2023 UCLA College Commencement Student Speakers

Student voices highlighted at UCLA College commencement

2023 UCLA College Commencement Student Speakers

Clockwise from top left: UCLA College commencement student speakers Shane Smith, Anvi Brahmbhatt, Desirae Barragan, Joyce Kuo, Faaizah Arshad, Sriha Srinivasan and Karen Dutko.

UCLA College | June 7, 2023

With seven student speakers delivering remarks at three ceremonies on June 16 at Pauley Pavilion, the 2023 UCLA College commencement celebrations will feature more Bruin undergraduate voices than ever before. Please join us in congratulating this year’s student speakers:


Faaizah_ArshadFaaizah Arshad is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts in psychology. Raised in Fremont, California, she was drawn to UCLA for its collaborative education, diverse faculty and action-oriented student groups that are empowering communities worldwide.

Driven to understand the health sciences, Arshad was a four-year member of the Global Health living learning community on campus and led multiple student groups that support well-being and educational accessibility. What has left the greatest impression on her is the foundational knowledge she gained through unique classes, campus life, mentors and friends at UCLA. She hopes to carry this openness to new perspectives into her future service.

Arshad is also an enthusiastic swimmer and loves spending weekends at the Sunset Canyon pool. She is thrilled and honored to be celebrating the class of 2023!

“UCLA has meant committing myself to discovery inside and outside the classroom. In my four years, I sought open dialogue, scholarly inquiry and supportive collaboration. The lessons I have learned from compassionate mentors will stay with me forever.” 

Desirae BarraganDesirae Lorraine Barragan is an enrolled member of the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians of Southern California. Graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in American Indian studies and a bachelor of science degree in human biology and society, Barragan is an advocate for amplifying Native student voices and increasing visibility in the fields of medicine and public health across campus and beyond.

During her time as a Bruin, she served a two-year term as chair of the American Indian Student Association and as external vice president of the American Indians in Science and Engineering Society at UCLA, as well as a two-year term on the UCLA EDI student advisory board. Her next chapter will include pursuing medical school and serving the Indigenous community through synergizing Western and traditional science.

“Studying on my tribal and ancestral homelands at UCLA as a Gabrieleño student has encouraged me to be unapologetically myself. I have been provided with friendships, experiences, opportunities and memories beyond imagining. I cherish the privilege I have to be receiving degrees at an institution that has helped strengthen my passion and commitment to a future in medicine and public service. Proud to be a Bruin!”

Anvi BrahmbhattAnvi Brahmbhatt is from Milpitas, California, and is graduating with degrees in molecular, cell and developmental biology and communication, as well as a minor in disability studies, with College honors. While she was initially drawn to UCLA because of the opportunities it provided her as a pre-med, Brahmbhatt quickly discovered and pursued her interdisciplinary interests.

Over the past four years, she has been heavily involved in student organizations and research. She served as co-chief of Students for Community Outreach, Promotion and Education, overseeing five unique programs serving the Los Angeles community by minimizing disparities in health care and education. Brahmbhatt served as a patient health advocate at UCLA Health, connecting patients with resources in their communities to improve their overall health and well-being, and has also researched sex differences in genetics and infant development. Brahmbhatt is a campus tour guide and is passionate about introducing students to higher education.

After graduation, she will be applying to medical school, aiming to have a career focused on providing patient-centered care. Brahmbhatt is forever grateful for the UCLA community bringing her meaningful experiences and friendships, and is honored to be a student speaker!

“UCLA has been a place of opportunity and growth for me. I have been able to explore literally every interest I have ever had, all thanks to support from the incredible Bruin community!”

Karen DutkoKaren Dutko is an environmental science student who was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. At a young age, Karen and her family immigrated to America in search of an environment that would allow her to thrive after she was diagnosed with a rare and progressive muscular disorder.

Over the last four years, Dutko was actively involved in leadership, community service and multicultural event coordination as a board member of Sigma Delta Sigma, where she just finished serving as president.

Beyond her extracurriculars, Dutko was involved in UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge initiative, where she dove into scientific journalism and raised awareness of critically important environmental issues. She received the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program and Undergraduate Research Scholars Program awards for two consecutive years as a result of her research utilizing remote sensing to analyze deforestation patterns in the Congo Basin.

