UCLA International Institute
Asia Institute

Advancing collaborative, interdisciplinary research on Asia worldwide


155 Graduates Receive Degrees in First International Institute Interdepartmental Degree Program Commencement

155 Graduates Receive Degrees in First International Institute Interdepartmental Degree Program Commencement

1200 gather in Royce Hall for June 14 graduation. One Ph.D., 30 M.A.s, 124 B.A.s awarded in 8 international fields.

The second annual graduation ceremony for UCLA's Interdepartmental Degree Programs (IDPs) in international studies was held at Royce Hall June 14 for an enthusiastic audience of some 1200 people. Though some of the degree programs have existed for many years, last year was the first time that they held a single graduation ceremony, to mark their transfer to and consolidation within the UCLA International Institute, which was then still called the International Studies and Overseas Programs (ISOP). The June 14 ceremony was the first commencement since ISOP was renamed as the International Institute.

A total of 155 students participated in the ceremony from all 8 of the International Institute's Interdepartmental Degree Programs. These included 30 students graduating with an M.A. in either African Studies, East Asian Studies, Islamic Studies, or Latin American Studies.

There was one Ph.D., awarded, to Heidi Rutz in Islamic Studies. Heidi was excited about her upcoming teaching job that she has accepted at the Naval War Academy in Newport, Rhode Island. This is a military training institute for mid-career military officers, officers of foreign militaries, and government officials. She will be preparing lectures on specific areas of Middle East historical, cultural, and/or political issues.

Another M.A. highlight was a $1,000 award for best M.A. paper in Latin American Studies, to Korinna Sanchez. The award was made possible by donor Joan Palevsky.

Six of the Institute's IDP's were represented in the undergraduate programs. Of the approximately 124 undergraduate students participating in the event, the largest group by far was from International Development Studies with about 70 students. Other groups were East Asian Studies with 16; European Studies, 10; Latin American Studies, 25; Middle East and North African Studies, 2; and Southeast Asian Studies, 2. The two students receiving B.A.s in Southeast Asian Studies were the first graduates of the program, which was initiated just two years ago and is the only degree program in Southeast Asian Studies in Southern California.

The keynote address at the graduation was given by Institute Vice Provost Geoffrey Garrett. One student speaker, Justin Conrad, was chosen in the month before graduation in a competition of students to be part of the formal celebration. Justin was graduating with an M.A. in Latin American Studies. He gave an inspiring speech about the relevance of international area studies in today's current events.

Two student groups provided great music entertainment, both led by Latin American Studies M.A. graduate Beto Gonzalez. As a prelude, Beto led a group of four musicians called the "João Ninguém Samba Chôro." Choro music is a type of Brazilian music popular in the early part of the 20th century and is considered a precursor to Samba music. Later for the recessional, Beto led another group of about 12 volunteer students, including another fellow graduate from the International Development Studies program who played the drum in her full regalia. They played another Brazilian style of percussion music called a Batucada, loud, rhythmic, dancey, street drumming often associated with Brazilian Carneval. The Batucada continued as the group of faculty and happy grads recessed out of Royce Hall into the quad for a great reception.

We are fortunate that Beto will continue his educational career at UCLA, having been accepted to the Ph.D. program in Ethnomusicology. Beto said he has been inspired by professor and accomplished musician Aierto Moreira, who played at the IDP graduation last year.

Faculty members representing each program attended the event, including presenters: Russell Schuh, Chair African Studies; Rick Baum, Director, Asia Institute; Ann-Christina Knudsen, Chair, European Studies; Nancy Levine, Chair, International Development Studies; Sondra Hale, Advisory Committee, Islamic Studies; Jayne Spencer, Lecturer in Latin American Studies; and Geoffrey Robinson, Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Other supporting faculty members attending were: Allen Roberts, Center for African Studies; Nandini Gunewardena, International Development Studies; and Herbert Plutschow, East Asian Languages and Cultures. Barbara Gaerlan, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, also participated in the event.

The 1200 guests were later invited to a reception after the event that spread out in the quad between Royce Hall and Powell Library and the fountain above Janss Steps. It seemed as though everyone had a fun time, especially the toddler who was dancing at the front of the stage for the Batucada, olé!