The 113th Commencement Ceremonies began at UMass-Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon bringing another school year to a close, and for the students graduating closure after a difficult final month.
This year's ceremonies were much different from those of bygone years with new security protocols in place and an increased police presence being two of the most notable changes made to ensure the safety of all who are in attendance.
One of the new security protocols is an evacuation plan that Chief Emil Fioravanti of the UMass Dartmouth Police Department will brief guests and students on when the ceremonies commence. According to Chief Fioravanti the plan simply asks people of all venues to make a mental note of the exit that is nearest to them in the event that an evacuation needs to be conducted.
It was an unusual way to begin a graduation ceremony with the chief of the campus police outlining an evacuation plan, but since the last few weeks have been anything but usual for students and staff it is an oddity that is a necessary addition to the ceremonies.
For students the ceremonies brought closure not just to their collegiate years but also to the hectic times of the last month. Although the year may have ended in a way that no one would have expected, the students feel an extra sense of accomplishment by achieving what they did amidst the adversity.
And as UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Dr. Divinia Grossman told the graduates during her address "today we begin to remind the world of the real UMass Dartmouth. You all have blue and gold buttons bearing the phrase 'UMass Dartmouth Strong.' Strong we are. And strong you are."