UC Merced

Press release: First Lady Obama to Address UC Merced Graduating Class

Merced, Calif. – First Lady Michelle Obama will address the graduating class at the fourth Commencement at the University of California, Merced, campus on Saturday, May 16. The Office of the First Lady announced today (March 27) that Mrs. Obama will deliver the commencement speech to UC Merced’s first full senior class – the University opened in 2005. UC Merced students actively sought out the First Lady as commencement speaker by writing letters to Mrs. Obama, her office, and her friends and family.

More details will be announced at a later date.

“Having the First Lady with us to celebrate our students’ accomplishments will be a great honor for all of us at UC Merced,” said Chancellor Steve Kang. “I heartily congratulate our students who have actively spearheaded the initiative to secure Mrs. Obama’s participation in the graduation ceremony of our first full senior class. This is a true testament of the founding class’ vision, hard work and can-do attitude that will take them far in life.”

Some 450 students are eligible to graduate from UC Merced this spring – about 430 of them seniors earning a bachelor's degree, the rest obtaining graduate degrees. UC Merced is in the midst of a landmark academic year.

“While we were working on this campaign, many people told us that it was impossible, that Michelle Obama would never come to UC Merced,” said student Sam Fong, one of a group of students who spearheaded the campaign to bring the First Lady to Commencement. “But our team worked hard, believing all along that the First Lady would respond to our efforts and our passion. Now, our efforts have paid off, and we are all tremendously excited for Mrs. Obama to come to UC Merced!”

The commencement ceremony at UC Merced is held as a traditional graduation ceremony, complete with a colorful procession of students and academics in robes reflecting their degrees and alma maters.

University of California President Mark Yudof and members of the UC Board of Regents will also participate in Commencement.

UC Merced is in the midst of a landmark year. Opening to freshman students in 2005 as the University of California's 10th campus -- and the first to be built in the 21st century -- UC Merced is proud to celebrate the graduation year of its first full senior class.

For more information about UC Merced, visit www.ucmerced.edu.


UC Merced opened Sept. 5, 2005, as the 10th campus in the University of California system and the first American research university of the 21st century. The campus significantly expands access to the UC system for students throughout the state, with a special mission to increase college-going rates among students in the San Joaquin Valley. It also serves as a major base of advanced research and as a stimulus to economic growth and diversification throughout the region. Situated near Yosemite National Park, the university is expected to grow rapidly, topping out at about 25,000 students within 30 years.