Residents giddy about first lady's visit to Univ. of California: Merced

Shanitha Scoggins is on the list of people looking to snag tickets to UC Merced's graduation ceremony, when first lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address. If it doesn't happen, she'll stand in the sun on the side of Lake Road just to listen and catch a glimpse of the excitement.

Josephine Long, an 89-year-old Fresno resident, said UC Merced leaders would hear from her "big mouth" if she isn't absorbing first-hand every word of Obama's oratory. (Long was promised two tickets over the phone just after the speaker was announced.)

But if you want to go and don't have a ticket yet, you'd better hurry.

Information about applying for tickets was posted to UC Merced's Web site last week, though no big announcement inviting the public was made.

The deadline to apply online is midnight.

UC Merced officials are saddled with turning a small graduation ceremony that marks an historic moment in the school's young existance -- the first four-year graduation class -- into a White House affair covered by international media.

They're also trying to manage the interest the event has created throughout the Valley community that has part ownership of the state's 10th and youngest University of California campus.

Officials are trying to fulfill all the community ticket requests for what may be the year's top commencement address on May 16. Depending on the number of requests, it's possible that some people may be turned away.

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