciences, public health, ethics, education, mathematics and more.  Many of our patient situations require creative collaboration with the healthcare team to ensure the safest and best outcomes.  How many healthcare professionals in the audience agree? As the public’s most trusted profession, nursing is honored to use our interdisciplinarity skills to care for you!

But I would like to give you a little back story, because two years ago to this date, I was on the other side of the healthcare team… two years ago to this date my son came home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  And I owe his health to the interdisciplinary care team— From housekeeping- sanitizing and keeping the room free of infection, to Information Technology facilitating the sharing healthcare information knowledge, to the nurses and neonatologists working together around the clock to keep him breathing. Multiple disciplines, using multiple strategies, working together to keep one 3 pound baby alive.

I also attribute his successes to my Obstetrician. Dr Fei took over my care during a tumultuous time which resulted in a preterm labor at 24 weeks. Dr. Fei called me daily, held me as I cried, transported me in an ambulance not once, twice, but three times to Portland on a magnesium sulfate drip which helped stop the contractions and keep my baby inside as long as possible. More importantly she cared.

Reflecting on that challenging time in my life lead to finding this short story. The Starfish thrower adapted by Loren Eilsey—a story that has been retold many times, in many languages- but the message remains   clear.

An old man was walking along a beach one morning after a storm. In the distance he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. As he came closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young woman, gently picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young woman paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”  “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the old man. To this, the young woman replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”  Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”  At this, the young woman bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, she said, “I made a difference to that one!”

Dr. Fei was my “starfish thrower”.

If we think about it, we have all met a starfish thrower. Someone who has gone above and beyond. Someone who has impacted us so much that they will be forever engrained in our hearts and minds.  If we think a bit more, care a bit more, we too can strive to be a “starfish thrower” to someone else….or a family in need, or make changes to help a community.  Let’s face it, our world today could use more “starfish throwers.”

When I came to University of Maine at Augusta, I knew I wanted to make a difference, but did not quite know yet how. By taking foundational courses, with personalized learning, and professors that cared, I was able to make the choice how I would give back. To choose what career path would match my passion and feed my purpose. I wanted to be a nurse.

But you don’t have to be a nurse to make a difference. Every person, every chosen profession present here today can make a meaningful impact in someone’s life.

There is a great quote by Abraham Lincoln that states “Whatever you are, be a good one.”  So simple, yet so profound. “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

During our education, The University of Maine at Augusta, faculty, staff, and programs lead by example.  They have given us the foundation and the tools to “be a good one.”

But, my fellow graduates, it is our choice to be a starfish thrower, to go above and beyond.

Coming back to the theme of interdisciplinary.  It takes a group of starfish throwers to make a change in the world. A united group of multiple disciplines, attacking a problem from multiple angles, working together. Sometimes, all to save the life of a 3 pound baby.

What does that mean to you as a new graduate?  We are headed into our chosen fields.  Go with passion, go with love, go with energy, go with enthusiasm. Do your best. Make an impact.  I challenge you to be a starfish thrower.

Applause

Brittany Hanson exits podium; President Conneely goes to podium

INTRODUCTION OF ROGER KATZ

President Conneely

It is now my honor to introduce our Commencement speaker, Maine State Senator and a good friend to UMA, the honorable Mr. Roger Katz.

Serving his third term in the Maine Senate, Senator Roger Katz represents the people of Augusta, China, Oakland, Sidney, and Vassalboro.  Prior to his legislative service, Senator Katz was Mayor of Augusta for two terms.

During his legislative tenure, Senator Katz has served as the Chair of the Government Oversight Committee, as a member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, and as the Assistant Republican Leader in the Maine Senate.

He has long been an active member of his community, serving as Chair of United Way,  Augusta Charter Commission, Augusta Development Corporation, Vice President of the Maine State Music Theatre, President of the Kennebec Valley YMCA and of Maine Trial Lawyers Association where he was named one of the most “Outstanding Lawyers in America.”

Senator Katz and his family have shared a special connection to UMA since its very beginning. Bennett D. Katz, Senator Katz’s father, a Maine Politician himself, was instrumental in the founding of UMA in 1965. In fact, The Bennett D. Katz Library, built in 1974 here on our Augusta campus, is named in his honor.

