Graduation Speaker Empowered by Freshman Spirit

Kaitlin "Kat" Raymond stands in front of Hawthorn Hall
Kaitlin "Kat" Raymond '22, who will speak at two commencements Saturday (Dec. 10), says her favorite memories of undergraduate life came from working in the residence halls. She is now a student in the School of Education. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Kaitlin “Kat” Raymond ’22 will walk about 1,000 graduating students back to freshman year when she speaks at fall commencement and a spring makeup commencement this Saturday (Dec. 10).


  • WHAT: Commencement
  • WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 10
    • Regular fall ceremony — 10 a.m.
    • Spring makeup ceremony — 2 p.m.
  • WHERE: University Credit Union Center
  • ADMISSION: Tickets required for all guests over the age of 2
  • WATCH THE LIVESTREAMS (the recordings will be available later on demand)

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in high school, she said she finds empowerment in both the spirit of first-year students and the experience of overcoming struggles when everything was new.

“Think about the spirit that freshmen have,” said Raymond, who came to UC Davis from Sacramento. “Have that spirit of optimism. Use it to push forward into your new adventures.”

She graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and minors in human development and education, and is now working toward a teaching credential and master's degree  in the School of Education.

Raymond was an alternate speaker for two of the three undergraduate commencements in June. She did not give an address then. Organizers subsequently invited her to speak at Saturday’s ceremonies, both of them.

“Being the actual commencement speaker is so awesome,” said Raymond, who crossed the stage and celebrated with family at the June 11 commencement. “Now I’m speaking at two ceremonies — I’m super excited.”

About 850 graduates have registered to participate in the morning ceremony, and about 175 have signed up for what is the last of three makeup commencements offered to spring graduates who did not have the opportunity to cross the stage at the June ceremonies. About 300 students participated in the first two makeup ceremonies in August.

Favorite memories

Raymond said her favorite memories of undergraduate life were from her three years working in the residence halls as a community or resident adviser and an after-hours assistant.

She said she also drew strength from the experience. “Being that resource for first-year residents, interacting with co-workers and bosses who are helping people — that’s inspiring,” she said.

Course opens new world

Raymond started at UC Davis as a psychology major. But a course on educating children with disabilities opened a new world to her. “That kick-started me taking more education courses,” she said. Over two quarters, she served as an intern helping high school students with their reading and writing.    

In her graduate program, Raymond has already been student-teaching at Vaca Peña Middle School in Vacaville and Dixon High School. She said she anticipates earning a single-subject teaching credential in English in June 2023 and a Master of Arts in education in March 2024. Raymond said she wants to teach at a middle school for about five years and then return to graduate school and become a therapist.

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