96 Graduates Receive Degrees at UMM's 101st Commencement
MACHIAS, Maine – A total of 96 graduates received degrees at the 101st Commencement of the University of Maine at Machias, held Saturday afternoon at the Frederic A. Reynolds Center.
UMM President Dr. Cynthia Huggins presided over the ceremony at which eight students were presented Associate of Science or Associate of Arts degrees, and 88 received Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of College Studies degrees.
In her charge to the graduates, Huggins spoke about the historic Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage that stretches more than 450 miles across northern Spain.
“When you newly minted college graduates walk out of this gym, you’ll be starting a pilgrimage—a journey of your own,” she said. “You’ll have some days when you can hardly believe how beautiful the view is. On other days, it will be all you can do to keep your chin down and force yourself to keep walking.”
Huggins added, “Make sure that your journey is really and truly your journey, that you strive to reach your own goals and live your own dreams—not someone else’s.”
Dr. Joyce Hedlund, president of Washington County Community College in Calais, delivered the commencement address during the ceremony. Hedlund, who will retire at the end of June, was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award for her long and distinguished career in higher education, and her loyal and dedicated service as an advocate for education and economic development in the Maine Community College System.
During her speech, Hedlund urged the graduates to do good and make positive change, even in the face of adversity. “I urge you to believe in the possibilities and the basic goodness of people regardless of the difficulty and cynicism of our time,” she said. “Kindness is always an option for action in spite of the circumstances; respect is the basis for solid and lasting relationships.”
Receiving Distinguished Service Awards at Saturday’s ceremony were local residents Scott Porter and Kenneth “Bucket” Davis. Porter, superintendent of AOS 96, and Davis, an East Machias selectman, were recognized for their leadership and service to public education in Washington County, and for their advocacy for education funding equity throughout rural and small-town Maine.
The ceremony also featured the presentation of the Ivy Oration by Joshua Spencer, a psychology and community studies graduate from Machias. Spencer was selected by his peers to speak about his experiences over the past four years at UMM.
UMM’s Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to local educator Wayne Peters. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, Peters went back to school to pursue his dream of becoming a middle school teacher, graduating from UMM with a bachelor’s degree in 2006. Today he is a seventh- and eighth-grade math and science teacher at Bay Ridge Elementary School in Cutler.
Saturday’s ceremony included musical performances by several of the graduating seniors. Sara Shurn-Banks opened the ceremony by singing the National Anthem, and later she joined senior classmates Breanna Pinkham, Colleen Coffey, and Hosanna Jensen for performances of “Hang on Little Tomato” by Pink Martini and “Ramble On” by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
Dr. James Moreira, assistant professor of community studies, was presented the Arthur S. and Frances A. Buswell Academic Enhancement Award, which is awarded annually to a member of the faculty to help provide for equipment, field trips, library materials, or other items that directly benefit students in a class. The award is named after former University President Arthur Buswell, who guided the University from 1971 to 1981.
Emeritus rank was conferred upon Professor of Ecology Dr. Alan Lewis during the ceremony. Lewis is retiring after 34 years of service to UMM and its students.
The UMM Ukulele Club, under the direction of music professor Gene Nichols, closed the ceremony by performing Dale Evans’ “Happy Trails”, a tribute to former University President John Joseph, who passed away on commencement day in 2003.