Please help me welcome Senator Katz to the podium to address this year’s graduates.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

Senator Katz

President Conneely, Trustee Turner, Board of Visitor Parkhurst, distinguished faculty and members of the stage party, community members, family and friends of today’s show, and … the stars of today’s show: The 450 of you who will be receiving degrees today, 450 degrees.  450 stories.  Mazel Tov and congratulations.

We are appropriately focused on today…on each of you who graduate, as well as the parents, grandparents, husbands, wives and children who helped make it possible.

But before we return to today, but I’d like to take you back in a time machine 52 years and join me in a legislative committee room at the statehouse.  It’s a day that probably none of you know about and one that few in this community recall, but I remember it well, because I was there.  It was a hot day late in May, and the Appropriations Committee room was packed and sweltering.  People fanned themselves with whatever they could find.  The Committee was considering a bill to appropriate the modest amount of $55,000 to start up a branch of the state university here in the capital city.  Money was tight and the Committee was skeptical.  After all, we had Orono, we had Gorham, we had Farmington – why would we possibly need another location.  Well, a few local legislators and community leaders had a dream.  I am not sure they ever foresaw this scene here this morning, but they knew that a commuter presence for the University here in Augusta would the capacity to change hundreds and thousands of lives and they were determined to get it done.  Back to that Committee room.  The challenge was to convince the Committee that this was not just an “Augusta bill”. At a certain point, the bill sponsor asked the question, “What communities will this serve?”  Around the room, handwritten signs began to go up:  “Augusta,” “Dresden,” “Skowhegan,” “Palermo,” “Windsor,” “Bowdoinham,” “Unity,” “Winthrop”, “Livermore”, and “China”.  Dozens of communities.  It was the most effective piece of legislative theatre I have ever seen.  Every member of that Committee was moved by that sea of grassroots signs they saw that day.  The Committee vote was unanimous in favor of the appropriation and the seed of UMA was planted.

How do I remember this so well?  I was a High School sophomore, and I was there that day to watch a State Senator from Augusta present the bill – that was my father, Bennett Katz, and he was one of those community leaders along with Francis Finnegan, who had that original vision.

How the ensuing 55 years has flown by – now UMA has a beautiful commuter campus right over there and it is a physical and virtual presence throughout most of the state.  Thousands and thousands of people have gone before those of you here today and had their lives changed in a positive way by the presence of this institution.

But, back to the stories – because that is really what today is about.

I, too, am a college graduate, but my own story is far less interesting or inspiring than yours.  I grew up in a middle class home where going on to college right after high school was expected.  I did so, worked hard, and I did well, but I am so inspired by your stories – of overcoming challenges, juggling family, job and college, getting knocked down and getting up, and getting knocked down again, and getting up again.  It is for that reason that I always find graduation day here at UMA the most inspiring day of the year – it because of the presence of hundreds of stories.  Today, I would like to highlight three of those stories:

Let’s talk about Dori Lynn.  Dori grew up in Oxford Hills and got married after her junior year in high school.  No one in her family had ever attended college.  Although college had always been a dream for her, “life” interfered and literally decades went by.  She got her GED when she was pregnant with her second daughter and the IDEA OF COLLEGE REMAINED ELUSIVE.  But, five years ago, Dori decided that “it’s time.”  She enrolled at UMA but has rarely been here to Augusta, taking most of her classes at the South Parish-Norway Distance Learning Center.  Today, at age 44, Dori graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in management, but she is far from done.  Next YEAR she is on to Master’s program in leadership studies and, hopefully, a Ph.D.  Dori never gave up that dream, and look at where she is today.  Last Saturday, she was a delegate to the Maine Democratic Convention – I guess everyone has their faults!  Dori, would you please rise and be recognized?  Congratulations for inspiring us!

