Maeneka Grewal

Q&A with Student Commencement Speaker Maeneka Grewal ’21

Maeneka Grewal graduated in the winter quarter of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. During the past four years at UCLA, she served as a campus tour guide. She was involved in the DevX and Society of Women Engineers student organizations, and was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Grewal will join Microsoft as a full-time program manager this fall.

“Tour guides end every tour with “why we chose UCLA” and those moments where you can tell that another prospective student is ready to call UCLA their home were the best moments ever.”

Q: Why did you choose UCLA Samueli?
When it came to choosing a college, I knew that I wanted to get out of my bubble and meet people from diverse backgrounds while also receiving a top-notch education in computer science. I also knew that college is supposed to be a place to grow— where you feel challenged yet supported by the people around you. While there were other schools that offered great academics, no school offered such an atmosphere of happiness. Students at UCLA genuinely thrive because we are not only surrounded by innovation and passion for knowledge, but because we can also simply enjoy the friendships and experiences of college.

Q: How did being a part of student clubs enhance your UCLA Samueli experience?
Student clubs are honestly the best because they give you the opportunity to get to know your peers in a fun environment. In clubs like DevX, for example, you start out as a group of students eager to learn and build something together. Next thing you know, your teammates became [your] best friends. In the Society for Women Engineers (SWE), we were constantly building off each other’s ideas to figure out more exciting ways to support women in engineering. There is truly no better experience for teamwork, building your network and learning from one another.

Q: What was your favorite class at UCLA, and why?
One of my favorite classes was Computer Science 32 (CS 32), a rite of passage for all computer science students. Professor Carey Nachenberg’s hilarious slides and food-blasting cannons made learning fundamental data structures and algorithms an absolute hoot. Although the projects were challenging, this class reaffirmed my passion for computer science and made me feel even more confident that I could establish myself in this industry. The computer science field is sometimes daunting, but CS 32 and Professor Nachenberg had a way of making the pursuit of knowledge so exhilarating and worthwhile. Because he saw the potential in us, we saw the potential in ourselves.

Q: Outside of classes, did you have another experience that you’re particularly proud of?
I was a campus tour guide for only two years, but it was the most rewarding job and experience I had while at UCLA. There are so many prospective students with such bright futures ahead of them who often do not know which college to choose, and they place their trust in campus tour guides. I was one of those prospective students once and touring UCLA helped me envision the next four years at the campus that would become my home. Tour guides end every tour with “why we chose UCLA” and those moments where you can tell that another prospective student is ready to call UCLA their home were the best moments ever. I am so proud to know that soon, those students will be graduating just like me with immense gratitude and appreciation for the experience that is UCLA and how much it has helped us grow.

Q: Overall, what did you hope to convey to your fellow graduates in your commencement speech?
The idea that life is made up of these constant beautiful moments, whether sad or happy, is what I wanted to convey to my fellow graduates. We are all such hardworking and ambitious students with big goals — that’s what makes us UCLA graduates! But if we live life only for the grand goal-achieving moments, we will miss everything in between. Looking back on my time at UCLA, there are so many moments that seemed so small and insignificant; yet they are the poignant moments that got me here and made me who I am — the internship rejections, the walks to class in the rain, the relief of passing a tough exam. Those moments are life. I hope my fellow graduates can reflect on their time at UCLA as well, and we can all appreciate life in a new way going forward as we work to achieve our goals.