Jennifer Wang/THE GATEPOST
By Joe Kourieh
Five hundred and twenty-three students – 248 graduate and 275 undergraduate – o9cially became Framingham State University alumni during Winter Commencement ceremonies in the Dwight Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 21st.
The graduate ceremony took place at 10 a.m., with the undergraduate degrees being awarded at 1 p.m.
After the National Anthem was sung by class of 2011 alumni Barbara Pierre, the graduating students, along with their friends and families, were welcomed by Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and university President F. Javier Cevallos, as well as Claire Ramsbottom, class of 1979 graduate and president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
“I encourage you to wear your black and gold proudly,” Ramsbottom said. “And I encourage you to be proud alumni and come back to share your expertise.”
Vaden-Goad described the graduating class as “a tremendous collection of brain power, talent and perseverance,” after reminding them that this ceremony represented the moment they had been working toward throughout their years of higher education.
During his introductions, Cevallos called for a moment of silent reflection to honor those who helped bring the students to this point, then asked them to stand and present themselves to their friends, families and faculty. He then introduced the commencement speakers for each ceremony.
The graduate students and their guests were addressed by Robert Martin, former interim president, who held the position before Cevallos was hired.
“Today, too much of our world is painted in absolutes,” Martin said in his address. “In ‘blacks and whites’, if you will. It doesn’t allow for much genuine communication or understanding.
Don’t view your education as ‘over,’” he said. “If you do, we will have failed you. ... Stretch yourself, as I hope you have been stretched here. And in so doing, you will come to know the world as having many shades of gray.”
The crowd was addressed during the undergraduate ceremony by university trustee Colin Owyang, who is also the executive vice president of regulation and general counsel at National Grid USA, and the newly appointed deputy attorney general of Massachusetts.
“Live every day like you’ll have to tell someone about it,” Owyang told the crowd during his speech, “because you probably will.”
“All of you, someday, will have the great blessing of offering insight or advice to someone in need of something only you can offer,” he continued, “whether you’re a woman or man of the church, of science, of sports, just a free spirit, whatever it may be. ... There wouldn’t be more of us every year if there weren’t something different and new to do – some way for us each to leave our own mark on this place. Whoever you are or whatever you stand for, whoever you have to thank for being who you are, make your mark.”
Owyang closed his address by reminding the FSU class of 2015 to “live large, leave something behind for the rest of us, do well for yourselves and do good for someone else along the way.”
Following each address, the time came for graduating students’ degrees to be given out by the administration. The degrees were certified by Cevallos, and o9cially conferred by Board of Trustees Chair Joseph Burchill.
“By the authority vested in me by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and the Board of Trustees of Framingham State,” Burchill said, “I hereby confer upon you the appropriate bachelor’s degree and enter you into all the attendant rights and privileges. Congratulations!”
Each undergraduate who participated in the ceremony was announced by the dean of his or her associated college – Marc Cote for Arts and Humanities, Susan Dargan for Social and Behavioral Sciences, Margaret Carroll for STEM and Education Department Chair Julie Zoino-Jeannetti for Education students. For the graduate student ceremony, names were called by Dean of Graduate Studies Yaser Najjar, and the students were provided their honorary hoods by their respective deans.
Kim Taton said that “graduating is liberating, freeing, terrifying, exciting, intimidating, and wonderful” after receiving a degree in English. “We’ve spent years preparing ourselves for our future and our eventual careers, but we’ll still have to stumble and maybe fall a few times before we find our way. But that’s how life is,” she added.
Monique Vacon, whose degree is in Education, is looking forward to her new endeavors.
“After completing my undergraduate degree at FSU, I have been presented with many opportunities, including a long-term substitute position and a teacher in a behavioral classroom,” she said, adding that it “feels great to graduate from college. It was such a huge accomplishment and couldn’t have been possible without the support from professors and my family.”
Kayla Murkison, who received a degree in communication arts, said that graduating was “the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever made, so it feels great.”
Chelsie Scully, also in communication arts, said, “It’s an indescribable feeling knowing that I don’t have anything scheduled or planned out for me anymore.” She added, “Now I’m on my own and have to forge my next path.”
Taton, Vacon, Murkison and Scully have o9cially received their degrees as of Saturday’s ceremony, but have all decided to walk in the graduation ceremony in May in order to have more friends and family present, or, in Vacon’s case, to work and save money in the meantime.
Brigid McCarter, who graduated in sociology, was disappointed in the guest restrictions due to the size of DPAC.
“I loved the intimate setting, but I feel that the university can definitely do more for winter graduates. ... Graduation is a huge part of someone’s life, and only being able to have three people witness this event was sad.”
Transfer student Joe Dennis, who received an undergraduate degree in history, described his
graduation experience as somewhat “anticlimactic” due to his short time at FSU, but said that “it feels good.
I’m the first of my siblings to finish, so it’s nice,” he added.
Casey Rhodes, who graduated in elementary education, described walking the stage on Saturday as “surreal.
“It was that moment when I realized that I was done, and my time at Framingham was complete,” she said. “I am looking forward to this next stage of my life now that I have my degree. It is a nerve-wracking time, but it’s also very exciting and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”