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Class of 2024

UCLA Samueli Commemorates Class of 2024 Bruin Engineers

Jun 17, 2024

UCLA Samueli Newsroom
Dean Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park addressed the graduates.
Dean Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park addressed the graduates.

Nearly 1,800 graduating engineering and computer science students of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science Class of 2024 celebrated their milestone accomplishments in two commencement ceremonies held in Pauley Pavilion over the weekend.

Witnessed by approximately 10,000 family members and guests in attendance, the 1,055 bachelor’s degree candidates, 567 master’s students and 159 doctoral candidates proudly walked across the stage as their names were called on June 15 and 16, respectively. The ceremonies featured American Sign Language interpreters and were livestreamed on the school’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

Mekonnen Gebremichael, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the chair of the school’s Faculty Executive Committee, presided over both ceremonies as faculty marshal of the school’s 60th commencement. While the school was established 79 years ago in 1945, it did not hold its own commencement ceremony until later.

Emily Chang
Chemical engineering student speaker Emily Chang at the undergraduate ceremony

During her welcome remarks at both ceremonies, Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park, the UCLA Samueli Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean, emphasized the wide variety of future careers that lie ahead for the graduates. Many, she said, will soon start industry careers across a broad spectrum of technology fields — or in the education, medicine, public policy, law, business and creative sectors — while others will continue their education in graduate study.

“All of these paths are equally important as the global problems that lie ahead are indeed challenging and require the expertise and bright minds in all fields to find solutions,” Park said in her remarks Saturday. “Your strong fundamentals in engineering and your technical skills, your creativity, and your innovative mind will serve you very well in whatever career you decide to pursue.”

“Whenever I get scared, I’ll think about UCLA, about all of you, how you took me out of my comfort zone and how grateful I was for it,” student speaker Emily Chang said.

Many members of the Class of 2024 started their college careers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, student speaker Emily Chang, who received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, shared how she was inspired by the courage of her fellow Bruins. After graduation, the Ventura County local is moving to France to work for international dairy products manufacturer Lactalis as a cheese engineer.

“My flight is in two days,” Chang said in her speech. “Whenever I get scared, I’ll think about UCLA, about all of you, how you took me out of my comfort zone and how grateful I was for it. How you’ve all taken these past four years of chance and circumstance and made something beautiful out of it.”


The newly minted Class of 2024 Bruin engineers celebrated their graduation from UCLA Samueli.

Alexander “AJ” Johnson
Double Bruin electrical and computer engineer Alexander “AJ” Johnson delivered the graduate student commencement speech.

Retired Walt Disney Imagineer and UCLA alumnus Craig Russell was the distinguished speaker at the undergraduate ceremony. Russell, who graduated in 1980, worked at Disney for more than 40 years and rose to be the company’s chief design and product delivery executive before retiring in February.

Reflecting on his long tenure with Disney and his experiences working on multiple other projects, including the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Russell spoke about the importance of experimenting with different fields and subjects, and ultimately, finding a career path that best fits one’s goals. He also emphasized how teamwork shaped his entire career.

“You’ll find that it’s the people you collaborate with and choose to collaborate with, who, number one, will make the work much more fun and interesting, and number two, will often multiply your own impact on the mission,” Russell said.

“A lot of the mentorship and things I’ve learned from my mentors have served me well every day,” Alexander “AJ” Johnson said.

Double Bruin electrical and computer engineer Alexander “AJ” Johnson delivered the graduate student commencement speech on Sunday. Johnson, who received his doctorate in winter quarter this year and his master’s in 2019, is now a data scientist with JPMorgan Chase & Co. During his speech, he shared the importance of mentorship, detailing his own journey from being a self-doubting student into an inspirational leader. He also urged the graduates to prioritize collaboration over isolation and meaningful progress over rapid development.

“A lot of the mentorship and things I’ve learned from my mentors have served me well every day,” Johnson said. “And so, I want to reach out to you. If you’re able, do the same for others.”


Class of 2024 UCLA Samueli grad students gathered before the ceremony.

Stefano Soatto delivered the UCLA Samueli's 60th commencement speech.
Stefano Soatto delivered UCLA Samueli’s 60th commencement speech.

Amazon Web Services Vice President Stefano Soatto, a UCLA Samueli computer science professor on leave, also spoke at the graduate commencement. He emphasized the importance of surpassing the achievements of previous generations and that the completion of a UCLA education is just the beginning, urging graduates to keep moving forward by embracing different perspectives and a robust intellectual discourse.

“Around you are dreamers and doers, deep thinkers and decisive leaders, tinkerers and visionaries,” he said. “All have had their challenges and all bring unique perspectives … If the university taught you one thing that is to be comfortable with challenges to your own ideas and beliefs.”

The newly minted computer engineering graduate Krisha Minocha and mechanical engineering student Justin Quan, who will obtain his doctoral degree this summer, sang the national anthem at the undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies, respectively.

Anthem singers
Krisha Minocha (left) and Justin Quan (right) sang the national anthem on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The recordings of both ceremonies, as well as a digital copy of the combined program, can be accessed through the school’s commencement website.

Photo credit: GradImages

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