University of California, Berkeley – May Commencement 2019

University of California, Berkeley – May Commencement 2019

September 1, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


(orchestra playing Pomp and Circumstance) – And now, please welcome
from the 50 yard line the beginning of our stage party. First the Californians class of 2019, the student award recipients
of the class of 2019 and our commencement performers of the amazing class of 2019. And now we have our distinguished faculty who will be led by the
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Paul Alvisatos who carries the Berkeley mace, a symbol of authority. They will be followed by
the official stage party. Ladies and gentlemans,
the academic procession and the official stage party. Please welcome members
of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Council, led by chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh and vice
chairwoman Monica Arellano and also Vicki Puro and Lucas in our land blessing ceremony. (speaking foreign language) – We are Muwekma Ohlone. Welcome to our ancestral homeland. (speaking foreign language) Hello, my name is Charlene Nijmeh. I am the chairwoman of
the Muwekma Ohlone tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area. Consistent with the
University of California’s values of community and diversity, the Muwekma Ohlone tribe was asked to offer a land acknowledgement and make visible the
university’s relationship to native peoples for the first
time in Berkeley’s history. And this is why we are
speaking here today. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) Thank you. We would like to begin by recognizing that while we gather at the University of California Berkeley, we are gathering in the region our people
have always called (speaking foreign language) which is part of the
ancestral and un-ceded land of our people, the
Muwekma Ohlone tribe, the successors of the
sovereign Verona Band of the Alameda County. This ancient place
(speaking foreign language) extends from what we know today as Berkeley Hills to the Bay shore. From the contemporary West
Oakland to El Cerrito. The land on which this university sits was and continues to be a deeply significant place for the
Muwekma Ohlone people. This campus extends to areas that held a (speaking foreign language) a traditional round house,
a place of celebration and ceremony, as well as a shell mound, our traditional burial mound. So, as Berkeley is viewed
as a special place today, we respectfully
acknowledge that this place has been settled for millennia, loved beyond measure,
and nurtured by the hands of our ancestors for many
generations to ever count. We recognize that every member of Berkeley community has,
and continues to benefit from the use and occupation of this land, since the institution’s founding in 1868. As we gather on this campus as members of the Berkeley community,
it is vitally important that not only we recognize
the history of the land on which we stand, but also, we recognize that we, the first people of this place, the Muwekma Ohlone people, are alive and flourishing members of the Berkeley and broader Bay area communities today. Because of the tenacity and strength of our ancestors and our elders, our people have been able to keep our culture close and we never
left our indigenous land. Today we repair the sustained damages of colonization and we are focused on keeping our traditional culture strong while we work for a
glorious, shining future following in the footsteps of those who came before us. Thank you, and on behalf of
the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, we congratulate the class of 2019. Thank you. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) (speaking foreign language) – Muwekma Ohlone tribe
San Francisco Bay area (speaking foreign language) Good day, my name is Monica Arellano. I am the vice chairwoman
for the Muwekma Ohlone tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area. With me today is our chairwoman Charlene Nijmeh, who offered
the land acknowledgement, my son Lucas Tuhesde Arellano,
holding our tribal flag. We are Muwekma Ohlone. Welcome to our ancestral
homeland, where we are born. (speaking foreign language) On behalf of our people, Muwekma La Gente, we would like to offer
an official welcoming to our ancestral homeland. To this ethno-historic tribal territory of the inter-married
(speaking foreign language) speaking tribal group. Today, the University
of California Berkeley and surrounding towns reside in our Huchun ancestral Muwekma
Ohlone tribal territory. We welcome everyone in attendance at the UC Berkeley graduation to our
(speaking foreign language) our beautiful ancestral homeland. As traditionally done, and
in honor of our ancestors, we offer an opening prayer in our native Chochenyo language as a blessing for today’s graduation
and all the graduates. (speaking foreign language) The people’s prayer in Chochenyo. (speaking foreign language) Thank you very much, hope. (audience applauds) – Thank you. So we’re here to celebrate
the amazing class of 2019, and let me tell you,
a little bit of rain’s not going to stop this celebration. Berkeley students are resilient. They are passionate,
and we will get through this rain in glory. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) It is now my honor to welcome some of the amazing class of 2019, so please welcome Monishaa Suresh, Danielle Satin, and Anthony White, who will sing our national anthem. Please rise if able, and
please remove your hats. (Anthony vocalizes to match pitch) – Ready? ♪ Oh say can you see ♪ – ♪ By the dawn’s early light ♪ – ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ – [All Singers] ♪ At the
twilight’s last gleaming ♪ – ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ – ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ – ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched ♪ – [All Singers] ♪ Were
so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rocket’s red glare ♪ ♪ The bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ That our flag was still there ♪ ♪ Oh say does that star
spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free ♪ ♪ And the home of the brave ♪ (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) – Wow, thank you. Just a sample of the amazing
talent of the class of 2019. It is now my great honor to
introduce our Chancellor. Please join me in welcoming
the 11th Chancellor of the University of California
Berkeley, Carol T. Christ. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) – Thank you Dean Greenwell, and thank you Monishaa, Danielle, and Anthony for that amazing rendition
of the national anthem. Proud parents, grandparents,
brothers, and sisters, relatives, and friends of our graduates, welcome to the University
of California at Berkeley. Welcome, too, to the many
