Hundreds Celebrate at Makeup Commencements

Three graduates beam as streamers fall
Graduates react in joy as streamers mark the end of makeup commencements this weekend. At Friday’s graduation are, left to right, Ivan Padilla Franco, Abrielle Spaletta and Evan Pearson. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)
Chancellor Gary S. May poses with Evan Pearson on the graduation stage
Evan Pearson, right, poses with Chancellor Gary S. May on stage Friday. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

“Evan Daniel Issac Pearson” was loud over the sound system, and Donna Pearson was proud. Seeing her son stride onto the graduation stage at the University Credit Union Center Friday (Aug. 26) was worth a second trip from Atlanta and the wait of a few extra weeks. Even though the diploma for Evan’s bachelor’s degree in international relations had already come by mail, this was what his mother longed for. “I wanted to hear his name called, to see him walk across the stage,” she said.

About 300 graduating students and hundreds more of their guests celebrated at two commencements held over the weekend to help make amends for students and families missing such prized moments at ceremonies in June.

Graduates file into UC Davis Health Stadium on June 10.
Graduates file into UC Davis Health Stadium in June. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Efforts to mitigate against rising temperatures at the university’s first ceremonies held outdoors at UC Davis Health Stadium in June weren’t enough, and commencements didn’t go as planned. After surveying impacted students, the campus invited them to return for one of three indoor ceremonies, including one still to come Dec. 10.

Graduates Ivan Padilla Franco and Abrielle Spaletta clap during the ceremony
Longtime friends Ivan Padilla Franco, left, and Abrielle Spaletta, center, attended Friday’s commencement with their families and friends. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)


Friends since kindergarten, Ivan Padilla Franco and Abrielle Spaletta, both of Petaluma, enjoyed being able to share the experience. “I’m happy we got the option to come back,” said Padilla Franco, who graduated with an English degree. Spaletta received a degree in psychology and cognitive science.

A student speaks on the graduation stage
Graduating student Sana Sayyid spoke at Saturday’s commencement. (Courtesy Pro Pics)

Both days’ programs were streamlined — Friday’s finished in 30 minutes and Saturday’s in fewer than 45. On Saturday, student speaker Sana Sayyid, who studied biology and was presented with the Social Justice and Inclusion Award, encouraged fellow graduates to lead with purpose.

And in brief remarks, the chancellor announced something special for students who’d registered to graduate as part of the Class of 2022: They would receive a one-year complimentary membership to the California Aggie Alumni Association or, if they were already a lifetime member, a $30 gift certificate to the campus bookstore.

On the ramp to the graduation stage, a reader checks with a student on name pronunciation
As Neil Tanner, right, announces the name of a student about to cross the stage, Maura Soden checks with the next student about the pronunciation of her name. (Julia Ann Easley/UC Davis)

Respecting the importance of each graduate’s moment on stage, the university used professional name readers — with acting and voice-over experience — to announce the students. Alongside the ramp to the stage, Neil Tanner and Maura Soden shared duties for checking with students on pronunciation and reading their names. Crystal Masuda, events manager for the College of Letters and Science, signaled to each student when to start across the stage. The chancellor shook each student’s hand, and a photographer captured the moment.


Loved ones take photos from the stands
Among the many taking photographs during the ceremony were, in the center row, Miguel Padilla, second from left, and Consuelo Franco, third from left. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

From the seats above, guests captured their own graduation memories. Padilla Franco’s parents were taking photos with their mobile phones. “We’re so proud of him,” said Consuelo Franco. Ivan is the first in their family to graduate from a university.

School mascot Gunrock dances with a woman as other look on.
Gunrock was popular at the receptions after the ceremonies. (Julia Ann Easley/UC Davis)

At the receptions that followed the ceremonies, there were cookies and lemonade, hugs and kisses, more photographs, and horsing around with school mascot Gunrock.

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