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May graduation ceremonies at UC Berkeley have begun; Olympian Jonny Moseley to speak at May 17 event
09 May 2002

From Public Affairs

Berkeley - Three weeks of graduation ceremonies are underway at the University of California, Berkeley, where Olympic gold medal skier Jonny Moseley will speak Friday, May 17, at Commencement Convocation. The 4 p.m. event at the Greek Theater will honor the estimated 10,000 students who became eligible during the school year for undergraduate and graduate degrees at UC Berkeley.

No diplomas will be awarded at Commencement Convocation. Instead, degrees are conferred at individual ceremonies held from May 4-31 by some 50 schools, colleges and departments on campus.

About 6,000 UC Berkeley students will graduate this month; the rest earned degrees during the summer and fall of 2001. The campus will have awarded roughly 6,500 bachelor's degrees this school year; the rest are graduate degrees.

The selection by the Class of 2002 of an Olympian to speak at convocation was a first at UC Berkeley.

"This class wanted to hear about living a life of commitment to your goals," said Jason Simon, a California Alumni Association program manager and facilitator for the Californians, the student committee that plans convocation. "To them, a gold medalist represents the values of working hard, overcoming obstacles and striving to be the best at what you do."

Moseley, 26, is a 1998 Olympic gold medalist and 1998 World Cup Champion in the moguls event, as well as a two-time World Cup overall champion. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he was raised in Tiburon, Calif., and has been skiing since age 4.

In addition to Moseley's speech, convocation will include an address by UC Berkeley's top graduating senior, Shayna Parekh, who will receive this year's University Medal for her academic record and future goals in the field of international studies. With a nearly perfect GPA, Shayna, a political science and interdisciplinary studies major, has an impressive history of public service overseas and a strong commitment to improving the lives of individuals in developing countries. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Shayna plans to spend a year in India working with the Veerayatan community service organization, for which she was previously a project coordinator. Later, she hopes to enroll in the London School of Economics and pursue a graduate degree in social planning in developing countries.

Also speaking at this year's convocation is Allison Olson, who delivered remarks in 1952-50 years ago-when graduating from UC Berkeley. Now a history professor at the University of Maryland, Olson will reflect on her years at UC Berkeley and share her wisdom with the Class of 2002.

At some of the campus's individual commencement ceremonies in May, several nationally-known speakers are scheduled to address graduates. They include:

* George Akerlof, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics and the second UC Berkeley professor in two years to win the prize. He will address graduating students in economics on Thursday, May 16, at 3 p.m.

* Author and attorney Scott Turow. He will speak to the law school (Boalt Hall) graduates on Saturday, May 25, at 2 p.m.

* Steve McCormick, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy. He will speak at the College of Natural Resources on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m.

Following convocation on May 17, the senior class will announce the campus project that will receive the senior class gift, which is at $43,000 and rising. "Over 20 percent of the class has given, which, given the size of the Berkeley class, is a huge number of people," said Jennifer Kitt,
UC Berkeley's assistant director of parent and student development.

One of three selected campus projects will receive those funds. In the running are a September 11 Memorial Scholarship, which would help needy undergraduates study international issues; renovation of the Campanile esplanade to include benches and a plaque honoring those on campus who died Sept. 11; or updating technology and renovating a study room in the Moffitt Undergraduate Library.