Anita Ortega

Anita I. Ortega ’82

From the age of 11, Anita Ortega set her sights on UCLA as her ticket out of poverty in South Los Angeles.

Once on campus, the first-generation college student made the UCLA women’s basketball team as a walk on-and was selected as an All American (honorable mention) after helping to lead the team to its first national championship. After playing professionally in the first Women’s Pro Basketball League, she completed her B.A. in psychology at UCLA in 1982. She served as an assistant women’s basketball coach at UCLA for two years, then joined the Los Angeles Police Department. There she rose through the ranks, advancing to captain in 2002. She became the first African-American female commanding officer in LAPD history. She has remained connected to basketball by serving as an NCAA Division I women’s basketball official.

She has earned widespread recognition for her pioneering accomplishments on and off the basketball court, including induction into the Hall of Fame of both UCLA and LAPD; being named a “Woman of Excellence” by the National Latina Business Woman Association; and receiving the Roman of Excellence Award from her alma mater, Los Angeles High School, the Public Service Award from the UCLA Alumni Association, and the Director’s Award from the Hollenbeck Youth Center. In 2011, she was honored as the UCLA Latina Alumna of the Year, and in 2012, she was selected by the California State Assembly as the Woman of the Year for the 46th district. She retired from LAPD in July 2016.

How is the Distinguished Alumni Speaker selected?

A committee, comprised of representatives from the College Faculty Executive Committee – including professors and students, reviews a list of notable alumni and provides the College with several recommendations. Speakers are then invited and scheduled according to their availability.


On Friday, June 16, 2017, would you like to be the student speaker at either the 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. College Commencement ceremony?

Or, would you like to sing the national anthem or the UCLA Alma Mater?

To apply to be a College Commencement student speaker or singer, review the Guidelines   – revised March 21, 2017.

Application Deadline – Friday, April 7, 2017, 12:00 p.m.


  • Friday, April 14, 2017 – ALL Singers
  • Friday, April 21, 2017 – Speaker Finalists

Details will be provided via e-mail.