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UC Merced celebrates commencement
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The University of California, Merced’s largest graduating class in the school’s history celebrated commencement May 12, with degree candidates marching before an estimated crowd of 7,700.

The 776-member graduating class was 81 percent larger than last year’s class of 428. The 2012 class represents about one-third of the total UC Merced graduate count; the total number of UC Merced degree holders is just over 2,000.

Though the campus is still young, new UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland touted the already-respected education UC Merced provides.

“The graduation class of 2012 will leave UC Merced as the beneficiaries of an education from one of the most highly regarded universities in the world — the great University of California, with its 10 distinctive campuses, both young and old,” Leland said. “The degrees that we will confer tonight were earned through long hours of hard work, determination and persistence. You should be proud — and you clearly are — of your accomplishments.”

The commencement ceremony was keynoted by former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who urged graduates to consider a future of public service.