Dutko will be continuing as a Ph.D. student in the UCLA Department of Geography, where she hopes to continue to focus on remote sensing of tropical forest regions in order to preserve native endangered species in the islands of Hawaii.

“UCLA is a place that provides hope, safety and acceptance to those who’ve struggled in the outside world. It gave me a place where I could unapologetically express my values and be my authentic self without being shamed for my identity. To me, UCLA is a beautiful example of what the world should look like when we lead with compassion, equity and inclusion in mind. This institution encouraged me to accomplish the unthinkable, and I hope it inspires thousands of innovators to bring love and light to the world in the years to come.” 

Joyce W. KuoJoyce W. Kuo is a UCLA psychobiology student who hails from Cupertino, California, and was born to Taiwanese immigrant parents. Beginning her undergraduate journey at UCLA’s College Summer Institute, Kuo cherishes the memories she has made throughout her four in-person and virtual years. She thoroughly appreciates her pillars of support: professors, teaching assistants, residential life supervisors, research team, classmates, close friends and family.

Alongside her two-year post as a resident assistant in Rieber and De Neve, Kuo worked as a psychiatric medical assistant and office manager in Santa Monica. When classes were not in session, she found quietude in Boelter Library or volunteered as a cognitive behavioral therapy coach, dance teacher and research assistant.

Kuo is honored to make her public speaking debut and is extraordinarily proud to be a UCLA Bruin. She wishes everyone good luck in the next chapter of their lives!

“UCLA means folding every receipt from the study into an origami hydrangea, feeling popular when three classmates respond to my Bruin Learn discussion post, riding the Saturday shuttle to Santa Monica with friends to sit on the Bubba Gump bench, listening to ‘Mr. Brightside’ every morning at BFIT, monopolizing that one window seat in the Biomedical Library on Sunday afternoons, thinking about Bruin Plate Residential Restaurant, constraining a weekly quota of fun so I can manage my classes on top of two jobs, welcoming prospective students on Bruin Day, answering the icebreaker question ‘What are your hidden talents?’ with ‘I don’t hide my talents’ and, most importantly, being a student at my dream university.” 

Shane SmithShane Smith is a political science and public affairs student from the San Fernando Valley. Completing his degree in three years, he will graduate summa cum laude with College honors. He loves attending UCLA sporting events, relaxing in his hammock on campus and making late-night trips to Fat Sal’s.

Smith’s area of interest is American politics, highlighted by his participation in the UCDC program and working in the office of Congressman Brad Sherman. Outside the classroom, he is an actor, a sports reporter for the Daily Bruin and a member of UCLA Model United Nations.

Smith plans to attend law school after graduation and is interested in studying constitutional law. Until then, he intends to take many road trips across the country, live in Scotland part time and get good enough at the guitar to play barre chords.

“In my time at UCLA, I’ve fallen in love with the city where I grew up in a new way, met people I will never forget and learned lessons both in the classroom and in life that I will forever be grateful for. In my final weeks here in Westwood, I’ve come to realize just how happy I am to be able to call this place one of my forever homes. I will carry my time as a Bruin with me for the rest of my life, and I hope that each new generation of UCLA students gets as much out of their experience as I have.” 

Sriha-Srinivasan.Sriha Srinivasan is from Fairfield, California, and is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in human biology and society and a film/TV minor. She created @sexedu, a sex-education platform on TikTok with over 150,000 followers. Srinivasan speaks openly about destigmatization and has been featured in various editorials in outlets that include the Washington Post and Yahoo’s In The Know, as well as in the Canadian Screen Award-winning documentary “Sex with Sue” and Vice Media’s “Finishing School.”

Proud of her work in the peer education group UCLA Sexperts, bringing over $100,000 of free emergency contraception to students in need, Srinivasan is a part of the #FreeThePill coalition and spoke directly to the FDA this year in support of over-the-counter birth control.

She would like to thank her parents, Prabha and Srini, her sister Sriya, and her friends, mentors and teachers, as she is a sum of their love and support.

“UCLA began as a world of possibility, and with every choice I made here, a future more certain became my reality. Here, I’ve found peers I can change the status quo with, mentors who have illuminated my path and friends with whom I share boundless joy.” 

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