Friday, April 20

Former UCLA basketball player chosen as commencement speaker

On Nov. 10, Ann Meyers Drysdale stood in front of the crowd at Pauley Pavilion as she was honored as part of a Title IX 40th Anniversary event. On June 14, she will once again stand before the crowd at Pauley Pavilion, but for a different honor.

UCLA announced last Tuesday that Meyers Drysdale will be the speaker for the College of Letters and Science’s two commencement ceremonies this spring.

“We are so pleased that Ann could be our inaugural speaker. Her record as a role model, leader, inspirational speaker, outstanding citizen, and extraordinary professional and college athlete makes her the ideal candidate to provide a motivational send-off to our College graduates,” Chancellor Gene Block said in a press release.

Meyers Drysdale, who played in Pauley for four seasons as a member of UCLA’s women’s basketball team from 1974-1978, will make the first speech of the commencement’s return to Pauley.

“I think it’s a tremendous honor, being a part of women’s basketball, to know that Ann Meyers Drysdale is being honored in that way,” said women’s basketball coach Cori Close.

“I just think she is a spectacular ambassador, not just for women’s basketball, not even just for basketball, but for the university as a whole, so I think it was a phenomenal choice.”

While Meyers Drysdale comes from the world of athletics rather than academia, UCLA fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student Reed McCardell said that he thinks Meyers Drysdale will be a good speaker.

“She’s a famous alumnus and a good person to have talk to you … since it’s in Pauley Pavilion, it’ll be cool for her to be back there, it’s going to be good to hear from her there,” McCardell said.

Meyers Drysdale is one of the school’s most decorated athletes, becoming the first woman to earn a full athletic scholarship, the first women’s basketball player to earn four All-American honors, and helping the Bruins win their first women’s basketball national championship.

Her success off the court helped paved the way for an increased role for women in collegiate and professional sports, as indicated by her recognition at the Title IX 40th Anniversary event.

“I think it’s pretty cool that’s she’s a speaker. It’s really good and representative for women,” said fourth-year geography/environmental studies student Alexx Robles.

The two graduation ceremonies will take place at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on June 14.

Contributing reports from Emma Coghlan, Bruin Sports senior staff.

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