On Saturday, May 18, friends and family gathered at the Campanile Esplanade to celebrate this year’s graduates of the UC Berkeley School of Information. The class of 2013 included 39 master’s degrees and three doctoral degrees.
Dean AnnaLee Saxenian welcomed the audience and introduced the commencement speaker DJ Patil, data scientist in residence at Greylock Partners.
Patil reminded the graduating students of how much of an impact they can have on others around them, drawing on chaos theory, his own area of expertise. “A central component of chaos theory is that that small changes can lead to a big impact,” he observed. “We can’t make any progress throughout our lives unless someone is willing to take a chance on us.” His speech, entitled “Be Mr. Knapp,” charged the graduates to “actively seek out those you can take a risk on.”
Gilbert Hernandez spoke on behalf of the graduating MIMS students. He started by poking fun at previous graduation speakers’ preoccupation with the question, “What is the I School?” He encouraged his follow students to “take a snapshot of where you are today” — and took his own advice to heart by snapping a photgraph from the podium and posting it to Twitter.
“Remember your experiences here at the School of Information,” Gilbert urged, “because to me, the real amazing thing is being able to interact, learn, collaborate, and laugh together with all of you these past two years.”
On behalf of the Ph.D. graduates, Elisa Oreglia reminisced about their long painful years with “the dark cloud of their dissertation still hovering” — but noticed how quickly those memories turn rosy once the dissertation is completed and filed. She also provided her own answer to the question, “What is an I School?”: “Nobody knows, nobody really cares, and it doesn’t really matter. Just do something you think is worthwhile and interesting, and work out what to call it later.”
The commencement ceremony presented an opportunity to honor both faculty and student achievements. On behalf of the Information Management Student Association, first-year students Isha Dandavate and Seema Puthyapurayil presented two awards. The I School Distinguished Teaching Award was shared by associate professor Coye Cheshire, a sociologist specializing in trust and cooperation in computer-mediated relationships, and lecturer Jim Blomo, an engineer in charge of data mining at Yelp who teaches I School courses on data mining and web architecture. Student Affairs Coordinator Mariel Honigman received the Distinguished Mentor Award.
Dean Saxenian presented the 2013 Dr. James R. Chen Awards for outstanding master’s final projects to the projects HouseCall, Mapestry, and Inpica. Following the ceremony, graduates, friends, and family enjoyed a festive reception on the South Hall lawn.