CHASS commencement: 2019 graduates give thanks for support, look to the future

Graduation 2019
UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox poses for a student selfie during CHASS commencement ceremonies
on Saturday, June 15. Photos by Jimmy Lai/CHASS Marketing & Communications

By Hannah Croft
Student Writer/CHASS Marketing and Communications

As the sun dips low over the highlands, the sun sets on another chapter of UC Riverside’s graduating class of 2019. CHASS helped celebrate its new graduates during three commencement ceremonies, June 15-16, on campus at Pierce Lawn. Campus-wide, UCR celebrated 5,857 eligible graduates and welcomed nearly 40,000 additional family and friends during nine commencement ceremonies, May 31-June 17.

At the commencement ceremony on Saturday evening, June 15, students walked across the stage as their names were called to collect diplomas, shaking hands with Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and CHASS Dean Milagros Peña. Many students smiled and waved at the crowd. Others pulled out their phones to score a final selfie with the chancellor, beaming at their accomplishments.

“I’m glad that I’m finishing my degree and proud to be graduating from UCR,'' said graduating anthropology major Kyle Wilson. “I’m a father, and I had an overall great experience at UCR. The quality of education was wonderful.”

“I am feeling scared but excited,” said graduating political science major Alam Kaur. “It feels surreal right now. I don’t feel like my time here is done. CHASS has had such a huge impact on me. Everywhere I go, everyone here was so accepting. I was never faced with anything other than love and support, and my post-grad plans are to attend law school.”

“I’m nervous right now, but excited,” said graduating political science major Reginald Wong. “The support and people that I found shaped my experience here, and that’s one thing I’m grateful for. I’m currently applying to jobs, and I’m looking forward to building my connections and moving forward to wherever my education takes me.”

During the ceremony, Chancellor Wilcox took the opportunity to congratulate the graduating seniors on their hard work over the last four years.

“Class of 2019, it makes it sound like you’re one and the same, while in fact, we know that’s not true,” Wilcox said. “You’re a collection of different individuals, different personalities, different experiences, different histories. But for a time, you were common here. Common in your pursuit of knowledge, common in your degree...That is something you all share in common...Now, like with so many families, there is a connection between us….While this is the last day as a student, we encourage you to come back often to your alma mater, and continue to be a part of this family.”

Jeff Krynski, president of UCR’s alumni association and member of the class of 1981, welcomed the newest class of 2019 to the alumni family.

“On behalf of the UCR alumni association, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome our class of 2019 graduates to the alumni network of the fastest rising ranked university in America,” Krynski said. “With your support, UCR can continue its upward momentum in improving education and growing our regional and global impact.”

Dean Milagros Peña also congratulated the class and shared stories of UCR alumni and their success.

“Every one of us has come to be where we are today on the shoulders of all of those who have given their love, sacrifice, generosity, and kindness,” Peña said. “I look forward to the day that you return as an alumnus, to share how your time at UCR paved the way for your success. With your degree, you are part of this chain of those who will go on to do great things, and continue the UCR Highlander spirit to be successful at whatever you choose in your careers.”

Magna Cum Laude graduate Sukhmeen Kaur Kahlon, a political science/law and society major, gave an encouraging speech to her graduating peers on their time at UCR.

“This moment is about the power of humility,” said Kahlon, who plans to pursue law school, specializing in public interest law in order to uplift marginalized communities. “Our classes have shown us that the world is vast, and we are incredibly small...but being small is not a weakness. In fact, it gives us all the more reason to step out of our comfort zones and into the unknown...Many of us are not walking this stage today just for ourselves, but for the generations of resilience that carried us to this moment...You’ve made it this far, and that’s an exceptional accomplishment in and of itself. Now, let's take what we’ve learned during our time here at UCR, and build a world that we want to see for generations to come.”

Student Body President Semi Cole, a graduating Public Policy and Political Science major, congratulated students on their hard work and perseverance during their time in CHASS.

“This campus has the makings of greatness in it, and each student here has a wealth of potential,” Cole said. “When we leave this place, we will move forward with the intent to move mountains...Remember, we must be brave, not only for ourselves, but for our parents, our ancestors, and our community, as well as for the next generation of student leaders. As we transition, we will make mistakes. But remember- we will not be defined by our fears and failures, but be refined by the power of our potential. Congratulations class of 2019, let’s change this world!”

As the tassels turned, cheers spread through the crowd, and the 2019 College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Commencement Ceremony finally came to a close.

After the ceremony, graduates filed out to greet waiting family members and friends. Tears were shed, pictures were taken and hugs were exchanged, and, as the sun set on one final, amazing year for the graduating Highlanders, we celebrate each individual’s backgrounds, accomplishments, and successes.

We celebrate the students who will change the world for the better, who will proudly represent CHASS and UCR everywhere they go.

Graduation 2019
Graduation 2019
Graduation 2019
Graduation 2019
Graduation 2019
Graduation 2019

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