UCSB will be graduating a total of 5,958 students at this year’s commencement ceremonies, which will span from the end of this week until Sunday, June 17.
The ceremonies will be divided by college, level of study and field of study, with faculty and guest speakers present at each. The first event will be held this Sunday, June 10 at 11 a.m. for the College of Creative Studies at Campbell Hall.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang said he is confident that the degrees awarded this week will provide a solid foundation for graduates’ future endeavors.
“One of the happiest and proudest moments in the life of our campus community is when we come together to say ‘congratulations’ to our graduating students. We recognize the time our students have invested, the sacrifices they have made and the energy they have devoted to mastering their studies, culminating with graduation from one of the most academically rigorous universities in the country,” Yang said. “With this strong foundation, our graduates are well prepared to meet the responsibilities of their chosen careers and to pursue their life goals.”
UCSB Alumni Association Associate Director John Lofthus, who graduated from UCSB in 2000, said the Gaucho college experience provides a more comprehensive preparation for the real world than other colleges might, serving graduates well later in life.
“Here, [the alumni] got not just an education but a full social experience where they interacted with many different, interesting people,” Lofthus said. “Our alumni are not just academics and scholars; they are versed in a wide range of social experiences and expertise and carry exceptional talent.”
Fourth-year biology major Sheila Ganjian, who will give a speech at her ceremony, said the community and extracurricular activities she took part in were the highlights of her undergraduate years.
“I really liked that I was able to get involved with so many different activities, how I was able to meet so many people and how friendly they were,” Ganjian said. “I was an organic chemistry tutor for CLAS and a patient advocate at student health, did undergraduate research and was the president of Chabad, which was the main center for Jewish life on campus.”
A.S. President Harrison Weber, who was awarded the campus’s highest student honor, the Thomas Moore Storke Award for Excellence, said UCSB boasts a truly unique learning environment.
“The unbelievable sense of balance is what makes UCSB what it is,” Weber said. “The fact that you can pull an all-nighter and be challenged and then go down DP and the beach and get a sense of calm come over you is unlike any other.”
Weber said he is extremely grateful for his time in Santa Barbara, which led him to success in several fields.
“I felt every emotion known to man for the past few weeks — just a tremendous sense of gratitude for everything, especially,” Weber said. “I feel grateful for academic and civic engagement opportunities, graduate students who were mentors to me and a hell of a lot of fun I had.”
Lofthus said graduating seniors should remember to keep an open mind in life, especially with the job market in its current state.
“My biggest word of advice for the graduating students would be to stay flexible in their lives, because as far as career situations go, it’s not going to be easy, especially nowadays,” Lofthus said. “But with the education they got from UCSB, they definitely have an edge over many other students in the country.”
According to Lofthus, the campus has grown significantly since matriculating its first class in 1962.
“The class of ’62, which was the first graduating class ever in UCSB, had only about 450 graduates in total that year,” Lofthus said. “This year, we’re graduating almost 6,000 students in total. UCSB as a student community has really come a long way since then. And along the student community, the school has expanded in talent and size.”
Fourth-year communication and theater major Janet O’Neill, who is also a student speaker, said she most appreciated the tight student community at UCSB.
“Compared to some other universities I’ve checked out, I loved how personable UCSB was,” O’Neill said. “It was amazing just how close the school was to the student community, and being able to meet and know people through other people living in a small community.”
According to O’Neill, returning undergraduates should take advantage of the academic resources available to them on campus.
“For the students that will be here next year, my personal word of advice is: Talk to your professors. You are paying a lot for these classes, and your professors are here because they’re willing to help you. Just go talk to your professors after class, through email, during office hours, and then you can stand out of hundreds of other people,” O’Neillsaid. “The only thing you’re risking is really just failure of not trying.”
Lofthus said he encourages Gauchos to participate in student and community life outside of class.
“Incoming students should understand that these will be the most incredible four to five years of their lives,” Lofthus said. “You will learn a lot, coming to one of the top universities in the world where thousands of other students wanted to come but couldn’t. You should be really proud of yourselves, because you are joining a family of alumni with more than 180,000 members and becoming something really more than one person.”
Yang said he hopes that the graduates will continue their efforts in education and always remember the lessons they learned at UCSB.
“My advice to our graduates is, please remember that this is not an end to your education, but the beginning of a lifetime of learning and growing,” Yang said. “We hope you will come back often to visit your alma mater, to share your success stories with us, and to support us in becoming an even better institution. We are excited about the bright future that awaits you, and we know you are ready to make the most of it.”