Brandon Rogers’ journey couldn’t be more different. A very talented basketball player from a small town south of San Francisco, Brandon’s college career took him from North Dakota to Missouri and Louisiana before he ended up here for his last three years at UMA.  Something was missing in each one of those three previous stops, but Brandon truly found a home here.  He was able to thrive academically as well as athletically because of the strong support system that UMA has. As he says, the school wants you to succeed.  Brandon enjoyed a fine 3-year athletic career here, scoring over 1,000 points and collecting over 1,000 rebounds.  For those of you not keeping score at home, that is extremely hard to do.  UMA has prepared him for the next chapter of his adventure – in August he will be leaving for Essex University in England, about an hour outside of London.  He will be pursuing his Master’s Degree, and also playing professional basketball – the first UMA player ever.  The Essex Blades play in the equivalent of the NBA developmental league over in Europe, and Brandon is about to put Maine on the map.  At 6’5”, he is more likely to be playing small forward than the power forward he did here, and his coach and teammates have little doubt he will be a big success.  Oh, one more thing – this story also involves a woman named Emily Carter from Waterville.  Emily is graduating today too, but on Wednesday she said “yes” when Brandon asked her to marry him.  She said “yes” and they will be leaving for England in August.  Brandon, could you please rise – congratulations!  And, Emily, where are you?

Two great stories, but let’s hear one more.  37-year-old Amanda Kelly, is not only the first in her family to graduate college, she was the first to get a high school diploma.  Growing up in Fairfield, she worked a number of jobs after graduating from Lawrence High School and had the drive to go back to school and get her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Kennebec Valley Community College in 2002.  After doing some restaurant work, she was inspired by a friend to apply to UMA and after working hard for the last4 ½ years, Amanda graduates today with Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a minor in French.  But the story doesn’t end there.  Back in the fall of 2010, Amanda was selected to be a member of “Team Haiti 1.0” – this was the first team of Biology majors from the school to volunteer for humanitarian work in Haiti.  That was a real game changer for her.  She talks about her life before that experience like being stuck on a rotary – through her work in Haiti and being a part of the team, she saw a path that would take her off that rotary to a fulfilling life.  As she said, “after that overwhelming time in Haiti, we returned home.  I was sad to leave, but pumped up at the same time.  This is it…life is going to be different from here on out.  I’ve got the map to life, tools for any wrong turns, and good people to connect with.”  After today’s graduation, Amanda plans to apply through the United Methodist Church to back to Haiti to do missionary work.  Her inspiring story is truly a tale of how UMA can transform lives.  This experience earned Amanda the prestigious Woodworth Memorial Award.

Dori, Brandon and Amanda, you are but three of the people in this Civic Center this morning who inspire all of us.  To ALL of you – for the long days and nights you have put in, for the determination you have shown to get to this point – sometimes over a period of years and years – for being “jugglers” in your lives.  To your families for their support and their sacrifice.  To all of you – congratulations on getting to this day as you continue to pursue your careers, whether it be in healthcare, business, IT, architecture, aeronautics – whatever – you are prepared – academically and otherwise.  Surely you will be competing with other people out there in the global economy, but the struggles which have brought you to this place should make you realize that your only the true competition is yourself, and the only limitations on your success are those you set for yourself.

Again, thanks for the lessons you have taught all of us and all the best today, tomorrow, the next day, and the rest of your lives.

Applause.

Senator Katz is seated, President Conneely goes to lectern.

Thank you, Senator Katz.

HONORARY DOCTOR OF HUMANE LETTERS

President Conneely

Throughout his tenure at UMA, Professor Barry Farber has spent countless time and effort contributing to not only UMA’s business program, but to the institution as a whole.

Professor Farber worked tirelessly expanding the Bachelor of Business Administration Degree.He added degrees in Small Business and Financial Services while also improving the program’s course delivery methods to reach state-wide.

Outside of UMA, Professor Farber went above and beyond by spending many lunches with civic and business leaders in the community, discussing new initiatives and direction for the Business Programs. He also set up articulation agreements with the seven community colleges, located from Presque Isle to York.

Professor Farber retired from the University of Maine at Augusta in December, 2004, after 25 years of dedicated service and has since been honored with Professor Emeritus status for his accomplishments.

On a special note, I look forward to utilizing Dr. Farber’s experience and knowledge providing me trusted counsel as we move forward in the future.

At this time I would like to ask our Provost Joe Szakas to please join Professor Farber and me at the podium.

