UCLA College Commencement 2023

Alumni Speakers


All across campus the third weekend of June, our community — faculty, staff, distinguished alumni, family and friends — came together to celebrate the UCLA College Commencement.

Congratulations to the entire Bruin family!

Randall ParkRandall Park ’97

Actor, writer, comedian and UCLA alumnus Randall Park delivered the 2023 UCLA College commencement keynote address. A native Angeleno born to Korean immigrant parents, Park earned his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Asian American studies in 1997. As an undergraduate, he co-founded Lapu, the Coyote that Cares Theatre Company, an Asian American troupe that, nearly three decades later, remains a vibrant presence on UCLA’s campus. Watch his commencement address here.


We invite you to meet the 13 incredible alumni speakers
who addressed departmental ceremonies:


Kiet LamAcademic Advancement Program

Kiet Lam ’98, M.P.H. ’00

“As a first-generation minority college student from a low-income family, I was lost when it came to understanding what it takes to succeed in college and beyond. Fortunately, UCLA and the Academic Advancement Program provided the critical support and opportunities I needed to not only graduate, but also develop key skills I’ve leveraged to succeed in my professional career. I am forever indebted to my Bruin family.”

Kiet Lam is the founder and CEO of Climb Healthcare Consulting, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to helping hospitals elevate their financial performance. He has over 23 years of health care reimbursement and financial operations experience. Prior to founding Climb Healthcare, he served as a senior partner at Triage Consulting Group, where he led multiple large-scale consulting engagements for health systems nationwide. Throughout his career, Lam has held multiple leadership roles for his industry trade association, within which he has been recognized on multiple occasions for his leadership excellence.

Lam takes great pride in serving the UCLA Alumni Association through his role as a member of the Academic Advancement Program (AAP) Advisory Council and as president of the AAP Alumni Network. His dedication to UCLA and AAP has earned him the distinct recognition of UCLA’s 2023 Volunteer of the Year for his significant impact in UCLA’s Bay Area community as well as helping launch and lead the newly established AAP alumni network.

Christopher “Cre” Engelke Department of Anthropology

Christopher “Cre” Engelke Ph.D. ’13

“UCLA is more than a place; it is a commitment to collaboration, exploration and sharing. This foundation shaped the way I understand human experience and approach the task of creating products that help people.”

Cre Engelke is the vice president in charge of research and development for Ultratec, Inc., a technology company that specializes in creating products for people with disabilities. He completed his Ph.D. at UCLA in linguistic anthropology, where he did research on how non-speaking people use augmentative communication. Drawing from the education and perspectives he gained in UCLA’s anthropology program, Engelke has developed several new assistive communication technologies for people with hearing, speech and movement disabilities. These include a braille captioned telephone for people who are deafblind, a text output device for people with locked in syndrome and a speech-to-text system that has revolutionized the field of real-time closed captioning. Engelke works regularly with government and non-government agencies to develop quality and testing guidelines for assistive technology and recently served as an invited expert to the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland.

Donald (Don) J. Boucher Department of Atmospheric
and Oceanic Sciences

Donald J. Boucher ’73, M.S. ’75

“In looking back, UCLA launched a wonderful, lifetime interest in atmospheric and oceanic research that benefited not only the academic community, but the safety and mission success of our nation’s armed forces.”

Donald (Don) J. Boucher began his professional career development early, becoming a certified commercial pilot at the age of 18. After high school, he attended UCLA with a major in meteorology to address weather as a “mortal enemy” of commercial aviation. As he progressed through the rigors of UCLA, he became consumed with the emerging elegant science of researching how the oceans and atmosphere interact on large scales. Boucher was gifted the opportunity to work with one of the department’s founders, Professor “Jack” Bjerknes on the ENSO problem, and graduated with an B.S. in 1973 and an M.S. in 1975. His flying took a back seat to research — prior to graduation, Boucher secured a job at The Aerospace Corporation, working on the new Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. He spent the next 45 years working the weather programs at Aerospace, and has recently retired to continue his ENSO research and his flying.

Omar Farha Department of Chemistry
and Biochemistry

Omar Farha ’02, Ph.D. ’06

“UCLA is where aspirations take root, a wellspring of motivation and direction. It holds a special place in my heart and continues to be a home away from home. I feel immense pride in being a Bruin.”

Omar Farha is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in Chemistry at Northwestern University, an executive editor for “ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces” and president of NuMat Technologies. His current research spans diverse areas of chemistry and materials science ranging from energy to defense-related challenges.

