2023 Letters & Science Commencement Moments

May 25, 2023

Congratulations Class of 2023!

The campuswide spring ceremony took place on May 13, 2023, at the California Memorial Stadium. UC Berkeley alumnus and co-founder of Apple Inc. Steve Wozniak gave this year's keynote address.

Across the College of Letters & Science, many departments also held smaller, more personal graduations. Families and friends were able to attend in person or watch online, as many ceremonies were also livestreamed. The L&S community welcomed keynote speakers from all over to address its newest graduates, and many shared thoughtful words of wisdom along with congratulations:

  • "I see you, and I know how good it is to be seen...Tell your story, and be mindful of which stories you tell yourself." - Ericka Huggins, educator, former Black Panther Party member, human rights activist (Black Graduation hosted by African American Studies)
  • "Stay aware of everything going on so you can be opportunistic when interesting challenges present themselves." - Gunnar Carlsson, mathematics professor, Stanford University (Mathematics)
  • "You are the future of a profession that has a profound effect on how we understand and shape our world...the type of data you seek, the way you formulate questions, and the shades of meaning you tease out from the results - these are drawn from your unique history, lived experience and perspective." - Lisa Cook, Member of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors (Economics)
  • "Always ask yourself, 'Should you be solving this puzzle? Who will the solution benefit, and who might it harm? Is it a puzzle that the world needs solved?' Think about what really matters to you and the impact that you want to have on the world." - Natalie Wolchover, senior editor at Quanta Magazine and winner of 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting (Physics)
  • "Act intentionally and in community...when you are sitting at the table, take a look around and see who is absent, and think about what you can do to bring them along." Yana Garcia, California Secretary for Environmental Protection (Chicanx/Latinx Graduation hosted by Chicano/a & Latino/a Studies program)
  • Alumnus, former director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and board member H. Michael Williams spoke to graduates at the Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Studies ceremony and quoted writer Joan Didion: "Lost souls will not find themselves in those eucalyptus groves of academia, for Berkeley is a great place only for students capable of self-definition. It's a place of great riches but gives them up only to people of great expectations."

Congratulations to the Class of 2023! Enjoy highlights from L&S department ceremonies below.

Always ask yourself, 'Should you be solving this puzzle? Who will the solution benefit, and who might it harm? Is it a puzzle that the world needs solved?' Think about what really matters to you and the impact that you want to have on the world.
Natalie Wolchover, Keynote Speaker at Physics Department Graduation

Theater, Dance & Performance Studies 

Keynote speaker: Christoper Chen

Christopher Chen addresses TDPS graduates from the podium

The TDPS commencement ceremony was held on May 15 at the Zellerbach Playhouse. Christopher Chen, a San-Francisco-based playwright, spoke to TDPS graduates. Chen combines naturalism and the absurd within shifting kaleidoscopic structures through his plays including CaughtThe Headlands, and Passage. Chen holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in playwriting from San Francisco State University.


Keynote speaker: Don Tamaki, Senior Counsel at Minami Tamaki LLP

The Department of Geography's commencement ceremony took place on May 15 in Pauley Ballroom. Jovan Scott Lewis, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography opened the ceremony, welcoming geography graduates and their friends and family. Lewis, author of Violent Utopia and Scammer's Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica, has recently become part of the California taskforce working towards reparations for African Americans. His program note reads: "Today we celebrate the hard work, dedication, and achievements of our remarkable graduates. It is a joy to witness your growth and success, and we are proud to honor you on this special day."


The Department of Music's commencement ceremony took place on May 14 at Hertz Hall. The program featured moving musical performances, in addition to the guest speakers.

Four people pose with string instruments at music graduation

Music department's commencement featuring speaker and students


Keynote speaker: Lisa D. Cook 

Lisa D. Cook addresses economics graduates at commencement

The Economics commencement ceremony took place on May 15 at the Greek Theatre. Lisa D. Cook, member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, addressed graduates with an inspiring keynote speech.

Cook is the first African American woman and the first woman of color to sit on the Board. Cook received her Ph.D. in economics from Berkeley.


Keynote speaker: Natalie Wolchover

Natalie Wolchover addresses graduates from the podium

The Physics commencement was held at Zellerbach Hall on May 14. Natalie Wolchover, a former Berkeley Physics PhD student and a senior writer and editor for Quanta Magazine, addressed graduates as the keynote speaker. In 2022, Wolchover won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

Wolchover's graduation address is featured in a Berkeley Talks podcast: "Knowledge of physics is a superpower."

Department of Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures

Graduation Ceremony 2023, Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures