UCLA Sociology Commencement Speech

Hey all,

So as you may/may not know, I recently graduated with a B.A. in Sociology at UCLA. Here is a speech that I submitted to be a student speaker at the Sociology graduation, but it was not accepted. However, I would like to share it with you guys regardless:

“Voices of the Class”—Sociology 2010 Graduation Speech

I don’t think that anybody starts as a sociology major. Us sociology majors seem to always stray from one major to the next until we end up with the best major, which is sociology. I remember starting off as a biology major my freshman year, because I was forced by my parents to become a prestigious doctor or something like that. The day that I realized I shouldn’t go down the pre-med route I remember calling my mom and telling me that I was going to switch to Sociology—the study of society or something like that. You can imagine how that went.

I then remember sitting in my first Sociology 1 class in which I was introduced to the wonderful world of sociology which caused me to question everything that I have been socialized into believing. It gave me the power and inspiration to assert myself as an individual, rather than letting social conventions define me. It inspired me to go out in the world and make a difference, and to do what I truly wanted to do, rather than what my parents or anybody else wanted or expected to do.

There have been many instances in which I have been criticized or questioned for being a sociology major. Sociology? What are you going to do with that major? Become a teacher or a social worker? How do you expect to feed your family in the future?

I have heard the following quote from a fellow sociology major: “A sociologist is someone who, when a beautiful woman enters the room and everybody looks at her, looks at everyone.” Sociology is a major which teaches us to evaluate the ways in which we present ourselves to others, how we interact with others individually and through a group. It teaches us to analyze and be critical of what we are told by others, whether it be through facts or statistics. We learn to question the structure of the family—and whether human nature is more nature or nurture. We learn to appreciate the beauty of everyday life.

Through the guidance of many of my teachers and mentors at UCLA and in the Sociology department I have been able to participate in so many different opportunities. Through Professor Emerson and Rachel Fretz’s Sociology Immersion Program I have learned to conduct ethnographic research and learning how to appreciate “members meanings.” The graduate students in the sociology department have given me great grad school advice, and told me what it is to truly be a sociologist. Professor Jack Katz gave me the opportunity to help assist him with his research, in which I learned how important it was to be organized, self-driven, as well as professional with my work. I have always looked up to Terri Anderson as my personal mentor, and now she is my faculty mentor for a USIE class that I am teaching which is titled: “Sociology of Facebook and Online Social Networks.”  We truly have one of the most prestigious Sociology programs in the world, which is defined by the professors and teachers whom teach and guide us.

Sociology is not about being passive, it’s about doing. We cannot call ourselves “social scientists” while studying society through a microscope. However we must do sociology through interacting with others and using what we learned to critique and hopefully improve society. I will now share the quote that got me into college and will use it as a springboard as I graduate: As Ghandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”