Courtesy of Stan Lim via UCR

As one journey ends, another begins. Graduation and commencement are underway and differ from last year’s fully remote commencement, as they are being held in a limited, in-person fashion. Reflecting upon their upcoming commencement and time at UCR, many cherished their experiences and were eager to move onto pursuing their aspirations. However, with the global pandemic and the transition into remote learning, many also expressed feelings of being robbed of their final year. 

Evan Kam, a graduating political science and law and society major, began his UCR journey in hopes of studying both law and animation. He described himself in the beginning as a “young and dumb 18-year-old who didn’t understand the college system.” But overtime, he not only learned to navigate the college system better, but also understood the cold, hard truth that adulthood is confusing. Kam expressed a greater notion to those feeling the rushed reality of adulthood that “It’s fine to still be studying by 28 since things are more crowded than before. Everyone moves at different paces.” Kam’s future plans include getting into law school while also enrolling into Fullerton College to pursue his true passion of animation and maintaining a career in law as a practical backup. 

Courtesy of Stan Lim via UCR

Graduating with a psychology major, Travis Perales came into the university with a lot to prove and a fresh start following high school. And by the end of it all, Perales expressed, “I believe I did what I set out to do,” as he graduated in three years with University Honors, summa cum laude honors and will be continuing his education by completing a doctoral program in clinical psychology in the upcoming fall quarter. He expressed his gratitude stating, “I’ve realized now that it was this university and its community that gave me all the opportunities to really help me become the student I wanted and knew I could be. Being at the end, it’s better now. I don’t regret my decision for UCR.”

Lama Yassine, a graduating biology and math major, settled upon UCR hoping to attain the experience of being at a large university. Describing the UCR campus as a “really heartwarming and accepting place to be,” she appreciated the down-to-earth attitude of students and cherishes the many opportunities that our university offered, including her tenure at ASUCR, as well as the memories and life-long friends she made overtime. Yassine’s postgraduate future involves her enrollment at Columbia University come fall for her masters degree in biomedical engineering. 

Natalie Haghani, a graduating biology major, decided to attend UCR due to the university’s strong biological sciences program and the recently established UCR School of Medicine. Adjusting to college life was difficult at first, though in little time, she blossomed through her experiences, meeting lifelong friends, and inspiring faculty and professors. 

Ryan Poon / The Highlander

Graduating with a math-economics major, Christopher Milonakos had grown up in Riverside, making UCR an easy pick. Being a transfer student, Chris only attended UCR for two years, but he loved every minute of the experience, even the universal struggle of finding parking. Chris has already obtained an actuarial internship at a retirement services company and will begin working after graduation. 

Miguel Oh, a fourth-year mathematics major, made his decision to attend UCR citing the school’s stellar education program as his primary reason. In his interview with The Highlander, he stated, “I think it’s safe to say that I don’t regret my choice at all after seeing where I’m at right now!” Oh hopes to become a math teacher in the future, either at a middle school or high school level, and after graduating, he will pursue a masters degree in education with a credential in mathematics.

“My experience attending UCR was nothing short of the best,” stated Mark Hanin, a graduating biology major. After graduating, Hanin looks forward to interning at the California Air Resources Board over the summer. Following this, he strives to earn a masters degree in public health before specializing in health law and policy. He aspires to become a medical malpractice lawyer and a public health reform advocate with the hopes of addressing existing inequities within today’s healthcare system.

Online classes affected many student’s ability to learn and retain information, though many pros and cons were noted. Both Kam and Perales expressed similar concerns in their interviews and expressed that certain classes would have been much better handled in-person as opposed to online. Milonakos stated that the transition has been mostly a detriment citing the lack of interaction in classes.  

However, some courses, primarily students’ breadth courses, seem to have benefited from the transition. Furthermore, in her interview, Yassine made the point that, “Our virtual world has made it plenty easier to be involved on campus,” citing the ability to attend zoom meetings and view pre recorded lectures. And Haghani expressed her enjoyment of being able to complete her asynchronous classes at any given time.

Courtesy of UCRNEWS

However, with the transition into online learning, Perales expressed a concern shared by many, saying, “After everything I accomplished, this ending is very anticlimactic.” He reflected on how the pandemic prevented many from pursuing many opportunities and events that they looked forward to. 

Though these graduating seniors are off to pursue different endeavours post-grad, through their interviews, they expressed their gratitude for completing their education at UCR and will always look back fondly at their time.