Graduation Ceremonies and Celebrations Highlight Isenberg’s Students and Culture
May 12, 2015
“This school is on a vision quest and you are a part of it,” Isenberg Dean Mark Fuller told graduating seniors, their families, and alumni at the school’s 2015 Senior Celebration at the Mullins Center on May 9th. The annual event attracted 5,000 enthusiastic family members and friends. They applauded the school’s 900 graduating seniors, each who received a commemorative medal and congratulations on stage from their department chair, Dean Fuller, and the event’s master of ceremonies, Undergraduate Dean Linda Shea.
Isenberg’s progress, emphasized Fuller, includes its dramatic rise in national rankings and improved learning resources for its students. “We will continue to make even better progress as we move forward and you are going to help me do it,” he told the seniors. “We are built on your generosity.”
Citing Isenberg’s challenging admissions standards, Fuller noted: “We know that you have plenty of smarts. What differentiates us and you is your grit.” That echoed Dean Shea’s earlier praise of Isenberg’s students as gritty and tough-minded.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Exuding those virtues, keynote speaker Lauren Casaceli ’15 thanked Isenberg for arming her with skills, experiences, and self-confidence. “When I walked into the school as a freshman, I didn’t believe in myself,” she confessed. “I didn’t believe that I could make a difference. Thanks to faculty, staff, and classmates, as I leave here today, I believe in myself and in the class of 2015. I believe that we are one of a kind and that the sky is the limit for all of us.”
The management major recalled how her class had bonded; how its members grew personally and professionally through a wealth of learning experiences inside and outside the classroom. “I think we’ve raised the bar for future classes,” she remarked, citing the Class of 2015’s record gift to the school and innovative student-run events, including sport management and women’s conferences and a hospitality management career fair. Casaceli also recounted her classmates’ victory in an international ethics case study competition and their founding of an exercise club which brought students and the homeless together in meaningful relationships. “Now,” she said, “it’s time to start a new adventure—one that will show the world who Isenberg students are and what we are capable of.”
A day earlier, members of Isenberg’s Class of 2015 were in force among the 5,500 graduating seniors at UMass Amherst’s 145th Undergraduate Commencement, at McGuirk Stadium. The students heard astrophysicist and keynote speaker Neil deGrasse Tyson make a passionate case for scientific method and its deployment in problem solving. They also cheered former Isenberg basketball coach John Calipari, who received a Distinguished Achievement Award.
Three Isenberg seniors received campus-wide honors. Management major and student entrepreneur Curt Owen ’15 was one of 12 campus-wide 21st Century Leaders. And finance major Nicholas Chunias ’15 and operations and information management major Kyle Parrott ’15 were recognized as Jack Welch Scholars, an elite scholarship program that honors UMass Amherst alumnus John F. Welch ’57.
Graduate Degree Celebrations
In a separate, university-wide ceremony earlier in the day, 325 new Isenberg MBA and M.S. graduates and four Ph.D. candidates received degrees. (Eleven Isenberg students completed their Ph.D.s during the academic year.) The MBA recipients represented Isenberg’s Full-time, Online, and Part-time programs. Awardees in the Online program, ranked by the Financial Times as 11th best in the world, came from as far away as the Philippines. For many of the online graduates, the event and a stylish social gathering for MBA students the previous night were first-time opportunities to meet their professors in person. “It was wonderful and eye-opening to meet them, remarked Robert Nakosteen, an Isenberg professor who teaches statistics in the online program. “They know you from video lectures so they treat you like a long-lost friend. But you haven’t had the same visual exposure to them,“ noted the Isenberg professor, who had just met an appreciative former student—a physician from San Diego—for the first time.