His research accomplishments have been recognized by several awards and honors, including a fellow of the European Academy of Sciences, the Kuwait Prize, the Japanese Society of Coordination Chemistry’s international award for creative work, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s environment, sustainability and energy division early career award, the American Chemical Society’s Satinder Ahuja Award for Young Investigators in Separation Science and the ACS ENFL emerging researcher award.

In addition, an award was established by the department of chemistry at Northwestern University in his honor: the Omar Farha Award for Research Leadership, awarded for stewardship, cooperation and leadership in the finest pursuit of research in chemistry and given annually to an outstanding research scientist working in the department.

Farha has more than 600 peer-reviewed publications, 17 patents, 88,000 citations and an h-index of 144 (Google Scholar). In addition to being named a highly cited researcher from 2014 to 2022, he is one of Research.com’s top 100 chemists (#35) in the world. Farha is the co-founder and president of NuMat Technologies, the first company to commercialize an engineered system-level product enabled by metal-organic framework materials.


Martine Rothblatt Department of Communication

Martine Rothblatt ’77, J.D. ’81, M.B.A. ’81

“UCLA meant I had an affordable opportunity as an in-state resident to gain an amazing education, free of boundaries, and to explore all of my intellectual curiosities to their deepest roots.”

Martine Rothblatt is the chairperson and CEO of United Therapeutics Corporation and the grandchild of immigrants from Odessa, Ukraine. She started UT to save her youngest child’s life from a rare illness after having previously created SiriusXM satellite radio and other satellite communications systems.

She is also responsible for enhancing aviation safety by delivery of real-time weather information to aircraft in flight, designing and piloting an electric helicopter to earn a Guinness World Record and creating the world’s largest zero-carbon footprint building. Her company is now saving hundreds of lives a year with medicines for pulmonary hypertension and neuroblastoma and by restoring otherwise discarded donor lungs to transplantability.

She is also leading her company’s development of manufactured kidneys, hearts and lungs to be delivered via autonomously flown electric vertical takeoff and landing systems and led efforts that created the first genetically modified porcine hearts and kidneys transplanted into humans (xenotransplantation), resulting in the world’s first lifesaving “xenoheart” transplant in January 2022.

Rothblatt earned her Ph.D. in medical ethics from the Royal London College of Medicine and Dentistry after earning J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from UCLA, which also recently awarded her the UCLA Medal, its highest honor. She is an inventor on several patents and the author of several books, the most recent of which pertain to artificial cognition and cyber-consciousness. She and her wife Bina have established a charitable foundation, the Terasem Movement, to promote diversity, unity and technological extensions of joyful life.


Fritz Demopoulos Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences

Fritz Demopoulos M.B.A. ’97

“My time at UCLA was one of the most formative and inspirational, proving to be an incredible kick-start to an array of life adventures. I hope to continue to reciprocate the favor by supporting our brilliant learning and research institution. Go Bruins!”

Fritz Demopoulos has been involved in the media and technology industries for over two decades. He co-founded Qunar, one of China’s largest travel platforms, and Shawei, one of China’s largest digital sports media companies. He coordinates his entrepreneurial business activities through Hong Kong-based Queen’s Road Capital. Demopoulos is a member of the listing committee of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and a trustee of the Asia Society in New York, the SETI Institute and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He was educated at UCLA, Cal State Fullerton and the Chinese University of Hong Kong and serves on the board of advisors to UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences.

Department of Economics

Valentina Glaviano ’85

“The education I received at UCLA gave me the courage to take risks in my continual pursuit to evolve. It gave me the confidence to know that I would always be able to learn from failures and adapt to challenges. Those skills have helped me forge new paths throughout my career in an industry that is ever changing. I will always be grateful for the foundation UCLA provided, enabling me to have the most rewarding career I could have ever imagined.”

Valentina Glaviano is a partner and managing director for Strategic Investment Group, a pioneer of the Outsourced Chief Investment Office (OCIO) governance model. Glaviano has extensive experience in corporate strategy and governance, client development and management, ESG and impact investing. She is particularly skilled at helping institutions with complex investment and risk management needs. She is passionate about serving clients whose purpose is to serve others, such as foundations, endowments and defined benefit plans, seeking to help them make a transformational impact in the fulfillment of their missions.

Known for her strategic approach to business management with revered firms such as Strategic Investment Group, iShares, Guggenheim and Lazard, Glaviano is a frequent speaker on capital markets, portfolio construction, risk management, responsible investing and governance.


Antoine Wilson Department of English

Antoine Wilson ’94

“I pursued a preposterous number of options, academic and otherwise, on my tortuous undergraduate path toward self-determination. By the time I graduated I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. To me, UCLA will always be a place where rigor and elasticity exist in equal parts, where the freedom to experiment coexists with the opportunity to commit completely.”

