Both Patricia Campbell and Christy Rodriguez began their UC San Diego academic careers in 1967 as part of Muir College’s first undergraduate class. After years of developing their careers and taking care of their families, the two, coincidentally, will be among the 7,045 graduating students participating in campus’s commencement ceremonies June 14-16.
Campbell and Rodriguez will be joining John Muir College Provost John Moore, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla and Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Suresh Subramani on the podium for the Muir Commencement ceremony at 1 p.m., June 15 on RIMAC Field.
After starting her freshman year in 1967, Rodriguez became very involved in student life and an activist at UC San Diego. She was encouraged to help found the Mexican American Youth Association (MAYA; later known as MEChA) by its faculty advisor, Carlos Blanco. "It was a very exciting time," Rodriguez said of her early years at UC San Diego. "Blanco was a professor during my time and Angela Davis was working as a T.A. [teacher's assistant]. The anti-war movement was going on, as was the civil rights movement and women's movement."
Rodriguez had to leave UC San Diego for personal reasons, but continued to be an activist through her work as a legislative liaison for a small federal organization dedicated to protecting intellectual property. Later, she moved to Colorado with her two sons to work in the telecommunications industry. A few years ago, Rodriguez decided to move back to San Diego to help her aging parents.
“My dad is 93 and my mother is 83, so I wanted to be here for them,” she said. "In the '60s, in high school, I was not counseled to go to college as most students are now, but as soon as I returned to San Diego, I knew I had unfinished business. I was not going to fail."
It took Rodriguez five quarters to complete her degree in political science. Though Rodriguez and Campbell started Muir College the same year, they did not know one another. However, both remained close friends with some Muir classmates that they met as freshmen.
Many of Rodriguez’s friends work in Washington D.C. today, and some are flying in to see her receive her degree this Sunday.
“My advice to students today is: don’t stop,” Rodriguez said. “Life happens, but continue with your studies and never give up.”
During Campbell’s first week at UC San Diego, she made friends with Rachel York, daughter of founding UC San Diego Chancellor Herb York. Campbell was close to finishing her degree when she took two “incompletes” after being injured in an accident. “I ended up not finishing the incompletes – life just intervened,” she said. “I started working in publishing, editing books and magazines. I had a career. So, honestly, at the time, having the degree didn’t make that much of a difference. It’s different now though.”
Later, after years in publishing, Campbell switched to production work in Los Angeles, first for an art events company and then for a commercial filming company. She returned to San Diego when her mother became ill with Alzheimer’s Disease. She had remained close friends with York and after Campbell’s mother passed away, she began working for Rachel York, who owns a Hong Kong-based manufacturing company.
It was during this time that Campbell started looking into the requirements she had to meet to finish her degree in sociology. “Among other things, Rachel, being one of UC San Diego’s biggest advocates, was giving me big nudges to finish the degree,” she said. “It was also a thing to cross off my bucket list. And, finally, I still needed to work, so getting the bachelor’s degree seemed just plain prudent.”
It took Campbell two half-time quarters to complete the four classes required to complete the degree.
“It was hard work, but really stimulating,” Campbell said. “I enjoyed the classes; all four of the professors I had were brilliant in their own ways…It was equal parts joy and suffering (hard tests, lots of papers, field work!), but I’m really glad I did it!”
Hats off to class of 2014
UC San Diego graduating senior Phoebe S. Beall will give the graduation address to Campbell, Rodriguez and about 630 other graduating students at John Muir College’s commencement ceremony, which is expected to have some 10,000 guests.
Other speakers of the campus’s commencement series include UC San Diego alumni such as musician Nathan East, former Olympic kayaker Carrie Johnson Gubser and former U.S. Ambassador to India Tim Roemer. The majority of UC San Diego’s 11 commencement ceremonies will take place June 14-16. The Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences ceremony took place May 17 and the School of Medicine’s graduation was held June 1.
Chancellor Khosla is participating in all eleven commencement ceremonies.
“It’s an honor to see so many students achieve this milestone,” said Khosla. “I am extremely proud of our students’ accomplishments and welcome them into our alumni family. These graduates will undoubtedly be successful in their fields, and will contribute to society as scholars and citizens.”
