UC Merced names speakers for 2014 commencement

02/10/2014 5:23 PM

02/10/2014 11:30 PM

UC Merced announced Monday two speakers will give commencement speeches during ceremonies in May.

Former U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Kristina M. Johnson and Merced County Superior Court Judge Paul C. Lo will speak at separate ceremonies May 17 and 18.

With more than 1,400 students eligible to graduate, UC Merced could mark its largest graduating class. Last year set the record when 898 graduated.

“Both speakers are leaders in their fields and will inspire our graduates as they head off to make their mark on the world,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said, in a news release. “Many of our students have endured challenges and hardships, as have both speakers.”

Lo, originally from Laos, is the first Hmong-American judge appointed in the United States. He was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Merced County Superior Court in December.

He didn’t speak English when he came to the United States at the age of 11, but he mastered the language and worked hard at his studies. Lo received a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and a Juris Doctor degree from UCLA School of Law. He was admitted to the California State Bar in 1994.

Before his appointment, Lo had been a Merced resident and practicing attorney for 20 years. Lo owned the Law Offices of Paul C. Lo in Merced and practiced in the areas of personal injury, employment law, business transaction and litigation and general civil litigation.

Johnson, the second woman to speak at a UC Merced graduation, is CEO of Enduring Hydro LLC, which deals in hydroelectric facilities.

Johnson served as undersecretary at the Department of Energy from May 2009 until October 2010, and during her tenure introduced programs to enhance renewable energy pathways. Before her appointment, Johnson was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University, and dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, according to the release.

Johnson co-founded several companies, including SouthEast Techinventures and ColorLink Inc., which was sold to RealD, and is responsible for 3-D effects in such movies as “Avatar” and “Monster House.”

Johnson’s academic awards include the Dennis Gabor Prize for creativity and innovation in modern optics and the John Fritz Medal, considered the highest award in the engineering profession.

Johnson was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame and received the Society of Women Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award, the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation Eagle Award for science and education and the Women of Vision Award for Leadership by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. After a NATO post-doctoral fellowship at Trinity College in Dublin, she joined the University of Colorado-Boulder faculty in 1985.

Johnson is scheduled to speak to candidates in the schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering on May 17, and Lo is slated to address those in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts on May 18. Both events begin at 9 a.m. in the South Bowl on campus.

For more information on commencement events, visit commencement.ucmerced.edu.

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