UMF graduates are ‘off to change the world’

0
3058
Brianna Benevento of Waterville reacts with joy after receiving her diploma from the University of Maine at Farmington on Saturday afternoon.

By Liz Marquis, Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — In Lucas Small’s room, a calendar hangs on his wall, sporting the words: “Do it for Nana.”

Those words have been his motto during the four years he spent at the University of Maine at Farmington. On Saturday at UMF’s graduation ceremony, all of his and his classmates’ hard work paid off, and they were — as a graduation cap read — “off to change the world.”

The hill overlooking the stage where graduates would soon receive their diplomas was a sea of supporters, sitting in the warm sunshine. In the distance, the melodious hum of bagpipes could be heard getting louder as the Class of 2017 marched toward their final moments as college students.

The excitement of the graduates and pride of those watching was infectious, and vocalized by UMF President Kathryn A. Foster in her class profile.

Foster spoke positively about her graduates as friends waved frantically and mothers blew kisses. She spoke of the class’ academic excellence — 161 students out of the 398 graduating seniors achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Two students accomplished a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Brianna Benevento of Waterville reacts with joy after receiving her diploma from the University of Maine at Farmington on Saturday afternoon.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Foster announced that the school’s study-abroad program experienced a 50 percent increase in traveling students, who visited countries including Hong Kong, Benin, Uganda, Scotland and New Zealand.

Zackary Peercy was the senior class speaker, and delivered a speech to his classmates beginning their “journey to unemployment” that had the audience laughing and cheering. Peercy, who majored in creative writing and interdisciplinary studies, including theater writing and performance, plans to move to Chicago and attend The Second City, a comedy club, comedy theater and school of improvisation, which boasts alumni such as Tina Fey.

Peercy fondly called Farmington “weird,” citing the 24-foot statue on campus which is made up of about 1,000 recycled lawnmower blades. He reminisced about his “quirky” faculty, and ended his speech with a famous quote: “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish,” just to continue UMF’s legacy of “being weird.”

“Our time here has been absurd and we will embrace it,” Peercy said.

Kathleen Joseph mugs for a friend’s camera after receiving her diploma at the University of Maine at Farmington graduation ceremony on Saturday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Two honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters were issued: one to Christopher Coyne, a South Portland native and co-creator of SparkNotes and OkCupid, and Louis Sell, a former U.S. foreign service officer to Soviet Union.

Sell also gave the commencement address, and issued a “plea for tolerance” to the graduates, saying that a real test of tolerance comes with views they may not agree with. He empowered them to see the change individuals and groups can make in the world, and encouraged the Class of 2017 to have faith in “the awesome power of democracy,” and the “transformative power of education.”

On the subject of the power of education, Judy Smith, the lady behind Small’s slogan and part of the reason he attended UMF, was there on Saturday not only to witness her grandson’s graduation, but also to celebrate the 50 years it’s been since she herself was handed a diploma in 1967. Many of her classmates in attendance were given a shout-out at the start of the ceremony and many stood when their name was called.

Lucas Small and his grandmother, Judy Potter Smith, chat before the University of Maine at Farmington graduation ceremony on Saturday. Small is a Class of 2017 graduate, while Smith is celebrating her 50th reunion at the college.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Several new graduates spoke of their love for UMF.

“(Graduating) is the best feeling ever, but I’m sad I won’t be back in the fall,” Small said.

But as the words of a cap atop his classmate’s head read, he and all the 2017 graduates are “off on another adventure.”

emarquis@sunmediagroup.net

Sarah Gould of Sanford waits for the Class of 2017 graduation to begin at the University of Maine at Farmington on Saturday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Bagpipers lead the procession before the University of Maine at Farmington graduation ceremony on Saturday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Julia Christie photographs the University of Maine at Farmington graduation procession with both a phone and a camera while her friend, Bailey Atwood, left, takes photos with her phone.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Alexis Kennedy greets her fiance, Ian Luker, and daughter, Lydia, during the processional march before the Class of 2017 graduation at the University of Maine at Farmington on Saturday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Chris Coyne, a Maine native and co-creator of SparkNotes and OkCupid, received an honorary degree from University of Maine at Farmington on Satuday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Katrina Teixeira of Grafton, Massachusetts, smiles at her friend, Erin Taylor of Whitinsville, Massachusetts, during the University of Maine at Farmington graduation ceremony on Saturday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Hannah Tompkins looks back at her friends during the University of Maine at Farmington graduation ceremony on Saturday.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Louis D. Sell, a retired Foreign Service officer with years of experience in the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, delivered the commencement remarks to the University of Maine at Farmington’s Class of 2017. He also received an honorary degree.

(Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here