faculty, staff, alumni, community members and other honored guests who are joining us today. And welcome especially
to those we have gathered this morning to celebrate, the members of the remarkable, the amazing, the marvelous, the extraordinary UC Berkeley graduating class of 2019. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) And truly those words fit. Among you are students like Pooya Amin, an immigrant from Tehran who had trouble adjusting to
life in American schools, and yet today is
graduating Summa Cum Laude with a triple major. And Thomas Manglonia, a budding reporter so passionate about journalism that he’s produced a story every week since sixth grade, and was just awarded the prestigious Truman
Scholarship for public service. And Beatriz Hernandez,
an actress and writer who created an organization called Colors of Theater to
look how artists of color navigate the entertainment industry. And Christine Anibway, a
gifted student of sociology, who is writing papers about the bonds that form between college athletes, just a week or two before she was chosen as a first round draft pick
in the 2019 WNBA draft. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) As Berkeley’s 11th Chancellor, it’s my distinct honor and pleasure to preside over today’s ceremony as we send these and so many other brilliant young scholars
off into the world. I’m sorry that the weather has not been as accommodating as we might have hoped. California was especially declared drought free a few months
ago, but evidently, the rain gods thought it was wise to be extra cautious and
give us a few more showers. Still, rain or no rain, this is a day of joy and celebration,
of friends and family, of achievements and high hopes, of powerful endings, and
beautiful new beginnings. Graduates, you are no doubt experiencing relief, elation, wonder, and apprehension. But in addition to all
that, I hope you also hold a keen sense of accomplishment. You’ve completed a
demanding course of study at the nation’s best public university. Today you join
(audience cheers) Today you join the long line of alumni reaching back 151 years whose lives are forever intertwined
with this great institution. Today you become one of nearly 500,000 living alumni world wide, who can proudly call themselves UC Berkeley graduates. While today we honor you
and your achievements, we can’t let this occasion pass without also recognizing
the family members and friends whose devotion and support have contributed mightily to your success. Please join me in thanking everyone who has helped you reach
one life’s great milestones. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) For those here, who like
me, have been immersed in the seasonal rhythms
of higher education for a long time, there’s
a pleasing familiarity in the customs and traditions
of today’s ceremony. Seeing you all today,
in your caps and gowns, links you with generations of Berkeley graduates who have come before you. Just as the many rituals you’ve taken up over the last several years,
from morning coffee dates at Cafe Strada, to
afternoon study sessions in Morrison Reading Room, to
sunset hikes up to the big C. They’re all points of connection you share with Cal’s students of years past. But for all the similarity that this gives your college experience
to that of previous students, your Berkeley is also
colored by the particular set of events that took place here and in the world during
your time on campus. Events that guided your class discussions, that you and your friends
debated ’til late in the night, that may have shaped
the decisions you made with regard to coursework, internships, or even your major. Indeed, your Berkeley,
the time that you’ve been on campus, has been marked by an absolute litany of historic events. Your class saw the rise of the strongest woman candidate for president
that the US has ever known, ultimately delivered a stunning defeat, in an election that
upended American politics. You bore witness to the most pitched political battles in decades, over taxes, the economy,
Supreme Court nominees, election meddling, trade
deals, and a border wall. And even saw the government
sputter to a halt during the longest shut down
in our country’s history. You spent your days in
study at an institution committed to knowledge and truth, amidst a climate in
which alternative facts became acceptable in public discourse, and post truths was the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year. You’ve been at Berkeley at a time when the national
conversation has been framed by urgent and probing issues of race, class, justice, and equality. As the Black Lives Matter movement challenged institutional
racism in law enforcement, and as the #metoo movement
toppled abusive men in positions of power, and looked to right historical wrongs. You saw people and
nations jump into action to respond to the humanitarian crises in Syria, and Venezuela and Yemen. Yet also saw disdain for immigrants and refugees take hold
here and around the world as fear and hatred of the other became a dominant theme in many
countries’ national politics. In your time, catastrophic
national disasters, from monsoons in south Asia
to a hurricane in Puerto Rico, to wildfires up and down
the California coast, have motivated national discussions about wealth and power
and our responsibility to aid victims and help
rebuild their communities, not to mention debates
about, I’m sorry to say, the veracity of climate change. A host of man made disasters, too. Including racially and
ethnically motivated acts of terror and mass shootings, have heightened tensions
between communities renewed disputes about gun rights, and seen thousands take
to the streets in protest. Many of these events, and the intense discussion about
responsibilities and privileges that come with them, have directly touched our campus or had analogues here, and that is why I know your class is ready to take on the
challenges facing the world. Because you already have. You’ve embraced opportunities to stand up, to speak out, to advocate,
to lean in to controversial issues, to participate in public life, to ensure that you leave this place, a world in miniature,
better than you found it. It was your classmates in
the black student union who were behind the creation of the Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center, and the ones who helped craft the African American initiative, which is now working to improve our campus climate for black students on campus. It was the work of survivors
and student advocates among you, who in 2016 and 17 helped this university critically examine its policies and procedures for handling cases of sexual assault and harassment and take up the process of improving them. You modeled strength and resolve in support of our undocumented students, even as these students were villainized by the leaders of our country and threatened by anonymous chalkings and posters on campus. You pushed our campus to put
