Last Friday night, I gave my UCLA College of Letters and Science Commencement student speech in front of a crowd of 13,000. I am grateful to share how much UCLA has done for me and how much I love UCLA. I had the honor to introduce the inspirational Ms. Ann Meyers Drysdale. The video has not been uploaded by UCLA but my family recorded this from the stands. This is what I said:
Dear Class of 2013, proud family members, faculty, staff, distinguished alumni, family friends from that school across town, possibly worried parents...,
Congratulations to my fellow graduates. We made it!
As the Class of 2013, we are the first class to graduate in the new Pauley Pavilion. When we first entered UCLA, we walked into these hallowed halls as young adults with our minds open and ready to learn. This university inspires us to follow our dreams.
At UCLA, we learn from our professors and from our peers to be ourselves and to become extraordinary individuals. I discovered my passion to empower people with disabilities with the encouragement of my mentor Professor Paul Von Blum. When I acquired a brain injury from an accident, I took some time away to recover. Returning my junior year, UCLA embraced me with open arms and supported me with kindness. The fact that I am an Asian-American with a hidden disability standing in front of all of you today is a true example of how much UCLA celebrates diversity and individuality.
At UCLA, we are taught to aspire to inspire and to give back to our community. We gather to volunteer, tutor and assist other communities. We learn that we can make an impact not only as individuals but also with an extended family of peers.
We attend lectures with Olympic athletes and talented writers. We work in labs with scientists and inventors. We are dreamers and leaders.
So much has happened on this campus. The Internet started in room 3420 in Boelter Hall. Fahrenheit 451 was penned in Powell Library. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy delivered speeches at the top of Janss steps. Elle Woods studied outside of Kerckhoff Hall and Kal Penn was an RA in Saxon Suites.
UCLA is a university that is quite simply, paradise. Thanks to all the stairs around campus, we are surrounded by beautiful sun-kissed students with wonderfully toned legs. From the dormitories, we can see the famous Bel Air gate and the Pacific Ocean. This campus has outdoor pools, tanning chairs, a sculpture garden, a rock climbing wall and a lovely Taco Bell. This place is paradise.
Over the past four years, we gobbled up homemade food and bonded with new friends at Dinner for 12 Strangers. We danced for 26 hours at Dance Marathon as our peers cheered us on. We attended club meetings that offered free food and befriended classmates with premier swipes. We silent raved in Powell Library, took naps on Janss Steps, flyered on Bruin Walk (or perfected skills to avoid flyer givers), cheered on our Quidditch team and explored Los Angeles with floormates. We yelled at midnight during finals week and 8-clapped when we beat $C. We have many Westwood Village memories from In-N-Out runs and Brew Co. specials to red carpet movie premieres and Target's grand opening.
Like many of you, I dreamed of going to UCLA and these past few years have been a dream come true. We are so fortunate to graduate from the most-applied-to-university in the nation. We will soon join Bruin alumni and continue to make our mark in the world.
Once a Bruin, always a Bruin.
Ann Meyers Drysdale is an exemplary model of a True Bruin. Time Magazine called Ann one of the 10 greatest female athletes of all time. The San Diego Union Tribune wrote that "Ann Meyers never met a door she didn't believe she could kick the living hell out of." She broke so many glass ceilings and opened the doors for many young women.
Her mentor, Coach John Wooden, said "She was the one who really got Women's basketball going."
When Ann was in high school, she was the first high school student to be part of the U.S. national team.
She is the first woman to be signed to a four-year UCLA athletic scholarship, and the first four-time male or female Kodak All-American. Ann led UCLA to its 1978 women's national championship. She was in the first ever US Women's Basketball team that went to the Olympic Games (and won a silver medal). She is the only woman to sign a contract with the NBA.
Ann is currently the vice president of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and a broadcaster for the NBA's Phoenix Suns.
In True Bruin nature, Ann is involved in community service and helping others. For over 30 years, she has been involved with Special Olympics and currently serves as the Sports Ambassador for Special Olympics Southern California.
Ann's courageous choices have created countless opportunities for female athletes and executives. She is fighting for the day the phrase: "You let some girl beat you?" becomes obsolete.
Ann inspires young women to pursue their dreams and break glass ceilings.
She is a fearless Bruin who isn't afraid to break down doors.
She is a True Bruin.
Please welcome Ms. Ann Meyers Drysdale.