Gown and Town: Graduation rites around the corner

March 21, 2013 

As perhaps the most anticipated event of each school year, the graduation ceremony marks a very significant moment in a student's academic career.

This year, UC Merced's graduating class will celebrate the successful completion of their undergraduate coursework.

The university has started preparing for this year's graduation, with information on the expected guest speakers being released.

Accomplished research engineer Jose M. Hernandez has been named the guest speaker for the School of Engineering and School of Natural Sciences. Hernandez worked for NASA from 2001 until 2011, having been selected as an astronaut in 2004. His work in the field of engineering will undoubtedly inspire students to reach their goals.

David Mas Masumoto, the guest speaker for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts, is a third-generation valley farmer who is known for his contributions The New York Times, Time Magazine and other news media, including the Sun-Star. Masumoto is an award-winning author who serves on the board of the James Irvine Foundation and the Statewide Leadership Council to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Guest speakers play a substantial role at graduation ceremonies, in motivating and preparing graduates for the challenges that follow commencement.

The selection of a student speaker to give a three-minute speech during each commencement ceremony is an exciting and important aspect of graduation. The student speaker is chosen based on several factors. Those who are interested must submit their speeches for consideration before the April 1 deadline.

In an effort to improve the quality of each graduate's experience, the campus has been making yearly updates to its commencement tradition, this year deciding to go with an early morning ceremony possibly to avoid extreme valley heat.

As a UC Merced student, I feel privileged to be a part of a university that has done an exceptional job acquiring influential guest speakers, including Michelle Obama's appearance.

With hundreds of their loved ones watching, the Class of 2013 is expecting this year's ceremony to run as smoothly as it has in previous years.

UC Merced graduates are encouraged to join the alumni association, which serves to keep students involved with the university after they have left campus.

The alumni association is set to be the largest student group on campus. It is comprised of individuals who are dedicated to supporting the campus through philanthropic efforts.

Not only does the association keep students connected with the school, but it allows graduates to assist with the continued growth of the student body and campus.

The 2013 commencement ceremony for the schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences will be held at 9 a.m. May 18 at the South Bowl of UC Merced's campus. The ceremony for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts will be held the following day -- same time, same place.

Alexis Footman is a senior at UC Merced and is majoring in psychology.

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