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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Re‘capping’ the UC Davis experience

With over 20,000 undergraduate students at UC Davis, being recognized as an individual student can be difficult. But for all students, regardless of major or background, graduation is a time for personal recognition and praise.

“These past few years, we have each been known by our ID number and then finally at commencement, we get to stand out as an individual,” said fourth-year entomology major Melissa Cruz.

Apart from having your name called in front of hundreds of your peers and family members, standing out from the crowd at commencement can be done in a more literal way.

Graduating students at universities across the globe sport the traditional cap and gown at their celebrations, and many UC Davis students decide to personalize their graduation attire every year — specifically by cap decoration.

“The cap and gown is all black and there’s not anything fun about it,” said fourth-year anthropology and international relations double major Grace Persico. “I think it’s a good idea to decorate your hat to stand out more in the crowd.”

Many opt to reflect their college experiences onto their caps, and others use plans after graduation as inspiration.

“It’s a fun opportunity to hang out with your friends that are graduating and reflect on your experiences to decide what to write on your hat,” said fourth-year history major Maya Makker. “Even if you don’t like the crafty part, it’s still a fun way to talk to your friends about what they see themselves doing in the future and how they want to represent that on their hat.”

From using a giant “hire me!” decal and attaching a resume to sticking on pictures from studying abroad, cap decoration ideas seem to be limitless. Many students, like Cruz, are putting much thought into which experiences deserve a coveted spot on their caps.

Four years ago, when Cruz visited the UC Davis campus for the first time, a trip to the Arboretum was all she needed to become an Aggie. During her time in Davis, Cruz spent three years as an Arboretum intern. Today, just a week before commencement, she said her experiences at the workplace have shaped the person she has become.

“I want [my cap] to be related to something I did in college. I think [cap decorating] is about putting something on it that has shaped who I am as an individual,” Cruz said. “Mine will definitely implement something from the Arboretum. It’s not only about loving the Arboretum, but also loving what I study.”

Along with putting an Arboretum symbol on her cap, Cruz plans to express how her work there has affected her social experience at Davis.

“My passion for the Arboretum has been shaped by the people I’ve been working with,” Cruz said. “It not only symbolizes the actual Arboretum but also the people that come with it.”

In other cases, students aren’t focusing their cap design entirely on their Davis experience, but rather on their future plans. From graduate school to working abroad, many have exciting paths paved for them after their cap is thrown up into the air.

For Makker, both graduate studies and an international experience are in store. Makker plans to move to London for a year after graduation to earn her master’s degree.

“I was really excited that I get to decorate this [cap] because in high school I didn’t get to,” Makker said. “My whole idea is to have something written on it because for me, that’s the best way to express myself.”

Although she hasn’t fully decided on what she plans to put on her cap, Makker said she has already purchased sticker decorations related to London.

“I think I am going to use London red bus stickers because that represents both Davis and London,” she said.

Fourth-year English major Corrie Jacobs also plans on incorporating London-based themes on her cap, but in relation to her study abroad experience.

“Obviously the last four years that I’ve spent at Davis have been my favorite years of my life so far,” Jacobs said. “I want to stand out in the crowd [at commencement] and have something very personal.”

Jacobs, like many other students, plans to honor her family and Davis’ culture on her cap. Unlike most, however, Jacobs will hand-knit rose decorations on her hat.

Cruz, Persico, Makker and Jacobs plan to get together and join creative forces for a cap decorating party.

“I have mixed feelings for sure about graduating. Mainly I’m excited just because it’s a new chapter of my life, but right now, I’m just kind of nervous,” Cruz said. “You go through so many years of schooling and it’s culminating to this moment. The thought of not having school in September is kind of freaking me out right now.”

RITIKA IYER can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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