Gov. Baker to UMass grads: Purpose comes from being ‘in it’ with people you care about

  • Gov. Charlie Baker delivers the keynote address during the University of Massachusetts commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andres Martinez, 58, of Venezuela, stands in front of his country’s flag before graduating. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andres Martinez, 58, of Venezuela, stands in front of his country's flag before graduating the University of Massachusetts, Friday, May 10, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts students at the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate Kyle Pandiscio, of Franklin, wears festive glasses during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate Kyle Pandiscio, of Franklin, and Emma Townsend, of Shrewsbury, during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates Musawir Chaudhry, from left, Michael DePrisco, Hannah Brady and Henry Judge watch live camera scenes on large projection screen while waiting for the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates Jeff Griffin, front left, of Fall River, and Eddie Massabni, center, right, of Wakefield, talk while waiting for the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts students wave to the audience while walking to their seats at the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts students wave to the audience while walking to their seats at the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Members of the audience wave to University of Massachusetts graduates at the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate Luladay Tekalegn, of Ethiopia, talks on her phone before commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts students at the start of commencement, Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate Tianyu Gao, of China, unveils his country's flag as he takes his seat for commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gov. Charlie Baker waves to graduates during the University of Massachusetts commencement, Friday, at McGuirk Stadium. He delivered the keynote address. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dan Clough, of Manchester, Ct., a University of Massachusetts 2004 graduate, plays the Walter Chestnut Trumpet Fanfare at the start of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy speaks during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan speaks during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Martin Jacobson, from left, Gov. Charlie Baker and University of Massachusetts Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy smile during a speech by UMass President Martin Meehan during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. Jacobson received an honorary Doctor of Business degree. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts Trustee Henry Thomas III speaks during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate and student speaker Daniella Iannuzzi delivers her address during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate and student speaker Daniella Iannuzzi walks to the podium to speak during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The University of Massachusetts Colonial Honor Guard presents colors at the start of commencement, Friday, at McGuirk Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • 21st Century Leaders Kelsey DeWolfe, from left, Mahdiar Edraki, Jessica Ulloa, Jackson Cote and Jaclyn Nicholson are recognized during the University of Massachusetts commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduate and student speaker Daniella Iannuzzi delivers her address. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts Jack Welch Scholars Andrew Metz and Rachel Sanderson are recognized during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • 21st Century Leaders Bryan Chua, from left, Ramsez Amon, Jiya Nair and Patricja Bugajska are recognized during the University of Massachusetts commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Army Major General Jody Daniels receives an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan, left, and Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gov. Charlie Baker delivers the keynote address during the University of Massachusetts commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates in the School of Education celebrate at the end of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Martin Jacobsen receives an honorary Doctor of Business degree from University of Massachusetts President Martin Meehan, left, and Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy during commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andres Martinez, 58, of Venezuela, listens to the keynote address by Gov. Charlie Baker during the University of Massachusetts commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates in the School of Engineering celebrate at the end of commencement, Friday, May 10, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • University of Massachusetts graduates in the School of Nursing celebrate at the end of commencement, Friday, at McGuirk Stadium. For more photos, see page A8 and visit this story on gazettenet.com. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/10/2019 10:27:14 PM

AMHERST — In 1993, Andres Martinez, now 58, left Venezuela for the United States, leaving behind his law studies at the Central University of Venezuela because of instability in his home country.

It wasn’t until 2010 that he began taking college courses again — first at Holyoke Community College before eventually getting into the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016. At the time, he said he was unsure whether he would finish his studies.

“The first year I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this,’” Martinez said of his jump back into higher education, here in the United States. He soon realized that it was a difficult system to navigate. “What is GPA?” he asked himself. “What are courses?”

On Friday, he bid GPA and courses farewell as he joined around 5,500 of his peers who attended commencement at UMass and received their bachelor’s degrees.

“UMass has been amazing,” Martinez said.

The ceremony at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium was relatively full, given the overcast skies.

Despite the drizzle, graduation day played out as usual with beaming faces smiling for the cameras; families trying to find each other across the expanse between the field and the bleachers, peering through the crowds and waving their arms over their heads; and beach balls punched around the crowd of graduates.

“It’s one of the most memorable days of your life,” said Michael Look, of Lynnfield. His son, Michael, had just filed into the stadium, pausing with friends so that he could smile for his mother taking photos.

Look said this will not be his last UMass graduation; he has two more children attending the school and one who had already graduated prior to Michael.

“They love it,” he said of UMass Amherst. “It’s a good school academically, and it’s a good school to have fun.”

Daniella Iannuzzi, the student speaker at the ceremony, made sure to touch on those fun moments during her remarks: hearing geese on the campus common, making friends in a bar bathroom, seeing the likes of Cardi B and Bernie Sanders come to campus. And, of course, there were the sports victories: two Patriots Super Bowls, one Red Sox World Series and, this year, a Frozen Four finals appearance by the university’s hockey team.

As faculty filed into the stadium, some held up “Fund our Future” signs — a reference to the campaign to boost public school and college funding by $1.5 billion. Graduation came amid tensions between state lawmakers and the university’s top brass, who have called for $10 million more in funding than the state House or Senate has proposed in their latest budgets.

Gov. Charlie Baker was the honored guest on Friday. In his commencement speech, he said that happiness is fleeting, but that “chasing it misses the bigger picture.” He said that what matters more is purpose, which comes from life experiences: “Purpose comes from being ‘in it’ — whatever it might be — with people you care about, and who care about you. Marriage. Friendship. Work. Community service. Play. Child raising. Coaching. Teaching. Cheering. Volunteering.”

“Note I didn’t mention politics,” Baker said.

He gave the graduates three pieces of advice: make smart choices, be a good listener and appreciate that life is a team sport. He told several stories about his own family to illustrate why those points were important.

“Clichés?” Baker asked. “Yeah, but that doesn’t make them wrong. It just makes them old. Like me!”

He made sure to touch on the subject of bipartisanship by mentioning his Democrat mother, Republican father, and the civil political conversations in their house when he was growing up.

“There was only one rule: You had to listen more than you spoke,” he said. “And when you spoke, you had to demonstrate some appreciation for what the other person was saying.”

UMass President Marty Meehan and Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy also addressed the graduates. Huge applause erupted as Subaswammy counted down to three and graduates turned their tassels. In the background, the university band played one last rendition of the school’s fight song.

“Go! Go U! Go UMass! Go UMass!”

As the crowds began to clear out of the stadium, the sun peeked through the clouds.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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