Amherst College graduates ‘excited, but nervous’

  • Amherst College graduates walk to the quadrangle for commencement, Sunday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 5/21/2017 2:10:52 PM


For the Gazette

AMHERST — Amherst College was bustling with graduates and their families Sunday for the school’s 196th commencement.

The excited sounds of a graduating crowd filled the campus’ main quad as about 480 seniors filed into seats to mark the end of their undergraduate career. Families, once seated, surrounded the graduates on either side.

“I am excited, but nervous,” said graduate Irma Zamora, 22. “I will be the first one in my family to graduate college. This is a big step for my family,” added Zamora, who studied Spanish at Amherst. Further back in the crowd were Zamora’s family, waving large white signs above the crowd’s heads, congratulating her.

Other students saw the milestone as bittersweet — glad to be done, but sad to leave their peers and community members.

“I had four years where I made a lot of close friends that I won’t see for awhile,” said Juan Zamudio, who studied French and political science. “Being in school is fun and a great experience, but I am excited for the new stage of life — moving to a new city, working full time for the first time in my life.”

Amir Hall, graduating with a degree in English, was the student speaker. Hall, from Trinidad, spoke on the welcoming community of Amherst College. Without the help of the students who had gone before him, he said, he would have been lost. Gratitude and appreciation were continuous emotions expressed in a moving speech given to his peers and family.

“When asked where I’m from, Amherst College will be on that long list,” Amir said to the crowd. “When asked, ‘How did you arrive?’ don’t forget who helped you get here. When asked how I arrived, I think of the faculty and staff who’s helped me on the way.”

Amherst College president Biddy Martin spoke next, explaining the importance of a liberal arts degree and how it remains relevant in modern day.

“Liberal arts is best suited for change,” Martin said. “It fosters diversity. It has never been meant for a specific job that may disappear — it’s to adapt and change.”

She then brought her speech back to what Hall said about friendship, citing education as a tool for personal growth that fosters friendships and communities, which draws students to Amherst College.

“Seniors that have spoken on your behalf have given moving testimonies to how we need each other and friendship, friendship flows from the humanity that education fosters,” Martin said.

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