Monday, May 14, 2012

Graduations at UC Berkeley, Class of 2012

The middle of May is among the best times of year in Berkeley, especially for those with a relationship to the UC campus here (I'm an alumnus and an employee). Sitting in a favorite cafe this weekend, just across the street from Sproul Hall, I watched a parade of begowned graduates and their loved ones enjoying a celebratory pre- or post-ceremony meal or drink. Call me a sentimental fool, but the evident pride of families and friends of the graduates makes my eyes well up.

You never know in particular cases, but we who work on the campus are keenly aware that more than one in four of our undergrads are the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree. That's a big deal when those first-in-families are attending a university that stands among the most highly ranked in the nation by all manner of measures, an R1 institution whose faculty win well over a half-billion dollars in research funding year after year.

Being a part of a world-class campus that each year launches thousands of smart and hard-working students into the rest of their lives is arguably the most profound reward of working at UC Berkeley. It's the reason many of us work at Cal. Even among staff who don't teach classes, what they say about teachers holds true for many, perhaps for most of us: we're not in it for the income, we're in it for the outcome.

This year a member of my own family is graduating from UC Berkeley; I'll attend her department's ceremony on Friday. My first-cousin once removed -- the daughter of my first-cousin -- she is not the first in her immediate family to graduate from a four-year college ... but I'm here to tell you, in words that don't capture the half of it: she's smart, talented, and energetic. I am just about bursting with pride for this poised young woman's accomplishment, and I have it on good authority that her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents are too.

Congratulations to every one of UC Berkeley's Class of 2012. We're counting on each and all of you to help lead the way, however uncertain, to a better world.

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Berkeley's Art Practice Undergrads at Worth Ryder Gallery
Apocalypse and Zeno's paradox
Advice to a new student at Cal

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