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Spring Commencement: Speaker Michael Bloomberg Encourages Grads to Put Fearless Ideas Into Action

Former Mayor, Philanthropist Gives $2.3M to UMD, Partner for Climate Study

By Liam Farrell

Imploring UMD graduates to not shy away from taking risks, entrepreneur and former three-term New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called on the newly minted Terp alumni at today’s commencement ceremony to embrace challenges as opportunities.

Referencing the “Point of Failure” spot between Shoemaker and LeFrak halls that memorializes the Great Fire of 1912, Bloomberg praised the UMD forerunners who “changed ‘you can’t’ into ‘you will’” and rebuilt the school.

“Don’t let short-term gain hold you back from long-term growth,” he said. “Turn your points of failure into turning points of your life.”

Bloomberg, the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy for climate action, also announced he will give $2.3 million to the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability and the Rocky Mountain Institute to analyze U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reductions for a report to be submitted to the UN’s climate change conference in Chile in December.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate of public service at the campus-wide commencement ceremony in the Xfinity Center, part of a series of events honoring more than 8,200 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students.

“We have earned the right to be fearless, to let our ideas and our voices carry us far beyond McKeldin Mall,” said Amy Iandiorio, the student speaker and a graduate of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s honors program. “We have earned the right to use our college experiences as stepping-stones to greater things.”

The ceremony honored two university medalists: Jerome Quenum, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and will pursue a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley; and Eric Wang, a bioengineering major who will pursue a master of philosophy degree in chemistry at the University of Cambridge before enrolling in a medical engineering and medical physics doctoral program run by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Individual colleges, schools and departments also held ceremonies from Wednesday through today. They featured speakers including Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes; Clay B. Siegall ’82, co-founder of Seattle Genetics; and state delegates Eric Luedtke ’02 and Jazz Lewis ’14.

Graduates were also addressed at the Xfinity Center by Elaine Johnson Coates ’59, who was UMD’s first American-American female undergraduate to complete her degree.

“I stand upon this podium and look out at the diversity in the beautiful faces of this graduating class, and it tells me that my journey mattered,” said Coates, a retired educator and social worker. “The path you forge and the doors you open can impact individuals you may never meet. Your journey matters.”

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