Commencement Speech by Jill Tsai, UC Merced Senior, Class of 2010

May 15, 2010

JILL TSAI: Good evening and thank you for having me here tonight.

I know tonight is a celebration for our class of 2010, but I would like to start with having everyone give a round of applause for the family and professors who have guided us to this moment.

After four long years we are finally here! We have finally made it. But, if you ask any graduate sitting around you they will tell you this was not an easy achievement. These last four years at UC Merced have been the most challenging ones of their lives. They will tell you that the printers constantly jammed, the midterms were difficult and sometimes the air was quite odiferous.

However, if you ask them if they would do it again, if they would relive these years, these challenges all over; well, that is when a sly smile will cross their lips, because after taking one step on this campus, you cannot help but become a Bobcat. It must be something in the water.

We are UC Merced's class of 2010.

Our class is defined by our academics, leadership, creativity, and our friendships. Unlike other college campuses we all know one another and in our small numbers we have become a support team to propel our classmates to their highest potential. And our proof is not just in this impressive moment, but also in the traditions we share.

Yes, I did just say traditions. Although our sister campuses would disagree, UC Merced does have its own traditions.

A few can even be divided by class. As freshmen, tradition dictates that you register for Core. For those who don't know what Core is, it is a required class that you seem to appreciate more as you get older. Imagine a class where you practice microeconomics, mourn the loss of Pluto, and hypothetically kill off 70% of the nation's population all in one semester. That's Core, in a nutshell. If you don't believe me, ask any Bobcat.

As a sophomore, tradition dictates that you get a job on campus and it will probably be in the Dining Commons

There are two traditions as a junior: the first is to FINALLY know where things are on campus and the second is to draw up schematics for tipping the cows in the field, or at least buying the t-shirt in the student store.

As a senior, the tradition is to walk proudly around campus, to joyously reminisce and to contemplate how different you would be if you had gone anywhere else.

So yes, UC Merced does have traditions even if they are as simple as 'Clam Chowder Fridays.'

Those traditions have made up our most precious memories on campus. And, as we move on we can take pride in what we have created. We have built clubs ranging from culture to comedy and paved the way for the entire Greek life system. We have put on shows, events, fundraisers, dances, and so much more to inspire and entertain our community. Our creations are stepping stones for future classes and when we return as alumni we can look on in pride at our successors.

As much joy as we've encountered at this university, we have also been forever bonded by the loss of our classmate, our brother, Hector Barrera-Barraza. As we came together to mourn his death, one could see the kinship that the class of 2010 shared. Even if you didn't personally know him, you still felt Hector's loss like a missing limb and that is a true testament to our camaraderie. And though we will always grieve his loss, we also know that he is looking on proudly at our accomplishments. We go forward to honor his memory.

At other universities, students walk through sand in the footprints of the students before them, merely riding on the coat tails of their predecessors. At UC Merced, we have carved through wet concrete to create our own path, a path that will forever be engrained into the foundation of this campus. The college experience for future students will be based on what we have created. No one can ever take away that accomplishment. As we leave our campus today we don't have to cry, because our legacy is preserved.

So go forward.

In our time at UC Merced, we have been well educated in academics and in life, and it is now time to apply it. Whether you plan on working, continuing your education, or just taking a year off, do so with the ethics you have gathered here. Show bravery, and feel no fear to attempt goals that seem slightly out of reach. Be wise in your decisions and always consider your fellow man. Lastly, be humble, for your accomplishments were not without the help of your family and friends.

Class of 2010, enjoy today, because we deserve it! We have worked so hard, and as we leave to try out the real world we can do so knowing that we are prepared for absolutely any challenge.

Afterall, if we can live in a city for four years where a downtown consisting of a movie theater and a vacuum repair store qualify as "entertainment," we can do anything.

Thank you.

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