This weekend, more than 900 degree candidates are expected to take part in the 11th commencement ceremonies at University of California, Merced, and commemorate the hard work that led to their momentous day.
“Commencement marks a significant milestone in a student's life,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “It signifies the beginning of a new journey and the start of a lifelong affiliation with UC Merced as an alumnus.”
During the May 14 and 15 ceremonies, UC Merced is expected to confer 871 bachelor’s degrees, 18 master’s degrees and 30 doctoral degrees. The candidates represent 40 California counties, two other states and seven countries. The youngest of this year’s participants is 20 years old, and the oldest is 73 years old.
This year’s class of graduates and their guests will hear words of experience and inspiration from outstanding individuals selected for the occasion.
Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, will speak to about 500 candidates from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
Huerta, who was sworn into office in January 2013, is responsible for the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world. He is an experienced transportation official whose reputation for managing complex challenges led him to the international stage when he was selected as managing director of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Before joining the FAA, Huerta held senior positions at Affiliated Computer Services and in the U.S. Transportation Department in Washington, D.C. He was commissioner of New York City's Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce, and executive director of the Port of San Francisco.
Huerta holds a bachelor's degree in political science from UC Riverside and a master's in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Domonique Jones will represent the Class of 2016 at Saturday’s ceremony. Jones, from Hercules, is double major in political science and economics. She served as president of the Associated Students of UC Merced for the past year and was the first woman to be elected to that post.
During her four years on campus, Jones worked in a political science research lab and held leadership positions in the Political Science Student Association. After graduation, she plans to take part in the Capital Fellows Program in Sacramento for the next year and then apply to law school.
Banatao is known as the pioneer of the chip set and graphics acceleration architecture that can be found in every PC today. As an engineer, he is credited with developing several key semiconductor technologies and is regarded as a Silicon Valley visionary.
Before forming Tallwood, Banatao was a venture partner at the Mayfield Fund. He cofounded three technology startups: S3, Chips & Technologies and Mostron. He also held positions in engineering and management at National Semiconductor, Seeq Technologies, Intersil and Commodore International.
Banatao holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
Also at the podium during Sunday’s ceremony will be Laura Showalter, a Merced native who is a double major in chemistry and management.
Showalter worked in two different research labs on campus — on projects varying from helping produce HIV-inhibiting proteins to examining how innovation powers local economies. She is looking into graduate schools where she can simultaneously earn a doctorate and medical degree.
Two graduates will sing the national anthem: Rhondalee Randle, a psychology major from Merced, at the Saturday ceremony; and Ruth Foketi, a biological sciences major from Milpitas, at the Sunday ceremony.
Information on commencement can be found online.
View a video from members of the Class of 2016 sharing what they will miss most about UC Merced.