Fri, 05/03/2019

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will honor the exemplary achievement, initiative, and leadership of some of its most talented and accomplished graduating seniors during Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 10, at McGuirk Alumni Stadium, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Ten members of the graduating class will be honored as 21st Century Leaders at Undergraduate Commencement. Seven of the ten graduates are members of the Commonwealth Honors College:

Aiste Balciunaite, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry

Aiste showed leadership in her courses and research labs, and as a member of the UMass rowing team. She was honored as a Spring Scholar Athlete for her contributions in the classroom, as well as on the water as co-captain of the rowing team. After graduating, Aiste will return to her native Lithuania to work at a biotech firm and later pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering.

Bryan Chua, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Science

Bryan was heavily involved in sustainability issues during his time at UMass, co-founding Sustainability Projects Abroad — a student organization providing environmentally conscious ways to improve water quality in developing countries. His project brought him to the Domincan Republic and Puerto Rico, where he distributed water filters to those in need. Bryan will work as an automation engineer at Bristol-Myers Squibb upon graduating.

Kelsey Dewolfe, Political Science, Economics

Kelsey will graduate from the ROTC program at UMass, and has been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Her strong academic efforts honored her as a Distinguished Military Graduate, putting her in the top 20 percent of cadets in the U.S. After the military, Kelsey plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the public sector.

Mahdiar Edraki, Mechanical Engineering

Studying fluids, Mahdiar presented work at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting as a freshman at UMass. He was also one of two students representing UMass at the Engineering Innovation for Society Student Design Competition, designing wheelchair-accessible dental chairs within a 48-hour period. After graduating, he plans on pursuing a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering.

Jiya Nair, Operations and Information Management, Political Science

Jiya served as the attorney general for the UMass Student Government Association, working to reform the student conduct system. She also served as president and treasurer of the South Asian Students Association and policy advocacy coordinator for Student Bridges. After graduating, Jiya will travel to India on a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship to prepare for graduate study in public policy.

Jaclyn Nicholson, Marketing, Communications

Jaclyn held the position of drum major for three years in the Minuteman Marching Band, leading the band at the 2018 Tournament of the Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. She also volunteered to raise money to fight Alzheimer's disease, and taught visual-literacy to third-graders. She will work for Hanover Insurance group after graduating, and pursue an MBA and a master's in marketing analytics.

Jessica Ullola, Psychology with a Neuroscience Concentration

Recently honored at the Massachusetts State House, Jessica developed a wound-healing treatment as a part of her honors thesis project. She also founded the Hope Project, a service organization that places volunteers at local shelters and soup kitchens, collecting donations and raising awareness of homelessness. After graduation, she plans to work in a research lab, volunteer with the homeless, and apply to medical school.

Read more on this year's 21st Century Leaders here!