USD Holds Graduation Ceremonies over Memorial Day Weekend

Grad Speakers, including CBS “Big Bang Theory” Star Jim Parsons, Are All USD Alumni
Three Children from One USD Family to Graduate
Bulgarian Scholarship Recipient Is USD Valedictorian
Grad Who Delivered Papers Each Morning & Worked Full-time to Attend Law School
Twenty-Four USD Grads to Join Teach for America & Peace Corps
Ten New Navy and Marine Officers to Receive Degrees

Some 2,200 new University of San Diego graduates in law, business, nursing, education and other fields will receive their degrees in ceremonies this month. The School of Law will graduate 400 students on May 16. Some 1,800 students will graduate in three other ceremonies over the Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and 24.

Hundreds of the graduates are San Diego residents whose family and friends will join them for the celebration. Many are the first in their family to earn a college degree. In honor of USD’s 60th anniversary year, all four graduation speakers, including CBS sitcom star Jim Parsons, are USD alumni.

A full schedule and ideas for graduation features and interviews follows. Media parking is available in the parking lot next to the Jenny Craig Pavilion where all the ceremonies will take place.

USD Graduate Commencement
(College of Arts and Sciences, Schools of Business Administration, Education, Nursing, and Peace Studies) 
Saturday, May 23
1 p.m., Jenny Craig Pavilion
600 master’s and doctoral degrees

Speaker: Kevin Freiberg is the co-author of “Boom! 7 Choices for Blowing the Doors Off Business as Usual” and other best-sellers on leadership and business. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from USD in 1987.

Possible graduate interviews: Not one, not two but all three children from one USD family will graduate over the weekend. Shelley and Matt Callahan will each receive an MBA degree while younger brother Patrick will graduate Sunday with a degree in political science. Their mother, Diane Callahan, a USD employee, earned her master’s degree in nonprofit leadership from USD two years ago. She will present each of them with their diploma.

Rita Callahan, no relation to the Callahan family above, will receive her doctorate in nursing and has done innovative research on breast cancer. She is one of eight children and the only family member to graduate from college. This will be the first time her mother from Texas and several siblings have been able to attend her graduation.

USD College of Arts & Sciences Graduation
Sunday, May 24
9 a.m. at the Jenny Craig Pavilion
675 bachelor’s degrees

Speaker: Jim Parsons is one of Hollywood’s breakout stars from the past few years. He plays a socially challenged physicist on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” and is known for scene-stealing roles in several independent films including “Garden State” and “The Great New Wonderful.” Parsons earned his master’s degree in fine arts from USD in 2001.

Possible graduate interviews: Valedictorian Boyan Kelchev has a 4.0 grade point average and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science with minors in Spanish and mathematics.

Boyan had never visited the United States from his native Bulgaria until he attended USD on a scholarship funded by San Diego attorney Gerard Smolin in honor of his late wife, Vessela Zaykova-Smolin. As a child growing up in Bulgaria in the 1950s, she dreamed of becoming educated in the United States. She was able to realize her dream and helped several other relatives become educated in the United States as well. After a successful career as an attorney representing Leap Wireless and several other local technology companies she passed away in 2003.

Boyan is very grateful for the opportunity he received and worked with Mr. Smolin on selecting the second scholarship recipient, Gergana Droumeva, who will begin her studies at USD this fall.

Rosibel M. Lopez rose at 2:30 a.m. to deliver newspapers before school each day. She also worked full-time in the USD president’s office and managed to take a full load of courses. She is graduating with a political science degree and a minor in economics and will attend law school at USD next fall.

Brenda Star De La Cruz is the second person in her family to graduate from college, following her twin who graduated last year from USD. Brenda took part in a USD program offering summer research opportunities in science for students who are often the first in their families to attend college. She earned her degree in biochemistry with a biology minor and has been offered a position at a local firm, Pharmatek.

Summer Buckley, who has earned a degree in sociology with a gender studies minor, has accepted a position with the Enough Project in Washington, D.C. to help end genocide and crimes against humanity. She will be working with Clinton Administration human rights advisor John Prendergast. Summer met Prendergast at USD where he serves as a peace scholar at USD’s Joan. B. Kroc School of Peace.

At least 24 other USD students have been accepted into the Peace Corps or Teach for America. Ten new Navy and Marine officers also will receive degrees.

USD School of Business Administration, Engineering and Diversified Liberal Arts Graduation
Sunday, May 24
2 p.m. at the Jenny Craig Pavilion
550 bachelor’s degrees

Speaker: Liam E. McGee is president of Global Consumer and Small Business Banking for Bank of America. He earned his bachelor’s degree from USD in 1976 and recently served as chairman of both the USD Board of Trustees and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

Possible graduate interviews: Valedictorian Molly Newman earned a 4.0 grade point average with a degree in accounting. After a trip to Australia she will begin work in Denver at Deloitte LLP.

Renee Bishop completed the honors program at USD with a degree in business administration. She has been selected for the Teach for America program and will begin teaching secondary mathematics this fall in Denver.

Hiermona Tesfamicael, whose parents emigrated from Eritrea, is the first in her family to graduate from a four-year university and did it in just three years. A double major in finance and business administration with an accounting minor, she plans to get a master’s in accounting and also help her parents start a business to help support family members still in Eritrea.

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls some 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The 2007 inauguration of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies brings the University’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Leadership and Education Sciences, Law and Nursing and Health Sciences.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.