Provost Szakas goes to lectern; President Conneely takes diploma and hood from underneath lectern, and hands hood to Joe.

With the approval of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, it is my privilege to present Professor Barry Farber with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Maine at Augusta.

Provost Szakas assists with the hood; President Conneely presents the diploma. President Conneely and Provost Szakas are seated

GRADUATION COMMENTS

BARRY FARBER

ANYTIME YOU ARE RECOGNIZED BY THOSE YOU WORK WITH AND KNOW YOU THAT IS THE MOST SPECIAL TYPE OF RECOGNITION.

I WANT TO THANK THE 2016 UMA GRADUATION CLASS FOR ALLOWING ME TO BE A SMALL PART OF THEIR BIG DAY.

AS I STAND BEFORE YOU TODAY, I AM THINKING BACK TO THE UMA GRADUATION DAY IN MAY OF 2005 FOR TWO REASONS:

FIRST, I MADE A SMALL MISTAKE THAT DAY.  THERE I WAS IN MY 30TH YEAR AT UMA AND I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE FIRST ROW, DEAD CENTER.  I WAS COVINCED THAT I HAD THE BEST LOCATION IN THE CIVIC CENTER.  STANDING HERE, I REALIZE I WAS VERY WRONG, AS THE FEELING I AM EXPERIENCING GREATLY SURPASSES MY FRONT ROW LOCATION.

I JUST DON’T SEE THE DEGREE RECIPIENT UP CLOSE, I SEE THE ENTIRE CLASS AT ONCE AND I CAN FEEL THE TREMENDOUS PRIDE THEY HAVE FOR THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND THE EAGERNESS AND ANTICIPATION OF THEIR FUTURE SUCCESS IN THEIR CHOSEN FIELD.  JUST LOOK AT THE VAST ARRAY OF THE DEGREES TODAY’S CLASS HAVE EARNED.

AS I LOOK TO MY LEFT I SEE THE FACULTY, STAFF AND ADMINISTRATION AND I KNOW FIRST HAND THE TREMENDOUS SATISFACTION THEY HAVE FOR THE PART THEY PLAYED IN GETTING YOU READY FOR TODAY.

THEN I SEE THE REST OF THIS MASSIVE AUDIENCE, PARENTS, SIBLINGS, RELATIVES AND FRIENDS.  A SONG CALLED “LOVE CAN BUILD A BRIDGE” BY THE JUDDS COMES TO MIND AND I CAN SENSE THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN EACH GRADUATE AND THE PEOPLE HERE TO SUPPORT THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

SECOND, AT THE BEGINNING OF MY LAST ACADEMIC YEAR OUR UMA PRESIDENT STARTED THE YEAR BY OUTLINING THE GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS FOR THE UPCOMING YEAR.  HE THEN ALLOWED QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS.  WHEN I HEARD THE STUDENTS, PEOPLE VERY SIMILAR TO TODAY’S GRADUATES, SAY HOW SPECIAL, HELPFUL, IMPORTANT, ACCOMMODATING, AND NURTURING, UMA WAS IN HELPING ACHIEVE THEIR EDUCATION GOALS. THAT WAS MY BEST DAY IN MY 47 YEAR TEACHING CAREER.  I KNEW I WOULD CONTINUE TO STAY INVOLVED WITH UMA.

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY AND I SEE A UMA THAT HAS GROWN, IS OFFERING ADDITIONAL DEGREE CHOICES, HAS BROADENED THE OUT OF CLASSROOM STUDENT EXPERIENCES, HAS BEEN OPERATING WITHIN ITS BUDGET, AND TODAY’S GRADUATING CLASS SHOWS THAT UMA IS STILL DOING ITS MISSION VERY WELL.

I WAS A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED NOT TO HAVE THE PLEASURE OF TEACHING ANY OF TODAY’S GRADUATES ONLY TO LEARN THAT ONE OF MY LAST STUDENTS AT UMA IS GRADUATING TODAY.  TERRY LAWSON, AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF A UMA NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENT STARTED TAKING CLASSES PART-TIME IN 1996 AND ACHIEVED HER ASSOCIATE, BACHELOR AND TODAY HER MASTER’S DEGREE.  SHE ACCOMPLISHED THIS WHILE WORKING FULL-TIME AT UMA, RECEIVING MANY PROMOTIONS AND I WAS ONE OF MANY WHO BENEFITED BY PART OF HER JOB DESCRIPTION AS FACULTY SUPPORT.

