Hundreds of students, friends and family gathered at the Greek Theatre Monday morning to witness their loved ones receive diplomas as well as to hear Gov. Jerry Brown speak at the the department of political science’s commencement ceremony.
In his commencement address, Brown offered words of advice, encouragement and caution to this year’s class of political science majors, saying that the political sphere is not only in need of “fresh minds” but also that “people can exercise power wherever they are in society.”
Brown recalled his own time as a UC Berkeley undergraduate, including when he received his diploma from his own father, who was then governor of California. Nobody knew he was the governor’s son until graduation, he said.
“I felt a real sense of loss,” Brown said. “I knew that a very special time in my life was over. I didn’t know how many more adventures and surprises were yet to come.”
Brown also looked to the future, encouraging graduates to use the knowledge and skills they learned during their time at UC Berkeley to make real and lasting change in society.
“In crucial moments, imaginative and bold people make a difference,” he told the nearly 360 graduates seated before him in the midmorning heat. “As you leave, never forget what the graduates before you did. You have the intellect; make sure you have the will.”
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau spoke at the ceremony as well, noting that the event was one of the last he would attend as chancellor. Birgeneau not only congratulated the graduates themselves but also “the families, partners and friends” who supported them along the way.
Many graduates and family members said they were at a loss for words following the ceremony, saying that it symbolized an end to years of hard work and personal growth.
“I’ve grown in every possible way,” said graduate Ismail Desouki after the ceremony. “I’ve learned to appreciate every moment.”
Ana Lozano, another graduate, agreed that her two years on campus have changed her unimaginably.
“I think I’ve grown both intellectually and emotionally,” she said, “and as a human being.”
Many parents echoed the graduates’ sentiments, saying that they had witnessed their children develop and mature during their years at UC Berkeley.
“(My daughter) is more into civil rights, people’s rights,” said Robert Barajas, who was attending the ceremony in support of his daughter, Diana. Barajas, who said he was a single father, added that Diana was the first in her family to receive a college diploma. He was elated to see her graduate after years of hard work — both on his part and hers.
“(For) her, it is a great opportunity,” he said. “I’m out of words.”
Click here to see a video of Brown’s address.