Kennedy Chosen as Grad Speaker

    The planning committee for this year’s Senior Celebration
    recently completed a six-month search for a speaker, selecting attorney and
    environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lead the first all-campus
    graduation in more than a decade.

    A.S. Biological Sciences Senator Emma Sandoe, co-chair of
    the Senior Celebration Planning Committee, said that Kennedy was an ideal
    choice because of his extensive
    experience working with social issues.

    “Robert Kennedy has an extensive and impressive commitment
    to public service and the environment,” Sandoe said. “We were looking for
    a speaker that could unite the campus under issues that we care about. We
    wanted a person that could inspire graduating students while still being relatable.”

    Kennedy, the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F.
    Kennedy, has served as an assistant district attorney in New
    York City
    and as senior attorney for the Natural
    Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit advocacy group for environmental protection.
    He also founded an organization called the Waterkeeper Alliance, an umbrella
    organization for various groups dedicated to water preservation.

    Sandoe said Kennedy’s price tag — $40,000 plus expenses —
    fell well within the committee’s ideal budget, as its members were considering
    spending up to $75,000 to secure a speaker that would motivate students and
    draw publicity for the event.

    “We wanted this inaugural event to be appealing enough to
    compel students to start an annual tradition to celebrate all UCSD graduating
    seniors,” Sandoe said.

    Other media icons were considered for the slot, but many of
    them fell out of the committee’s price range.

    “In a dream world Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart would not
    cost $200,000 to come to speak for 20 minutes,” Sandoe said.

    Several prominent alumni and San Diego
    residents were also considered before the group decided on Kennedy, she said.

    The June 20 ceremony will be UCSD’s first all-campus
    baccalaureate since the 1990s, which attracted speakers such as former President
    Bill Clinton and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.

    There will be several student musical performances following
    Kennedy’s speech, along with a presentation of inaugural all-campus awards,
    fireworks show and reception that Sandoe described as “a classy Bear

    At this time, the committee is not sure whether guests will
    be allowed to attend, but Sandoe said she is exploring the issue. Students will
    be able to obtain free tickets to the ceremony at the Price Center Box Office.

    The ceremony is part of Senior Week, an array of events and
    activities designed to keep students involved during the week-long break
    between the end of Spring Quarter classes and the college graduations.

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