AT THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM IS ONE OF MY VERY FIRST STUDENTS FROM THE LATE 60’S INTRODUCED TO YOU AS JANET PARKHURST, WHO I KNEW AS JANET MCKAY.  A TRADITIONAL STUDENT AT THOMAS, SHE BECAME AN EXCELLENT TEACHER, WHICH INCLUDED 2 YEARS IN THE CONY BUSINESS PROGRAM, WITH MY WIFE SUSAN.  JANET MADE A BIG DECISION TO LEAVE TEACHING AND WORK WITH HER HUSBAND TO HELP BUILD OAKES AND PARKHURST INTO A VERY SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS.  THERE ARE AND WILL BE MANY INSPIRATIONAL STORIES FROM TODAY’S GRADUATING CLASS.

LET ME CLOSE BY MENTIONING THE BEST DECISION I MADE OR WILL MAKE.  IT WAS ABOUT 45 YEARS AGO WHEN I MET A WONDERFUL YOUNG WOMAN, SUSAN SCOTT, THAT I WAS INTRODUCED TO BY ONE OF MY STUDENTS, WHO WAS STUDENT TEACHING UNDER HER AT CONY HIGH SCHOOL.  SHE HAD THE MOST ENGAGING, COMPELLING, CONTAGIOUS SMILE, AND I KNEW I HAD MET SOMEONE SPECIAL AND I ASKED HER TO MARRY ME.  THIS JUNE 22ND WE WILL BE CELEBRATING OUR 44TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY.  I COULDN’T WISH ANYTHING BETTER FOR YOU THAN TO TAKE LIFE’S GREAT, AMAZING JOURNEY WITH SOMEONE YOU TOTALLY LOVE AND RESPECT AND WHO TOTALLY LOVES AND RESPECTS YOU.  SPRINKLE THAT WITH GOOD FRIENDS, A STRONG WORK ETHIC AND YOU HAVE THE RECIPE FOR LIFE’S GREAT JOURNEY.  ON BEHALF OF EVERYONE HERE TODAY, BEST WISHES, CONGRATULATIONS AND ENJOY LIFE’S JOURNEY.

Applause.

Professor Farber is seated. President Conneely returns to the lectern.

AWARDS PRESENTATION

President Conneely

We are now at the point of the program where we honor a few selected members of our campus community.

Our first presentation will be to confer upon Sheila Bennett the rank of Professor Emerita of Natural Sciences.

Professor Bennett, will you please stand and be recognized?

Sheila will stand by her chair and then sit down.

During her tenure at UMA, Professor Sheila Bennett was a pioneer for extending UMA’s general education science courses to students at a distance and online. Her work was transformative for the biology program, for the students, and for UMA.

A passionate defender of environmental sustainability, Professor Bennett developed a Climate Action Plan, co-authored a natural history guide to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and served the environmental needs of the state in many capacities.

She was a leader in incorporating national standards into UMA course and program learning outcomes and her syllabi continue to serve as a model to her peers.

Professor Bennett retired in 2015 after 36 years of dedicated service to the University of Maine at Augusta.

At this time will Professor Bennett please join me at the podium?

Sheila Bennett goes to lectern

It is my pleasure and my distinct honor to accept the recommendation of her colleagues and confer upon Sheila Bennett the rank of Professor Emerita of Natural Sciences.

Applause.

President Conneely presents the diploma to Sheila Bennett. Sheila Bennett sits down. President Conneely stays podium.

Our next presentation will be to confer upon Grace M. Leonard the rank of Professor Emerita of Psychology and Mental Health. Professor Leonard, will you please stand and be recognized?

Grace will stand by her chair and then sit down.

Professor Leonard has served as a dedicated faculty member, a Program Coordinator, and as the Dean of the College of Natural and Social Science during her time at UMA.

