"Every End is a New Beginning"
CHANCELLOR STEVE KANG: Good evening. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the University of California, Merced for our fifth commencement ceremony. I offer a special thank you to Regents Odessa Johnson and Fred Ruiz, and Mr. Lester Holt for joining us today. I also am pleased to welcome Student Regent Jesse Bernal and Student Regent-Designate Jesse Cheng.
We are here to recognize and pay tribute to the Class of 2010. Graduates, you have dreamed of this day for a long time. Parents, family members and loved ones, you have made countless sacrifices to make this day a reality. You all deserve to be proud.
Graduates, your hard work has paid off. Commencement is the culmination of your efforts. On behalf of the UC Merced, I offer you my most heartfelt and hearty congratulations.
I feel a special kinship with the Class of 2010. Like many of you, I started at UC Merced during its second year of operation. You demonstrated a pioneering spirit by choosing to attend a new university and you will always be a part of the campus' history.
There is a proverb that is fitting for this occasion. It reads, "Every end is a new beginning."
Commencement honors your successful completion of the requirements needed to earn a degree. You survived classes, mid-terms, finals and fee increases. You made it to the finish line. For many of you, this marks the end of your time at UC Merced.
But it also represents a new beginning.
I realize that for some, change can be scary. You are venturing into a world that is experiencing significant challenges right now, including a struggling economy and tight job market.
Do not be discouraged. When confronted by a difficult situation, think of it as an opportunity. Know that the education you obtained here is one of your greatest assets. It is an investment that will appreciate in value.
I am confident you will make lasting contributions to your local, national, and global communities. You have already started to do so through the legacies you established here at UC Merced.
Graduate Christian Ayeni is a one example.
Christian, a bioengineering major, is a founding member of UC Merced's student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and was an active member of the Peer Mentoring Program. He is headed to Harvard University where he will pursue a Ph.D. in virology.
Another Bobcat with a promising future is psychology major
Chanita's academic advisor described her as a well-rounded student. A McNair Scholar and a 2010 UC Merced Leadership Award winner, she pursued three minors and made the dean's list every semester during her time here.
Then, there is doctoral candidate Ronna Mallios.
Ronna is truly a life-long learner. She received her bachelor's degree in 1964. Since then, she earned a master's in mathematics, and another master's in public health. Today, at age 66, she is receiving a Ph.D. in biological sciences. Ronna said she hopes her story encourages other non-traditional students to pursue their dreams.
There are others among you with similar stories and we are equally proud of your accomplishments.
My pride is shared by your professors, many of whom are here today. I would like to take a moment to briefly acknowledge this year's recipients of UC Merced's distinguished Academic Senate awards. They are professors Martha Conklin, Henry Forman, Simon Weffer and Anthony Westerling. Their contributions are deeply appreciated as well as the dedication of all our faculty.
Class of 2010, I leave you with this: Cherish the memories you created at UC Merced. Relish the new beginnings and adventures that await you, and do not be afraid to pursue your dreams.
Congratulations and God Speed.