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Thousands of new UC graduates enter the world

2014 Commencement

On a morning when the sky itself seemed to wear blue and gold, 4,000 newly minted Berkeley grads hugged, cried and pumped fists into the air.

“Whoa, that feels good!” shouted one young man, stopping mid-field to raise his arms in jubilation. Around him flowed a river of black robes and mortar boards, many sporting messages like “Dream Big,” “and “Thanks, mom and dad.”

From the stands came the roar of 20,000 beaming onlookers. Youngsters craned necks to get a glimpse of the graduates; uncles and grandmothers cheered and waved; and proud parents snapped photos and dabbed their eyes.

A similar scene is unfolding at every one of UC’s 10 campuses this spring. In all, the University of California will award 62,000 degrees — each representing a unique story of triumph.

“The cycle of struggle ends with me,” a jubilant Mariah Castro proclaimed as she prepared to take the field at Cal’s Memorial Stadium for Berkeley’s commencement ceremony. “My mom is so proud,” said the social welfare major who, along with earning straight As and a student leadership award, is the first in her extended family and one of the few from her community to successfully complete a college degree.

Castro’s background is far from unusual in the 10-campus university system. UC alums include military veterans, undocumented students, those who returned to studies after years in the workforce, and those who have persevered through illness and disability. Almost half of those earning their bachelor’s degrees this year come from low-income families, and roughly 40 percent are the first in their family to go to college. Almost a third started their education at community college.

It’s a diversity of economic and social backgrounds unmatched among any other top-tier university in the country. “Our new graduates are evidence that here in California, the American Dream is alive and well,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “These are the men and women who won’t just fuel today’s workforce. They will redefine tomorrow’s.”

See Communication Coordinator Nicole Freeling’s full story, which includes graduation photos, statistics and related stories and links.


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