May 19, 2019

Heart, grit, and bold spirit burst through the grey clouds as families, friends, faculty, Chancellor Carol Christ and more than 100 graduates came together in Wheeler Hall Auditorium to celebrate UC Berkeley’s first ever data science commencement.

Welcoming the crowd, Data Science Education Program Faculty Lead Professor Cathryn Carson noted: “As a historian, it is a thrill to see all our paths converging on this special day. Because in coming together today, we are weaving a new story which we all are authoring, whose outcome we have the power and responsibility to define.”

Dean David Culler commended the graduates’ bravery. “You have all chosen to break a new trail, one that no high school counselor would have recommended four years ago…You came to college and truly met with discovery.”

Faculty speaker Ani Adhikari echoed others’ appreciation for the graduates’ partnership in building the data science major. "Never again will we think of undergraduates only as students. It is you who made it happen."

What makes this program so great to me is how our community made a place for everyone.

Graduate speaker Kyle Nguyen described how being part of the data science program shaped his experience at Berkeley. “What makes this program so great to me is how our community made a place for everyone,” he said. “Regardless of your background, what you originally planned on studying, and even what you wanted to do with data science afterward; this program’s ultimate goal was to make sure that everyone belonged.”

Commencement speaker Kate Johnson, President of Microsoft US, encouraged graduates to see, hear, and work to include others—even the quiet ones; to “chase awareness, not certainty;” and to bring their full and authentic selves, not versions they imagine others want to see, to all that they do.

Before conferring the graduates’ degrees, Chancellor Carol Christ expressed her appreciation for their role in laying the foundation for the groundbreaking data science program. “For that, we owe you a great deal,” she said. “You are helping install at Berkeley an ambitious, discipline-spanning new program that I believe will help redefine what it means to be a research university in the digital age.”

Student Citations and Awards

Departmental Citation for Data Science
Adnan Hemani

Outstanding Student Instructor - Teaching
Sona Jeswani

Outstanding Student Instructor - Infrastructure and Content
Andrew Z. Tan

Catalyst Awards
Eleanor Fleming
Alexander Ivanoff
Melissa Kim Ly
Subiksha Mani

Service to the Community
Sasank Chaganty
Prathyusha Charagondla
Howe Cui
Nikita Gupta
Timlan Wang
William Wang

Data Science in Action
Terry Tae Hyun Kim
Derek Topper
Monica Wilkinson

Early Bird Gets the Worm Award (First to Declare the Major!)
Farbod Nowzad