June 13, 2008 | On the absent keynote speaker
Even though I have white hair, I am not an inflatable Bill Clinton doll or an impersonator.
Unfortunately, President Clinton was not able to be here. Since this is my first commencement, I guess I am the freshman here.

June 11, 2010 | On John Wooden, who died the prior week
Coach Wooden embodied the values that, as Bruins, we all strive to uphold: Integrity. Excellence. Commitment to one another. I hope you will always remember Coach Wooden’s words: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

June 15, 2012 | On parents
I want to welcome all the parents ... You have sacrificed a lot to make this day a reality. This hopefully ends your tuition payments for a while.

June 14, 2013 | On Bruinism
Have you seen this year’s “I Love UCLA Spirit” video? I was struck by a comment from a junior named Reid Taguchi. He said, “UCLA is not just a campus, it’s a community. And even though you are only a student for four years, you are a Bruin forever.”

June 15, 2018 | On students’ most pressing questions
We asked members of your class what they’d want to hear from me. Some were philosophical, like, “How do we approach uncertainty?” My short answer: through personal faith and science. Some were practical: “How do I begin my career?” My short answer: network aggressively. Some were almost too practical, like how to do your taxes. For that, I am going to refer you to the other Block … H&R.

June 14, 2019 | On UCLA’s centennial
Life was a little different in 1919. Freshmen had to wear a “beanie” and step out of the way for older students. Westwood had an ice-skating rink oddly called Tropical Ice Gardens — but no Diddy Riese or Trader Joe’s! We have changed because students, faculty, staff and others said: UCLA can do better.

June 19, 2020 | On COVID-19
This pandemic has taught us hard lessons about our vulnerabilities and frailty, but also about our adaptability and compassion.

June 11, 2021 | On embracing disruption
Over the past 15 months you have adapted to massive changes in your studies and in personal lives. The fact that you have made it is a testament to your resilience.

June 10, 2022 | On enduring
Many of you felt the whiplash of moving back in with parents, turning kitchen tables into classrooms, taking up new roles as caregivers, grappling with feelings of isolation, and adapting to other transformations in your lives. You experienced one of the most polarizing presidential elections this nation has ever seen. You saw a shocking and brazen siege on the U.S. Capitol Building. You felt the effects of climate disaster. You experienced the invasion of Ukraine. You witnessed racial injustices and horrific mass shootings. These experiences have shaped your sense of right and good — and with your UCLA degree in tow — you are incredibly well positioned to enact change.

June 16, 2023 | On optimism
Today we pay tribute to the exceptional, the sensational, the unshakeable UCLA class of 2023. You might think back to the joyous moment when you received your offer of admission to UCLA. You might recall a late-night discussion that transformed the way you look at an issue, or reflect on the sense of community you felt doing the eight-clap at a Bruins game. You might think back to a moment pausing in the sculpture garden, on a warm spring evening, when the light was fading and the jacarandas were in bloom. Now I invite you to view this era as a chance to build anew. Bruins are marked by optimism, and it is in our DNA to look at the world as one that is ripe for constant reshaping.

Read more from UCLA Magazine’s Fall 2023 issue.