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Proudest Moments and Favorite Memories

The Class of 2024 shares highlights from their time as Tritons

UC San Diego's Geisel Library at sunset
Many UC San Diego students make lifelong memories in and around Geisel Library. Photo by Erik Jepsen/University Communications.

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Years of study, exploring interests, building friendships and making connections are about to culminate in the big graduation day for thousands of UC San Diego students. Family and friends will applaud the Class of 2024 in a series of commencement ceremonies as the graduates close one chapter and begin another.

Before they turn their tassels, UC San Diego Today asked about their favorite memories and proudest moments as Tritons. Read below to see what some of them shared.

A collage of UC San Diego students in college attire
From left to right, Kayla Kamani, Hyeong Cheol Ro and family, and Kyla Perez

“My favorite memories are with my friends I met here at UC San Diego. I’ve met some of my best friends in my classes, and I met my boyfriend during the Fall Y’all festival in 2022. These connections really made my college experience come together, and I wouldn’t have been able to get here without their love and support.”
Kayla Kamani, B.A. in psychology

When I started at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, my baby was an 8-month-old. At that time, she crawled around and spoke poorly. Now that the two years have passed, she is running around and having some conversations with me in English and Korean. And, in August of this year, she will have a new younger brother and become an older sister. Studying here was unfamiliar and difficult while raising a child, but the days with my beloved child and wife were truly precious and happy. Among them, the day I was selected as a model in the UC San Diego bookstore to take pictures with my family was the most unforgettable memory of my life."
Hyeong Cheol Ro, Master of International Affairs

“My favorite memory was being inducted into Tau Sigma for having high marks in my coursework during my first quarter at UC San Diego. This will always be something that I appreciate. It showed me that my hard work paid off and gave me the push I needed to see that it’s possible to be successful in a larger university setting and make a name for yourself as a first-generation college graduate. Without these opportunities, I do not think I would have been able to achieve as much as I did.” 
Kyla Perez, B.S. in psychology

A collage of student photos. First, a girl kneeling on the sand with a baby sea turtle, second, the women's ultimate frisbee team, and third a male posing and smiling
From left to right, Maya Megret, Alexandra Gilden with the Women's Ultimate team (middle row, second from the left) and Mir Muhtadi Faiaz

As a graduating senior, I often reflect on what I have accomplished in the last four years at UC San Diego. My proudest moment IS the last four years here! I feel as though I moved across the country by myself at 18 and completely jumped at every opportunity I could; made so many impactful relationships with friends, TAs and professors; and made a difference in the world. I so fondly look back at my time studying abroad at the University of Queensland for a semester, my summers in Costa Rica and Greece conducting sea turtle conservation and the moments I received acceptance letters to graduate programs. Thanks to UCSD, I can look back at the last four years and be proud of every single thing I accomplished, and I am so excited for the rest of what my future holds!” 
Maya Megret, B.S. in biology

A student with her parents smiling
Natalie Sanchez-Lazo with her parents.

“My proudest moment was presenting my research at a travel conference at UCLA to my parents! They have been so supportive of my journey as the first person to go to college in our family. Being able to present the fruits of their labor to them was such a joy to experience!”
Natalie Sanchez-Lazo, B.S. in clinical psychology and cognitive behavioral neuroscience with minors in sociology and biology

“A group that I am passionate to talk about and proud to say that I am a part of is the women's ultimate frisbee team. I absolutely love the team, how we work together, how much better the game makes us as people, how it's changed my body for the better and so much more. It makes me more confident in my decision making, tests me every time and helps me know that I can succeed in what I try my hardest in. I love the sport for how fun it is and for how much teamwork is involved.” 
Alexandra Gilden, B.A. in communications

“One of my proudest moments at UC San Diego was when I was selected as the winner of the Doming Liu Award that recognizes a first-year student for their achievements, leadership and contributions to the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) community as voted by the first-year class. This meant more to me because my peers thought I was worthy of receiving this award. I am grateful to my classmates and friends, especially those whom I have leaned on for many events and initiatives and who continue to support me and our wonderful GPS community.” 
Mir Muhtadi Faiaz, Master of Public Policy

A collage of photos. First, a student with his rowing team on the water at sunset. Second, a student smiling on a boat in the North Pole. Third, a student smiling in front of flowers
From left to right, Stuart Boynton, Emelia Chamberlain and Lili Follett

“My favorite memories at UC San Diego were made while I was on the men’s varsity rowing team. My highlight would be achieving the program's highest ever finish at the national championship during my final year. My time and training on the team have prepared me to participate in RowZambique this July in which I will join 24+ Olympic, elite and club rowers in an attempt to row 900 km over two bodies of water in Mozambique. This is being done to raise awareness and funds for clean water charities helping people throughout Africa access clean water.”
Stuart Boynton, M.S. in computer engineering

“My proudest moment was signing my name on the wall of the students lounge at Surfside – a Scripps tradition! It felt incredible to join the ranks of such amazing alumni and made me feel like I was truly a part of the university's history.” 
Emelia Chamberlain, Ph.D. in oceanography

“As an undergraduate, I was the general manager of KSDT Radio, UC San Diego's student-run radio station. My favorite memory was sitting on The Hump and painting on vinyl records and tote bags during our Hump Day events. My proudest moment (so far) was graduating from undergrad and being able to walk across the stage with my sibling.”
Lili Follett, B.S./M.S. in biology

A group of students holding a giant check for winning a competition
Richard Collins Billhardt (far right) with his team at the 2024 Demo Day competition hosted by The Basement at UC San Diego.

“My proudest moment was winning the Audience Choice Award at the 2024 Demo Day hosted by The Basement at UC San Diego. Over the last two years, I have been able to launch a startup called MyGrow with the goal of providing everyone and everywhere with affordable, fresh and accessible produce. By creating a product that does not require sunlight, soil or much time, we can allow all individuals to have continuous access to fresh food. With the help of mentors and professors at The Basement and Rady School of Management, I have been able to create an interdisciplinary team that is truly dedicated to solving this real-world, intersectional problem.”
Richard Collins Billhardt, B.S. in joint mathematics-economics and B.S. in business psychology

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