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The Quad: Bruin graduates face decision to make regarding commencement ceremonies

(Anagha Srivatsav/Daily Bruin)

By Finn Liu

April 12, 2023 3:33 p.m.

After numerous quarters of hard work, senior Bruins prepare themselves for a moment that has been culminating since their first year: graduation. But with UCLA’s plethora of departments, programs and communities, there are also various different types of graduation ceremonies students may choose to attend.

Natalie Zheng, a fourth-year psychology student, said she will attend the ceremony for her major at Pauley Pavilion but is still considering whether or not she will attend the general graduation for the College of Letters and Sciences and graduation-related student celebrations, namely the Asian Pacific Islander Graduation Ceremony.

The commencement for psychology pertains to all majors and minors in the department, including the psychology, psychobiology and cognitive science majors, as well as the cognitive science and applied developmental psychology minors. PhD students will partake in a separate graduation ceremony.

“General pretty much covers everyone … I don’t really want to go to Pauley twice, so if I’m going to go to Pauley, I might as well go for my major,” Zheng said.

Zheng added that another reason why she will not attend the general College of Letters and Sciences graduation is due to the long length of the ceremony and a large number of attendees.

Outside of department graduations and the general ceremony for the College of Letters and Sciences, there are ceremonies tailored towards different communities at UCLA, including the Latinx Graduation Celebration and the Asian Pacific Islander Graduation Ceremony.

However, some Bruins may consider attending certain graduations depending on their location because commencement ceremonies in larger areas, such as Pauley Pavilion, may mean that there are many students participating, extending the length of the ceremony.

“Pauley’s just the really big ones, so I think only the largest departments take those,” Zheng said. “There’s some in Kerckhoff, there’s some in the (Franklin D. Murphy) Sculpture Garden, Lu Valle area and Covel Commons.”

Student attendance at a commencement ceremony is not mandatory and it is ultimately the student’s decision to decide which ceremonies to attend.

Matthew Craig, a fourth-year computer science and economics student, said while he will attend the engineering school graduation, he is uncertain on the economics graduation and will not attend the College of Letters and Sciences graduation.

“What distinguishes them in my mind is mostly how close I feel to the community and the other students that I’m going to be attending the graduation with,“ Craig said. “I feel a lot closer to my peers in the economics department or in the school of engineering overall than I do to the sort of the entire Letters and Sciences school.”

Craig added that he is unsure on his attendance at the economics department graduation as details on the ceremony have yet to be published.

According to an emailed statement from Christine Wei-li Lee, the assistant dean and chief marketing officer at the Samueli School of Engineering, the department housed almost 1600 Bruins in the previous year’s commencement – 1038 undergraduates and 556 graduates.

Randy Lesko, a psychology department undergraduate advisor, said it is important to keep track of major requirements and commencement arrangements to ensure a smooth graduation and commencement process.

“Be sure to meet with both your college and major/minor counselor(s) to ensure that you are meeting your degree requirements,” Lesko said. “We also recommend that students order their commencement tickets no later than one week prior to the ceremony to ensure that the tickets are received in time and that you can distribute tickets to your guests.”

Lesko added that students attending commencement should stay for the full length of the ceremony out of respect for fellow graduating Bruins.

As Zheng prepares for commencement ceremonies in the coming weeks, she said Bruins navigating their undergraduate journey should keep an open mind regarding changes in academic and career pathways.

“Don’t be afraid to keep trying,” Zheng said. “You might change your mind, you might, you know, shift your career plan. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I was in freshman year.”

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