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UC San Diego Awards 7,535 Graduates with Diplomas in 11 Commencement Ceremonies

June 2, 2011

By Christine Clark

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About 7,535 students graduate from UC San Diego this month.

National Geographic Adventure magazine’s 2010 adventurer of the year Albert Lin, actor David Alan Grier and United States Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) will speak to 7,535 graduating students at the University of California, San Diego. The majority of UC San Diego’s 11 commencement ceremonies will take place June 10-12, preceded by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences May 21 and the School of Medicine’s June 5 graduation.
UC San Diego’s commencement weekend will kick off with the university’s fourth annual All Campus Graduation Celebration at 7 p.m., Friday, June 10. The all-campus event will feature a keynote speech from university alumnus and researcher Albert Lin. Lin uses modern tools to uncover the ancient past––he’s been called a modern-day Indiana Jones for using cutting-edge technologies to search for the unmarked tomb of Genghis Khan.
“I received all three of my degrees from UC San Diego and sat through three graduations, but I never thought I would be the one giving the address,” Lin said. “My experience has been that the most important thing a person can do is to find out what they are passionate about, after that anything is possible.”
Lin earned his Ph.D. in materials science, and before that he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, all from UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering.

The first of UC San Diego’s commencement ceremonies was held by the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 27 in the Price Center where 57 student graduates received their Pharm.D degrees. Keynote speaker was James McKerrow, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Departments of Pathology, Cell and Molecular Pharmacology, and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UC San Francisco.

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Fireworks conclude a previous All Campus Graduation Celebration.

The UC San Diego School of Medicine will confer M.D. degrees on 143 graduates and joint M.D./Ph.D.s on six classmates at 10 a.m., Sunday, June 5 on the Concert Lawn near the Biomedical Library. Keynote speakers are William F. Jessee, M.D., president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association––the nation’s leading voice for group medical practice––and student speaker Michael Rochon-Duck, who is completing his residency training in internal medicine at UC Irvine Medical Center.
The first of three ceremonies scheduled for Saturday, June 11, will be held by Thurgood Marshall College at 8 a.m. on the RIMAC Field. Some 1,000 graduates will assemble to hear the commencement speech of actor and comedian David Allen Grier. Trained in Shakespeare at Yale Drama School where he received a Masters in Fine Arts, the multi-talented Grier was named one of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.” Grier has built a robust career in theatre, television and film; his television credits include the hit sketch comedy for Fox, “In Living Color.” Last year, he returned to his theatrical roots in David Mamet’s acclaimed play “Race” opposite James Spader and Kerry Washington at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, for which he received a Tony Award nomination.

A total of 450 graduate students receiving Ph.D.s and 1,000 students receiving their master’s degrees will gather with more than 1,500 guests at 10:30 a.m., June 11 in RIMAC Arena. The keynote speaker is UC San Diego alumna and cosmologist Candace Kohl. Kohl received her Ph.D. in chemistry/biochemistry from UC San Diego and studied radioactivity in lunar samples and meteorites.
Connie Mariano, who graduated from Revelle College in 1977, has been selected by Revelle College to give the graduation address to 900 graduating students and some 8,000 guests at 1 p.m., June 11 on the RIMAC Field. In 1981, Mariano received her M.D. from the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, the nation’s military medical school. In 1994, she was named director of the White House Medical Unit and chosen by President William Clinton to serve as his personal physician. Mariano served nine years at the White House where she was physician to three sitting American presidents.
John Muir College’s ceremony will be held at 5 p.m., June 11 on the RIMAC Field. Some 1,000 graduating students and their guests will hear keynote speaker Skylar Schock, a graduating student who transferred to UC San Diego from a community college. Schock will talk about what a privilege it is to have the chance to use an education from UC San Diego to contribute to humanity’s progress. 

