243 Reasons the Class of 2019 Made History. What’s Next?
Chancellor May recognizes Aggie Heroes at Commencement
Blue and gold tassels dangled from graduation caps as a record number of graduates shuffled into the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts Saturday morning. As the center filled to capacity, anticipation built. Soon, each of the 243 students would cross the stage, accept their diploma, and become new alumni.
The culmination of their time at the Graduate School of Management (GSM) had arrived.
“On behalf of the staff and faculty at GSM, let me convey our congratulations and best wishes to the class of 2019. I still remember welcoming you to the GSM family a year or two ago, and have fond memories of your active presence and contributions to the vibrant GSM life every day,” Dean H. Rao Unnava said.
This year’s class—with students from eight different countries—arrived on campus early Saturday morning, waited patiently for their big moment, and then celebrated in unison, tossing their commencement cap high in the air.
For the first time in School history, graduates enjoyed commencement speeches from five students—one from each program. They included Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) graduate Zoelle Cacia, Sacramento Part-Time MBA graduate Jesse Rodriguez, Bay Area Part-Time MBA graduate Ananta Sen, Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) graduate Shini Yang, and Full-Time MBA graduate Trevor Gould, who inspired his fellow graduates to leave a legacy.
“We are just getting started. I want each and every one of you to someday look back on your significant body of work and realize you are not looking at a career—anybody can have a career. I want you to realize you are looking at a legacy. Because legacies, ladies and gentlemen, last forever.”
— Trevor Gould MBA 19
Following an introduction and speech from Dean Unnava, Chancellor Gary May shared stories of a trio of Aggie heroes, recognizing three graduates—Anthony Bulaclac Jr., Sara Howard and Matthew Low—for their unique abilities and outstanding service to the school and community.
SERVICE AND SACRIFICE
An immigrant from the Philippines, Bulaclac Jr. was only eight-years-old when he came to the U.S. As a young man he decided to serve his country, and a mechanical engineering degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point led to more than a decade in the military.
As a member of the U.S. Army, he served two tours in Afghanistan, where he commanded a company of unmanned aerial vehicles, and he returned to school in order to accelerate his career and develop entrepreneurship skills to apply them and improve the technological capabilities of the Army and the U.S. Department of Defense.
This past Memorial Day, Bulaclac Jr. was selected to give the keynote address at UC Davis Memorial Day ceremony that honored Aggie sacrifices. Bulaclac Jr. shared stories about the loss of five of his West Point classmates, four from combat-related injuries, and one from a helicopter mishap during a training exercise. “They were all taken from us way too soon,” he said.
In his time at the GSM, Bulaclac Jr. served as an MBA Ambassador, connecting with prospective UC Davis MBA students to share his experience and answer questions about the program. He was recently awarded the School’s Full-Time MBA Richard C. Dorf Award for Academic Excellence, recognizing his stellar GPA and academic achievement.
As a graduate, he’ll continue to serve in U.S. Army, but he has plans to start his own business upon retirement from the military.
“I’m always interested in actively pursuing opportunities to provide solutions that would help improve society, both (locally) and globally, and GSM has provided me with all of the skill sets I did and did not know I needed—finance, marketing, you name it, GSM has it.”
— Anthony Bulaclac Jr. MBA 19
LEADERSHIP AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Sara Howard—May’s second Aggie Hero—was also recognized at this year’s end-of-the-year awards ceremony. She earned the Robert Smiley Award for Leadership, which honors students who have shown outstanding leadership in activities and enterprises at the GSM.
Howard has been an active student in the Sacramento Part-Time MBA program, participating in the entrepreneurship club, Capital Connections, the GSM Olympics, and demonstrating leadership and initiative in co-founding the GSM Pride Network—a student club connecting and supporting the LBGTQ+ community and allies at the School.
Last year, Howard participated in the Big Bang! Business Competition, taking home second place on a team called Cognivive. The startup helps brain injury patients recover function through virtual reality, video-game-based treatment based on research by Tony Simon at the UC Davis Mind Institute.
Howard has a deeply personal stake in digital therapeutics and the company’s success. Her father suffered a debilitating stroke a few years ago. He is now testing some of the company’s prototypes to help improve the treatments.
As a graduate, Howard plans to utilize her newfound skills and degree as she continues to serve as business development manager for Cognivive.
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
Rounding out his list of Aggie Heroes, May recognized Bay Area MBA graduate Matthew Low, who he described as a super connector.
“He brings people together and tries to point them to the resources they need,” May said. “Matthew is passionate about helping other people achieve their goals and move forward in their lives and careers.”
Low served as a Bay Area MBA Ambassador and a leader on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and has helped to organize several large student events, including UCD All-Stars for three years. Low also directed production for TedXUCDavisSF, bringing inspiring speakers from the GSM community and others to share their expertise and messages. He juggled all of this while completing the Bay Area part-time MBA program and maintaining a full-time professional job.
Low plans to continue driving change at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Risk where he’s a business data analyst.
A DAY OF CELEBRATION
After the ceremony, grads, family, friends, staff and faculty enjoyed a reception in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre of the Mondavi Center. They laughed, cried and hugged, sharing the special moment with family and friends before embarking on their next adventure as UC Davis Graduate School of Management alumni.