The first of UC San Diego’s commencement ceremonies was held by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences May 17 at the Price Center Ballroom where 56 student graduates received their Pharm.D degrees. The keynote speaker was Kathleen Giacomini, a professor at the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy.
On June 1, on the East Lawn between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Stein Research Building, the UC San Diego School of Medicine conferred medical degrees on 123 graduates––eight received both M.D.s and Master’s of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research degrees, and an additional 10 received joint M.D./Ph.D.s. The keynote speaker was alumnus Bill Walton, former NBA player. Walton achieved stardom playing for John Wooden’s powerhouse UCLA Bruins in the early ‘70s, winning three successive College Player of the Year awards. He went on to become an NBA All-Star, and one of only four players in the history of basketball to have won multiple NCAA and NBA championships. Later, Walton worked as a sports commentator for ABC/CNN and ESPN.
Commencement weekend kickoff
UC San Diego’s commencement weekend will kick off with the university’s seventh annual All Campus Graduation Celebration at 5p.m., Friday, June 13. The informal event is a celebration for graduating undergraduate and graduate students and their families. It will feature a dinner, fireworks and local beer and wine for attendees who are 21 and older. The event will culminate with a special musical performance from the San Diego-based band Pinback.
The first of three ceremonies scheduled for Saturday, June 14 will be held by Eleanor Roosevelt College at 8 a.m. on RIMAC Field. Some 900 graduates and about 10,000 guests will gather to hear the commencement speech from UC San Diego graduating senior Dilara Onur.
A total of 494 students receiving Ph.Ds. and 1,070 students receiving their master’s degrees will graduate this year. These students and about 2,500 guests will gather at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 14 at the RIMAC Arena for the Office of Graduate Studies commencement ceremony. The keynote speaker is alumna Leslie Lewis, who received her Ph.D. in anthropology from UC San Diego in 2010. Lewis is an educator, researcher and writer.
Olympic kayaker Carrie Johnson Gubser will deliver the keynote speech at 1 p.m., Saturday, June 14 for the 850 Revelle College graduating students and more than 5,000 guests. Johnson Gubser, a three-time Olympian, is a UC San Diego alumna who graduated with a degree in biochemistry in 2009. Today, she is a student at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine who is expected to graduate in 2016.
Earl Warren College’s ceremony will be held at 5 p.m., June 14 on RIMAC Field. Some 1,100 graduating students and about 10,000 guests will attend.
Leading off the commencement ceremonies slated for Sunday, June 15 is Thurgood Marshall College at 8 a.m. with 968 graduates and more than 9,500 guests on RIMAC Field. The keynote speaker will be alumnus Nathan East, ’78, an acclaimed jazz, R&B and rock bass player and vocalist. East has played with rock music’s greatest artists for the past 35 years — from Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to Madonna, Beyoncé and Daft Punk.
The School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) will honor 110 Master of Pacific International Affairs (MPIA), 28 Master of Advanced Studies in International Affairs (MAS-IA) and five Master of International Affairs (MIA) graduates at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, June 15 inside RIMAC Arena. The graduating students and more than 600 guests will gather to listen to former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer. Roemer, who earned a bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego in 1979, recently served as the U.S. Ambassador to India and now is a strategic counselor for Global Political Strategies in Washington D.C.
On Sunday, June 15, following Muir College’s 1 p.m. ceremony, Sixth College will hold its ceremony with 600 graduates. Alumnus Christopher Biele, ’07 will serve as speaker. Biele is a reporter and associate producer at Fox5 San Diego. The Sixth College ceremony will take place at 5 p.m., Sunday, June 15 on RIMAC field with over 3,200 guests expected to attend.
Winding up UC San Diego’s commencement series will be the Rady School of Management’s ceremony which will take place at 7p.m., June 20 at the Rady School. Ernest Rady will give the keynote address to more than 100 graduates and 500 guests. Rady has been deeply involved in the San Diego community since moving to the city in 1966. He is a member of UC San Diego’s Chancellor’s Associates; serves as a trustee of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, and the Scripps Foundation for Medicine and Science; and is past chairman of the Children’s Hospital and Health Center of San Diego. Rady was commencement speaker for the first Rady graduating class in 2006 and is serving as speaker again as the school completes its tenth anniversary celebration.