New graduates encouraged to recognize the importance of choices and the people who assisted them on their educational journeys

12/15/2018

UM-Dearborn conferred more than 700 degrees on Saturday.

As a financial analyst and economic expert, Emily Kolinski Morris uses her expertise to research data and spot trends for future forecasting at Ford Motor Co. But, when it comes to understanding success on a personal level, the chief economist occasionally looks to the past.

And with her keynote addresses during Saturday’s UM-Dearborn commencement ceremonies she encouraged the 700 plus graduates to do the same.

“Years from now when you think about your commencement, you probably won’t remember who spoke or what was said. But what I think you’ll remember, without even trying, are the people who helped you get here and how they made you feel. Those feelings are not just from the big days or special occasions; they are built up from hundreds of shared moments,” said Kolinski Morris (’90 B.A.). “I wish you great success on the road ahead. And when you look back on that road, you will see it was paved with those precious every day moments.”

Maize and blue pride filled the Fieldhouse as Chancellor Domenico Grasso presided over his first commencement and encouraged graduates to locate their family and friends for a moment of appreciation.

“Our graduates are deeply mindful of the gratitude that they owe to the loved ones who have supported and encouraged them and have made this day a reality,” he said. “And to the parents, I can only say that as a father of four, I think I know how you feel. The much-awaited day has finally come. You are a little sad, a little relived, a little wonderstruck, maybe a little poorer, and very, very proud.”

Speaking to the graduates, Grasso said course-lesson specifics like equations and memorized dates may fade, but the true value of their campus experience will become more apparent with time. He said the real benefit to a Michigan education is learning about the world and yourself through a broad lens of knowledge.

“The hallmark of a Michigan education is breadth. Your Michigan education is the key to the well-informed, creative and holistic thinking that the world so desperately needs.”

In Kolinski Morris’ keynote speeches, she shared wisdom gleaned from her field, giving two behavioral economic observations for the Class of 2018 to consider when making choices — No. 1. Present bias, which is making decisions today that are not in the best interest of future selves; No. 2. The relationship between individual choices and collective outcomes.

“Now that you’ve graduated, there’s nothing wrong with sitting down on a Saturday night and watching a sappy romance on the Hallmark Channel. Just don’t let that be all you do. Keep your present bias in mind and allocate some time each week to invest in things that bring personal growth and move you to your long-term goals,” Kolinski Morris said.

She said with the second observation — economists have realized that there are cases where individual self-interest doesn’t produce the best collective outcome, so it is important to be aware of choices made.

“Think about…the person who arrives late and walks right up to the airport gate right past everybody waiting patiently for boarding to begin,” she said. “It doesn’t take an economist to figure this one out: Just stop every once in awhile, consider your course of action and ask yourself, ‘what would the world look like if everyone did this?’”

The university hosted two ceremonies, the morning ceremony recognized graduates of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Business; the afternoon ceremony lauded graduates of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and the College of Education, Health, and Human Services.

During the morning ceremony, Dina Shohatee, student speaker shared the importance of self-reflection and asking questions with her collegiate colleagues.

“Asking questions is very important because it allows us to get a clear idea of the world and concepts around us. In order to help the world, we need to understand what the issues are,” said Shohatee, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in bioengineering.

Courtney Grove-Dyer, student speaker at the afternoon event, said she’s proud of her B.A. degree, but even more so of how the UM-Dearborn experience prepares students to be difference makers in their industries and communities. “We are addressing challenges to the region head-on through pioneering research, strategic partnerships and civic engagement. Our education and experiences have honed our ability to think outside of the box. We are innovators. And most importantly, we are leaders.”

After receiving their degrees, the new graduates were encouraged to keep investing in their campus community by Rand Beech (’09 B.B.A.) during the morning session and Gay Johnson (’17 B.A.) in the afternoon.

Faculty speakers Computer and Information Science Associate Professor Marouane Kessentini and Political Science Associate Professor Michael Rosano also advised the graduates during the ceremonies. Over the course of the two ceremonies, Grasso presented five students with the Chancellor’s Medallion in recognition of their strong academic record, quality of character, intellect and integrity:

  • Majd Faraj, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Con Lustig, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Angela Karkoski, College of Business
  • Thomas O’Donohue, College of Education, Health, and Human Services
  • Erica Magnuson, College of Engineering and Computer Science

Concluding each graduation celebration, Michigan’s fight song, The Victors, played.

“Many [have sung] this song, but — as Michigan alumni — you all own this song. Let’s sing loudly and proudly,” Grasso said. “Go Blue!”

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the archived live stream feed of the 10 a.m. ceremony and the 3 p.m. ceremony, and view photos from both ceremonies.

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