Class of 2021 Virtual Commencement

Congratulations, Class of 2021! On June 11, 2021 at 12 p.m. (Pacific Time), we launched our Class of 2021 Virtual Commencement Video.

For information on the College of Letters and Science Commencement, please visit

Commencement Speaker Biographies

Labor Studies Graduation Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Melina Abdullah is a recognized expert on race, gender, class, and social movements. She was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter and continues to serve as a Los Angeles chapter leader.  

She is also professor and former Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Abdullah earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in Political Science and her B.A. from Howard University in African American Studies. 

Professor Abdullah is a womanist scholar-activist, understanding the role that she plays in the academy as intrinsically linked to broader struggles for the liberation of oppressed people. Professor Abdullah is a leader in the fight for Ethnic Studies in the K-12 and university systems and was a part of the historic victory that made Ethnic Studies a requirement in the Los Angeles Unified School District, also serving on the Taskforce for the Advancement of Ethnic Studies for the California State University system. 

Community Leader speakers:

Dolores Huerta is a feminist, labor leader and civil rights activist who co-founded what would become the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Huerta coined the highly-recognized rally chant: Si Se Puede (Yes We Can) and was the lead organizer of the Delano Grape Boycott in 1965.

Among other awards for her advocacy for worker, immigrant, and women’s rights, Huerta has received the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1993, she was the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame

Senator María Elena Durazo represents California’s Senate District 24 which encompasses parts of central and East Los Angeles. Durazo was born the seventh child in a family of eleven children to migrant worker parents. Growing up, Durazo traveled with her family, following the crops throughout California and Oregon, and experiencing the exploitative conditions and hardships that migrant laborers suffer.

Durazo came to Los Angeles in the 1970s to organize undocumented immigrants. She worked for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and later earned a law degree at the Peoples College of Law. She led a rank-and-file reform effort in HERE Local 11, was elected local president, and led the revitalization of the local. From 2006 to 2014, she led the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the second largest labor council in the country and served on the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Student speakers: 

Ashley Michel is graduating with a major in labor studies major and Chicana/o & Central American Studies minor. She is the first in her family to graduate from a four-year university, and she worked as the communications assistant for the Labor Studies program before landing her current position as a Community Organizer at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE).

Julio Sagastume is graduating as a pre-medical labor studies major, a UCLA Alumni Scholar, and a COPE Health Scholar. Julio is proud of the experiences he gained through labor studies which will allow him to bring a unique and valuable perspective to the medical field–a field he feels desperately requires cultural and economic diversity. He hopes to apply the skills he learned in labor studies to care for the working-class patients he hopes to serve one day.

A Graduation Message from Our Labor Studies Instructors

Continue Our Celebration!

To help us make our Labor Studies graduation day memorable, we encourage you to post your photos, experiences, and messages to the Class of 2021 using the hashtags #UCLALaborStudiesGrad2021 and #LaborStudiesClassof2021 on social media. Follow our Labor Studies Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more graduation content! 

Download our custom virtual backgrounds below, too!