Columnist Gustavo Arellano of 'Ask a Mexican!' Fame to Keynote UCLA Commencement June 11
Arellano, who holds a UCLA master's degree in Latin American Studies, has won awards for his observations on Orange County in the syndicated column, a book and radio appearances.
By Claudia Luther for the UCLA Newsroom
Gustavo Arellano, author of the witty and incisive "¡Ask a Mexican!" column in the OC Weekly, as well as a book by the same name, has been selected as the keynote speaker for the UCLA College of Letters and Science commencement ceremony in June.
Arellano, who earned a master's degree in Latin American studies from UCLA in 2003, will deliver his remarks on Friday, June 11, at 5 p.m. in Drake Stadium on the campus. Approximately 3,400 students will receive their bachelor's degrees at the ceremony.
In 2007, the Los Angeles Press Club honored Arellano with its prestigious President's Award. He has also received the Impact Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition and a 2008 Latino Spirit Award from the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
His column in the OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, Calif., has been picked up by 39 newspapers in the U.S. with a combined circulation of more than 2 million. He has been the subject of profiles by the New York Times, NBC's "Today" show and other media and is a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times opinion section.
In addition to a 2007 book based on his column, Arellano is the author of "Orange County: A Personal History" (2008), both published by Scribner. He currently hosts the 3 p.m. Thursday hour on Los Angeles radio station KPFK-90.7 FM and is a frequent guest on "Air Talk" with Larry Mantle on KPPC-89.3 FM.
"Gustavo Arellano is a keen observer of life in America — in particular the culture and diversity of Southern California," said Judith L. Smith, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. "He explores today's issues of diversity and ethnicity with incisive commentary and a sharp wit that punches holes in traditional thinking about race and stereotypes."
Arellano, 31, a native of Anaheim, Calif., has strong ties to UCLA. Besides receiving his master's from the university, his sister Elsa earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish at UCLA. Arellano earned his undergraduate degree from Chapman College in Orange, Calif.
Arellano said he was "speechless" at being honored as commencement speaker by "probably the only alma mater I don't have a beef with one way or another."
William Summerhill, a UCLA history professor who oversaw a portion of Arellano's master's thesis, said his former student's trajectory over the last few years "exemplifies something important: the enviable capacity of UCLA's students to tap their creativity and knowledge, allowing them to adapt, innovate and grasp unexpected opportunities with both hands."