She was instrumental in garnering both University and state support for the Mental Health and Human Services program. Her dedication to the program has made it one of the largest degree programs in the University of Maine System.

During her more than forty years associated with the UMA, Professor Leonard maintained a high level of service within both the University and the larger community. She wrote several grants, presented at venues throughout the state, served on several local non-profit boards, and chaired and co-chaired numerous committees and panels.

Upon her retirement in 2015, Professor Leonard continues her teaching and professional career as an instructor for UMA’s Senior College.

At this time will Professor Leonard please join me at the lectern?

Grace goes to lectern

It is my pleasure and my distinct honor to accept the recommendation of her colleagues and confer upon Grace M. Leonard the rank of Professor Emerita of Psychology and Mental Health.

Applause.

President Conneely presents the diploma to Grace. Grace sits down. President Conneely stays podium.

Our next presentation will be to confer upon Jill Rubinson the rank of Professor Emerita of English.

Dr. Rubinson, will you please stand and be recognized?

Jill will stand by her chair and then sit down.

A Professor of English, Jill Rubinson was one of the first instructors at UMA to include service-learning opportunities within her courses. She connected her students work with the local community and also oversaw UMA’s first dual enrollment opportunities.

A scholar of the work of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, Professor Rubinson regularly presented at Jane Austen Society meetings, was a contributing editor for the journal Shakespeare and a visiting scholar at the Shakespeare Institute in England.

Professor Rubinson served on many different committees at UMA, perhaps her most significant contribution is in developing the Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival.

During her 36 year tenure at UMA, Professor Rubinson was an inspiration to students, colleagues, and staff members.

At this time will Professor Rubinson please join me at the lectern?

Jill goes to lectern

It is my pleasure and my distinct honor to accept the recommendation of her colleagues and confer upon  Jill Rubinson the rank of Professor Emerita of English.

Applause.

President Conneely presents the diploma to Jill Rubinson. Jill Rubinson sits down. President Conneely stays podium.

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD

President Conneely

Next, I would like to present the Distinguished Alumni Award, which honors a former UMA graduate for outstanding achievements in either their profession or their service to their community, state, or country.

I am delighted to announce that this year’s recipient is Regina Northouse from the class of 2003.

Regina, will you please stand and be recognized?

Regina will stand by her chair and then sit down.

Regina Anderson grew up in Gardiner, Maine, and enrolled at UMA in 1998, earning her Bachelor’s in English five years later. It was at UMA that Regina became interested in women’s issues, including reproductive justice and health as well as issues affecting the health of our communities.

After obtaining her Masters in Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Regina worked at the Coro Center for Civic Leadership helping to advance ethical and effective leaders who share a commitment to civic engagement.

An active member of her community, Regina has served on several boards such as Planned Parenthood, The Midwife Center, and The Young Preservationists Association and Baker Leadership. Her activities center on engaging other members of the community to volunteer their time and donate regularly. She has been recognized by her peers and community as one of Pittsburgh’s top 40 Under 40, and received the Dr. Thomas Baker Leadership award.

Today Regina lives in Washington DC where she works as the Executive Director of Food Recovery Network, a national nonprofit, headquartered in College Park Maryland.

At this time, will Regina Northouse please join me at the lectern?

Regina Northhouse goes to lectern to accept award

On behalf of our faculty, staff and students, I am pleased to present you with the University of Maine at Augusta’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Applause.

President Conneely presents award to Regina. Regina sits down. President Conneely stays at podium

I would now like to call Sheri Fraser, Dean of Students up to the lectern to present the Distinguished Student Award.

President Conneely sits down. Sheri Fraser walks to the podium.

KATHLEEN DEXTER DISTINGUISHED STUDENT AWARDS

Sheri Fraser

The Kathleen Dexter Distinguished Student Award is given annually to one (sometimes two) of UMA’s top all-around graduating students.

The criteria for selection include:

  1. Scholarship
  2. Participation and leadership in co-curricular activities; and
  3. Service to the wider community

I am pleased to announce that this year we are recognizing two students with the Kathleen Dexter Distinguished Student Award.

The first is Donna Davis-Rankin. Donna, will you please come forward to accept the 2016 Kathleen Dexter Distinguished Student Award?

