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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Diverse array of speakers to send graduates off

This is only the beginning, graduates, and you have an outstanding lineup of commencement speakers to remind you of that. Each school’s unique selection of speakers plans to send students out into the world with resounding messages of perseverance, ingenuity and change.

Below is a sample of the speakers attending the ceremonies and a peek at what they will be addressing during their speeches.


School of Law

The School of Law welcomed Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, who delivered a speech in response to the recent legislation on gay marriage. The ceremony was on May 17 in the ARC Pavilion.

Newsom is one of the California’s major advocates of gay marriage. In 2007, he allowed over 4,000 same-sex couples to wed in San Francisco, against the advice of many fellow Democrats.

The speech centered around a question Newsom asked himself early in his term as mayor:What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” He applied the question to his frustrations toward the discrimination he saw in California.

“It’s about human beings that want nothing more than what we have. Whatever it is to advance the principals of law, remember the human beings behind those case studies,he said in the speech.Remember what you’re fighting for.


College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

This year’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences commencement ceremony will celebrate majors from animal sciences to textiles who have academically succeeded in their years at UC Davis.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Craig McNamara, a sustainable agriculture farmer from Winters.

McNamara teaches land stewardship to high school students through the Center for Land-Based Learning. He practices sustainable agriculture on his family-owned farm, Sierra Orchards. McNamara will be addressing seniors June 15 in the ARC Pavilion.


College of Biological Sciences


Danielle Mandikian, a senior biochemistry and molecular biology major, will address her peers June 13 in the ARC Pavilion.

The daughter of a Lebanese immigrant, Mandikian transferred to UC Davis from a community college two years ago. She worked as an intern at UC DavisKaplan lab, NASA and the National Institute for Health.

“The main point [in my speech] is that there are so many different programs that UC Davis has to offer, and the thing that makes [UC Davis] so unique is that there is such a good sense of community,Mandikian said. “[Seniors] have skills that make them capable not to just do their jobs, but to carry their sense of community somewhere else.


School of Education Ceremony

Fabian Núñez, state representative and speaker emeritus for the California State Assembly, will speak at the School of Education’s commencement ceremony June 11 at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

A San Diego native, Núñez lived in Tijuana for eight years and is one of 12 children born to immigrant parents.

One of his main objectives as speaker emeritus for the state assembly is to protect research institutions such as UC Davis, according to his biography.


College of Engineering

The College of Engineering will present Kenny Marina on June 13 in the ARC Pavilion.

Marina is a senior electrical engineering major, outgoing president of Engineering Joint Council and president of the student branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Marina was born and raised in Indonesia. He lived in Indonesia until 1999, when he then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. In preparation for his speech, he listened to Stephen Colbert’s commencement speech to Knox College.

I hope they have fun with my speech,Marina said.This is one of those days they’ll want to remember for the rest of their lives.


Graduate studies

Ecologist Booker Holton will honor graduate degree recipients June 12 in the ARC Pavilion.

Holton was born and raised in Connecticut and came to UC Davis in 1972 to receive his Ph.D. in ecologya program he said was at the forefront of the environmental movement in the 1970s. Since then, he has worked in various executive positions in environmental resource management companies.

Holton plans to discuss the importance of both receiving and offering mentorship. Also, he hopes to communicate the passion involved in making a difference during this particularly critical era of environmentalism.

We have to try to evoke critical thinking before we make decisions,Holton said.We have to implement compassion and passion. Things have to change. It’s not evolution it’s revolution.


College of Letters and Sciences

The College of Letters and Sciences will hold two different ceremonies with a respective speaker for each.

The June 14 morning ceremony in the ARC Pavilion will include a speech by Christina Chin, a senior communication major.

Chin grew up in various countries around the world, but attended high school and college in Davis. She participated in ASUCD and The California Aggie, and now works as corporate affairs officer at Intel.

The main point is that a lot of us fear failure. I challenge people to listen to their inner voice,Chin said.It’s never too late to do what you love.

Jeffery Lee will be speaking in the afternoon. Lee is an English, classical languages and literature and linguistics triple major with a minor in religious studies. His myriad of majors provided him with the inspiration for his speech, which addresses the challenge ofdoing what makes you happy now.

A Santa Barbara native, Lee is the president of the Classical Studies Association, and is also part of the division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies (HArCS) dean’s student advisory board.

From my experience, the things that will make you end up happy end up being the things that make you happy now,Lee said.


LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at features@californiaagie.com.


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