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Monday, May 27, 2024

Comedian and UC Davis alum Hasan Minhaj formally invited to speak at 2023 commencement ceremonies

Students are rallying to create a social media campaign to catch the celebrity’s attention and convince him to accept the invitation

 

By LILY FREEMAN AND SONORA SLATER — campus@theaggie.org

 

Comedian and UC Davis alumnus Hasan Minhaj has been officially asked by the university to be the keynote speaker at one or more of the 2023 UC Davis commencement ceremonies, an invitation that, as of Feb. 14, is still awaiting a response. 

Minhaj was born in Davis, attended Davis Senior High School and later graduated from UC Davis in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Throughout the early 2000s, he appeared in guest roles on various sitcoms and television shows, before joining The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2014. 

Since then, he has had an impressive career; he was the featured speaker at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, hosted a Netflix comedy show in 2018 called “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” was listed among Time100: The Most Influential People of 2019 and starred in a Netflix special called “The King’s Jester” in 2022 after performing a comedy tour across the U.S. the year before. 

“Hasan Minhaj is probably one of the best known of UC Davis’ Alumni,” ASUCD President Radhika Gawde said.  “UCD students look up to him, and it would be incredibly meaningful to hear him speak at commencement.” 

Gawde and UC Davis Chancellor Gary May sent a formal invitation to Minhaj on Dec. 2, 2022, asking him to deliver the keynote address at one or more of the undergraduate commencement ceremonies for the class of 2023 on June 16, 17 or 18.

“As a UC Davis alumnus, your accomplishments as a comedian, actor and commentator on critical current events and social issues are remarkable and inspiring, and many of your students look up to you as a role model and leader,” the letter reads. “We would love for our graduates to be able to hear from you as they prepare to leave the university and take the first steps forward into their own futures.”

The letter also notes that if he is not available on those days to attend the ceremony in person, the university “would also be happy to record [Minhaj’s] remarks” so that they can be played at the ceremonies. 

An Instagram page with the handle @bringhasanminhaj gathered interested students through a Google Form in January, and the team behind it is now spearheading a social media movement to get Minhaj’s attention.

America Negrete, a fourth-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major, described her enthusiasm about the possibility of Minhaj speaking at the ceremony. 

“He is definitely a figure that I look up to and knowing that he went to UC Davis and grew up here would make his words so meaningful,” Negrete said.

Joe Johnson, a fourth-year political science major, said that he would love to hear from someone like Minhaj, in part because he has the same major as him. 

“I’m a transfer student set to graduate this spring, and I would be thrilled if Hasan Minhaj spoke at graduation,” Johnson said. “He’s one of my favorite comedians, and as a political science student, I love his commentary on social issues.”

Max Insensee, who is also a fourth-year political science major, expressed specific interest in the humor and memorability that a comedian speaker could bring to graduation ceremonies in general. 

“Many of my favorite graduation ceremonies I’ve watched online are made better because a comedian spoke,” Insensee said. “We have been lectured for four years; we deserve a laugh on graduation.” 

 

Written by: Lily Freeman and Sonora Slater — campus@theaggie.org