sustainability at the fore, making us the largest university to commit to 100% clean energy and winning us an award
for the coolest UC campus. Your advocacy in Sacramento helped legislators better understand the profound importance of higher education in creating a more just society. Your work through bridges, retention, and recruitment centers helped bring in and bring up students from backgrounds historically underrepresented
on college campuses. Your organizing helped create the Berkeley Basic Needs Center, a hub of resources for students with food, housing,
and financial insecurity. You helped us learn how we might reconcile a commitment to community alongside a belief in the university’s role as a public forum,
open even to viewpoints we might find abhorrent, and you joined us in efforts last year to use dialogue not violence to bridge
the partisan divide. Now you enter the world at large, and it’s ripe with even
more intractable problems. Problems that are pervasive, that have many dimensions, that
span national borders, that don’t care about partisan lines. Problems like the need for teachers in under-resourced
public school districts. One that today’s commencement speaker, Wendy Kopp took on, just
a year out of college. I hope that you will not
retreat from these challenges. Even when things seem
hopeless or pointless, you must not abandon civic life and a commitment to the public good. Stay aware, stay woke, even. Engage with the world, and its goings on. Take action, organize, volunteer, advocate, campaign, or enter
public service yourselves, dissent, protest when it is needed. It will take a firm
commitment to civic life to bring grace, justice,
and beauty to this world. Let me close by sharing just a few lines from a speech that Robert Kennedy gave at the Greek theater
here back in 1966. He said “All of us have the right “to dissipate our energies and talents “in any way that we wish, but those “who are serious about the future “have the obligation to
direct their energies “and their talents toward
concrete objectives “consistent with the
ideals that they profess. “You are the most privileged citizens “of a privileged nation, for you have “been given the opportunity
to study and learn here. “You can use your enormous privilege “and opportunity to seek
purely private gain, “but history will judge
you, and as years pass, “ultimately, you will judge yourself “on the ways in which
you have used your gifts, “in your hands, not with
presidents or other leaders, “is the future of your world, and the best “fulfillment of the qualities
of your own spirit.” Thank you, may the education
you have received here serve not just your lives,
but your society as well. May your years ahead be richly
rewarding and fulfilling, and may you enjoy much happiness. Though I will not say that
this is your world to save, it is yours to shape alongside many others in this long but persistent
march toward progress. Congratulations, good luck, and go bears. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) Thank you. Each year we honor our finest teachers by awarding them a
distinguished teaching award through a very rigorous competition. The recipients of this ward are truly great and inspired teachers. It’s my pleasure to
announce to you this year’s distinguished teaching award recipients. One of those faculty members is with us. Professor Shagan, will you please stand? (audience applauds) Ethan Shagan is a professor of history with a focus in early
modern Europe and Britain. Professor Shagan cultivates
a love of learning while fostering an environment where his students learn to interpret history through many lenses. I’d also like to recognize
the faculty members who received the award
this year who are unable to join us this morning. Robert Littlejohn, professor
emeritus of physics, Andrea Roth, professor of law, and Steven Raphael,
professor and James D. Marver Chair in Public Policy. Please join me in recognizing
these outstanding teachers. (audience applauds) And now I’d like to
introduce the 2019 winner of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award, which recognizes a
Berkeley alumnus or alumna who has made significant voluntary contributions to the
betterment of society. Here with us today is David Lei, who graduated with a degree in business administration in 1974. He actually told me it was 1972, but he waited to get his degree because he didn’t want Ronald Reagan’s name on his diploma. (audience laughs) Giving back to the community has always been important to David. While in high school, he mentored students in San Francisco’s Chinatown and he co-founded the
Chun Ngai dance troupe. While a student at UC
Berkeley, David served on his first board as a volunteer with Chinatown North
Beach Family Planning. After graduating, he was a social worker with Chinatown’s YMCA and Richmond’s model cities program, where
he worked with at risk youth. David ultimately became
a successful entrepreneur and continued to volunteer countless hours with local not for profits. For over 40 years, he has selflessly dedicated himself to bringing together generations of Chinese
American communities through art, culture, and philanthropy. His leadership has resulted
in greater awareness of the important role this community has played in our state’s history and his commitment to equity and inclusion has inspired appreciation of our region’s diverse communities. David is especially
committed to increasing national and international awareness of the Chinese American
experience in the United States. He spent much of his recent time working with the California
Historical Society, the Chinese Historical Society of America, and our own Bancroft Library, piecing together historical documents
and personal histories of early Chinese families. David Lei leads by example, something that Peter E. Haas
would recognize and applaud. And now, please direct your attention to the video boards. (energetic Chinese music) – My name is David Lei. Welcome to Chinatown. I was born in Taiwan in 1949, when China turned communist, so my family had to leave. I immigrated to America in 1956. There was overt discrimination. Most of the Chinese had to spend their time in Chinatown,
and our activities center around Chinatown. Our social lives were here. I was drawn into Chinese
history and culture because of my involvement with dance. I want to know how these
dances get started, where did they come from, and doing this research myself, I found out a lot more about myself. Like most Chinese, I’m a blend of many different philosophies, religion. Most of them speak about the same thing, and is to be in community, to serve. I think partially you’re born into family, keep some of the traditions. So you carry all some of the things your ancestor did. What the Chinese value is very important. They value reciprocity, discipline. Value education, respect for seniors. These values helped me to succeed in life, and so I want to pass
