20 Words of Encouragement for the Class of 2020

graduating studentThe graduating Class of 2020 is experiencing a final quarter like no other. Our alumni Anteater family is here to share words of support for our newest members.

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Join us in showing our support for the Class 0f 2020. In 20 words or less, write a short note of encouragement or advice for the graduating students. Your words will be shared through email communications and posted on our website.

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Samantha Luu '13


Your network will be one of your largest advantages both personally and professionally. Who you meet, get to know, and surround yourself with will continuously contribute to the growth in your life. 

This too shall past and know the other side will be so much more beautiful than you realize.

Simon Harrison '17


Take advantage of everything; all experiences, positive or negative, help shape your identity. Ask mentors for help with future plans. 

Of all people, I know Anteaters are resilient, creative, world record breakers, and trend setters. Pave the path. Fiat Lux. 

Brittany Bonilla '18


Do what makes you happy!! You’ve worked so hard for this achievement. It’s your life and you get to decide what you do. No one else. Congratulations on graduating!

You don’t have to have everything figured out by the time you graduate. Travel, pay off student debt and just enjoy being out of school. It will all pan out on how it’s supposed to be. 

Nina Ries '99, JD


The world is changing at a rapid pace, and you have a unique opportunity to make an impact. Carpe Diem! 

Michael Lara '14


Keep moving forward and make a difference. Find strength in others and lean on those that want to help you. I care about you Anteater! You Zot This! 

Lori Sinanian


The top of the plot diagram is the climax of a story, where it holds the most tension. It's possible to become overwhelmed at the climax point of your life, but remember that the next step to the climax is the falling action. Embrace the ebb and flow.

Jacquelyn Sugapong '99


Class of 2020 will be remembered as the resilient ones. The irrepressible ones. The ones with true grit. You will be remembered as the ones that got through unimaginable circumstances with flying colors, so wear this unique badge of honor with pride. Congratulations - that's nothing you can't do now.

My words of advice boils down to two words: take risks. Not just professionally, but personally, too. Challenge your own expectations and self-limitations and strive to always reach higher. Don't ever get too comfortable or complacent with just living within the status quo. There's always a new problem to solve or idea to explore. Take risks that will lead to an improved mindset, as these moments - big and small - will define you.

Amy Palian '99


I want to congratulate the graduating Class of 2020 from the bottom of my heart and tell you how proud I am to welcome you to our UCI Alumni Family. You are closing your UCI chapter and opening a new one with whatever or wherever your life takes you next. Don't be nervous. Don't be scared. Fear will only narrow down your options and put limits on what you are truly capable of. It will prevent you from reaching your highest potential whether it be in academia or life in general. Celebrate Life! Celebrate Love! Celebrate Change! You will soon learn, if you haven't already, that change is the only constant in life. Change is good as it helps you grow while you work hard to adjust to it. I think that this graduating class, Class of 2020, can understand that more than any other graduating class. Don't let change scare you. Instead, put on a big smile and welcome it with open arms. Change will help you grow and become the best version of yourselves. Keep in touch with your UCI family. Trust me, 20 years down the road, when you meet each other again, you will regret not keeping in touch for so many years.

Joy Mina '14, MBA '19


When I graduated I wish I had known that my first job (or two or three) would not define my career. Over time I pursued another degree and a large career switch. I eventually came to learn the importance of networking and meeting people purely for the sake of learning about their journey's and their careers. I never approach a networking conversation with the thought of a job. Rather it is an opportunity to learn and through those learnings I was able to figure out what I wanted to do with my career. I did not know what I wanted when I graduated with my B.S. and that was OK.

Evan Clark '10, JD


You only have one life, give it your all. Always have hope; days turn into nights and nights turn into mornings, and those mornings bring a fresh new start. Keep your head high. Always attempt progress; small steps are still forward steps. Failures are life’s lessons. It’s all about your perspective. 

KayC Wharton '13


You are more prepared and qualified than you know! Be confident; you've got this!

Be intentional with the weight you assign to the opinions of others.

Christian Acevedo '10


Your windshield is much bigger than your rearview mirror. You are the future - never let us forget. Stay strong Anteaters!

Shamelessly reach out on your fellow alumni for advice and guidance. We are all rooting for you!

Naz Hartoonian '19


The world will remember you as the class that persevered through the impossible. You are strong and everyone is rooting for you! Congrats Class of 2020!

Frank Olmos '10


Dear Class of 2020, you are all extraordinary graduates living in extraordinary times. Seize this moment to shape our new normal. Cheers!

If you trip and fall. Get up. If you trip and fall again. Get up again. If you trip and fall again. Get a walker.

Paul Jones, MURP '16


Find peace in the present, build faith in the future, forge bonds that never break, feel pride in your perseverance.

Happiness in career, friendship, faith and love can come in the most unexpected places - be open and flexible in a year that demands our patience.

Carlos Feliciano '06


Congratulations class of 2020. Keep following your dreams and don’t let anything stop you. Go change the world! Zot Zot!

"Work as hard as you can, help as many people as you can, and never give up." -William H. McRaven

Michele Whiteaker '95


It's not the ceremony or even the major that matters, it's having the college experience and the mentors who guide & inspire you along the way. Congratulations on graduating!

I still talk to my roomies 25 years later and love see where they are in their lives. My job did not even exist when I was in college, but I'm using pieces of what I learned in everything I do. Your career path is just the start of a journey - be open to the twists and turns. An hour of work is an hour of work - decide how you want to spend that hour (on something that pays the most? on something that may not pay the most but fulfills you? on something that adds to your lifelong learning?). It's up to you!

