“Evan Daniel Issac Pearson” was loud over the sound system, and Donna Pearson was proud. Seeing her son stride onto the graduation stage at the University Credit Union Center Friday (Aug. 26) was worth a second trip from Atlanta and the wait of a few extra weeks. Even though the diploma for Evan’s bachelor’s degree in international relations had already come by mail, this was what his mother longed for. “I wanted to hear his name called, to see him walk across the stage,” she said.
About 300 graduating students and hundreds more of their guests celebrated at two commencements held over the weekend to help make amends for students and families missing such prized moments at ceremonies in June.
Efforts to mitigate against rising temperatures at the university’s first ceremonies held outdoors at UC Davis Health Stadium in June weren’t enough, and commencements didn’t go as planned. After surveying impacted students, the campus invited them to return for one of three indoor ceremonies, including one still to come Dec. 10.
Friends since kindergarten, Ivan Padilla Franco and Abrielle Spaletta, both of Petaluma, enjoyed being able to share the experience. “I’m happy we got the option to come back,” said Padilla Franco, who graduated with an English degree. Spaletta received a degree in psychology and cognitive science.
Both days’ programs were streamlined — Friday’s finished in 30 minutes and Saturday’s in fewer than 45. On Saturday, student speaker Sana Sayyid, who studied biology and was presented with the Social Justice and Inclusion Award, encouraged fellow graduates to lead with purpose.
And in brief remarks, the chancellor announced something special for students who’d registered to graduate as part of the Class of 2022: They would receive a one-year complimentary membership to the California Aggie Alumni Association or, if they were already a lifetime member, a $30 gift certificate to the campus bookstore.
Respecting the importance of each graduate’s moment on stage, the university used professional name readers — with acting and voice-over experience — to announce the students. Alongside the ramp to the stage, Neil Tanner and Maura Soden shared duties for checking with students on pronunciation and reading their names. Crystal Masuda, events manager for the College of Letters and Science, signaled to each student when to start across the stage. The chancellor shook each student’s hand, and a photographer captured the moment.
From the seats above, guests captured their own graduation memories. Padilla Franco’s parents were taking photos with their mobile phones. “We’re so proud of him,” said Consuelo Franco. Ivan is the first in their family to graduate from a university.
At the receptions that followed the ceremonies, there were cookies and lemonade, hugs and kisses, more photographs, and horsing around with school mascot Gunrock.
- Julia Ann Easley, News and Media Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 530-219-4545