it to my descendants. The contribution that the Chinese provided for America was much more
than building the railroad, civil rights, immigrant
rights, the concept of equal protection under the law, the right to a public education although you’re not a citizen, the concept of political asylum, all these are concepts that the Chinese brought about, even what
makes you an American. Many of things that the Chinese were involved with in building the West is not recorded, it’s not documented, so I’m trying to get all the institutions down here to donate their
paper, their history to be part of the history of the West and the contribution
that this community made. Unless these are
documented and in libraries like the Bancroft, where mainstream researchers go for the information, the Chinese will always be left out. We’ll always be the others. So for me personally,
this is very important. I’m hope I make an
impact on people’s lives for the better, more positive. And I do see the impact of things getting better in this community. Sometimes it comes from different places. You don’t know you’re making
impact until years later. A kid will come back and say oh, I saw you perform at one of the schools when I was young, that’s why I learned to dance. So sometimes, you don’t know what impact you’ve made until years later. But is a wonderful feeling
that you are changing lives, hopefully for the better. Here you go, here you go. (woman laughs) – Thank you. (laughter) (audience applauds) Please join me in welcoming David Lei. (audience applauds) (Chancellor Christ laughs) – Thank you. Chancellor Christ, distinguished faculty, parents, graduates, and guests, and for those out of town guests, welcome to sunny California. (audience laughs) But despite of the weather, the enthusiasm in this stadium is better
than at a Warriors game. Go Warriors, beat Stanford. The late 1960s through the early 1970s was a period of activism
and protests here at Cal. I graduated during this time. Many of my classmates, myself included, did not attend our graduation ceremonies as another form of protest. I am so grateful for this second chance to don cap and gown and share this moment of joy and accomplishment with all of you graduates, friends, and families. I must first thank Mrs. Peter E. Haas for creating this award, and thanks all the people who stuck out their necks to nominate me and to vouch
for me for this award. They must not have known
about my poor grades and my poor attendance record
when I was a student here. So I stand before you feeling undeserving, humbled, and unprepared
to accept this award. As many of you might be feeling about life after graduation. My advice, be in service to other, be involved, be idealistic. I was born Chinese, so I naturally look to Confucius for my values. One of the things Confucius preached that has been the key to my success is that leadership is not being served, but service to others. This is a philosophy I learned in my community involvement, but has also been good business. My clients knew I was truly looking out for them and because of this, they were willing to pay me
a premium for my service. Being of service to
others is good leadership and good business. I immigrated with my parents
to this country in 1956 when the immigration quota for
Chinese was just 105 a year. Just a 105 Chinese a year
can immigrate to America until the immigration reform of 1965. This was beating lottery odds. Thus I feel so lucky to be an American. America, like other countries, operated with government and with corporations. However, America’s very unique with its preponderance of non-profits. Over one and a half million non-profits whose mission is do the
best in their endeavors without the need for making a profit. As Americans, no matter what your passion, no matter what you care about, there’s a non-profit you can join, volunteer, or work for. And if there isn’t one, you can start one, as your commencement speaker Wendy Kopp did at about your age when
she founded Teach For America. Working with non-profits,
I’ve learned so much and met so many wonderful people. Even met Linda, my lovely
young wife of 45 years. And lastly, stay idealistic. The idealism formulated in
me during my Berkeley years sustained me all these years. During difficult times,
when accepting of reality was the easy way out, my idealism pointed the way and made sure I did not give up and lose my way. To the class of two oh one nine, be of service to others, be
involved, and be idealistic. Thank you. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) – It gives me great pleasure
to acknowledge awards to some of our very many
outstanding graduates. Please rise when I call your name. The Jake Gimbel prize is awarded to Colin Morokawa of Men’s Golf. (audience applauds) The Adam Ebsenshade prize goes to Toni Anne Williams
of Women’s Gymnastics. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) The highest honor the university can give to students is
the university medal. The following students are the
university medal finalists. Please come forward for your certificates. The university medal
finalist are Samantha Hao. (audience applauds) Congratulations, so wonderful. Yvonne Hao
(audience applauds) Han, or Harry, Main-Luu. (audience applauds) And Tynan Perez. (audience applauds) Let’s give them all a
warm round of applause. (audience applauds) It now gives me great pleasure to present the university medal to the most distinguished
graduating senior on the Berkeley campus, Tyler Chen. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) Tyler Chen is a graduating senior studying material science
and bioengineering, with a certificate in
entrepreneurship and technology. Tyler hopes to continue to develop new technologies to tackle
disease and disability. He has designed microfluidic devices for single cell genomics at UC Berkeley’s Streets Lab, and developed genomic tools at iGenomX and the Scripps research institute in San Diego. Tyler also led Berkeley Hyperloop to design and build one of the first prototype vehicles for the
SpaceX hyperloop pod competition. In his free time, he enjoys practicing martial arts, tricking,
telling super lame jokes, and doing the unexpected. In the fall, he’ll be starting a PhD in bioengineering at Stanford as a Knight-Hennessy scholar, where he hopes to build foundational neuro technologies to enable people with ALS and similar disabilities to communicate using their minds. Tyler dreams of continuing this path to one day build neuro interfaces that empower human connection and empathy. Tyler Chen, it is my honor to present you the university medal, congratulations. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) – Thank you, thank you. Do I sit back down? – You could put it down, yeah.