June Kim '07

Your professional and adult lives are just about to take off in a strange time, but it is still an incredibly exciting time to graduate from college. Your 20s are an incredible time to grow, learn, share and love and will set the foundation for the rest of your life. Congratulations to the Class of 2020! 

Take advantage of every professional opportunity presented to you, especially when they scare you a little and if they take you to a new city, state and/or country! Never stop learning about yourself in terms of your strengths and weaknesses and be kind to yourself and others. 

Anu Mathur '16


As a generation, you have the power to change the world! Be kind, humane, empathetic, understanding, as well as hardworking and you will never regret a day in your life. Good luck class of 2020!

Debbie Miller '08


Be open to "happy accidents." It's natural to have everything planned, but be open to new opportunities outside of those plans.

Danielle Borja '14


Have the ambition and courage to live differently so you can achieve what other people dream to have!

Stop waiting for the right time and place. Start right on the work that you are passionate for!

Richard Levine '81


Have patience, learn from failure, gain experience, strive for excellence, listen to your gut, and have fun!

Remember how you learned best at UCI, then apply that skill over and over in your career and life.

Oliver Yuan '13


Your class is going to change the world; we've already seen it. If any class will be able to persevere, you're it.

Let's not sugar-coat the fact that it's going to be a grind for a bit. Keep a lookout for opportunities; they still exist even now. Don't be afraid to try new things; I was convinced that I would become a scientist when I graduated, but now I am happily teaching possible future transfer 'Eaters!

Hope Spaulding Kelly '98


Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do whatever you put your minds to. You have the ambition, the courage and the heart to do it all. The sky is the limit. Congrate Class of 2020!

I'm an alumni of UCI class of 1998 and I have learned so much. I still remember the classes I took and the education it brought me. Go Anteaters!!! Love UCI!

Michael Iriye '99


Congratulations on your accomplishment particularly given these unusual times! Show grit Anteaters and you too will thrive in the modern workforce.

Don't be the person that didn't say anything. Nobody is going to recognize your brilliance unless you speak up.

Jaime Ta '11


Congrats 2020 grads! In the words of Brene Brown, “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” -Brene Brown

Christopher Lee '11


Congratulations on graduating! You have a solid foundation for your future. Keep going, and keep learning.

Try new things, even if they are uncomfortable. The second time will be easier. Your skills may not increase much by then, but your confidence surely will.

Cassandra Cheung '19


Believe in your dreams to inspire others. Carry your brilliance with and around you to wherever the future takes you.

Ask and you may receive. The worst possible answer you can get when you ask for something is "No." It doesn't hurt to ask when the next answer can be a yes! Thank your personal cheerleaders who have been and continue to be with you every step of the way.

Minhee Kuo '04

Congratulations! Despite all the curveballs this year has thrown your way, you managed to stay focused. We are proud of you.

Before you move on to your next adventure, be sure to stay connected with UCI through the Alumni Association. Get involved with the chapters and attend their events. This is one of the easiest ways to network with experienced professionals, even if you don't know how to network.

Carol Baez '19

Encourage others and follow your core values. Remain connected with those who have inspired you and be confident in the skills you have attained. If you are the first of your family, be proud of your success. Continue to represent and support others when in positions of power.

Promote equity and always remain optimistic. There is improvement to be made.

Jennifer Lara '18

Happy Graduation, Anteaters! Even during these trifling times your hard work and dedication shines ever more brightly. Welcome to the end of your undergrad chapter and say hello to endless opportunity!

Don’t lose any momentum you’ve built up. Continue moving forward and always remember that it is okay to take a mental break.

Beverly Lwenya '04

The world is always changing and also always overdue for a change. We are all so proud of you! Congratulations! 

I was a sophomore during 9/11 and young worker during the Great Recession. Don't pin your hopes on the outside world being just right. Instead, as cliche as it sounds, the most important advice is NEVER GIVE UP. 

Anai Esteban '16

These times may have taken away many special moments and events for you but it can never take away the hard work you have put in throughout the years and it most definitely cannot take away your degree. You’ve earned it. Congratulations!

Megan Mirkhanian '19

Congratulations on all your achievements! Times are different right now but keep your head up and smile!

Definitely take a breather and don’t be scared to take a few weeks off to relax before continuing into your journey, post grad!

Claudia White '89

In words of Ralph Waldo Emerson - “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

Never forget where you are coming from because it helps to determine where you are going. I am extremely proud of you. Zot, Zot, Zot...

James Kwan '96

Congratulations class of 2020! Don't let the negative event of 2020 affect your future. Your future begins now. You are on your way to your dreams and don't look back.

You will have a bright future ahead. The world is your playground. Use what you learned and if you don't succeed try try again.

Sandeep Somisetty

You are, without doubt, the bravest and most resilient class to ever graduate from UCI. All the best. Zot Zot! 

Hayley Bower '07

Graduating into an uncertain time is scary, but UCI has prepared you to do well at more than you've imagined.

Erika Hennon '12

You are in my thoughts as you transition your life during uncertain times. Just know you are now stronger when facing challenges.

Tommy Low '06

You are the future leaders. Congrats you did it!

Go to counseling and listen to inspirational speakers. Empower yourselves.

Geisce Ly '96

Remove three words from your vocabulary: problem, try and should. Replace with them challenge, do and will.

Your reputation matters. Every day. And more so when you aspire to leadership positions.

James Collier '77

The most important thing you can do at this time is register to vote, if you haven't, and vote in November!

Julie Townsend '71

This is your life! Seize it! Be intentional with it! Dream it! Enjoy it!

Stay open to learning at all times, in all situations, your whole life long!

Betty Hwang '08

You can do it! This is yet another obstacle you can get through! We believe in you.