Geography held its graduation reception for the Class of 2013-2014 on Saturday June 14 from 11:30 – 1:30 in the Ellsion-Buchanan Courtyard, after the 9 a.m. UCSB Commencement ceremony. Guests, including faculty, students, and friends and family of our distinguished graduates, were served light refreshments. Our Chair Elect, Dan Montello, introduced the faculty in attendance, made a short speech, and presented the various undergraduate awards:
“Welcome students, families, and friends to our reception. Let me introduce myself as Dan Montello, Chair Elect; I’m standing in for our Chair, Dar Roberts, who was unable to attend. I’m pleased to honor the graduating class of 2014. But first, please welcome my colleagues from the Department of Geography at UCSB (introductions, including their areas of expertise).
As some of you know, the Geography Department at UCSB is nationally ranked in the top 5, and/or as #1, depending on how you examine the ranking data. This is due to our outstanding faculty, the support of our skilled and dedicated staff, and our quality students, whose efforts and talents I would now like to acknowledge in some detail.
Graduating today brings to a finale the process of formal education that started almost 20 years ago in kindergarten. For many of you, it has been a long and interesting road with many curves and bumps and unexpected people and events. We know you made some good decisions and some not so good, and we also know that chance played its hand in you standing here today. We think (and hope) your decision to come to UCSB and study geography will prove to be one of your best decisions, or at least your luckiest one.
Graduating today also begins the process of job search and the development of a career, with a good chance that that career will incorporate geography in some way, whether by its focus on the natural earth, on culture and economics, or on the technical skills for interpreting and communicating earth-referenced information. I know I’m biased, but Geography strikes me as one of the richest, most applicable, and most intellectually stimulating of all majors. Geography is well-poised to address society’s increasing challenges, ranging from environmental pollution, natural disasters, and global warming to feeding the hungry, designing more energy efficient cities and transportation, and unleashing the power of geographic information to make our world a better place in a way I hope is both humane and equitable. In all of these cases and more, geography’s potent blend of the natural, the human, and technological put it at the front of our efforts. Your degree in Geography is, thus, like your entrance password to the world.
Of course, there’s always graduate school!
Whatever your future, we wish you wisdom, good fortune, contentment, and the joy to be found in service to others.
Finally, we all recognize that you have not arrived here alone. Your parents and other family members supported you, pushed you on, and may have even cooked you a few meals and washed a few loads of your laundry. I don’t doubt that every one of them is very proud of you today.
You also had your friends. The friends you make and the experiences you share with them is one of the most special things about attending the university. I know they were for me; to this day, I still have fairly regular contact with 5 or 6 of them, and I don’t even use Facebook.
And let’s not forget your professors, your Teaching Assistants, and the staff members who helped you in ways you may not even be aware of. Personally, I know that teachers and advisors at all levels of my education were among the most inspiring and important role models in my life. I suspect you might say the same.
Now I’d like to recognize a few of our graduating students by name.
I want to enthusiastically acknowledge and express my appreciation to all of our graduating majors today. You did it, and that was no trivial feat – not everyone can pull it off.
This year’s class includes 51 students, 24 earning the BA in Geography, 6 earning the BS in Physical Geography, and 21 earning the BA with a GIS Emphasis. All were earned either in Fall, Winter or Spring 2013 or in Summer 2014; 21 of these have earned the Outstanding Achievement as a Geography Major award. and 3 of them earned the Distinction in the Major award. (Names of all 51 students read out.)
Now, let me announce some awards.
The Jack and Laura Dangermond Undergraduate Fellowship award is a significant honor given to the most accomplished student or students in geographic information science in the department of Geography. Jack and Laura Dangermond are the co-founders and President and Executive Vice President respectively of the Environmental Systems Research Institute, or ESRI. ESRI is the major designer and industrial supplier of software in the field of Geographic Information Systems, or GIS. This year’s Jack and Laura Dangermond Undergraduate Fellowship is awarded to Collin McGrath.
The Chair’s Award for Excellence in Geography is awarded to the graduating senior who has majored in Geography and has attained the highest overall grade point average: Matthew Conway is this year’s recipient.
Distinction in the Major is awarded to students who are graduating with an overall GPA of at least 3.5, with a Geography GPA of at least 3.6, and who have undertaken an independent study project and/or graduate-level studies. This year’s awardees are Matthew Conway, Terrell Beesley, and Sarah “Sadie” Gill.
Recognition of Outstanding Achievement in Geography is awarded to students who are graduating with a grade point average of at least 3.5 in upper division geography classes or have otherwise been nominated by a faculty member for demonstrated academic performance. The 21 students receiving this award are: Javier Anguiano, Terrell Beesley, Matthew Conway, Ryan Fallgatter, Evan Farbstein, Brittany Gale, Sarah “Sadie” Gill, Austin Grove, Trenton Hagedorn, Ryan Hanni, Claudia Knudson, David Liu, Collin McGrath, Michael Mroczek, Matthew Murchison, Emily Owen, Jessica Pepper, Tom Tran, Charles Wachob, Andrew Wolf, and Qingyun Zhang.
Thank you all for coming, enjoy the reception, and please keep in touch in the future!
Editor’s note: Photos of the reception and other Geography events can be seen on Instagram and on our Event Photo page. Many thanks to graduate student Bonnie Bounds and to Richard Weinberg for providing the reception photos. Thanks also to Geography staff members Ryan Kelley and Bernadette Weinberg for all their hard work in organizing and orchestrating this event and to our web master Guylene Gadal for processing and posting all of the photos.