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Graduates Pledge to be Socially Responsible

Published: May 09, 2011
More than 1,200 graduates received their diplomas from UT during its 130th commencement on May 7.
More than 1,200 graduates received their diplomas from UT during its 130th commencement on May 7.

Almost 30 years to the day after Kristen Price ’81 donned a cap and gown and received her diploma on the lawn of Plant Park, she was giving the commencement address for the class of 2011.

Price, who was introduced by advertising and public relations major Loren Piretra, of Oakland, N.J., is a professor and chair of the Department of Critical Care at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Price’s research is aimed at better predicting outcomes for cancer patients requiring admission to the critical care unit, to better allocate resources for each patient. Price said running the largest Intensive Care Unit at the No. 1 ranked cancer center in the nation comes with an emotional rollercoaster of the joys of celebration and the sorrows of grief.

“In my profession, the art of being a good physician is sharing in these emotions personally with patients and their families,” she said. “No matter what field you enter, let the art of your profession lie in the way you treat and interact with others.”

Price challenged the more than 1,200 graduates to go beyond their structured world and to reach out to the person who needs help on their doorstep.

“Volunteer often,” Price said. ”You are the generation of optimism and great expectations for your future. Be the generation of optimism and great expectations for those in need.”

One way 26 students have already accepted this challenge is by signing the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility to work for companies that promote these ideals and to champion these efforts wherever they are.

“I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work,” states the pledge, which is organized by the national Graduation Pledge Alliance which has seen more than 125,000 signed petitions prior to this spring’s commencement.

UT President Ronald Vaughn talked with pride to the class of 2011.

“No matter what you do or where you go, UT will always be a part of your life, and the experience you had here will mold you in many ways you may never fully realize,” Vaughn said. “Don’t ever forget what you’ve learned – and learned to love – at this wonderful institution.”

Chris McCarthy of Medfield, Mass., issued the student challenge by asking his fellow graduates to appreciate everything, including the lessons learned from adversities.

“As we head into the future, may we strive to obtain our highest ambitions, while appreciating the smaller accomplishments along the way,” said McCarthy, who served as president of Student Government and was an entrepreneurship major. “When we find ourselves fixated solely on where we are going, remember it’s just as important to enjoy the journey.”

There were 1,226 degree candidates, and that number includes August graduates; 1,027 were bachelor’s degree candidates, and 199 were graduate degree candidates. Among the students receiving diplomas was former UT baseball player and Major League Baseball great Tino Martinez. Martinez returned to the school where he starred on the diamond from 1986-88 and completed his bachelor's degree requirements in liberal studies with a concentration in business and marketing.

The 2011 Esse Quam Videri Award was awarded to Fred Pollock ’70. Pollock taught history for 38 years in Newark, N.J., and served as an urban planning instructor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology Summer High School Urban Engineering Program. The Young Alumnus Award was given to Jesse Landis ’02, who co-founded Bayview Public Relations in St. Petersburg.

Join the UT celebration by posting your comments and congratulations on Twitter at #UTCommencement.

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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