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UMD Celebrates 2017 Winter Graduates, Bestows Honorary Degrees

U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings received honorary Doctor of Public Service, parents of 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III received posthumous Bachelor of Humane Letters on his behalf.


Katie Lawson , 301-405-4622


The University of Maryland celebrated its 2017 winter graduates on Dec. 19, 2017, at a campus-wide ceremony at the XFINITY Center. At the ceremony, students, family and friends received a commencement address by Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, as well as this year’s student speaker, Rachel Smith, who graduated with a degree in immigration and ethnic studies. The university also bestowed two honorary degrees.

UMD Winter Commencement 2017

During his commencement address, Congressman Cummings discussed the importance of public service and in discussing his own personal obstacles, encouraged students to translate their hardships into driving purpose and passion. “The struggles that you overcome in life are what makes each of you special and prepares you to deliver your gifts to the world,” he said.

Congressman Cummings also received an honorary Doctor of Public Service in recognition of his distinguished public career of uplifting and empowering the community he serves and championing greater access to education, housing, health care, jobs, and a better future for all Americans.​

This year’s student speaker, Rachel Smith, addressed her fellow graduates and praised their spirit of doing good in their communities. “Each one of us has a fearless idea that innovates, that inspires, that changes our cities, our country, and our world. Every day on this campus, I meet students who are already using what they have learned here at Maryland to improve communities around the world,” she said, “This shows that our mission to do good does not end when we leave this campus.”

In memory of 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins, III, a Bowie State University student who was senselessly murdered on UMD’s campus last May, his parents Richard W. Collins, Jr. and Dawn M. Collins received a posthumous Bachelor of Humane Letters on behalf of their son.

“This is a fitting memorial to a young man whose life and death have touched our community so deeply,” said President Wallace Dr. Loh, who was joined in presenting the honorary degree by BSU’s President Aminta Breaux.

Those in attendance also heard remarks from Wallace D. Loh, UMD President; Barry Gossett, Vice Chair, University System of Maryland Board of Regents; Kirk Bell, President, Maryland Alumni Association Board of Governors; and deans of each school and college.

To watch the ceremony, visit

Rachel Smith
Students at Commencement
Parents of Richard Collins

Photo credit: Emily Chastain Photography

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