Seniors at the University of California, Merced, couldn't rely on a wealthy and established network of alumni to reel in a famous commencement speaker. The UC system's newest campus has yet to graduate a full senior class and only has a handful of alumni. But that didn't keep this year's seniors from landing one of the most sought-after speakers of the season—first lady Michelle Obama. She'll speak on May 16.
Since February, the 430-member founding undergraduate class has run a nonstop campaign—with requisite Facebook page—to draw the first lady to the campus. They bombarded her office with letters and reached out to Charles Ogletree, a native of Merced who mentored both Obamas. "Mrs. Obama was touched," said her deputy press secretary.