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UMF Commencement ceremony: “We can learn from anyone…”

370 graduates marched down High Street today for the 2018 UMF commencement ceremony.

FARMINGTON - A parade of students numbering 370 marched down High Street today for the 2018 University of Maine at Farmington Commencement ceremony. Led by their professors, administrators and advisors, the group included students from 15 states throughout the country and both undergraduate and graduate students hailing from Canada- officially making the class an international one.

"One of you is going on to be a director of a zoo, another to Washington D.C. to be an intern for Susan Collins and another to work on the woods crew of a maple farm," UMF President Kathryn Foster told the widespread audience in her traditional profile of the group.

Next month, after six years of serving as president of the college, Foster will be leaving UMF to return to her home state of New Jersey. There she will continue her work with higher education, leading The College of New Jersey.

"The feelings of nostalgia are already building. This has always been my favorite day of the year, and this year there is a sense of graduating with them," Foster said before the ceremony.

Foster's departure was spoken of only briefly during the ceremony, leaving the spotlight on the accomplished body of students.

"She leaves quite a legacy. The greatest being what you graduates will go on to contribute to the state of Maine and beyond," Chancellor James Page said.

Also breaking up the traditional ceremony this year was Foster's recognition of one student in particular.

"One of you took your first class here in 1970, and will receive your diploma today, three months shy of your 90th birthday," Foster said.

Student Dorothy "Dot" Barker White from Jay marched with her classmates to receive her bachelors in Language Arts. She stood to receive the acknowledgment and was met with standing applause.

Dorothy "Dot" Barker White of Jay will turn 90 in three months, and received her BA in Language Arts at Saturday's ceremony.

"It's been an enriching 48 years. At my age, I'll just apply the degree to whatever else comes along," White said while lining up for the ceremony. "Farmington was been wonderful. The students were pleasant. The staff was pleasant. Everyone was pleasant."

Bill Green, award-winning broadcast journalist and host of Emmy-winning Bill Green’s Maine, delivered the event's keynote address. A broadcasting legend in Maine with a long history of excellence in his craft, Green was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his significant contributions and achievements.

Graduating senior Bryce Neal from New Gloucester gave the student address. A geology major, Neal was accepted last summer to do field research in Yellowstone with the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and investigated high elevation ponds in Maine as a UMF research assistant.

He also worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Maine Conservation Corps, building and maintaining trails on Maine public lands and state parks; served with the University’s Rotaract organization and skied with UMF’s Nordic Ski Team. After graduation, Neal plans on doing geophysical fieldwork for the EarthScope project, an NSF funded project.

"We are truly a cacophony, our ways of being crisscrossing in all directions as we try to figure out this world and our place in it. But in this cacophonous jumble, much like the chaotically stretched and folded rocks of mountains, there is a sort of harmony we can achieve if we open ourselves to the multifaceted, interlayered experiences of others," Neal said to the crowd. "We can learn from anyone if and only if we choose to learn from each other, no matter how trivial the lessons of another seem to us and our lives, the pebbles we merely trip over a literal Mt. Everest to someone else. And it is important, I think, as we move forward, to be aware of these subtleties, the tiny little bits of rock that together give life to great mountain ranges."

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2 Responses »

  1. Wonderful accomplishment Dot!!

  2. I thought the list of graduates would be posted, also?