The afternoon of Saturday December 16 saw Haas Pavilion filled with almost 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students alongside over 6,000 friends and family members to celebrate the commencement of the Class of 2023. The two hour ceremony included words from student representative Pearleen Wang, keynote speaker Jennifer Doudna (2020 Nobel Laureate), and Chancellor Carol Christ. 

Dream big, set audacious goals and pursue them with passion and determination. But never lose sight of your values, integrity, and empathy.

Jennifer DoudnaKeynote Speaker

It was a special day for Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate Division Lisa García Bedolla who stood in for Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin E. Hermalin; hooding graduate students and leading the processional with Berkeley’s mace. The mace represents UC Berkeley’s ability to confer degrees. Appropriately, the staff-like stick is carved into the shape of a bear, made from wood reclaimed from one of the first campus buildings: South Hall

It is such a privilege to get to see the joy and sense of accomplishment our students and their families feel at commencement. This is why we’re here — to help our students achieve their dreams. I’m so grateful to get to bear witness to this important step on their journeys.

Lisa Garcia Bedolla standing on the steps of Sproul Hall
Lisa García BedollaVice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division

Yael Hacohen, who received her PhD in Rhetoric at commencement, walked with her two daughters who also wore graduation robes. Hacohen, a fourth-generation Berkeley graduate and a published poet from Israel, states that graduating took a lot of hard work, “I had the best faculty members, who supported every aspect of my writing, every question”. 

The ceremony came to a close with the reading of graduate names and the official conferring of degrees by Chancellor Christ. “So while this might be a perilous time, so too is it a time of creative ferment and possibility”, the chancellor said in her speech, “and that makes this prime time for you; our newest alumni”. 

Congratulations Class of 2023! Go bears and Fiat Lux!!