(chuckles) I now invite Tyler to
share a few words with us. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) – [Female] Yeah, Tyler. – [Male] Yea, Tyler. (audience cheers) – What’s up guys? Hey, everyone. Wow, this is crazy. I didn’t realize the
real perk of the medal is that I get to stay under this tent. Sorry, but okay. So, real quick, before I start. I just want to give a huge shout out to all the parents, families, and everyone who’s out there for us today. We wouldn’t be here
without you, so thank you. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) I guess maybe I shouldn’t clap in front of the mic, sorry guys. Okay, there we go. My friends, teammates,
classmates, fellow graduates, we made it, congratulations. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) You all know, it hasn’t been easy. In our time at Berkeley, we’ve pushed ourselves to the breaking point, trying to measure up to
these lofty expectations the academic world has of us. And this need to be successful is kind of ingrained
in Berkeley’s culture. You know, we have all these myths and legends about it. For the non-Berkeley students, everyone at Berkeley hears from day one about these cursed seals, these university emblems that
are around Memorial Glade, and the legend goes you should never, ever step on those gold seals. Why? Because stepping on those seals means you get cursed with bad grades. Stepping on the seal
means you lower your GPA. Stepping on the seal means you give up on Berkeley’s high academic standards. So, you know, every day we see these groups of students
walking up Memorial Glade, and they all split to go around the seals. This curse is that powerful. So, just the other day, I was
sitting there on the Glade, surrounded by the cursed Berkeley seals, and I had a rare moment
where I could stop and think. So I’d like to take you
there, and out of the rain. The sun’s beating down on Memorial Glade, in the heart of campus, which, graduates, you all know is a special kind of place. Because at Berkeley, they’ve
taught us to do big things. But as I sit there on the glade, it’s the little things
that catch my attention. There’s a guy using
his laptop as a pillow. There’s a llama. (audience laughs) I hear snippets of conversation. Something about memes, and edgy teens. I look to my right, I look to my left, and I see beside me some of the best friends I have ever had. Perhaps, graduates, if you look at who’s sitting next to you right now, you can say the same thing. As I sit there, I know I’m going to miss this place. But I pick up my bag and
walk past the library, up that asphalt path towards real life. I’m sure you can picture it, library’s on the right,
glade is on the left and there’s this big hill up ahead. So, I’m walking and I hear
this noise in front of me. And it gets louder. And it gets louder. And, this is a true story, I glance up and there’s this huge dude on a tiny bike and he’s barreling down
the hill, right at me. First of all, raise your
hand if that was you. (audience laughs) Okay, anyway, this guy’s
coming right at me, and he doesn’t see me, I’m just terrified. I’m just standing there. And he’s definitely going to hit me, so I know I have to dodge,
so I go to sidestep, and I look down at where my foot’s about to land, and I see it. (audience laughs) It’s the cursed Berkeley seal. And now I’m twice as scared, because the only way to avoid getting
hit is to get cursed. And I definitely don’t wanna get hit so I just dodge, and just stand there. On the seal. And I can feel the curse, hitting me. (audience laughs) But, as the guy goes past me, I notice this guy’s actually singing. ♪ Hey, what a wonderful kind of day. ♪ (audience laughs) ♪ What a wonderful kind of day. ♪ And now I’m confused. I just almost got run over,
and then I got cursed. This day is not wonderful. But in that moment, listening
to that huge dude sing, I thought to myself, maybe
this curse isn’t so bad. Maybe now’s the time. Maybe graduating from the academic ruler is the only way to find
something that matters more. And that’s the true secret
of the Berkeley curse. Realizing that there come’s a time when it’s okay to step on the seal. To graduate and move on. To stop living our lives
by other people’s standards and let go of the rulers other use to measure our worth. Because only then can we choose to live by our own measure of success. It’s an exciting and
scary world out there, and there are a lot of unsolved problems. You all know. At Berkeley, they’ve taught us that the equations to solve climate change are not online, that the solutions to inequality, war, and poverty are not handed out in discussion sections. And most importantly, we’ve learned that the answers other people use to solve last year’s problems may not be the right
ones in today’s world. But that’s okay. Because Berkeley also taught us that life will throw problems at us and one day after
graduating, we may wake up to find a huge dude, on a tiny bike, headed straight for us. As the curse bearing graduates of this fine university,
we’ll know what to do. We’ll step on the seal. We’ll chart our own path,
and we’ll lend an ear to listen to carefully for what the guy on the bike is
singing quietly to himself. Hey, what a wonderful kind of day. Having spent the last
few years with you all, I know our future will
be just that, wonderful. Thank you, and congratulations. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) – Thank you so much, Tyler,
for those words of wisdom. It is now my honor to welcome Jesse Gil and Mackenzie Monroe,
members of the class of 2019 gift committee to the podium with a special presentation
to the university. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) – Thank you. Good morning, faculty, friends, family and members of the
graduating class of 2019. We are proud to be here as the student representatives of this
year’s senior gift campaign. First and foremost, congratulations
to the class of 2019. We would like to thank
you for your donations. They are a testament to your commitment to maintaining Cal’s excellence for future Golden Bears. The senior class gift has been a long standing tradition that started with the class of 1874,
whose gift was $48.10 towards text books. In recent years, the campaign has shifted to providing more than
just benches and fountains. We now sponsor a vast
array of student resources from night safety programs to libraries. And student groups to scholarships, in order to maintain Cal’s excellence for current and future students. To honor our senior class gift, a plaque will be installed
