San Diego, USA
San Diego June 11: It’s a big day at UC San Diego! Thousands are graduating.
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“Just being here at this moment. These four years are done so,” said Mary Dawisha, a graduate.
It’s a day of celebration that looked uncertain for Mary Dawisha when the pandemic hit in 2020 and commencement went virtual.
She’s excited that the event is back at full-scale.
“It’s going to be very exciting. My whole family gets to be here today. So, I’m very excited that even though COVID’s still here we do get to celebrate in person and celebrate these last four years,” she said.
Dawisha is a first-generation graduate who studied human biology with a minor in climate change. As a scientist herself, she was looking forward to hearing from the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Jessica Meir-a Swedish-American.
Meir is an UCSD alumna and NASA astronaut. She is part of NASA’s 2025 Artemis Moon Exploration program, which means she could be one of the first women on the moon.
“It’s super cool that we’re having a speaker who is a scientist and she’s a woman here. I love it and I’m very, very excited about that,“ said Dawisha.
Meir said it’s a humbling moment to be on that side.
“I remember the role models and mentors that I look up to [and] the other astronauts that I wanted to be when I was growing up, really my whole life and sometimes it’s hard to accept that now I’m on the other side. I’m the one wearing that blue flight suit and I’m the one now that really has to pay it forward,” said Meir.
Jessica Meir is hopeful that some of her stories about her time as a master’s student and as an astronaut will connect with the graduate’s lives.
As for Mary, she’s turning her tassel to the next chapter in her education.
“Right now, I’m probably going to do a master’s degree in environmental studies,” said Dawisha.
A total of 7,800 undergraduates and more than 900 graduates will be celebrating their accomplishments with commencement ceremonies throughout the weekend.
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