Ceremony details

  • Date and Time: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 2:00PM
  • Location: Greek Theatre
  • Reception to follow at the Campanile Esplanade

Student Speaker             

Each year, the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science awards a graduating senior the Departmental Citation in recognition of his/her outstanding accomplishments in Political Science.  The recipient of the Departmental Citation delivers the student address at Commencement.  

We are pleased to announce Vrinda Agarwal as the 2015 recipient of the Departmental Citation. 

Vrinda Agarwal double majored in Political Science (Honors) and ISF (Concentration: International Economic Development). Her political science coursework and her thesis on the Dodd-Frank Act have made her very passionate about political representation, reducing poverty levels through policymaking, and restructuring financial regulation in the U.S. As a sophomore, Vrinda co-founded the non-profit organization 100 Strong, which serves to empower low-income girls through leadership development and entrepreneurship. 100 Strong has trained over 30 low-income middle school girls through over 40 mentors. Vrinda has served as 100 Strong's CEO and Director of Management for over two years, which has been one of the most impactful experiences she’s had at UC Berkeley. It has also inspired her to start a second non-profit organization, the Delhi Shakti Project, which aims to prevent gender-based violence in Indian slums.

Vrinda has previously interned at the White House in the Office of the Chief Information Officer and will start working full-time at Goldman Sachs as a Public Finance investment banking analyst to help state and local governments address their most pressing financial needs. Her long-term goals are to attend law school and to become the first female, Indian-American Senator in the United States.

The department also wishes to acknowledge Sandra Farzam, Mikaela Rear and Andrew Woo, who were finalists for the Departmental Citation. Congratulations to the finalists and to all the  2014-2015 graduates!

Information for Graduating Students

A couple of important reminders

Gates will open at 1:00PM. Enter from the South Gate of the Greek Theatre.

The pavement at the Greek Theatre is uneven and sloped.  We have seen our share of students stumble. Wear sensible shoes (i.e., no 3-inch heels, flip flops).  Bring as few belongings with you as you need, as there's no place to safely store items backstage.  Also, keep an eye on the weather.  The Greek Theatre is an outdoor venue.  It could be chilly or exceedingly warm.  If it's an especially warm day, please bring water (stay hydrated) and wear sunscreen/ sunglasses.  Lastly, only graduating students and faculty are allowed backstage at any time.  Your family and friends will have a near-impossible time connecting with you once inside (receiving tickets, giving flowers).  Please decide on a rendezvous point with friends and family outside the Greek Theatre for before/after the ceremony. 

Lining up

At 1:30PM all participating students must be backstage and ready to start the procession.

Look for a table in the backstage area with index cards and pencils, legibly write your name on a card, and hold onto it. The announcer will read your name from this card as you cross the stage to receive your scroll. If you have any concerns about the pronunciation of your name, write your name the way it sounds (i.e. writing oski as os-kee). Consider including a rhyming word (i.e. rhymes with goatee). You can also say your name to the announcer. The cards are provided by GradImages, so you can order photographs by either filling out the back (or going on-line in advance to gradimages.com (external link) - click "Pre-Event Registration", type in "Berkeley", and click "University of CA Berkeley Political Science").

Line up single-file behind the barricade at the north end of the backstage area (look for signs posted on the wall). The faculty and Ph.Ds will proceed onto the north end of the stage first, so please allow plenty of space for them to gather.


At 2:00PM SHARP, "Pomp and Circumstance" will start and you will begin your procession from behind the stage to your seat - faculty first, followed by Ph.D.s, then Honors, and finally B.A.s. Faculty and Ph.D. candidates will be seated on the stage. All B.A.s will go down a ramp to the main seating area, where Suzanne will direct you to your seat. If you are late and miss the procession you can either join the graduates in the last seats or wait in the wings until the awarding of the degrees at the end of the ceremony. The walk from the stage to the seats and back involves a steep ramp with uneven pavement and a step off a ledge and over a grate, so please wear sensible shoes if you can and step carefully.

The Ceremony

There will be a series of speeches and award announcements, and then the conferral of degrees starting with Ph.D.s and then the B.A.s.

Ph.D.s: Arrive in your cap and gown but hold onto your hood. Stay in your seat until your name is called, then move to the center of the stage, meet your thesis advisor and give him or her your hood. Turn to face the audience while your advisor places your hood over your head from behind. Walk over to Professor Schickler to receive your ceremonial scroll — your photo will be taken at this point — and then follow the photographer's instructions about how to proceed back to your chair. Once you return to your seat onstage, attach your hood to the button at the neck of your gown.

B.A.s: After the Ph.D.s are awarded, students in the front row should watch for the signal from Suzanne to rise and approach the stage. Efrat will separate and guide you into two lines on stage, and direct you to one of two announcers. Walk up to your "designated" announcer, hand him the card with your name on it, and cross the stage to meet Professor Schickler. The photographer will take your picture as you accept your scroll from Professor Schickler and later as you leave the stage. Pace yourself and stay at least 15 feet behind the previous student, so the photographer has a clear shot of you. Proceed in the same direction to leave the stage and return to your seat. Finally, Professor Schickler will grant the degrees and invite the graduates to participate in the traditional "moving of the tassle" on their mortar boards from right to left.


Immediately following the ceremony will be a reception at the Campanile Esplanade(external link).

Information for Guests

Enter through the NORTH Gate (external link) of the Greek Theatre. NOTE: All graduating students must enter the Greek Theatre through the (alternate) South Gate.

Gates will open at 1:00PM. The ceremony generally lasts about 2 hours, and the reception 1 hour. There is no comfortable place to sit out of the sun (or rain) so guests are discouraged from arriving too early. The Greek is a large ampitheater with plenty of seating, so getting a seat won't be a problem.

Tickets on Commencement Day will be sold at the North Gate of the Greek Theatre only (the entrance closest to Hearst Avenue). For details about tickets, including how to purchase tickets in advance, please visit the Commencement Tickets section of the website.

UCPD has mandated that there will be bag searches at all Greek Theatre commencements.  Please travel lightly, leaving unncessary backpacks, etcs at home or in car trunks.  In addition, Cal Performances has issued a list of prohibited items.  Please do NOT bring any of these items to the Greek:  large bags or backpacks, alcohol, glass bottles/ aluminum cans, coolers/ ice chests, skateboards/ scooters/ bicycles,  noise-makers/ airhorns, musical instruments, toilet paper, fireworks, any items that can be remotely perceived as weapons, banners/ flags, lawn furniture/ chairs, tripods for cameras, strollers and balloons (must park/ tie off at entrance guests), and animals unless for documented service. 

Restrooms are located at both ends of the ampitheater. A wheelchair-accessible restroom is located inside the north entrance. A registered nurse is on duty backstage near the north entrance. Food and bottled water will be sold by Cal Performances inside the north entrance. Commencement Flowers will be stationed outside the north entrance. Reminder: Only graduating students and faculty are allowed backstage or onstage at any time!