outside of Dwinelle Plaza and will remain a symbol
of the senior class’s dedication to helping future Cal students just as past alumni have done for us. – We, along with the rest
of Cal Student Philanthropy, have been honored to
lead the 2019 campaign, and we are happy to announce
that this year, 1,894 seniors were inspired to leave their mark on Cal by making a contribution
to the senior class gift. Thank you to all the
seniors who gave back. We gave back because seniors before us made our Cal experience possible, and we will continue to do so, so that UC Berkeley can remain one of the top public
institutions in the world. And now, without further
ado, we would like to present Chancellor Christ
with the class of 2019 senior gift of $73,541. Thank you, and go bears. (audience applauds) (Chancellor Christ laughs) – It’s a very big thank you to the senior gift committee and all the members of the class of 2019. It’s a great pleasure to receive this gift on behalf of the university. Your gift will serve to remind us and future generations of
your spirit and generosity. Thank you. (audience applauds) – Hmm, ‘kay, hello again. My name is Jesse Gil. I am the president of
the senior class council which has been hosting events to unite the graduating class since 1870. Today we are here to celebrate our growth and accomplishments. I am honored to introduce our
keynote speaker, Wendy Kopp, CEO and co-founder of Teach for All and founder of Teach For America. As an undergraduate at Princeton, Wendy dreamed of creating a way for her peers to apply their talents towards solving the
country’s biggest problems. She launched Teach For America to enlist outstanding graduates from universities across the country to teach underserved communities. That magnificent idea is now
a revolutionary organization. A leader in the movement for educational equity and excellence. Close to 7,000 people of all academic disciplines are currently immersed in two year commitments in 51 regions across the United States. Overall, 60,000 people have joined Teach For America since its founding, and nearly 1000 of those dedicated members are graduates of UC Berkeley. In the last 10 years, Wendy has shifted her attention beyond our borders. Inspired by Teach For
America, social entrepreneurs from different parts of the world have expressed interest in adapting the program to address educational inequality in their own homes. While the challenges facing children may differ from country to country, the root causes in systems
of inequity are similar. In 2007, Wendy co-founded Teach For All, which today is a global network
of independent organizations in 50 countries, all working to ensure that children everywhere have the education and support they need to fulfill their potential. In fact, the partner organizations in Pakistan and Brazil were both founded by Berkeley alumni. We’re honored to have such an inspiring woman here today to share her experiences and wisdom. Wendy Kopp, the graduating class of 2019 welcomes you to the podium. (audience applauds) – Thank you, Jesse. Thank you President Napolitano and the board of regents,
Chancellor Christ, deans and faculty, distinguished guests, family, friends, and loved ones, and most especially, the
University of California Berkeley class of 2019. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) I am so sorry about the rain. But I’m so honored to
celebrate this day with you. This class is, has extraordinary
strength and perspective. More than one in five of you are the first in your families
to earn a college degree. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) And 90 dreamers are picking
up your degrees today. (audience applauds) Each of you sitting here in cap and gown has worked so hard to get here. Let’s hear it again for the class of 2019. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) To the graduates’ families and friends, as the mother of four who has not yet made it across this
finish line, I am in awe. Let’s hear it for them. (audience applauds) And, to the 53 graduates who are joining Teach For America, thank you. Your campus has sent more students to Teach For America than nearly any other school in the nation. (audience applauds) I am inspired by what Berkeley stands for and by your generation. JoJo Lam, a Berkeley
alumna who is helping build Teach for Cambodia shared with me how much this institution influenced her. She said when you’re surrounded by people who care, it
makes you want to care. World wide, Berkeley is
known for student activism. As we heard from Chancellor Christ in your time here, you have acted against racism, sexism, sexual assault, basic needs insecurity, income inequality, anti-immigration policies, climate crises, suppression of free speech and many other systemic injustices. And even beyond this
campus, your generation’s commitment to political
and civic engagement surpasses that of any
that have come before. That’s not just an impression. A survey of US college students showed that your class
had the highest levels of interest in political and community engagement in 50 years. We need your ongoing engagement. We need each of you to get into the arena of addressing the world’s greatest injustices and societal
threats as early as possible. After spending my senior year in college developing the idea for Teach For America, I set out to make it happen
when I graduated 30 years ago. The journey to realize its potential, first at Teach For America, now across Teach For All, a global network
of similar organizations in 50 countries and counting,
has been challenging. Exhausting, messy. But there is not one year I would trade for a different path. I feel extraordinarily privileged to have found my way to
this work early enough to have had the chance to understand the complexity of the issues, and to find my way to real solutions. Along the way, I’ve
been able to work with, and become friends with, the most amazingly committed people. I even met my husband in this work, and had those four incredible
kids I mentioned earlier. I’ve learned so much. Including from the more
than 1000 Berkeley grads who have joined Teach For
America over the last 29 years and who are now teachers, principals, civil rights and immigration attorneys, elected leaders and social entrepreneurs, tackling inequity from
all levels and many sides. Most of you are heading