Leading off the commencement ceremonies slated for Sunday, June 12 is Earl Warren College at 8 a.m. Warren graduating senior Afshawn Chakamian will speak to a crowd of 1,118 graduates and 10,000 guests on the RIMAC Field.
The School of International Relations and Pacific Studies will honor 116 graduates receiving Masters in Pacific and International Affairs degrees at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, June 12 at the Institute of the America’s Friend Plaza. The graduating students and more than 580 guests will gather to listen to Guillermo Ortiz Martínez, chairman of Grupo Financiero Banorte and founder of GO & Asociados, the third largest bank in Mexico.
U.S. Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) will deliver the keynote speech at 1 p.m., Sunday, June 12 for the 910 Sixth College graduating students and more than 4,000 guests. Filner represents California’s 51st congressional district, encompassing southern San Diego County and all of Imperial County, including the entire California/Mexico border. Filner taught history at San Diego State University for more than 20 years. In 1991, he served as deputy mayor for the City of San Diego. He was first elected to Congress in 1992 and has been re-elected every two years.
Sunday, Eleanor Roosevelt College will hold its ceremony with 770 graduates who will receive diplomas. Graduating senior Amber Rackliffe will speak about her undergraduate experience and how she co-chaired the Rock’N Roosevelt Committee and worked as a resident advisor at ERC. She also had the opportunity to enhance her experience by studying abroad in Beijing and interning for the State Department in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. on the RIMAC Field.
Winding up UC San Diego’s commencement series will be David Hale, chairman of Hale BioPharma Ventures, who will speak at 2 p.m., June 18 at the Rady School Plaza to 65 graduates of the Rady School of Management.

Graduating student stories

The 2011 commencement series takes place as UC San Diego’s 50th Anniversary celebration comes to a close.  The class of 2011 carries the university’s legacy of achieving the extraordinarily as they gear up for the next exciting phase in their lives and careers. Here are a few of their stories:

  • Aseil Mohmoud is a political science major who will pursue Law School after graduation. She worked hard to graduate from college in three years, so that her parents could save money to send Mohmoud’s four younger brothers to college. Mohmoud is extremely close to her family, who are originally from the West Bank of Palestine. She has worked as a tour guide at UC San Diego since her freshmen year and has been a resident advisor at Thurgood Marshal College. In addition to being active in student organizations, such as the Student Committee on Residential Enhancement and Students for Justice in Palestine, Mohmoud works as the high school basketball coach at the Preuss School UCSD. She also managed to find time to play on UC San Diego’s intramural Basketball and Volleyball teams. She said her involvement at UC San Diego helped her find a home away from home and second family.  “At first, it was a challenge to learn to be self-sufficient and support myself both financially and emotionally while away from home,” she said. “But I found a way to jump over those hurdles and enjoy the journey through college...and I loved it.”
  • Michele Gomez of South Los Angeles is the first in her family to graduate from college. She has been at the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) for three years where she has been working as a tutor to underserved youth. Unfortunately, her parents lost their home during Michele’s freshmen year and she had to begin working at a school cafeteria to help her family with expenses. She’s had a job since the age of 16, but didn’t get the opportunity to pursue her passion, working with youth, until she became a tutor for EAOP during her second year. After graduation, she plans to attend Cal State Long Beach’s Masters of Education Program. She is an active member of the Phi Lambda Rho Sorority which is a Chicana/Latina organization focused on community service, sisterhood and promotion of the Chicana/Latina culture and academics.
  • Kevin Staight graduated from high school in the bottom half of his class with a 2.90 GPA. He applied to several colleges, but was not accepted. Not sure what to do, Straight worked a few odd jobs before deciding to enlist in the military. He served four years with the Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq twice. He left the military with one goal: to learn Arabic and make a difference in the Middle East. Straight took his second round of college applications much more seriously and fortunately was admitted to UC San Diego as a freshman for Fall 2006. He took on a double major in Linguistics and Management Science, studied abroad twice in the Middle East, got involved with campus student organizations and served as a resident advisor.  Now Straight is nearly fluent in Arabic and will be graduating this June with honors in both Linguistics and Management Science.
  • Aimee Harlib, a Sixth College graduating senior, first felt out of place when she came to UC San Diego. “I’m ten years older than most of my peers and I am the mother of a small child.” Harlib is from New York and is the first person in her family to attend college. “It was difficult at first,” she said. “But I found refuge in the Women’s Center and founded the Undergraduate Student Parent Organization. I made connections and I encourage all of you to make connections here too.” She added, “When I found out my son was diagnosed with autism, the Women’s Center provided resources to help meet my needs. There, I found shoulders to cry on.”
For more information about UC San Diego commencement ceremonies, go to:  www.ucsd.edu/current-students/academics/commencement.


Media Contact: Christine Clark, 858-534-7618, or ceclark@ucsd.edu

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