Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass recognized in a positive light

By Karen Podorefsky

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Screenshot/Boston Globe

In Sunday’s issue of the Boston Globe, there was the “UMass Special Section: A Globe Magazine Special celebrating UMass’ 150th anniversary.” This section includes an article dedicated to different aspects of the University of Massachusetts corresponding to the letters in the alphabet, from agriculture to innovation, and from jobs to ZooMass.

At first glance, most of these words reminded me of why I love UMass. Some, however, held no meaning for me, and I thought that one of the words could possibly be taken the wrong way. Why would the Globe refer to their own state’s school as ZooMass? This doesn’t seem like an honorable title for our University, I thought.

As I read further into the article, I found out that the word was mainly there not to promote the University’s party allure, but to merely  fill the Z slot in the list of letters. I am happy to report that the article contradicted my original thought. Yes, we party at UMass just like at every other big university, but we didn’t even make it onto the top-20 list of party schools in last year’s Princeton Review. They offered us the name “ShhhMass” because of the quiet floors, which could be a bit of a stretch, but an eye-opening Globe response to UMass’ becoming more esteemed and well known.

Bill Cosby, graduate of UMass, said in the Globe’s magazine that he is proud to be a UMass alumnus. “I am today who I am largely because of UMass,” he says. Big names look good for our school not because they have a degree from here, but because they know they benefited from their scholastic career.

Backed up with facts, the article does nothing but promote the University. “UMass is ranked in the top 10 research universities nationwide for its commitment to innovation and leadership in sustainability,” says alumnus General Electric CEO Jack Welch whose belief is that “education is the American dream, and UMass is still a great place to go grab that dream by the tail.”

But, I was surprised to see the article did not pay tribute to the benefits of the Five College system. In addition to our immense campus, the four other local college campuses provide UMass students with seemingly infinite opportunities. There are many hidden gems around Amherst and the surrounding towns.

Recently, I walked to Amherst College for the first time to go see the Mead Art Museum for one of my classes. Surprisingly, I had never walked through Amherst College’s beautiful campus. Even though it is much smaller than UMass, I got lost trying to find the museum. I accidentally went to the Beneski Museum of Natural History, a place I did not know existed, which boasts numerous dinosaur models and fossils of prehistoric animals. I didn’t get to stay for long, having gotten directions to my actual destination, but even so, I had no idea that legitimate museums were located within walking distance. This was an unexpectedly eye-opening experience for me.

With the hustle and bustle of the semester, I haven’t been back to Beneski, but I plan to spend part of finals week exploring areas I have yet to go. The Emily Dickinson museum is right around the corner and the University Museum of Contemporary Art is in the Fine Arts Center, a location we pass by all the time, maybe without knowledge of the variety of activities occurring inside it.

It’s a nice pick-me-up as the year slows down, to make time for local adventures and possibly see something you never knew existed right here in Amherst. Even though we may be cramming near the end of the semester, we are literally surrounded by opportunities, and it’s important to take the time to appreciate them. Personally I don’t want senior year to arrive in time for me to realize that I haven’t taken advantage of my surroundings.

Maybe it’s the rumored man-made hills, but I felt extra prestigious at a private school two miles away from my own public school. I felt different walking through the Amherst College campus than I do when I walk through UMass’. Why should I feel different? That’s not right. Your college campus should not define the prestige of your education. It’s defined by the work and effort you put into it, along with the opportunities you take. It may sound cliché, but you have the power to make or break your experience. “UMass emerged to become a lot more than a cheap ‘safety school’ for high school seniors,” says Doug Most, a contributing writer for the Globe’s UMass magazine. For me, it is the best choice I could have made in terms of education, practicality, and the doors have opened for my future.

Karen Podorefsky is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]

 

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