For senior Christopher Ingle, the ultimate capstone event to his UC Merced experience is being selected to speak at commencement. The Merced County native has the unique opportunity to represent the Class of 2020 and infuse this year’s virtual ceremony with a student voice.
Ingle, a double major in English and Global Arts Studies, is a non-traditional college student. The 36-year-old, who is married and has two children, was diagnosed with autism in his late 20s. Although it wasn’t easy, he overcame many obstacles attending Merced College and transferred to UC Merced in 2017.
He applied to five different schools and was accepted to many as a transfer student but chose UC Merced because “it was home.”
“I remember when the announcement came over our middle school’s intercom in 1995 that it was official, we were getting a UC in Merced,” he said. “I was there at the groundbreaking ceremony. I've literally watched this school grow from the ground up well.”
Ingle said his undergraduate experience at UC Merced has been invaluable in his growth.
“It really helped me to become the person that I am to be here,” he said. “This community has been a family to me, and I couldn't have gotten through this without my community.”
After graduation, Ingle plans to accumulate hours as a substitute teacher so he can apply for a teaching credential and ultimately teach high school English and theater.
As for his plans for commencement on May 16, he said he will share the livestream link with his family members and his church, theater and campus supporters to watch at a distance. “I'm going to watch it at home with my kids and probably embarrass myself by how I look or sound.”
Ingle will take the opportunity to congratulate his fellow graduates, share in their accomplishments and look to the future, and he will no doubt make everyone proud.