On June 14, 2014, President Barack Obama will deliver the commencement speech for the University of California, Irvine (UCI) graduating class of 2014. At the Anaheim Angel Stadium, President Obama’s speech will commemorate UCI’s 50th anniversary of foundation, following President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 commencement speech for UCI’s first graduating class. UCI aims to commemorate its 50th anniversary as a two-year event to also honor the first year it enrolled students.The Chancellor of UCI, Michael Drake, requested President Obama to speak at UCI’s graduation ceremony in April 2013, outlining UCI’s accomplishments since its establishment. According to UCI, approximately 10,000 UCI students, faculty, staff and alumni sent graduation invites to the President along with a student-produced video invitation. The video featured UCI 7 foot 6 inches basketball center Mamadou Nidiaye requesting President Obama to speak at commencement and play a game of basketball. In early March, the President responded with his decision to deliver the commencement speech. Nationwide postsecondary education institute can request the president to speak at its commencement.A graduating UCI student and 2010 UHS alumni, Shawhin Beroukhim said, “I am very excited to have President Obama come speak at our graduation. While I might not agree with all of his policies and decisions, I am well aware that having the president speak at my graduation is a once in a life time opportunity and that this is truly a defining moment in the history of our young university. This will be my second time seeing the President speak, and I can say that he is a very inspiring speaker. I’m sure the ceremony will be astounding, and I can think of no better way to conclude this chapter of my life.”
UCI expects to spend additional costs to ensure the necessary safety precautions since the graduation will be held in Angel Stadium, not UCI’s Aldridge Park. Dean of Francisco Ayala School of Biological Sciences, Mr. Frank Laferla said, “It’s a terrific recognition of UC Irvine’s stature as an elite university on the world stage to have the President of USA deliver the commencement address and a great way for the campus to celebrate its 50th year!”
Ten days after, on June 24, University High School will host its graduation ceremony at the UCI Bren Center. All seniors are invited to deliver the commencement address and seniors with a GPA of 4.4 and above can deliver the Summa Cum Laude speech. UHS will select candidates through a speech competition in which a review committee of students and staff will select candidates based on speech quality and content. Then, selected candidates will compete in a speak-off competition on May 28-29. Students interested in speaking at the UHS commencement must submit a speech to the front office by May 22. More information regarding the speech guidelines and deadlines is available on the UHS website.
Written by MONICA LAFERLA