Coming back to step forward: Berkeley Engineering grads return for in-person commencement
Under sunny skies and amidst cheers and tears of joy, Berkeley Engineering graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 finally got their moment on stage in a special commencement ceremony held at the Hearst Greek Theatre. On Saturday, May 7, those who received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees when the COVID pandemic made in-person events unsafe came back to celebrate this major milestone on campus.
Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean of the College of Engineering, praised the graduates for their perseverance through extraordinary circumstances. She also shared her hope that this experience has instilled a deep sense of empathy that will empower them to not only innovate but also to advocate for a fair and inclusive society.
“We witnessed how the pandemic disproportionately affected those with the fewest resources to cope,” said Dean Liu. “So, as you continue on this next phase of your life, we hope that you will take what you’ve experienced to heart and advance our public mission as inclusive leaders who create new knowledge and solutions equitably for the benefit of our diverse society.”
For Lauryn Jordan (B.S.’20 BioE), an in-person commencement meant the chance to reunite with fellow graduates and officially mark the end of her academic journey at Berkeley. “I think it was the closure that I needed to really wrap up my Berkeley engineering experience,” said Jordan. “We worked so hard to get this degree, and it was just nice to come back, see familiar faces and check in where everybody is.”
Ethan Sun (B.S.’21 CE) appreciated the opportunity to celebrate this occasion amid friends, after spending his senior year in China doing classes online and then missing the university-level commencement. “It really means a lot to me that the College of Engineering decided to do this for us,” said Sun. “I’m really grateful.”
Fellipe Marcellino (MEng’20 IEOR) marveled at the many friends who traveled from different countries to attend this in-person commencement. “The friends that I made, I will keep them for life. It was a very good feeling to see them again after all those years, after we struggled to finish our courses half remote, half in person,” said Marcellino, whose parents traveled from Brazil to share this moment with him. “It’s very good to finally be able to officially feel that we are engineers.”
In a lighthearted speech, student speaker Parth Shah (B.S.’19 EECS) reflected on his time at Berkeley, extolling the freedom to explore and innovate and recalling the camaraderie he had with other engineering students.
Now working at a finance technology company, Shah encouraged fellow graduates to blaze their own path in life and stay true to their passion, like the character Barry the honeybee from Bee Movie.
“Be like Barry. Fly outside the hive. Ask yourself if you really need the permission to do the thing you love,” said Shah. “Berkeley taught us that we have the ability to help change society for the better, so why wait?”