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Chancellor's Remarks

Chancellor Dorothy Leland, Commencement 2012

[as prepared for delivery]

Good evening. This is such a special time in the life of UC Merced students as we gather to celebrate the academic accomplishments of the graduation class of 2012. I am honored to be here with you, at my very first commencement as chancellor of this unique and quite wonderful University of California campus.

The graduation class of 2012 will leave UC Merced as the beneficiaries of an education from one of the most highly regarded universities in the world — the great University of California, with its ten distinctive campuses, both young and old. The degrees that we will confer tonight were earned through long hours of hard work, determination and persistence. You should be proud — and you clearly are — of your accomplishments.

Along the way, there were members of the faculty who inspired and challenged you, staff who provided you with valuable support and family members and friends who encouraged you. They, too, rightfully share in your pride of accomplishment. Graduates – please stand and join me in recognizing the contributions to your success of UC Merced faculty and staff, your family and friends, and to donors and community leaders.

UC Merced was just three years old when most of you first enrolled here. You came as pioneers, eager to initiate the traditions, create the clubs and organizations, and help shape the character of a university that will always hold a special place in your mind and heart. And I can say with total honesty that there is a wonderful Bobcat spirit and vibrancy at UC Merced, thanks to the graduates we honor tonight.

Consider, for just a moment, the Bobcat spirit exemplified in the accomplishments of just a few of the graduates we will honor tonight.

One of member of the 2012 graduation class is a mechanical engineering major from Merced who enriched the downtown area by opening a popular eatery. Janna not only launched a successful business as a UC Merced student; she also excelled in the classroom. This paid off big time: thanks a prestigious Ford Fellowship, Janna will soon be attending graduate school at Stanford. Janna's achievements exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and drive shared by many UC Merced graduates.

Another graduating senior — this time from Modesto — successfully seized highly competitive opportunities to participate in prestigious off-campus learning opportunities, including Harvard's Latino Leadership Program and Princeton’s Public Policy and International Affairs Program. Jesse will soon add another feather to his hat when he joins Duke University as a Marine Laboratory Undergraduate Fellow. Jesse’s accomplishments exemplify the "can-do", "make-it-happen" and "push-to-excel" trait of so many UC Merced students that we honor tonight."

Still another UC Merced senior's story exemplifies the strong commitment of UC Merced students to their communities. This transfer student helped launch a group called American Women Making a Difference, dedicated to assisting people who have fallen between the cracks of social support systems. Maryam was also instrumental in starting a television program focused on regional issues and a radio talk show called "Keeping Up with Merced." No one at UC Merced would be surprised if Maryam were to one day own or manage an entire broadcasting franchise!

Finally, consider the grit and determination of the senior who is the first recipient of UC Merced's Bobcat of the Year award for leadership and inspiration in intercollegiate athletics. With a wife and young child in the city of Tracy, Daniel made many sacrifices as he balanced his family responsibilities, academic work, commute time, and the grueling schedule of the team’s inaugural year of intercollegiate competition in men's basketball.

We have many graduates here tonight who have similarly inspired others, stepped up to leadership roles, served as role models and otherwise successfully negotiated multiple responsibilities and commitments with amazing finesse.

I could go on telling you about individual graduates, but I think you see the point. What we have assembled here is a class of truly remarkable young men and women, each with a great story, list of accomplishments and bright futures ahead. To the graduation class of 2012, I salute your individual academic achievements and collective contributions to UC Merced and its surrounding communities.