International Institute to hold virtual celebration for Class of 2020
Vice Provost Cindy Fan speaks at the 2019 commencement ceremony. (Photo: Oliver Chien/ UCLA.)

International Institute to hold virtual celebration for Class of 2020

The celebration will be held Saturday, June 13, 2020, on a dedicated website that opens at 6:30 p.m. PDT.

By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, May 29, 2020 — Because the coronavirus pandemic makes it impossible to hold in-person commencement ceremonies on campus this year, the International Institute will join the UCLA College of Letters and Science and schools across campus in hosting a virtual celebration for its graduating students this year. 

The celebration will roll out Saturday, June 13, 2020, on a dedicated website that opens at 6:30 p.m., one day after the UCLA College holds its own virtual celebration with actor and activist George Takei at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 12. Both events will remain available for viewing for a limited time on the respective websites of the College and the institute. 

Global studies alumna Katya Balan Daniel (UCLA 2008) — recipient of the 2019 UCLA Young Alumnus Award — will deliver the International Institute 2020 commencement address by video. Daniel received a B.A. through the International Institute and an M.A. at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in the United Kingdom, then built a global career in executive recruiting and management. 

After working in London, Houston, Oakland and Mountain View, California, Daniel returned to the Los Angeles area in 2019 to work as director of talent acquisition for the healthcare communications company TigerConnect. (For more information about Katya, see this article, short biography and video interview.)

In addition to Daniel’s address, the virtual celebration will include short video remarks by Vice Provost for International Studies and Global Engagement Cindy Fan, Senior Associate Vice Provost and International Institute Director Chris Erickson and the chairs of the institute’s academic programs, among others. Individual students will be showcased through reflections, acknowledgments, videos and photos accessible through the celebratory website.

The International Institute understands that its students might be deeply disappointed not to have a traditional commencement ceremony this June. The institute thus plans to host an in-person event for the Class of 2020 at a future time when it is again safe to hold large public events. 

It has been a difficult year without precedent for Bruins, especially graduating students. Rather than spending their final quarter on campus with friends and frequenting their favorite campus haunts, they have been surmounting the challenges of remote education classes and finishing up theses and research papers without physical access to the UCLA Library.

“If I had to bet on a group prepared to handle global problems like the present pandemic, it would be the International Institute’s Class of 2020,” said Vice Provost Cindy Fan. “Despite the current crisis, our students have continued to amaze me with their dedication, research and achievements — even in their final weeks at UCLA. I am confident they will make a difference in the world.”

The institute congratulates its graduating seniors in the Global Studies, International & Area Studies and International Development Studies academic programs and its M.A. graduates in African Studies, East Asian Studies and Latin American Studies, as well as the many Bruins who completed minors in global studies, international & area studies, global health and international migration studies — not least because of their flexibility and resilience in completing their degree requirements under difficult circumstances. 

Graduating students wishing to confirm their participation on the International Institute virtual commencement celebration website and/or contribute photos and messages should contact their academic counselor for details. The virtual celebration website went live on June 13.

*This article was published on May 29, 2020, and updated with a link to the virtual celebration website on June 15, 2020.