2022 UCLA College CommencementSpeech
Graduates, families, friends and guests, Regents of the University of California and our distinguished speaker: Welcome to UCLA, the nation’s #1 public university!
As UCLA’s chancellor, it is my great honor to join you for this celebration. And I have been looking forward to it for a very long time…for today we pay tribute to the incredible, the inimitable, the unshakeable UCLA Class of 2022.
Graduates, this is your day. It is a day to reflect on your monumental achievement, especially in light of all that you have faced and all that you have overcome. It is also a day to look ahead to the many ways in which you will surely shape the future.
But while you are the stars of this show, there are so many others who have helped you get to where you are today. So let’s give another round of applause for the parents and guardians, grandparents and great-grandparents, brothers and sisters, children, mentors, friends, and everyone else who has stood by you with unflagging love and support.
After two years of virtual and hybrid commencement events, it is a joy to be back in Pauley Pavilion for today’s ceremony. A tradition like this one bonds you to generations of UCLA students who have come before. Today’s ceremony is a ritual, not unlike the rituals of talking with friends late into the night on the Hill, doing the 8 clap alongside cheering fans at Bruins games, or stopping by the sculpture garden on a warm spring evening. Commencement is a point of connection you share with UCLA graduates of years past, and one you will share with future generations as well.
Though you have much in common with Bruins of other eras, however, every graduating class’s experience is unique. It is colored by what took place on campus and in the broader world while you were a student here. And what you experienced in your college years was truly distinctive.
During your time at UCLA, you saw a world in the grip of crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, bringing with it pain and fear and upheaval. Many of you felt the whiplash of moving back in with parents, turning kitchen tables into classrooms, taking up new roles as caregivers, grappling with feelings of isolation, and adapting to other transformations in your lives.
These past years were singular in other ways as well. You experienced, and likely voted in, one of the most polarizing presidential elections this nation has ever seen. You saw a shocking and brazen siege on the U.S. Capitol Building during the first week of 2021. You felt the effects of climate disasters — like wildfires and excessive heat here in California, severe flooding in Europe and south Asia, and brushfires in Australia. You experienced the troubling invasion of Ukraine this spring. And, far too many times, you witnessed the deep pain of racial injustices and horrific mass shootings throughout the country.
These experiences have challenged you…and they have shaped you. They have helped you to develop a tremendous ability to adapt to tectonic shifts in your life. They gave you a greater respect for science and truth, and a stronger recognition of the dangers of misinformation. They reinforced a need to fight for this planet’s future. And even as they stirred up anguish, they etched on you compassion and empathy, as well as a commitment to seeking justice and contributing to the greater good.
Members of the Class of 2022, today’s world may look like a harrowing one. But crises are also moments of immense possibility, when the traditional order can be shifted and new thinking applied to old problems. Shaped by your experiences and your sense of what is right and good — and with your UCLA degree in tow — you are incredibly well positioned to enact this change. You will be the ones to sculpt a more beautiful and more just future for the planet.
As you prepare to leave UCLA, I hope you will take with you the ties that bind you to this institution and its community. You are the newest members of the UCLA Alumni Association, and through that network you will find like-minded peers, free classes to continue your education and all kinds of resources to help you throughout your lives.
I also encourage you to reflect on the powerful forces that have shaped you these past few years. Consider what they mean for who you have become — and for where you will go from here.
Graduates, let me once again offer you my deepest gratitude and my best wishes. I hope the education you have received here will serve you well — and that you will use it not just to benefit yourselves, but to benefit all of society.
Congratulations to the UCLA Class of 2022 — I wish you much success and the very best of luck. And with, that I offer one last GO BRUINS!