What is your favorite recollection of your undergraduate experience?
I have many fond memories of my time as an undergraduate student, but one of the most defining experiences in terms of my personal growth – the one that really influenced my decision to go to graduate school and shaped my future – was the first time I left Greece.
It was in 1976. I was a junior at the National Technical University of Athens and I traveled to Germany to present a research paper at an academic conference. I was only 22 years old at the time, and I had never been outside of Greece or even flown on an airplane before. This was also the first time I found myself in an environment where people came together to speak about research. The conference was held in Munich, and since I had never attended a conference before, it felt like such a huge place to me, surrounded by what felt to me like the rest of the world.
I was captivated by everything I saw, from my first experience in a large department store, to the huge train station where the trains departed within one minute of the posted times. I was also amazed by the research that people were doing and I wanted to learn more. This experience made me curious about other places and it gave me the motivation to come to the United States and attend graduate school at UCLA. The whole trip was an amazing experience for me because it influenced many of the decisions I made for my future.
It is my hope that you – our students – take full advantage of every opportunity to open your eyes and your mind to new people and new worlds, and to make the best of your undergraduate experience at UC Davis. I hope that you too will look back one day and reflect fondly on the experiences here that helped shape your life and influenced you as our future leaders.
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