Donna heads to podium to accept award

Donna is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Nursing.  Today is not her first UMA graduation. Donna completed her associate degree in nursing at UMA in 1996.  She successfully passed her RN licensure exam and went to work.  Donna is currently employed in the Breast Cancer Program at MaineGeneral’s Alfond Center for Health.  She is a recognized leader at the organization where she has been instrumental in implementing holistic health care, a hallmark of UMA’s nursing program.

Also a leader on campus, Donna has served as an active student representative to the BSN program.  She was a writing tutor where her efforts were greatly appreciated by her peers.  In class, Donna always went above and beyond and is noted for taking time to thoughtfully respond to every student in discussion boards rather than the minimum required.

In the community, Donna has coordinated a Walk of Hope fundraising event for several years running.  She developed a Breast Cancer Support network, “Bosum Buddies” and also facilitates a breast cancer support group known as Circle of Friends.  While fully engaged in her multiple University, professional and educational endeavors Donna maintained an exemplary GPA and was recently inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, an international Honor Society of Nursing.

This summer Donna will expand her circle and take her professional skills and caring support beyond Maine by participating on a medical mission team in the Dominican Republic.  Her long term goals include graduate work in Nursing and a return to UMA – as a faculty member.

Donna, we wish you safe travels and congratulate you on earning a 2016 Kathleen Dexter Distinguished Student Award.

Sheri Fraser presents Donna with award; Donna heads back to seat.

Applause

Our second and final recipient of this year’s Kathleen Dexter Distinguished Student Award is James Christie.  Jim, will you please join me on the stage?

Jim heads to podium to accept award

Jim is completing a Bachelors of Applied Science and first came to our attention from his Justice Studies faculty member who describes him as a talented, cooperative, generous and committed work-horse.

The more we dug into Jim’s background, the more we saw how commitment and service are themes throughout Jim’s life.  In more formal roles, he is involved with the Camden Lion’s Club, volunteers for UMA Constitution Day, coaches softball and also served in the United States Navy.  Currently employed for the Veterans Health Administration, Jim uses his expertise to help any veteran in need – whether it be at work, on campus, the grocery store – any place.  Jim is an outstanding student with a corresponding outstanding GPA.  In class, he is known for sharing helpful insights with other students and has also served as a teaching assistant.  He notes that he and his wife volunteer for almost everything that comes up in their community that would benefit from their assistance.  I think it is telling that he met his wife at a volunteer project and they were married at a volunteer project.

Jim is also a Wish Granter.  A former employee of Make-A-Wish Maine, Jim has continued as a volunteer with the organization by helping to grant Wishes to Maine children.  Jim, I am delighted that today you are granted a wish of your own by completing your baccalaureate degree.  I understand that your wife is equally delighted by this wish and that your return to college was inspired by your daughter, a student at UMA’s Rockland Center.  I congratulate you on your many successes and thank you for your service to your country and community.

I am pleased to present you with a 2016 Kathleen Dexter Distinguished Student Award.

Sheri Fraser presents Jim with award; Jim heads back to seat.

Applause

Provost Szakas heads to podium

CONFERRING OF DEGREES

Provost Szakas

Let the candidates for degrees and certificates arise.

President Conneely moves to the lectern with Provost Szakas.

President Conneely, these students are candidates for the degrees and certificates of the:

Bachelor of Applied Science,

Bachelor of Arts,

Bachelor of Music,

Bachelor of Science,

Associate of Arts,

Associate of Applied Arts,

Associate of Science,

and the certificate in Dental Assisting.

Upon successful completion of all requirements, they have been recommended by the faculty and approved by the University of Maine System’s Board of Trustees.

I, therefore, have the honor to present them to you so that they may have their respective degrees conferred upon them.

President Conneely

Upon the recommendations of the faculty of the University of Maine at Augusta, and on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine System, and in accordance with the authority vested in them by the State,

as President, I hereby confer upon each of you the degree or certificate for which you have been recommended with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto pertaining.

Provost Szakas will ask you to come forward as your name is read to receive symbols of your degree, which you will receive properly signed and sealed upon certification of completion of the degree requirements.

