Saluting Winter 2020 graduates in a time of turmoil

December 18, 2020

The Ford School community came together to celebrate a significant milestone this week for 19 graduates as they earn their degrees in public policy. In a challenging year, and against the backdrop of a semester filled with online courses, Zoom events, and physically-distant study sessions, it was reassuring to be able to salute the BA, MPP and MPA graduates at the Winter Commencement on December 17.   

Dean Michael Barr noted the unique circumstances of the virtual commencement, telling the “assembled” students, faculty, staff and family members, “You have done really amazing things. You have pivoted to online learning; you had exciting internships and jobs that let you learn even in this terrible time; and you dug in to our community. As you graduate and move on to the next phase of life, you should know that you have the love and support of the Ford School. We’ve got your back.” 

Two MPAs, eight MPPs (four with joint degrees from other U-M schools) and nine BAs were conferred.

MPA graduate Bill Selesky said, “I am honored and privileged to be a member of the Ford School community – a group of brilliant people genuinely dedicated to improving our society and world. The skills and experiences I gained at Ford will stay close with me as I pursue those same goals in my life and career.”

Paula Lantz, associate dean for academic affairs, noted the unique circumstances. “Whether you are able to actually see your loved ones in person or via Zoom, please take time to celebrate and to be proud of yourself, your accomplishments and your crazy commitment to the complex, challenging and noble field of public policy.” 

Sharon Maccini, BA program director, saluted the undergraduates, marking the 11th year the Ford School has awarded Bachelor's degrees. “You have been committed to each other, to the broader community, to the values of the Ford School, to public service, to just being thoughtful people, and really inspire those of us who work at the Ford School.” 

BA graduate Kelli Martin thanked the Ford School community: “Being a Ford Student has been an unparalleled opportunity to cultivate my passion for public service alongside incredible peers and mentors who are dedicated to creating positive change.”

Dr. Rachel S. White (BA ‘10), assistant professor at Old Dominion University Darden College of Education and chair of the Alumni Board, welcomed the graduates to the alumni community. “You are part of a really strong community that is here for you for the rest of your life.”  

The university-wide online winter commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 19.

Our winter 2020 graduates

Master of Public Affairs

Dominic Arellano, MPA
Bill Selesky, MPA

Master of Public Affairs

Akin Olumoroti, MPP
Guy Packard, MPP
Rizki Oddie Putro Sitompul, MPP
Amy C. Turner, MPP
Linnea Carver, MPP/MS, School of Environment and Sustainability
Sacha-Rose Phillips, MPP/MS, School of Environment and Sustainability
Heather Kiningham, MPP/MSW
Barton Linderman, MPP/MA, School of Education

Bachelor of Arts in public policy

Bahaa Abazeed, BA
Sabrina Butcher, BA
Sheridan Cole, BA
Miriam Chung, BA
Brady Diller, BA
Jackie Erlon-Baurjan, BA
Riston Escher, BA
Molly Garyantes, BA
Kelli Martin, BA