Investiture speaker to Class of 2020: ‘You’re here to find yourself’
There was a common theme during Thursday’s freshman investiture ceremony: learn about yourself, find yourself, and discover yourself. Chancellor J. Keith Motley, new Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino, and author Colin Beavan delivered this message to the Class of 2020, reminding them that getting an education goes beyond classroom learning.
“What I want you to learn is about yourself. I want you to learn about each other,” DiSabatino said. “So yes, I want you to work hard. I want you to get involved. Maybe do some research here, join a club. If you don’t take advantage of that, you’re only going to get half the education, and I want you to get the whole experience.”
“You are in the challenging process of acquiring knowledge,” Motley said. “Don’t back off from that opportunity.”
The chancellor then asked the students to raise their hands, indicating where they were from. There were students from throughout the city of Boston, across the commonwealth, and beyond.
“Do you understand? There’s so much to learn from each other,” Motley said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to do self-discovery, but also to discover the best in human beings.”
Keynote speaker Beavan echoed those themes.
“Why I say that it’s a time of tremendous opportunity is that since the old-fashioned directions of how you’re supposed to do things don’t necessarily deliver on the promises that they once did, it gives us the opportunity to actually say how am I going to decide who I am, who the people that I care about are, and how are we going to work together,” Beavan said.
Beavan’s advice to the Class of 2020: Stop blaming other people for problems and start looking for solutions, stay out of debt, and believe that you matter.
Beavan’s 2009 book No Impact Man was about his attempt to live a year with no impact on the environment, or, as he put it Thursday, “what would happen if we really tried to live what we believed.” That year, he says he didn’t do anything to make trash, only ate food produced within 100 miles, and volunteered so there would be positives to negate any negative impacts on the environment.
One of the freshmen asked Beavan what his impact is now. He admitted to having a “medium impact”—he will take an airplane for a speaking engagement, but rather that take a flight, come back home, and then fly the next day, he’ll elongate his trip.
The ceremony closed with the chancellor inviting the students to pin one another, and take class pins for classmates who couldn’t be there. He then shook everyone’s hands, along with DiSabatino and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston Langley.
About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit UMass Boston's website.