Diplomas & dollar bills: UMass Boston grads surprised with $1,000 each during commencement ceremony

BOSTON — UMass Boston students celebrating their college graduation and the hard work they have put in over the last several years received their diplomas and a surprise bonus gift on Thursday afternoon.

Each graduate was given a thousand dollars, with a minor catch.

Each of the more than 2,500 graduates was given a gift of $500. They were also given a second gift of $500 to give to a family member, supporter, or local organization that has helped them over the years.

Keynote speaker and businessman Robert Hale, Jr. made the announcement during his address at the college’s commencement on Thursday.

Hale, who is worth an estimated $5 billion from his controlling stake in Granite Telecommunications, is known for his generous donations over the years. He has donated tens of millions of dollars to prominent institutions like Boston Children’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and his alma mater, Connecticut College.

Hale and his wife, Karen, gave a total of $52 million towards establishing endowments at grassroots organizations throughout the 52 weeks of the 2022 calendar year.

Back in May of 2022, Hale was the keynote speaker at the Roxbury Community College graduation ceremony and he brought tears to the eyes of students and families after he gave each graduating member of the class $1,000 with the same catch.

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