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UCLA opens centennial celebration with Alumni Day festivities

Former and present students gathered in Royce Quad on Saturday for a light show that officially kicked off UCLA’s Centennial Celebration. The show was the final event of Alumni Day, which included public lectures, tours and talks. (MacKenzie Coffman/Assistant Photo editor)

By Abby Thomas and Wendy Li

May 20, 2019 12:01 a.m.

This post was updated May 20 at 12:17 p.m.

Students and alumni gathered in Royce Quad on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of UCLA’s founding.

The university held performances at Fowler Museum, a TEDxUCLA event, public lectures by faculty and alumni, and a talk between Chancellor Gene Block and former UCLA chancellors, among many other events throughout the day to celebrate UCLA Alumni Day.

At the end of the day, the lights of Royce Quad were dimmed and a video celebrating UCLA’s achievements over the past century was projected onto Royce Hall to officially launch UCLA’s Centennial Celebration. The name of the show was “Lighting the Way.”

UCLA said in a press release it was the largest Alumni Day in the history of the school.

The celebration is part of UCLA’s Centennial Campaign to raise money for the university’s endowment and scholarships, as well as for four initiatives which it intends to accomplish by the end of fall.

The initiatives involve increasing access in the UCLA library system through digitization, featuring UCLA’s historical archives, showcasing UCLA’s social justice contributions and studying inequality in Los Angeles.

Several alumni said the event helped them reconnect with the school. Many brought their families with them to engage in the festivities.

Clement Tagle III, finance director of the UCLA Pilipino Alumni Association, said he attended a performance at the Fowler Museum, a lecture by the chairman of the upcoming 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles and a workshop about leadership positions in the entertainment industry. He said he felt a strong sense of camaraderie with fellow alumni on his trip to UCLA for Alumni Day.

“I’m certainly privileged and proud to be a part of the UCLA family,” Tagle said. “I feel the legacy running through me, especially as an active member of the UCLA Alumni Association.”

Students and alumni said they hope the next century will bring more equity and positive change through UCLA.

Alumna Victoria Kifle said the light show made her proud to be a part of the university’s legacy.

“I’ve never been more inspired, even when I was a student,” Kifle said. “To be able to sit there and witness the things that the university considers important was amazing.”

Soleil Delgadillo, president of the UCLA Latino Alumni Association, said she thought the theme of the show and the centennial were in line with her goals to aid current students as an active alumna.

“I like how they phrase it in the video, ‘How are you going to light the way?’” Delgadillo said. “As alumni, it’s important for us to make sure that the next generation has a pathway to success and does better to create a better world.”

Michael Rosenkrantz, a third-year English and history student, said he hopes to see the UCLA administration promote more diversity on campus, hire more female department heads and provide more support for transfer students as the university moves forward.

Alumnus Lincoln Ellis said he likes UCLA’s four centennial initiatives because he thinks they will make UCLA’s educational resources more available to the Los Angeles community, which he thinks is central to its role as a public institution.

He also said he hopes UCLA will focus on reducing class sizes in order to increase its quality of education.

Alumna Melissa Revuelta said she values how UCLA provides opportunities to students typically underrepresented in universities. She said she hopes to see UCLA offer even more in the next 100 years.

Revuelta brought her third grade son to campus for the launch and said she became teary-eyed when she arrived back in Royce Quad.

“I had my son close his eyes and we walked up Janss Steps, and I said, ‘You’re going to have a moment, just like Mommy did when she was here,’” she said. “I’m here today because UCLA for me is one of the proudest things I’ve ever accomplished.”

The Centennial Celebration will continue with an event Wednesday at Grand Park for the official eve of the 100-year anniversary.

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