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Future Shines Bright for the Class of 2024

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As a stunning fireworks display lit up the night sky over RIMAC Field, visible emotions of pride, elation and awe appeared on the illuminated faces of the thousands of Class of 2024 graduates who stood below, necks craned, soaking in every single moment of this milestone celebration.  

June 15 marked an All Campus Commencement of “firsts” for UC San Diego: the first major commencement ceremony held at night, and the first time the university selected not one, but eight outstanding student speakers, each of whom delivered words of inspiration to their fellow graduates via video.

Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla shared uplifting opening remarks, emphasizing the remarkable resilience demonstrated by this year’s graduates amid the “seismic events”—a global pandemic, devastating wars, struggles for civil rights, the impacts of climate change and more—that have defined their most formative years.

“Graduates, you have risen to meet every challenge,” Khosla said as he addressed the crowd. “Now, as you move forward in your lives and careers, keep building that capacity to bounce back, to be flexible, to adapt and to make the best of each situation. To learn continuously, and sometimes pivot and start anew.”

Climate advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivered this year’s keynote address, which elicited a standing ovation from the crowd. Speaking to the tremendous contributions UC San Diego has made to humanity’s chances for success in resolving the climate crisis, Gore called on the university’s newly minted graduates to employ their talents and skills to help solve the climate crisis in whatever walk of life they choose to pursue.

Students in cap and gowns cheer at graduation ceremony.
Student speakers Keanu Sina Nazemi, far left, and Qui-Shawn Tran, center, celebrate alongside their fellow graduates.
Graduation cap
Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla takes photo with student
Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla poses for a selfie with a member of the Class of 2024.
Students celebrating their graduation

“In this moment, we represent the brightest thinkers, innovators and dreamers UC San Diego has ever produced.” 

- Keanu Sina Nazemi '24, Student Speaker

With messages that touched on themes ranging from navigating their first year of college in an online setting to finding common ground with one another amid the current conflicts and crises in the world, this year’s eight student speakers shared their insights in an impactful video compilation. This new approach allowed Kole Gregory Kistler, Mineh Balushian Haftevani, Adamari Martinez, Qui-Shawn Tran, Keanu Sina Nazemi, Jiayi Liang, Onyekachi Samuel Ezeokeke and Bindu Priyanka Achalla to reflect on their own personal stories and acknowledge the collective journey of the Class of 2024. Many of this year's graduates missed out on a traditional high school graduation experience due to the pandemic.

Al Gore at podium
Climate advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore delivers the keynote address.

“I don’t know of any university community anywhere in the world that has made greater contributions to climate science and to the awareness necessary to solve the climate crisis than UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.”

- Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore

Al Gore speaking on stage, with guests in view.
Al Gore speaking on stage, with guests in view.
Student in cap smiles while another graduate takes picture with phone
Student speaker Onyekachi Samuel Ezeokeke, center, poses as a fellow graduate takes his photo.

"The past four years have been memorable, filled with new experiences and new friends. I'm glad to be able to end it all on a good note."

- Onyekachi Samuel Ezeokeke '24, Student Speaker

Girl in cap and gown with arms in air
Crowd cheering with their hands in air
Crowd cheering during the fireworks show.
Firework display

"The ceremony was an amazing experience. I didn't expect the fireworks at all! It felt very rewarding—like I am coming into the world again, fresh and ready to go."

- Ruslan Bodelan '24

Family stands around their graduate.

After the firework show, proud family members and friends reunited with their new graduates, celebrating not just the culmination of academic achievements but also the shared journey made possible through the strength of community.

Ian Lutz, who received his degree in chemical engineering, was accompanied by his family, who shook pom-poms in the air as they cheered his successes. They beamed with pride, describing their excitement level as “1,000.”

"I'm continuing here for another year at UC San Diego to get my master's degree in chemical engineering," said Lutz, expressing his gratitude for his favorite professors who mentored him and helped him reach this milestone.

Chloe Riveros, who received her degree in clinical psychology, was lifted into the air by her big brothers, who shared in the excitement of her graduation. The oldest sibling in her family and the first to graduate from college, Riveros was joined in celebration by her mother, father, grandmother, aunt and boyfriend.

“It feels awesome, and I'm just ready for the next chapter of my life,” said Riveros, who plans to move abroad to Mexico to complete clinical work. 

Chloe Riveros held up by two brothers
Chloe Riveros is held in the air by her two brothers.

"Coming out of the pandemic with no high school graduation, this is a big win—for us and for her."

- Stephanie Riveros, mother of Chloe Riveros '24

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