Antoine Wilson is the award-winning author of the novels “Mouth to Mouth,” “Panorama City” and “The Interloper.” His fiction has appeared in “The Paris Review,” “StoryQuarterly,” “Best New American Voices” and the “Los Angeles Times,” among other publications, and he is a contributing editor of “A Public Space.” Wilson attended UCLA and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and was a recipient of the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin. He lives in Los Angeles.

Scott-WaughDepartment of History

Scott Waugh ’70

“I have spent almost my entire adult life at UCLA: as an undergraduate, professor, administrator and even patient. I have seen and marveled at every aspect of a dynamic organization devoted to research and learning. While the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts, each part, like the department of history, is a rich, complex and meaningful community. That community has given me colleagues and friends — faculty, students and staff alike — whose society I have treasured and from whom I have learned so much. I count myself incredibly fortunate to have been a part of UCLA and the department of history for so many years.”

After completing a bachelor’s degree at UCLA and a Ph.D. at the University of London, Waugh joined UCLA’s history department in 1975. Before being appointed executive vice chancellor and provost in 2008, he was chair of the department of history, dean of the division of social sciences and acting EVC and provost. His systemwide and national service includes three terms as convener of the UC Council of Vice Chancellors, chair of the UCDC Governing Council, key member of the UC Executive Budget Committee and chair of the board of directors for the Center for Research Libraries. After stepping down from his EVC and provost role in 2019, Waugh returned to the faculty, where this scholar of medieval English history is now a professor emeritus. Among his many honors and awards, Waugh is proudest of receiving the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award.

Erika Varis Doggett Department of Linguistics

Erika Varis Doggett ’05

“UCLA was my first introduction to linguistics, language as an object of analysis that you could puzzle out. It was a huge eye-opener for me; before that, I didn’t know linguistics existed! What really made the department special though was the immediate feeling that there were still discoveries to be made and work to be done. I felt welcomed to a field of active study, to which I could make my own contribution.”

Erika Varis Doggett did her bachelor’s in linguistics and Spanish at UCLA before continuing on to a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Southern California. She taught at the University of Nevada Reno, and then transitioned to industry as a data scientist in natural language processing and AI. Erika joined Disney Studios in 2016 and broadened her area of expertise to a wide range of AI and machine learning topics targeting the entertainment and media pipeline. She now works as a senior research scientist at Disney Research|Studios, with special attention to both computer vision and natural language processing techniques.

Daniel D. Gutierrez Department of Mathematics

Daniel D. Gutierrez ’78

“My UCLA experience has been transformative in many ways over the years. Both professionally and personally, UCLA has shaped my life in a positive direction and for that, I will always be grateful.”

Daniel D. Gutierrez is an independent consultant in data science through his firm AMULET Analytics. He’s also a technology journalist, serving as editor-in-chief for insideBIGDATA.com, where he enjoys keeping a pulse on this fast-paced industry. Gutierrez is also an educator, having taught data science, machine learning and R classes at the university level for many years. He currently teaches data science for UCLA Extension and has authored four computer industry books on database and data science technology, including his most recent title, “Machine Learning and Data Science: An Introduction to Statistical Learning Methods with R.” Gutierrez holds a B.S. in mathematics and computer science from UCLA.

Omar Hurricane Department of Physics
and Astronomy

Omar Hurricane M.S. ’92, Ph.D. ’94

“As for what has UCLA meant to me, it was the foundation of my career and, in many respects, my life.”

Omar Hurricane completed a B.S. summa cum laude in physics and applied mathematics from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1990 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from UCLA in 1992 and 1994. Hurricane is chief scientist for the inertial confinement fusion program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a fellow of the American Physical Society and the recipient of the American Nuclear Society 2021 Edward Teller Award for his “visionary scientific insights and leadership of National Ignition Facility experiments resulting in the achievement of fuel gain, an alpha-heating-dominated plasma and a burning plasma.” Prior to Lawrence Livermore, he worked as a postdoc at the UCLA Institute of Plasma & Fusion Research.

Jill Tananbaum Department of Political Science

Jill Tananbaum ’88

“UCLA shaped my life by introducing me to the interconnectivity of the political, economic, cultural, artistic, social and innovative world. My UCLA degree has opened many doors for me — including as an intern for the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court — and has kept me connected to Los Angeles despite living out of state. I’m a ‘north campus’ student by degree, but I owe my life to Dennis J. Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical and translational research at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, who developed the monoclonal antibody called Herceptin.”