into the working world where activism may not be
part of your day to day. Many of you are heading to jobs in marketing, consulting,
finance, law, technology. These are the right choices for you now, given the many pressures and the passions that led you to them, but you may find yourself encouraged to
back off your activism. I urge you to continue with it and to stay conscious that many of the institutions you’re joining are built on and
supporting the status quo, politically, socially, and economically. I think we all recognize that there are major problems with the status quo. We face many issues that seem intractable. Climate change, historic
levels of inequality, multiplying global conflicts. And the way we’ve been
addressing them isn’t working. We tackle one piece and
create new problems, or we see only incremental progress. Or we are simply
immobilized in a vitriolic and divided place. I’m betting on you to break us through. I’m betting on you to learn
from previous generations, to bring your energy and ideas, and as the most diverse generation of college graduates yet, to bring your experiences, your family histories, your community backgrounds to the table. I’m betting on you to make meaningful progress in the struggle for justice, freedom, and a sustainable future. This is why I want to share with you the most salient lesson
from my last 30 years, which is about the kind of leadership we need to reach our aspirations. I’ve learned that we need
collective leadership. Our culture is rooted in the ideal of the individual leader. We hear the word leadership, and we imagine heroic superstars. We valorize the
entrepreneurs, particularly here, so close to Silicon Valley. We wanna be our own bosses,
to venture out on our own. This archetype deeply defines our vision of success in this country. But the more I see, the more I realize that individual leadership alone will not get us where we’re trying to go. When I started pursuing the
idea of Teach For America as a 21 year old, I believed individual leadership was everything. I’d internalized, no doubt because of my experiences growing
up in our western culture that if I wanted accomplish something I just needed to work
harder and think harder. The experience of
getting Teach For America off the ground and sustaining it only reinforced that mental model. Whether we lived or died seemed to me to rest on how much time I spent raising funds, on
how good my plans were. And my whole theory of change for addressing the extreme and entrenched inequities facing
children was to cultivate a bunch of individual leaders. To recruit and develop individuals with leadership potential,
to help them succeed as teachers, so they had a real impact on kids and gain a deep understanding of the problem and its solvability, then to accelerate their individual paths as school system leaders, innovators, advocates, and political leaders who would pursue systemic change. But over time, what I’ve
seen in communities, here and around the world, has led me to rethink my belief in
individual leadership alone. I’ve been thinking about the need for collective leadership,
a kind of leadership where individuals work
together in a new way. Collective leadership asks diverse groups to maximize their differences rather than be immobilized by them. It encourages us to come together, to speak, to listen, reflect,
understand the whole picture, develop shared vision for the future, and generate new solutions. Collective leadership recognizes that our power is so much
stronger than my power. Over the past few years,
I’ve been fortunate to spend time with Anseye Pou Ayiti, Teach for Haiti in Creole. At it’s outset, its incredible CEO, Nedgine Paul Deroly spent more than three years in the rural communities where her team was planning to work, building relationships and considering one question, as a people, when
are we at our best in Haiti? Stemming from that question came conversations about education and what the community wanted to be
true for its young people. Nedgine listened to reflections that repeatedly focused on respect for local culture, customs, and community. Collective leadership gathers entire communities to exert leadership. The people in these Haitian communities came together, listened to each other, and created a vision for what would be true for their kids by the
time they are young adults, that they would have the education necessary to provide for their families, be proud and value their own heritage, and be active citizens and leaders committed to social justice for all. Almost five years into this work, this collective leadership has created transformational changes. To share just one example, although it’s technically outlawed, Haitian schools for decades have utilized
corporal punishment as the primary discipline system. This practice is embedded in the country’s colonial past, passed down from generation to generation as it has been in many parts of our country and in the world. And yet in the five years
since Anseye Pou Ayiti launched, whole schools have shed that entrenched approach and created positive discipline systems. This is deep change. Change that laws could not effect. How did it finally happen? It happened because diverse people came together, listened to each other, developed a vision, and realized that they would never get where they were trying to go
using that old system. They chose to become more invested in the new vision than in the old ways. In our country, we too often fail to create the space necessary to bring the people from different
perspectives together to develop new paths forward. Take what’s happening here in Berkeley’s backyard, in Oakland’s
public school system. Thanks to so many committed individuals across the system, there are many things to be hopeful about. In the past 10 years
alone, graduation rates have risen from 55% to 73%. Having first visited there 28 years ago, I can tell you that today, many more of Oakland’s children are on a path to college and to meaningful careers. Yet, there is still so
much trauma in the system. Maybe some of you followed the news of Oakland’s recent teacher strike. Protesting untenable teacher salaries that are not enough to let teachers live sustainably here in the Bay Area. The successful strike and hard fought resolution resulted in an increase in teacher pay of 11% over four years. That is not nearly enough to keep up with rising housing and living costs in this area, and many are concerned that that deal will bankrupt the district. Why can’t we figure out how to enable teachers to live sustainably and take care of themselves and our children? What I know for sure, is that there are no easy answers, and there is no path to progress without dialogue
