UC Santa Barbara College of Creative Studies Commencement Celebrates Interdisciplinary Creativity and Community

June 13, 2024

CCS Commencement kicks off UCSB commencement season with 73 graduates who dared to dream big and follow their passions

2024 CCS Commencement at Campbell Hall
2024 CCS Commencement at Campbell Hall

The College of Creative Studies (CCS) kicked off UC Santa Barbara’s commencement season on Sunday, June 9 at Campbell Hall. Surrounded by family and friends along with CCS faculty and staff, the ceremony themed around community, transformative creativity, and interdisciplinary spiritcelebrated 73 graduates for their achievements. UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall, and CCS Interim Dean Timothy Sherwood presided over the ceremony. 

Chancellor Yang began the ceremony with opening remarks, commenting: “You have amazed us with your curiosity, your imagination, and of course your accomplishments.”

“You have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to your studies and to this community, and in doing so, you have not only enriched your own lives, but also the lives of those around you. Each of you has contributed to the unique fabric of our university, and have left an indelible mark on our shared future. As you venture forth, let your curiosity and creativity guide you. We believe you will thrive. We believe in the future you will create. We believe in you!”

—Timothy Sherwood, CCS Interim Dean

CCS Interim Dean Sherwood highlighted the Class of 2024 in numbers, noting: “You’ve participated in a diverse array of practical experiences through 43 internships, securing 33 grants, and embarking on 24 undergraduate research fellowshipsall fueling innovation and creativity in the College while contributing to your fields with passion.”

2024 CCS Commencement at Campbell Hall
2024 CCS Commencement at Campbell Hall

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that every human being we encounter has something to teach us. The more humble we are about our own ignorance, the more we open ourselves to the most valuable kind of knowledge – the magical, mysterious, non-verbal, trans-cultural, trans-disciplinary stuff...”

—Dr. Wes Fields ‘76 (CCS Literature), 2024 CCS Commencement Speaker

The College has a history of inviting a member of the CCS alumni community to be the Commencement speaker and address the graduating class. Dr. Wes Fields ‘76 (CCS Literature), the 2024 CCS Commencement speaker, highlighted the importance of community and collaboration in the creation of knowledge, articulating: “The highest calling of the CCS community is to ask each other the right questions. While you are finding your own voices and staking out your breakthroughs, if you are listening to each other carefully and collaborating across disciplines, the answers we need will take care of themselves.”

Julia Ong ‘24 (CCS Chemistry & Biochemistry) and Sasha Senel ‘24 (CCS Writing & Literature) were the 2024 Commencement student speakers. Julia emphasized the humanistic aspect of a CCS education, commenting: “I’ll always be grateful for the atmosphere of camaraderie while solving problem sets on the classroom blackboards, the unique courses that you can’t find at any other school, and the instant connection whenever I meet another CCS student by chance.” 

Julia continued, “We are problem solvers who can be competent in any field we put our minds to. In keeping with the spirit of creativity, we’ll make sure to leverage everything we’ve learned here, achieving greatness in our own ways while defying conventional measures of success.” 

Keeping with the theme of transformation, Sasha noted, “There’s a certain kind of room to fail that can be found within the College of Creative Studies. What I mean is that everyone here is majorly aspirational, perhaps to their detriment at times. I have seen people become poets out of screenwriters, waiters out of biologists, depressed out of mathematics. Whether a poet or a waiter or a depressed mathematician, we all perform our trade with honor and dignity-or at least, we deserve to. The bottom line is that there is risk in passion, risk in transformation.” 

Sasha continued, “Like stones, we must not be defined by our capacity to keep our contents uniform. Stone is always moving, always changing. Even when it is stuck, it is not stuck. Even when washed ashore, it will return. I think transformation is the flow of all things.”

Joseph Alvarez '24 (CCS Music Composition) performs a piano piece
Joseph Alvarez '24 (CCS Music Composition) performs a piano piece

CCS Composers Joseph Alvarez ‘24 (CCS Music Composition) and Lucian Parisi ‘24 (CCS Music Composition) each performed pieces for the ceremony’s musical portion. Joseph composed and performed a set of three short piano preludes from a set of five, titled Prelude No.2 "Nocturne," Prelude No.3 "Waltz," and Prelude No. 5, "Farewell.: Lucian presented an audiovisual piece sonifying the landscapes of the Rancho Marino field research station, titled “Coastal Drift.” The piece features clarinet, piano, and guitar pairs to convey the relationships and movement between local otters, dolphins, and the tide.

This year, four UCSB students were chosen to receive the Chancellor’s Award in Undergraduate Research. Guy Wilks ‘24 (CCS Computing) and Ashley Yeh ‘24 (CCS Biology) were two of these recipients, marking the first time two CCS students have received the esteemed award in the same year. Elaina Smolin ‘24 (CCS Writing & Literature) received the CCS Sara Sterphone Student Service Award which honors graduating students for their positive contributions to the CCS community in loving memory of Sara, a dedicated and compassionate academic advisor at the College who profoundly impacted students and believed strongly in belongingness and community before her passing in 2021.

CCS faculty and staff congratulate all the 2024 graduates, and their families and friends. 

Read Alumni Speaker Dr. Wes Field’s 2024 Commencement Address.

Read more about the CCS Commencement in The Current article, June 10, 2024.

Watch the full 2024 CCS Commencement recording.