Commencement Convocation sends 2012 graduates out into the world

UC Berkeley’s 2012 commencement. (Video produced by UC Berkeley)

Joyous graduates, their friends and families filled Edwards Track Stadium with cheers and smiles on Saturday, as they celebrated their graduation as UC Berkeley’s Class of 2012.

Under sunny skies, more than 3,000 graduates — about 600 more than last year — gathered in caps and gowns for the annual rite known as Commencement Convocation. They listened to speeches by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and University Medalist Eric Olliff and  walked across the stage to receive a handshake, a bear pin and a hearty round of applause from the audience.

Schmidt, a software engineer, Internet pioneer and UC Berkeley’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year, harkened back to his own graduation from Berkeley in 1982 and told the graduates that it’s “time to throw out all us aging baby boomers and replace us with those best-equipped to lead us into a new age…”

Look for ways to say “yes” to things, he advised the Class of 2012, adding: “Do not be afraid to fail. And do not be afraid to succeed.”

Birgeneau, who will leave his post to return to teaching and research at the end of this year, congratulated the graduates for what they brought to Berkeley, and for what they accomplished while on campus. And he asked of them two things:

“Please continue to speak out for, and support public universities,” he said, adding, “Please continue Berkeley’s great tradition of public service by volunteering your services to your community.”

As Berkeley students head out into their next adventures, he told them: “You may not know where the future will take you, but as you go, know that we will be there with you.”

In their own words

Read Eric Schmidt’s address here.

Read Chancellor Birgeneau’s speech here.

And read University Medalist Eric Olliff’s remarks here.

Eric Olliff, a double major who won Berkeley’s highest honor as the top graduating senior, held his University Medal up high, to the cheers of the crowd. He wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do when he arrived at Berkeley — and now he doesn’t really know what he’ll do with his life, he told his fellow graduates. But “it turned out pretty damn good,” he said, so he trusts the abilities that brought him success at Berkeley to serve him well in the future.

Before this season’s college, department and unit graduations end, at least 7,000 UC Berkeley students will receive diplomas. More than 10,000 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees are expected to be conferred for the 2011-12 academic year, as some students were awarded degrees last summer and winter.