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Celebrating the courage, determination and spirit of UC Merced students, the university graduated 75 students on Friday.
The campus is quiet now, but the quad was packed with people applauding, snapping photos and honking air horns as friends and family members crossed the stage to receive their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“Your next journey is to make the world a better place in your own, unique way,” said Chancellor Steve Kang, who presided over the commencement ceremony.
California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi served as keynote speaker at UC Merced’s second commencement. He reminded the new graduates about those who built California.
“What people found here was a future,” he told them. “You are emblematic of that spirit. You are new, and extremely unique.”
He urged them to take seriously the challenges that lie before them – it’s up to their generation to face global warming, water quality, environmental protection, the new global economy, the changing culture and war-and-peace issues.
“I have great confidence that you’re going to do better than all the previous generations,” Garamendi said.
The ceremony was just more than an hour long, and, in keeping with the intimate, family feeling on the campus, featured hugs with administrators and deans, handshakes with the chancellor, some laughs – at the papier maché replica of the class gift, a bobcat statue – and all the students applauding each other in support.
Class speaker Josh Bolin reminded the graduates that this might be the last graduation at UC Merced where the class is made up mostly California community-college transfer students and where everyone knows not only each other’s names, but also each other’s future plans.
He also reminded them of the past two years at UC Merced.
“It’s a college experience that’s directly applicable to the real world,” Bolin said. “Yeah, we did something pretty amazing.”