George Takei
pioneering actor, social justice activist, author and social media star

The UCLA College will host a virtual celebration for spring centennial graduates on Friday, June 12, at 3 p.m., featuring an address from actor, social justice activist, bestselling author and social media star George Takei.


“George Takei is an example to all Bruins of the power of perseverance despite adversity. He has shown without a doubt that by following one’s dreams it is possible to make an enormous impact for the betterment of all,” said Patricia Turner, senior dean of the UCLA College and vice provost for undergraduate education. “I know our students and their guests will be inspired as we virtually celebrate this tenacious class of students.”


The virtual celebration is the launch of the class of 2020’s recognition for their accomplishments, which will culminate with an in-person event during the 2020–21 academic year, when it is again safe to gather. The College has worked with graduating students to craft the virtual event, which will celebrate the end of the academic year and the conferral of degrees for this year’s centennial class. The program will include remarks by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Takei, a class of 2020 student speaker and others.


“I’m deeply honored to help launch this celebration of my fellow Bruins,” Takei said. “It feels so right to be with this group of extraordinary young people for UCLA’s very first virtual celebration because I too spent a good part of my career boldly going where no one had gone before!”


A well-known UCLA alumnus, Takei has had an impressive career spanning more than six decades. He has appeared in more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television roles, most famously as Hikaru Sulu in “Star Trek,” and has used his success as a platform to fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. His advocacy is personal: During World War II, Takei spent his childhood in U.S. internment camps along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans.

Takei has a strong social media following, injecting humor into his approach to life. He also has penned a number of bestselling books. He serves as chairman emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum’s board of trustees and is a member of the US–Japan Bridging Foundation board of directors. Takei also served on the board of the Japan–United States Friendship Commission under President Bill Clinton and in 2004 was honored with the Gold Rays with Rosette of the Order of the Rising Sun by the emperor of Japan for his contribution to U.S.–Japan relations. Takei received both bachelor and master of arts degrees from UCLA (’60, ’64).


Takei was invited to be the class of 2020 commencement speaker after being chosen by the 2020 Commencement Committee, comprising UCLA students, faculty and administrators, prior to the postponement of the event due to COVID-19. Takei graciously agreed to deliver the keynote address for the virtual celebration. 


“At this moment in history, where many individuals and families are experiencing unprecedented challenges, this virtual celebration is an opportunity to take a celebratory pause, laud our students’ achievements with friends and family, and provide a moment of joy and inspiration,” Turner said.


The UCLA College, which will host the virtual event, includes the divisions of humanities, life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and undergraduate education and comprises about 83% of UCLA’s undergraduate population.

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.


Margaret Miller

Kristie-Valerie Hoang

Margaret Miller is from Santa Barbara, California, and she will graduate from UCLA with a major in Psychobiology and a minor in Spanish. She was inspired to attend UCLA because of the supportive environment, academic rigor, and commitment to excellence.

While at UCLA, Margaret has dedicated her time to many extracurriculars. She has spent her time working in undergraduate research, serving under-resourced communities through Flying Samaritans and Happy Feet, as well as being a dedicated member of Kappa Alpha Theta, through which she was able to serve on the Panhellenic Council for two years. Margaret enjoys exploring her hobbies: she has been singing with her a cappella group Resonance throughout college and has continued taking voice lessons. She auditioned to be this year’s commencement singer because singing is a way for Margaret to express herself, and she wanted to sing to commemorate this important moment for every UCLA Class of 2020 graduate. After graduation, Margaret will be taking a gap year while applying to medical schools across the nation. One day, she hopes to be a psychiatrist.

Kristie-Valerie Hoang is Human Biology and Society and Political Science student, hailing from Huntington Beach, California. UCLA has been Kristie’s dream school since she was eight years old for its academic rigor and proximity to home. She changed her major not once, but three times at UCLA.

For the past four years, Kristie has worked as a reporter at the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper. At the Bruin, Kristie was a photographer, covered campus politics, and managed the paper’s digital strategy. She won both national and regional journalism awards for her work in photography, audience engagement and writing. Aside from working at the paper, Kristie was a member of Model United Nations where she organized, chaired and competed in conferences debating international politics. Kristie was to intern at the Washington Post after graduation prior to coronavirus-related cancellations. One day, she hopes to be on the masthead of a national publication or be the White House Press Secretary.