UC Santa Cruz congratulates the Class of 2021
In recognition of UC Santa Cruz’s 2021 commencement, we present a few of our amazing grads. These scholars represent the resilience, resourcefulness, talent, and diversity of the Class of 2021.
Oakes ’21, cognitive science (artificial intelligence and human computer interaction concentration) and computer science (minor)
Halfway through Desi Ascencio’s undergraduate years, he got work at a research lab, then was accepted as a summer research assistant for the STEM Diversity Programs. Both of these environments were pivotal to his finding the confidence to explore his interests as a student and as a scientist. Read Desi’s full student spotlight here.
Merrill ’21, computer science and mathematics
Evanjelin Mahmoodi knew she was interested in STEM fields when she arrived at UC Santa Cruz but soon discovered she especially liked mathematics. Now she’s graduating with a double major in mathematics and computer science. Read Evanjelin’s full student spotlight here.
Porter ’21, art and design: games and playable media
In his four years at UCSC, Jeven Zarate-McCoy has served in various lead roles and officer positions with the Game Design and Arts Collaboration student group and is capping his final year as president. Read Jeven’s full student spotlight here.
Porter ’21, history
Jonah Gertz tried to choose between his two academic passions: intensive history and music. But, he said, the choice was impossible since he was surrounded by so many different opportunities to grow as both a historian and musician. Read Jonah’s full student spotlight here.
College Nine ‘21, history of art and visual culture and psychology
Joslyn Chu loved psychology before arriving at UCSC and planned to follow that path. But after a couple of classes she soon fell in love with the issues of Oceania and climate change, particularly how “people in Oceania are using art as a form of activism to spread awareness of effects of climate change,” she said. Read Joslyn’s full student spotlight here.
Kresge ’21, linguistics
The qualities of patience, perseverance, focus, hard work, and striving to achieve an elusive goal helped Katharina Pierini hold the course toward a UC Santa Cruz diploma, an educational path she completed in spite of a 27-year-long delay and a devastating wildfire. Read Katharina’s full student spotlight here.
College Ten ’21, Latin American and Latino studies and Spanish studies
Montserrat Lopez dedicated her college career to art, outreach, activism, and giving back to the communities that have sustained her. With her far-ranging goals and ambitious course of study, Lopez had not a minute to lose when she transferred to UC Santa Cruz last year. Read Montserrat’s full student spotlight here.
Oakes ’21, molecular, cell, and developmental biology
Nabeela Ariqat, a first-generation college student, hoped for a new beginning at UC Santa Cruz, which she attended in part because “I felt like I could be who I was,” she said. Read Nabeela’s full student spotlight here.
Porter ’21, music
It’s tough being a performing arts major when all the performing arts spaces are shut down. That’s the predicament Nick Hidy, who plays the French horn and trombone, found himself in as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. But, as they say, out of adversity comes innovation. Read Nick’s full student spotlight here.
Merrill ’21, sociology
As Norberto (Norbit) Garcia interviewed 18 families about their experiences for his senior thesis, he was reminded of why he chose sociology as a major—the realization that he wanted to help communities that are underrepresented and motivate students like him to go to college. Read Norbit’s full student spotlight here.
Merrill ’21, Latin American and Latino studies and legal studies
When she started at UCSC, Sharon Valle Rodriguez was unsure about everything. But she learned to be independent and emotionally intelligent. “Now I believe in myself and know I can achieve my goals,” she said. Read Sharon’s full student spotlight here.
College Ten ’21, biology and bioinformatics (minor)
When Simayijiang “Sherin” Xirenayi left home at age 19, she knew she wanted to study biology. She attended community college before transferring to UC Santa Cruz, but it wasn’t an easy move. Her life turned a corner when she was asked to meet with a campus adviser. Read Sherin’s full student spotlight here.
College Nine ’21, robotics engineering
Vaishnavi Dornadula was a leader in creating the first-ever Baskin Day celebration, which launched in February 2020. Since then, it has turned into a popular campus tradition, with students from across the disciplines, as well as off-campus visitors. Read Vaishnavi’s full student spotlight here.
Rachel Carson ’21, electrical engineering
Ray Jara liked science and was good at it, but he didn’t have college in mind until his freshman year of high school. A trip to Northern California with a college-readiness organization brought him to UC Santa Cruz. His concentration now is on photonics and electronic devices. Read Vaishnavi’s full student spotlight here.
Oakes ’21, molecular, cell, and developmental biology
David Sanchez Godinez arrived at UC Santa Cruz with a passion for scientific exploration. Taking a full load of science classes and getting hands-on learning honed his scientific knowledge—especially his experience working as an undergraduate researcher. Read Vaishnavi’s full student spotlight here.