Jill (Goldberger) Tananbaum grew up in Northern California, graduated from UCLA in 1988 with a political science-business emphasis degree and received her J.D. cum laude in 1992 from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. After an externship in the United States District Court for the Central District of California and a clerkship with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, she spent many years as a trial lawyer in private practice with Coudert Brothers in New York City and Jones Day in Dallas. Tananbaum founded her general practice firm serving as a litigation consultant and outside general counsel to public company clients and family offices. While continuing to serve her clients, she serves as O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s director of client services and business development, Southwest region, focusing on the Austin, Dallas and Houston offices.

Tananbaum is a UCLA Alumni Association life member and serves on the UCLA Social Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board and the UCLA Political Science Department’s Board of Advisors. She previously served on the UCLA Social Sciences Centennial Campaign Committee.

Her extensive leadership experience includes past or current service on the board of directors or chairing philanthropic activities for many organizations, including American Cancer Society, Cattle Baron’s Ball, The Family Place, The Arts Community Alliance, Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, Vogel Alcove, Baylor Celebrating Women for the BSW Foundation, The Sandler-Kenner Foundation, Highland Park Boy’s Lacrosse, Inc., Friends of the Highland Park Library, Highland Park Literary Festival, Highland Park Community League and the University of Texas McCombs BBA Parents Council.

Despite her strong Bruin allegiances, Tananbaum is the proud mother of two Longhorns: Kyle (UT McCombs BBA 2022) and Jason (UT McCombs BHP and BBA 2025) and is Cookie’s primary dog walker.


Karen Baker Department of Sociology

Karen Baker ’83

“Here at UCLA is where I first experienced the euphoric feeling of learning how I could make a difference in the world. Graduating with a B.A. in sociology exposed me to smart, creative and diverse students who understood the importance of solving complex social problems.”

Karen Baker is a nonprofit and public sector leader, strategist and community program innovator. Currently, she is the executive director of Yolo Food Bank, and she has served in cabinet positions and agency lead posts under California Governors Schwarzenegger, Brown and Newsom leading California Volunteers. Prior to her current position, Baker was the architect and co-chair of Listos California, a statewide disaster preparedness campaign aimed at educating diverse and vulnerable populations. Prior to her work in state government, she was a managing partner with Valley Vision in Sacramento and was the director of innovation at Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger national nonprofit. Baker also served as a Clinton administration presidential appointee to establish the national service program AmeriCorps, and she led Chrysalis, a nonprofit dedicated to job readiness for individuals experiencing homelessness. After graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in sociology, she completed a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She now lives in Sacramento with her husband and two children.

Neda BathurstDepartment of Statistics
and Data Science

Neda Bathurst M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’06

“UCLA is a fun and pivotal experience, bestowing upon its graduates the foundations to discover new paths for global progress and the realization of dreams.”

Neda Bathurst is currently a data science leader at Google, managing a team of 20 data scientists working on Google Assistant, a private and secure virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence. It enables users to interact using natural voice or keyboard input to get everyday tasks done more easily than ever before. She began her career at Rand Corporation as a statistician and research scientist while she was finishing her Ph.D. After graduating from UCLA, she was a data scientist consultant at FTI Consulting, where she discovered her passion for the tech sector. Bathurst then joined eBay, followed by Ask.com, before joining Google in 2012. She also served on the MSBA Industry Advisory Board for the graduate school of management at the University of California Davis.

Bathurst presently lives in San Francisco with her husband, a senior intellectual property counsel at a prominent boutique Silicon Valley firm. They enjoy golfing and gardening (sometimes simultaneously, depending on how well they’re playing), spending time with family and traveling.


Kelly Vlahakis-HanksInstitute of the Environment
and Sustainability

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks ’00

“UCLA’s exceptional academic rigor, great minds and engaged student body cultivated my critical thinking skills and nurtured my deep and abiding belief in creating a business for good.”

As president and CEO of ECOS, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks leads the strategy and production of environmentally friendly cleaning products at four U.S. facilities and a European manufacturing platform. She has been widely recognized for her influential voice in corporate social responsibility and sustainable manufacturing. Under her leadership, ECOS has become a climate-positive company and has won many awards for its innovations in safer green chemistry, including the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Partner of the Year. As a woman of African American and Greek descent, she has made environmental and social justice a cornerstone of ECOS’s mission and is proud to lead a WBENC- and NMSDC-certified business. With a B.A. in communication studies and history from UCLA and an M.B.A. from Chapman University, she is an active member of several boards of directors, including the XPRIZE Foundation and the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation.