UC Davis Today

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Congrats to our fall 2012 graduates

Grad surprises mom

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Produced by Joe Proudman, Julia Ann Easley/UC Davis

Fall commencement 2012 is here for nearly 630 UC Davis students after a lot of hard work and determination. While touching stories abound, one of the most poignant involves Michelle Tran, a first-generation college graduate. Her mother, Yen Nguyen, came from Vietnam with a sixth-grade education and raised her five daughters on her own, making many sacrifices so they could all go to college. All five are graduates.

Tran, an English major, recalls something her mother has always said: "Education is a way to give yourself opportunity."

Saturday's commencement (Dec. 15) took place on Yen Nguyen's birthday — and she received a surprise gift when Tran stepped forward as the class speaker, selected in a competitive audition based on an interview and the presentation of her speech before a 10-member panel.

Tran is working on a book of short stories that draws on excerpts from her 20 journals and hopes some day to have her mother’s blessing to write her life story. 

First-generation college graduates are common at UC Davis. Statistics from the spring of 2012 show that 3,732 students earned undergraduate degrees that quarter, and the parents of about 30 percent of the graduates had not attended college. The parents of almost half the class members had not graduated from four-year universities. 

Fall commencement is for undergraduates who completed their degree work in September or December, or who expect to complete their degree work in March. The fall 2012 commencement webcast is available for on-demand viewing.

Graduates are invited to stay connected with UC Davis and receive help in the transition from student to alumnus by joining the Cal Aggie Alumni Association.

Graduates from UC Davis say goodbye to their undergraduate days and prepare for a new life. Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo

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