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There’s no place like home

As space agencies contemplate mankind’s next great leap – a human mission to Mars – we’re reminded there is only one planet in the solar system known so far that can harbor life. Of the seven billion people supported by the Earth, several newly appointed graduates are prepared to help improve the health of the only home we have. On June 15 at UCLA’s Ackerman Grand Ballroom, family, friends, and supporters, along with faculty and staff, celebrated as 78 undergraduates received their Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and two graduate students earned a professional doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

In graduating senior Terry Chen’s student address at the commencement ceremony, he explained the gravitational pull of the Institute’s Earth-focused educational offerings, noting the wonder the big blue marble inspires. At the beginning of his speech, Chen humorously requested a moment of silence “for our academic brothers and sisters who did not select the best major at UCLA.” Studying the natural world continues to be a popular academic endeavor at the university. The interdisciplinary design and collaborative structure of the Institute’s degree programs encourage a greater appreciation for Mother Nature and provide a sense of community.

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Class of 2014’s Amy Tat said, “Being an Environmental Science major I found myself in a community of true Bruins – people constantly working towards excellence who always act with integrity, are always accountable and respectful, and most importantly want to be of service.

She continued, “The camaraderie and compassion I have felt from my peers in the IoES has constantly impressed and inspired me. The IoES community has encouraged me to keep dreaming big. When I say I want to save the world, they don’t laugh at me and instead say they share the same goal.”

Graduating senior Adrian Salazar said, “IoES students are well versed in topics such as climate change, air quality, renewable energy, sustainable living, green architecture, stratospheric ozone depletion, and more. It was at different points in my academic career that I recognized the value of the Environmental Science degree.”

“I feel privileged and distinctly honored to have been given the opportunity to run through this curriculum. I was given encouragement to explore and resources to provide results,” said Salazar.

The commencement exercises included the distribution of awards to students who demonstrated an added commitment to addressing critical environment and sustainability challenges on campus. To see the full list of honorees click here.

Drawing on the wisdom of Bruins past, commencement keynote speaker and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, also a UCLA alumnus, counseled the cap-and-gown clad crowd to follow Coach John Wooden’s instruction to “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

He also shared his experiences and successes in the public policy sector. Supervisor Yaroslovsky has supported a number of land conservation initiatives in his district. He closed the commencement address with guidance from fellow Bruin and baseball great Jackie Robinson, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Attaining a degree from the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is a pledge to care for the planet. As Terry stated in his own concluding remarks, “We’re dedicated to giving back to society. We’ve committed ourselves to responsible environmental stewardship, and we’re devoted to the idea of paying it forward to the world around us.”

Congratulations to the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Class of 2014! 

View the IoES Flicker album with pictures from the event. 

Watch the graduation ceremony on the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability YouTube channel

To learn how you can support the Institute’s academic programs visit Support Us.