Photo Credits: KARIN HIGGINS / UC DAVIS COURTESY
Prizes include Amazon gift cards, HydroFlasks, alumni gear
It’s the time of the year again: graduating students are bringing out their creative sides for the UC Davis Grad Cap Design contest. The deadline to enter the contest is Monday, June 17 at 11:59 p.m., after which students can vote for their favorite decorated grad cap between June 19 and June 27. Winners of the competition will be announced on June 28.
The contest has been consistently popular with all community members, which is why the university is expanding it for the first time ever. Sallie Poggi, the director of social media for Strategic Communications Office, has led the team that manages the Grad Cap Design contest for the past four years.
“This year we wanted to make sure to extend it to as many graduating students as possible, so we ran the contest for fall graduates as well,” Poggi said. “It was a big success, and as a result we will be offering it for fall and spring commencements going forward.”
The winners of last year’s contest were Ashley Kim, an animal biology major, Kelsey Sloan, a biological sciences major and Dikshya Dhugana, an English major.
Designs are judged through Facebook the entry with the highest combined reactions will take first place, the second-most reactions will win second place and so on.
The Grand Prize Winner will receive a $300 Amazon gift card, a Recent Grad Annual Alumni Membership from California Aggie Alumni Association (CAAA), UC Davis Alumni apparel, one HydroFlask and many more UC Davis-decorated accessories.
The second place winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card, UC Davis Alumni apparel, one Hydro Flask and additional UC Davis accessories.
Finally, the third place winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, a UC Davis hat, a UC Davis license plate, a UC Davis mug, a UC Davis Alumni decal and a tote bag.
“This year, we are also introducing an ‘Editor’s Choice’ where our social team will select a fourth winner we feel used extra creativity or whose story really stands out, but didn’t make it into the top three,” Poggi said.
The Editor’s Choice winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, a UC Davis hat, a UC Davis license plate, a UC Davis mug, UC Davis Alumni decal and a tote bag.
The funding for the program comes from university operating funds. No student fees go toward the program. Each year, the university puts money into the contest as a way to engage with students and celebrate creativity, according to Poggi.
When asked about previous winners, Poggi noted that the winning designs are usually ones that speak truth about the UC Davis experience. She added that it helps having a network of friends and family that will vote on Facebook.
As far as advice to students goes, she advised to put out an honest message.
“First and foremost, use this as an opportunity to say what you want to say,” Poggi said. “This is your big day and it should have meaning for you, no matter what. Put some thought into your story about why you designed the cap the way you did.”
Past designs have included quotes, paintings, flowers, cows, flags and even a remake of a monopoly board. Caps can range from being two-dimensional to three-dimensional.
Nicole Chin, a fourth-year psychology major, has past experience with decorating her friend’s graduation cap. Art is one of her passions, and Chin says she really enjoyed using her skills to create her friend’s design.
“I just used acrylic paint to decorate her cap, and it took about 18-20 hours,” she said. “Depending on your design, it could take shorter or longer.”
Sometimes it isn’t only about the visual — messages behind the cap also play an important role in the contest.
“Some of the best entries we see are ones that show the triumph of making it to graduation day and thanking family and friends along the way,” Poggi said. “Our team reads all of the entries and we have been known to shed a tear or two because some of the stories are so incredible and inspiring.”
Such stories include that of Naleili Reyes-Rivera, a political science major who graduated in fall 2018. As a first-generation college student, she wanted to decorate her graduation cap to thank her parents for the sacrifices they’ve made and portray a message of gratitude.
“I was inspired by my parents and their journey and how that, in turn, allowed me to pursue higher education, increase my social consciousness, and walk across the stage at graduation,” Reyes-Rivera said. “With that in mind, my grad cap design included a raised fist with a desert in the background.”
To enter this year’s Grad Cap Design contest, students must submit a photo of their design to email@example.com using their UC Davis email. Entries must include the student’s first and last name, major or program and a 280-character description of the design.
Written by: Sierra Burgueno — firstname.lastname@example.org