Student speakers included Qudsia Bekeran, an Afghan refugee who has earned a bachelor's degree in political science. Bekeran, who became a U.S. citizen last summer, spoke to her fellow College of Letters and Science graduates.
"What they say about this country is right: when you have ambition and desire and you work hard, your dreams really can come true," Bekeran says. "Opportunities are available for anyone - no matter your religion, where you were born, where you came from or whether you speak with an accent." Bekeran, who will be returning to Afghanistan to work for women's rights, plans to speak about the value of "education as a weapon against ignorance, injustice and violence."
UCLA presented about 9,800 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees this year. Thirteen separate commencement ceremonies, most of them scheduled for the weekend of June 14-16, marked the occasion. The largest ceremony, the College of Letters and Science commencement, involved about 2,000 students.
Dov Seidman, UCLA alumnus and founder of LRN, The Legal Knowledge Co., spoke to the graduates of the College of Letters and Science. Siedman's company provides legal services to nearly 200 of the Fortune 500 companies.
Martha Coolidge, president of the Directors Guild of America, addressed about 250 graduates of the School of Theater, Film and Television. She has directed such films as "Rambling Rose" and "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge."
California State Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson addressed 191 graduates of the School of Public Policy and Social Research. Wesson represents local communities including Culver City, Westwood, and portions of Los Angeles.
Paul Steiger, managing editor and a vice president of The Wall Street Journal, spoke to 465 graduates at The Anderson School. A journalist since 1966, Steiger has won numerous journalism awards and is a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board.
UCLA pharmacologist Louis Ignarro addressed 146 graduates of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the Hippocratic Oath ceremony. He will also speak at the UCLA Ph.D. hooding ceremony. Ignarro shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in medicine for identifying nitric oxide as a unique signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.
Kathleen Dracup, dean of the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, spoke at the UCLA School of Nursing ceremony. Maestro and pianist Jon Robertson will address 367 graduates at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture ceremony. Robertson is a music professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Music.
Leonard Kleinrock, a UCLA computer science professor, spoke to about 800 graduates of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. As a graduate student at MIT, Kleinrock created the basic principles of packet switching, the technology underpinning the Internet. His host computer at UCLA became the first node of the Internet in September 1969.
Helene Gayle, director of the HIV/AIDS and TB Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, addressed graduates of the School of Public Health.
Lawrence Tabak, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for the National Institutes of Health, spoke at the June 2 School of Dentistry ceremony. Warren Christopher, secretary of state in President Clinton's administration, spoke May 12 to School of Law graduates.