On June 23, UCLA Extension honored recent graduates from more than 100 of its professional certificate programs with a ceremony at UCLA's Royce Hall. Over 700 students – plus many of the friends, family members, faculty and staff who supported them – were on hand for an event that celebrated scholarship, community, and the determination and resilience of continuing education students from all walks of life. 


Dean of Continuing Education and UCLA Extension Eric A. Bullard presided over what he called his "favorite day of the year." Joined on stage by academic deans and executive staff, Bullard congratulated graduates for "overcoming obstacles, balancing a workload with school and family commitments – and even just looking at the road to a certificate and thinking of how hard it would be to achieve it."


Stephen Cheung, a two-time UCLA graduate and the CEO of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, delivered a commencement address that drew on his journey from working in sweat shops in Los Angeles as a child to studying psychobiology at UCLA and eventually dedicating himself to public policy and social justice. "Sometimes it is just as important to explore and learn what you don't want to do, and it is okay not to have your entire life all mapped out," Cheung said.


The capacity crowd at Royce Hall cheered loudly as graduates crossed the stage to accept their diplomas. Music was provided by UCLA organist Cristoph Bull. 


The celebration continued after the ceremony on Royce Quad, where graduates gathered for photo ops with faculty and loved ones. Among them was Robert Washington Jr, who graduated with a certificate in alcohol and drug abuse counseling. Prior to the event, Washington spoke about what it meant to earn his certificate from UCLA Extension. "It's a proud moment for me and my 85-year-old father," Washington said. "It's something I can really give him.”


In his closing remarks, Bullard welcomed graduates as "True Bruins" and official UCLA alumni. "Your time at UCLA Extension is just one small chapter in the story of your life, there is so much more ahead of you," he said. 


Visit the online gallery to see more photos from the event. And watch a special video celebrating this year's graduates on YouTube.

Photography by Karim Saafir