Alumna Lois Capps to be guest speaker at UC Santa Barbara’s Graduate Division Commencement, graduating Ph.D. student Joshua Kuntzman to be Division’s student speaker

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
graduation crowd

The 2017 Graduate Division Commencement Ceremony at UC Santa Barbara, to be held Sunday, June 18 at 4 pm on the Commencement Green, will have a distinct Gevirtz Graduate School of Education flavor. The guest speaker at the event will be Gevirtz School alumna Lois Capps (M.A. ’90), who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 24th congressional district from 1998 to 2017. The student speaker at the ceremony will be Joshua Kuntzman, who will be awarded his Ph.D. from the Department of Education at the ceremony.

Before she earned her second graduate degree in Education from UC Santa Barbara, Capps received a Master’s degree in Religion from Yale Divinity School and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Pacific Lutheran University. She was married for thirty-seven years to Walter Capps, who had degrees from Portland State University, Augustana Seminary and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He was a prominent professor of Religious Studies at UCSB for over thirty years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996.

Capps is committed to helping people improve their daily lives through better schools, quality health care, and a cleaner environment. Before succeeding Walter in Congress, she had successful careers in both nursing and education. Her experience in these two areas deeply informed her eighteen years of work in Congress. Capps was a respected leader in Congress on issues of public health, passing legislation to address the national nursing shortage, detect and prevent domestic violence against women, curb underage drinking, improve mental health services, provide emergency defibrillators to local communities, bring CPR instruction to schools, and provide immediate Medicare coverage to patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Kuntzman focused on Writing Studies while in the Department of Education, where he researched the academic interactions between teachers and students in the writing process, working with his advisor Dr. Charles Bazerman.

He has explained this his commencement speech, entitled “Our World,” is meant to inspire. “I think that people like myself and my fellow graduates need to be reminded regularly—by ourselves and those around us—that we are fortunate to be positioned as leaders in these times: that the world needs our passion, our knowledge-bases, and our good intentions in moving this world toward positive and sustainable directions.”

After graduation, Kuntzman plans to defend his dissertation during the summer and continue working at the Graduate Division where he is currently the Crossroads Program Coordinator.