As a sophomore at UMass, Kevin was doing research on distant galaxies. As a senior, he was being interviewed by NPR after helping discover the brightest objects that have ever been detected in space.
I was curious about how things worked, how the universe worked. And so I enrolled as an astronomy major coming into UMass. So over the summer of 2013 is when I really dove into research for the very first time. And Professor Yun had a project lined up for me. He knew that I was interested in getting into research, and we were looking for galaxies that had a certain threshold of brightness. By the end of the summer, it was so successful that he wrote a proposal to use UMass' telescope down in Mexico. And so these results that happened over the course of a couple months into 2014 were later analyzed over the course of a couple years. The reason why it's such a big splash is because they're the brightest things that have ever been detected, and actually confirmed. Astronomy Magazine, all these big websites had picked this up. The outrageously luminous galaxies. The Boston Globe did a wonderful article. The Cape Cod Times did a wonderful article. The NPR interview was-- it was really heartfelt to have that appreciation. It was a lot of fun doing all of these interviews. It still is. I was just drumming, getting into playing the djembe at the time. But I wanted to see there be a drum circle or something on campus. And in a matter of a minute or so, Dr. John Bracey said why don't you teach a class? I said OK. Over the course of four full years of teaching the class, I've taught over 150 students. My UMass education means so much to me because I'm always going to be having that seeking spirit. The astronomy department has world class faculty. The physics department is one of the best in the world. To know, with complete faith, that I've established a home at UMass-- having those heart treasuries are priceless. I'm Kevin Cornelius Harrington, class of 2016. I stand for compassionate leadership, joy, and the willingness to always learn and learn from others. And I stand for UMass.