Berkeley - Three weeks of graduation ceremonies are about to begin at the University of California, Berkeley, where former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno will speak next Wednesday (May 9) at Commencement Convocation. The event will honor the estimated 10,000 students who became eligible during the school year for undergraduate and graduate degrees at UC Berkeley.
About 6,000 UC Berkeley students will graduate this month; the rest earned degrees during the summer and fall of 2000. UC Berkeley will have awarded roughly 6,500 bachelor's degrees this school year; the rest are graduate degrees.
No diplomas will be awarded at Commencement Convocation. Instead, degrees are conferred at individual graduation ceremonies to be held between Saturday, May 5, and Friday, May 25, by some 50 schools, colleges and departments on campus.
Among the spring graduates is Victoria Nguyen, 40, a mother of three who fled Vietnam at age 17 after spending seven years in a concentration camp. Despite serious medical conditions, she will receive an undergraduate degree this month in integrative biology. Nguyen said that martial arts, which she taught to herself and her children, gave her the calm and focus to reach this academic goal.
Also to receive a degree, a Master's in journalism, is 33-year-old Ferhat Birusk Tugan, a Kurdish journalist who endured imprisonment and torture at the hands of Turkish authorities for giving voice to more than 14 million ethnic Kurds in Turkey. He fled Turkey only months before the office of his pro-Kurdish publication exploded, killing one person and injuring 22 others.
Several nationally-known speakers are scheduled to address graduates at some of the campus's individual commencement ceremonies. They include:
* Lesley Stahl, CBS correspondent for and co-editor of "60 Minutes." She will speak at the Graduate School of Journalism ceremony on Saturday, May 12, at 3:30 p.m. in the North Gate Courtyard.
* David Boies, attorney with Boies, Schiller and Flexner, LLP, who argued the Democratic case for a Florida recount in the last presidential election. He will speak at the School of Law (Boalt Hall) ceremony on Saturday, May 19, at 2 p.m. in the Greek Theatre.
* David S. Pottruck, president and co-CEO of the Charles Schwab Corp., which has been named company of the year by Forbes magazine. He will speak at the Haas School of Business ceremony on Sunday, May 20, at 9 a.m. in the Greek Theatre.
* Mark L. Schneider, director of the Peace Corps, will address graduating students in International & Area Studies on Saturday, May 19, at 7 p.m. in Zellerbach Auditorium.
* Robert Hass, former U.S. Poet Laureate and UC Berkeley professor of English, will speak at the ceremony for Undergraduate & Interdisciplinary Studies on Thursday, May 17, at 10 a.m. in the Greek Theatre.
* Daniel Goldin, who as NASA Administrator heads the space agency, will address College of Engineering graduates on Saturday, May 19, at 9 a.m. in the Greek Theatre.
At next Wednesday's 4 p.m. Commencement Convocation, several hundred graduating seniors will march into the Greek Theatre wearing caps and gowns. Such a procession has not occurred since 1969, according to campus archives. Faculty members will process into the amphitheater next, wearing colorful regalia that represents their academic backgrounds. Reno will speak following this campus-wide procession.
In addition to Reno's speech, convocation will include an address by UC Berkeley's top graduating senior, Christine Ng, who will receive this year's University Medal for her academic record and future goals in the fields of civil and environmental engineering.
Ng plans to combine engineering and environmentalism with public policy to move society beyond the stage of compliance, creating more opportunity for projects that are good for both business and the environment. The 21-year-old senior earned a 3.992 grade point average in a college that is 80 percent male. She is president of the campus's branch of the Society of Women Engineers.