and generative problem solving. We need all the actors: students, parents, teachers, advocates, employers, philanthropists, and government leaders to talk and to listen. We need them to consider
together the whole picture. Not only teacher pay, but housing costs, pension costs, our willingness to pay taxes in support of
public education and more. And yet this kind of discussion seems utterly impossible. It’s impossible because there is deep anger in the community. Particularly at the philanthropists who’ve been investing in the city and at any advocates or organizations that accept their support. Because it’s corporate leaders who have had a loud voice, even when they’ve played a role in perpetuating the income inequality at the
root of Oakland’s issues. With so much anger and fear, there seems no way for
people to come together, to get to know each other’s perspectives, and develop new solutions. So we’re stuck. And Oakland is just one example of dozens and dozens across this country where this same story plays out. To create different outcomes, we need to develop different capabilities than most of us have learned. We must learn to build authentic relationships across lines of difference. To see strengths in those from different walks of life and different
ideological perspectives. To listen, and learn from each other. We must develop the muscle to think beyond our individual pursuits and hold the space necessary to bring diverse people together. And we must be literate with trauma, our own, other’s, and the world’s, so that we can have generative discussions even when others hurt us. Class of 2019, I wanna challenge you to lead us forward differently. To make it your life’s
work to create dialogue. To make it your job to replace
judgment with curiosity. To co-construct a vision of the future that works for all, not for some. You don’t need to wait to find yourself in a position of influence. We need you now. Seek out a conversation with someone who has a radically
different point of view and listen generously. Be curious and willing to be surprised. Understand that just like you, they have hopes and fears, things they value, and things that make them feel vulnerable. Make time to do the inner work to understand yourselves. Know your deepest values, and take time for you own healing, because as we ground ourselves, we’re
able to be more generous with others, and more generative in our public and collective spaces. Always look around the table and invite in voices that are not heard. And if you’re not the one who can offer an unheard perspective, something that can move our shared humanity forward, have the courage to speak up
even when it feels difficult. Real progress requires moments of tension. If we approach those
moments with generosity and curiosity rather resistance and blame, we can find entirely new ways forward. This may be slow in the beginning, but I’ve come to realize that many diverse people trusting each other and working together is the only path to achieving a just, peaceful,
sustainable, inclusive world. I’m placing my hopes in you. With every generation, humanity
goes through an evolution, and we’re going through one now. Your generation brings new wisdom, consciousness, and a yearning for justice. We need your imagination
and collective spirit. I’m so excited to learn from you as you live into your potential as a generation of change makers and create the world we long for. Thank you class of 2019, and good luck. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) – Thank you Wendy, for
your inspirational words. It is now my honor to
welcome Tiffany Moore, one of the amazing members
of the class of 2019 as she shares her talents with you in a performance of Climb Ev’ry Mountain. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) (orchestra plays Climb Ev’ry Mountain) – ♪ Climb every mountain ♪ ♪ Search high and low ♪ ♪ Follow every byway ♪ ♪ Every path you know ♪ ♪ Climb every mountain ♪ ♪ Ford every stream ♪ ♪ Follow every rainbow ♪ ♪ ‘Til you find your dream ♪ ♪ A dream that will need ♪ ♪ All the love you can give ♪ ♪ Every day of your life ♪ ♪ For as long as you live ♪ ♪ Climb every mountain ♪ ♪ Ford every stream ♪ ♪ Follow every rainbow ♪ ♪ ‘Til you find your dream ♪ ♪ A dream that will need ♪ ♪ All the love that you can give ♪ ♪ Every day of your life ♪ ♪ For as long as you live ♪ ♪ Climb every mountain ♪ ♪ Ford every stream ♪ ♪ Follow every rainbow ♪ ♪ ‘Til you find your dream ♪ (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) – Thank you so much, Tiffany. And now, class of 2019, what
you’ve been waiting for. I ask that all candidates for the degrees please rise if able for the conferring of the degrees by
Chancellor Carol T. Christ. Please be aware that the cannon will sound after the Chancellor’s remarks. – By virtue of the authority vested in me by the president of
the University of California, I grant you the degrees
of Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Science. Congratulations, graduates. (audience cheers) You may now move your tassels from the right to the left side. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) (cannon bursts) (graduates laughing)
(graduates clapping) Please remain standing as the members of DeCadence lead us
in Hail to California, the university’s alma mater. (DeCadence matches pitch) – [Man] One, two, three, four. – ♪ Hail to California ♪ ♪ Alma mater dear ♪ ♪ Sing the joyful chorus ♪ ♪ Sound it far and near ♪ ♪ Rallying round her banner ♪ ♪ We will never fail ♪ ♪ California, alma mater ♪ ♪ Hail, hail, hail ♪ ♪ Hail to California ♪ ♪ Queen in whom we’re blest ♪ ♪ Spreading light and goodness ♪ ♪ Over all the west ♪ ♪ Fighting ‘neath her standard ♪ ♪ We shall sure prevail ♪ ♪ California, alma mater ♪ ♪ Hail, hail, hail ♪ Go bears. (audience cheers)
(audience applauds) – It may be raining, but it’s raining Cal graduates today. (audience cheers) Thank you for attending the class of 2019 commencement ceremony. Congratulations to the
class of 2019 graduates, and your families. Graduates please meet your family members at the Campanile. We wish you all a pleasant
and safe afternoon. Again congratulations,
and forever, go bears! (audience cheers) (drums beat)