Will it be a song of hard-won victory, enduring love and loyalty, or sheer happiness that accompanies UC Davis graduates as they leave commencement on Saturday, Dec. 12?
In what may become a new tradition, the graduating students are voting among the top three songs that they themselves nominated:
- "We Are the Champions" by Queen;
- "Gone, Gone, Gone" by Phillip Phillips, winner of "American Idol" in 2012; and
- "Happy" by Pharrell Williams from the movie "Despicable Me 2."
The song contest, a balloon drop, and the opportunity for students to share personal messages and photos on a jumbo screen are new features adding to the heartfelt joy of the event.
"We want the students to feel this is a really big celebration," said Jamie Dehn, event coordinator for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
More than 700 students from the four undergraduate colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Letters and Science, Biological Sciences and Engineering — have registered to participate in the fall commencement at 10 a.m. in the Pavilion.
Contest a 'personal touch'
Dehn said she suggested the song contest after her dean, Helene Dillard, recommended using a recent, upbeat song like "Happy" for the recessional.
"We're happy that the song contest is a personal touch for the class," Dehn said. "We thought it might be fun to give it a go."
Also part of commencement will be more traditional selections — including the "Aggie Fight Song," "Pomp and Circumstance" and John Philip Sousa compositions — performed by the UC Davis Commencement Band.
Messages and photos
More than 100 students have submitted photos and messages that will rotate on the large screen before the ceremony begins. Dehn said the messages express appreciation to family, friends and professors for their support; the photos range from headshots to those capturing times with loved ones.
UC Davis is using a new tool to display the messages and photos. And during the ceremony, it also will announce each graduate's pre-recorded name and display the name as he or she crosses the stage.
Up to 1,300 balloons in the university's blue and gold colors will be dropped on the commencement floor.
Tickets and webcast
UC Davis also holds 13 ceremonies in the spring. In 2014-15, the university conferred 9,221 degrees including 7,120 bachelor's, 657 professional, 891 master's and 553 doctoral degrees.