You may now be seated.

Family and friends, I ask you to hold your applause until all the graduates have been recognized. Each student, and their families should have the honor of hearing their name read.

Deans McAleer and Fahy, please join me as your graduates’ names are read.

Provost Szakas

Graduates, please come forward.

President Conneely moves to “feet marker” on stage to shake graduates hands. Joe sits down.

Greg Fahy hands out diploma covers to his college graduates, later replaced by Brenda McAleer.

Graduate names are read.

After the last graduate is recognized: Kelly Deprez goes to podium

GREETINGS FROM THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

Kelly Deprez

Good Morning. My name is Kelly Deprez I graduated with a business degree in 2008.  As President of the UMA Alumni Association, it is now my honor to ask the Class of 2016 to please transfer your tassel from the right side of your cap to the left side.

Congratulations! As you now move forward into the next stage of your life, I urge you to think about what you can do to make the world a better place, your community a better place, and UMA a better place. With respect to the latter, I invite you to become involved with the UMA Alumni Association.

By being actively involved in the Alumni Association you can help future students receive the same quality education you received here at UMA.  By strengthening our university, we all strengthen the value of our own degrees.

In return, the Alumni Association will keep you connected to the friends and faculty you met here through events, activities, emails, newsletters, and Facebook.

On your seats, you should have found a pen from the Alumni Association, which you can keep, and a card which we ask that you complete and leave behind on your seat. Your completed cards will allow us to stay in touch with you in the months and years ahead.

Today after crossing the stage you received an alumni pin. Please pin it to your graduation robe and wear it with pride.

In closing, I would give you one piece of advice about success in the workplace.  Almost every job description includes the words, “Performs other tasks as required.”  Volunteer for those when you can.  Those other tasks sometimes are dull, and sometimes exciting, but the willingness to perform those additional duties well is noticed by managers and will often lead to new and better opportunities.  Best of luck to all of you as you perform other task as required.

Thank you for your time.

Congratulations Class of 2016! Welcome to the Alumni Association!

Applause

CHARGE TO THE GRADUATES

PRESIDENT Conneely

Thank you Kelly.

In addition to the wonderful swag the Alumni Association has given you today, I would like to point out one more parting gift, in your diploma cover you will find a “UMA Pay it Forward” Certificate. It reads: “As a 2016 Graduate of UMA, I hereby ‘pay forward’ the encouragement and support I received at UMA by sharing this certificate for a free 3-credit UMA class to help another student start their UMA journey in Fall 2016.”

So as a graduate, think about someone you know who might benefit from a UMA education and degree, and then present them with this certificate.

If the person you select chooses to apply and enroll at UMA, they will receive their first course free if they are among the first 50 people to return the certificate to UMA.  There are instructions on the back of the certificate.

As we now near the conclusion of these commencement exercises, I would like to take the opportunity now to invite everyone to please join us at a reception immediately following the ceremony on the Campus Green at the center of campus. It is just a short five minute walk from here, or you can park closer in front of the Richard Randall Student Center.

Nearby, the Senior Student Art Exhibition is on display in the Danforth Gallery in Jewett Hall. The Gallery will be open until 3:00 PM and worth the visit. The students’ artwork is innovative and thought provoking.

Visit our Bookstore in the Randall Center On your way to the reception.

Finally, veterans who have graduated today are invited to stop by a table that has been set up at the Randall Center reception where you will receive a special Challenge Coin in recognition of your academic achievement here at UMA.

A very special congratulations to all of you.

As UMA President, I am privileged to close the ceremony with a few final words:

Accept the mantle of your diploma and the education you have received at UMA to better the communities in which you live. As a college graduate, this diploma is your ticket to impacting the world. You have a responsibility to use your education not just for your own personal benefit, but to the benefit of society, here and a far.

I leave you with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Your UMA education empowers you to be a trailblazer.

Recessional music begins;

President Conneely leads stage party off stage; mace bearer will be waiting at mace table in front of stage; President Conneely and stage party proceed past mace bearer, down central corridor and then out to the left.

Faculty recess next, down central corridor and then out to the right.

Students recess last, up central corridor and to the left.

University of Maine at Augusta