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Slain Students Remembered as UCSB’s Bren School Celebrates Commencement

Santa Barbara campus will host six more graduation ceremonies over the weekend

At some point during the commencement ceremony Friday morning, the 1,000th Bren School graduate crossed the stage to receive a diploma — a milestone in the school's 20-year history.

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management commencement was the second of eight graduation ceremonies taking place this week as nearly 6,000 students graduate from UCSB at the close of this academic year.

Seventy-nine Bren School graduates gathered in their caps and gowns to celebrate their accomplishments. Five students received their doctorate of environmental science and management, and 74 students received their master's degree of environmental science and management, many of whom had further specialties such as water resources management and conservation planning.

Friends and family gathered in the school's courtyard, and Bren School Dean Steven Gaines paid remembrance to the six UCSB students who were killed last month.

A banner that read "Strength, Hope and Community" stretched above the courtyard, and Gaines said that "what happened on May 23 has deeply affected all of us."

The musical group Brengrass — musicians who are also Bren School students — played "America the Beautiful" as the crowd was encouraged to reflect.

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang also spoke to graduates and their families during the ceremony, saying that they all couldn't help but think of the six classmates "who are no longer with us," and called them "all outstanding students."

Bren graduation
A Bren School graduate smiles at supporters during Friday's commencement ceremony. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

He said the school has established six scholarship funds in their names, and all of the students were awarded posthumous degrees.

Commencement speaker Ashley Conrad-Sayda, an alumna of UCSB, told graduates to use their classmates as resources as they move out into the world.

Conrad-Sayda graduated with her master's degree of environmental science and management in 2008 and is now the deputy secretary for climate policy at the California Environmental Protection Agency.

"I challenge all of you at some point to leave the choir," she said, encouraging Bren School grads to leave the cocoon of people that think like them and blaze new trails in places and policy areas that might not be as open to environmentally-sound ideas.

For a full schedule of UCSB's commencement ceremonies this weekend, click here

The university will be providing a free live video stream of all the ceremonies as well, which can be seen by clicking here

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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