Missing Commencement for Track & Field Championship, National Champion Dons Cap and Gown Early
Hulerie McGuffie, UMass Boston’s first national champion since 1988, may be graduating this month with her bachelor’s degree in psychology, but the Lynn resident is not finished going for gold for UMass Boston. Memorial Day weekend, she’ll be representing the Beacons one last time in both the 200- and 400-meter dash at the NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championship Meet at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
This means she won’t be walking across the stage at the TD Garden with the rest of the Class of 2016 on May 27.
And it’s why Monday night during the 9th Annual UMBYs, the awards ceremony for UMass Boston’s student athletes, Chancellor J. Keith Motley and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston Langley donned their regalia for a symbolic commencement ceremony. Motley asked all of the seniors to come up front and form two lines for McGuffie to walk through – in her cap and gown – while “Pomp and Circumstance” played over the speakers.
“Your academic performance was just as strong as your athletic one,” Motley said after McGuffie joined him and her mom, Hulda McGuffie, on stage. “You’re humble, you’re a quiet leader; so many of your classmates and teammates look up to you, yet you still avoid the limelight. That’s why we wanted to make sure you had this chance to walk through your colleagues who are a part of this.”
“I felt more nervous than running a race,” McGuffie said afterward.
And that’s saying something. McGuffie is an eight-time All American who won the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship Meet at Grinnell University in Grinnell, Iowa in March.
McGuffie wants to be a social worker and says after graduation, she’ll be looking for graduate programs she can start next spring. And she wants to keep running.
“I’m so sad that it’s over. It’s been the best four years of my life,” McGuffie said.
At the beginning of the night, Motley and Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation, Special Projects and Programs Charlie Titus took photos with Little East Conference track champions and the four teams that won Little East Conference championships in the past year: volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s hockey, and women’s hockey. In his remarks, Motley pointed out that 50 student athletes were named conference All-Academic Team selections this year; 92 were on the Dean’s List. He also asked all of the graduating seniors to stand and be recognized.
Speaking specifically to the seniors, Titus said, “I hope that you’ve enjoyed the ride here as much as we’ve enjoyed watching you progress and mature and make contributions to the UMass Boston community.”
In the last two years, Titus says student athletes have spent 500 hours in the community and impacted more than 5,000 lives.