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2018 Commencement Ceremony

UC Santa Barbara Sociology Professor Victor Rios will be the GSE’s 2018 Commencement speaker.

Rios’s research explores the role of social control and education in determining the well-being of young people living in urban marginality; tracks the social consequences of the punitive state and punitive social control-across institutional settings; and examines young people’s resilience and responses to social marginalization. He uses insight from his research to promote equitable policies and develop programs to improve the lives of marginalized youths.

Rios is the subject of the 2018 documentary, "The Pushouts," which looks at his life as the son of a single, Mexican immigrant mother, growing up in poverty in Oakland, Calif. By age 13, Rios had joined a gang, and subsequently turned to crime, including stealing cars, selling drugs, and fighting rival gang members. He spent some time in juvenile hall, and witnessed the shooting death of two important people in his life: his best friend “Smiley,” and also his uncle.

He credits his return to school and eventual college trajectory in part to Berkeley High School teacher, Flora Russ; and an Oakland police officer who helped prevent him from being associated with a criminal case that had potentially serious charges. Rios eventually earned his PhD in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Berkeley.

He has published several books, including "Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys" (NYU Press, 2011), which analyzes how juvenile crime policies and criminalization affect the everyday lives of urban youth; and "Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth" (University of Chicago Press, 2017) in which Rios finds the traditional good kid/bad kid, street kid/decent kid dichotomy is much too simplistic, arguing instead that authorities and institutions help create these identities – and that they can play an instrumental role in providing young people with the resources for shifting between roles.

His papers have appeared in scholarly journals such as The Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences; The Annual Review of Sociology; Latino Studies; and Critical Criminology.

His honors include the 2017 Public Understanding of Sociology Award by the American Sociological Association; 40 Under 40 Award in 2017 from California State University, East Bay, which honors outstanding young alumni; and the 2015 Coramae Richey Mann Research Award from the American Society of Criminology, Division on People of Color and Crime.

Learn more about Rios by clicking on the links below: 


The ceremony is open to graduates of the Graduate School of Education and their ticketed guests. Each guest must have a ticket. Tickets are $12, and children 5 years old and younger are free. 

Tickets are available through Cal Performances. There are three ways to purchase advanced tickets: 

  • online at
  • by phone at (510) 642-9988; or
  • in person at the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall (Tues.-Fri., Noon-5:30 p.m.; and Sat.-Sun., 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.)

Guests may also purchase tickets on May 18 at the door until 3 p.m. Ticket sales at the door will end at 3 p.m.

For regalia, we recommend one of these vendors:

The following are the hood colors you must use. Do not accept another color!

  • MA = White
  • PhD = Royal Blue
  • EdD = Powder Blue

For additional information, contact the Commencement Coordinator at (510) 642-0820.