Words of Wisdom

With more than 17,700 graduates earning their degrees this spring, the Class of 2017 has already made its mark as the largest graduating class in UMass history. To help our recent grads as they embark on the next chapter of their lives, we’ve asked alumni to share some words of wisdom about work and life.

We begin with advice from retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who spoke at the UMass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research’s annual scholarship dinner in late April and gave students there some pointers they won’t soon forget. Have some words of wisdom to help guide a new graduate? Submit your advice here.  


David Ortiz

David Ortiz speaks at the UMass Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research's annual celebrity scholarship dinner on April 26, 2017. 

'Never stop dreaming'

Never, ever stop dreaming. Dreams come true. I promise you. Dreams come true. It’s always been how hard you work for it. You've got to work hard every day. You've got to take advantage of situations. Being in your 20s is a tough age. It’s an age where the decisions that you make can be crucial for your life in general. There’s a lot of people in their 20s who make decisions that cost them the rest of their lives, while some others make decisions that guarantee a good life. And there are tons of people giving you the opportunity to graduate and have a wonderful future. Take advantage of that, 'cause life only goes around once. A lot of us have the opportunity to get a second chance, but it doesn’t always work that way. One thing that I always used to tell myself, and I still do, I always look at the sky as the limit, and hopefully you guys look at it the same way.


David Ortiz
Retired Red Sox slugger
'Follow your passion, and it won't feel like work'

Start saving for your retirement. Wait until later to really enjoy your fruits of labor. Work smart, not hard. Follow your passion, and it won't feel like work. Take risks early. You're not entitled to anything.

Be loyal and stay honest, for your word is all you have. Be true to yourself and be on time. Finally, if you are lucky enough to have a 401K, invest the max. You'll be glad you did. I sure am. That was the best advice I ever received. Buy, don't rent. Finally, set your goals. If you can see it, you can have it.


Alan Kirshner '77
Sales Trainer, Consultant and Motivational Speaker
'Find your passion and never stop'

It's all about the people - start making relationships for life.

Take risks; worry about how you will do it later. Find your passion and never stop.

Hard work does beat talent.

Don't take anything for granted; realize what you have and not what you don't have.


Felipe Nascimento '16
Co-founder and CTO
'Mom and Dad were right about everything'

Make sure you have a good work/life balance. Don't get so consumed with your career that you forget to maintain your relationships with family and friends; their companionship and support is invaluable.

Be passionate about what you do. Your career is 40+ hours of your week; you don't want to be miserable for the majority of your time.

Also, Mom and Dad were right about everything.


Shari '13
Program Administrator
'Outwork your co-workers and dream big'

Be able to outwork your co-workers, always take extra assignments and dream big. When faced with adversity, be the employee that says "I can help with this" and always be resilient. Hard work is the key to being the best in most jobs!

Leverage your connections and find a partner who supports your goals, in the workplace and at home.

The secret to success is hard work and being a lifelong learner. If I do not know it, I learn it and quickly.

Rita Gardner '83
President and CEO
Lew Pollock

Lew Pollock at UMass Amherst

'Lean on your friends and allow them to lean on you'

Cherish your years at UMass. The friendships you've made will last your entire life. Your generation is lucky to have many ways to stay connected to people. Lean on your friends and allow them to lean on you. Learn from each other; the people you have lived with, laughed with, partied with will someday lead corporations or government. They will cherish your friendship and advice as much as you theirs. Congratulations to the Class of 2017, especially my daughter Erica, her friends and senior members of the UMMB.

Be honest, sincere and caring about those around you, whether they are your family, friends, supervisors, co-workers, or people who work for you. Listen to them, their ideas and concerns and work alongside them to solve problems together.


Lew Pollock '85
VP - Technology
'Be committed to your vision'

Be respectful of everyone. Be thoughtful and be accountable. Be collaborative and be a good teammate. Be passionate about your work and all other interests. Find your sweet spot and excel.

Friends made at UMass will always be among your closest — work at staying connected.

Be true to yourself. Understand what makes you truly happy and pursue that. Be committed to your vision.

Congratulations Class of 2017! Well done!!

Kevin Sullivan '85
Vice President/Director of SOX