UCLA’s 2021 commencement celebrates returning to and redefining normal


After more than a year of virtual and hybrid classes that most students experienced remotely, UCLA welcomed the class of 2021 back to campus to celebrate an important, albeit distanced, milestone.

Starting June 10, UCLA’s graduate celebration began bringing more than 9,000 students back to campus over the course of six days to have the iconic graduation experience of crossing a stage in cap and gown while their names are announced and their families cheer. With the returning students came the buoyant communal atmosphere so missed at 2020’s virtual commencements. Graduates came carrying babies or pushing grandparents in wheelchairs; draped in flower garlands and holding flags from countries all over the world; wearing mortarboards — and masks — decorated for the occasion…

…Much as they were shaped by the world, they were also shaped by UCLA, said Chancellor Gene Block. The pandemic hammered home the importance of a well-rounded education, such as science classes and critical reasoning skills to evaluate scientific innovation and reject conspiracy theories and xenophobia.

“Science literacy, information literacy and global literacy — all of them are essential even now, as we continue to fight the pandemic. But they will also be necessary as you go on to build a more equitable society in the face of other crises,” Block said. “If you continue to sharpen these skills, draw on your broader UCLA education, and look inward to the tenacity and creativity and boldness and empathy you’ve developed here, you will have everything it takes to surmount any challenge and to create a more resilient, more just and more beautiful world.”

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