Graduate Division

Celebration of Graduate Success

Celebration of Graduate Success

Friday, June 9, 2017
9:30 AM | Check-in
10:15 AM – 5:00 PM | Celebration Symposium
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM | Reception
University of California, Irvine | Newkirk Alumni Center

Online registration is now closed, but we invite you to meet us at the Newkirk Alumni Center for walk-up registration.

The Celebration is a day-long symposium that calls together graduate and postdoctoral scholar alumni, campus leaders, current graduate, and postdoctoral scholars to honor the success of our graduate community and to engage in a dialogue about its future. Today, more than ever, professional development is essential to success. No one understands this better than our alumni. The time is now to work together to brainstorm a world-class joint venture in graduate professional development and engage in graduate education. You are invited to take a seat at this table and lend your voice to the process.

Please continue to check back as we add more details regarding this year's event.

Section 2

2017 Celebration Schedule

9:30 am |  Registration Opens

10:15 am | Welcome and Opening Remarks | Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate Division, Frances Leslie

10:20 am - 10:30 am | UCI Grad Slam Champion Encore Presentation - “Nature’s Climate Saving Machines” | Megan Newcomb, Ph.D. Candidate, Chemistry, returns for a special delivery of her winning pitch and a round of Q & A.

10:30 am - 11:00 am | Conversation with Leaders | Sitting at the Table, Identifying Challenges and Opportunities for Graduate Professional Success

Today, institutions are tasked with preparing graduate students and postdoctoral scholars not only academically, but professionally to be competitive in a workforce with new expectations. Each of the stakeholders at this table will share challenges in creating professional success and identify opportunities to accomplish this goal. Participants will listen as stakeholders set the table for the day’s discussions on graduate professional success and their vision for the future.

11:00 am - 11:45 am | Morning Small Group Discussions | Claiming Your Seat to Create Opportunities

11:45 am - 1:15 pm | Lunch & Featured Keynote | Graduate Alumnus, Jose Romero-Mariona, Ph.D. '10

1:30 pm - 2:15 pm | Mid-Day Small Group Discussions | Changing Perspective: Identifying Professional Development through your Lens

To further a conversation about how to advance professional development in the landscape of graduate education, we must understand the expectations across a broad set of industries. This discussion aims to explore professional competencies across various careers.  Participants will identify opportunities for translating those expectations into trainable skill sets within the framework of graduate education. Alumni participants will be especially key to informing a conversation about defining and shaping relevant professional development opportunities for graduate and post-doctoral trainees.

2:30 pm - 2:40 pm | UCI Grad Slam Finalist Encore Presentation "Battle to Belong: Underrepresented Students in STEM | Peter McPartlan, Ph.D. Candidate, Education, returns to present his UCI Grad Slam finalist pitch and share what’s next for him

2:40 pm - 3:40 pm | Networking Power Hour | A revolving session designed to get attendees moving, create new connections and grow networks.

This is a great opportunity for all levels of networkers to practice their 30 second introduction and focus on micro-mentoring!

3:55 pm - 4:40 pm | Afternoon Small Group Discussions | Engaging in Graduate Education. 

A new model for graduate professional success cannot happen without all stakeholders at the table. This discussion works towards a conclusion to this year’s Celebration by exploring stakeholder’s roles in graduate education and graduate professional success. Drawing from the previous two discussions, this conversation will focus on identifying pathways to engagement for alumni, current graduate students and postdocs as well as faculty and administration. Participants will create action items for moving forward. 

4:40 pm - 4:50 pm | UCI Grad Slam Finalist Encore Presentation -  “Rehab Robots Lend a Helping Hand” | Sumner Norman, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UCI Grad Slam's 2nd place winner shares his pitch and more about his next steps.

4:50 pm | Closing Remarks & Transition

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm | New Alumni Welcome Reception | The Celebration continues as graduate alumni congratulate and welcome graduating doctoral candidates to the alumni community in this special year end event.  

The First Celebration

In commemoration of UCI’s 50th anniversary, the inaugural 2016 Celebration of Graduate Success highlighted five decades of graduate program impact and some of our most successful graduate and postdoctoral scholar alumni. The event featured alumni speakers and panelists who represented the Bright Past. Brilliant Future. of UC Irvine’s graduate degree programs. On Friday, June 9, 2017, we will celebrate again. This year’s program will move the conversation along to focus on action that all graduate community stakeholders can take to help UCI build a stronger model for graduate professional success.

Professional Development and Impact on Graduate Education

Graduate education is changing at a rapid pace and professional development has become that much more essential to the future success of our students. Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and their research are impacting the world in profound and visible ways. Here at UCI, we encourage our students and scholars to not only develop skills in the classroom and lab, but to acquire a new level of professional development as their journey leads them into their future careers – in whichever industry or field that may be. Our alumni understand and have experienced this journey firsthand. So we call on this important Anteater community to provide their prospective and inform an action plan for graduate professional success.

Throughout the day, our conversations will surround the key competencies of Graduate Professional Success in transforming how graduate students and post-doctoral scholars develop a strong professional identity and create career plans. This include:

  • Communications & Cultural Fluency
  • Leadership & Management
  • Careers & Entrepreneurship
  • Ethics & Professional Responsibility
  • Life Skills
  • Teaching & Pedagogy

Keynote Speaker: Jose Romero-Mariona, PH.D.

Jose Romero-Mariano

Jose Romero-Mariona, Ph.D., 
Information and Computer Science, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science, 2010

Lead Research Scientist for Cybersecurity, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Center, Pacific

Recipient of the 2015 Department of the Navy Scientist of the Year

Dr. Jose Romero-Mariona serves as the lead research scientist for cybersecurity R&D at SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific; a US Naval laboratory in San Diego, CA. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine in 2010 and was the first in his family to attend college. He holds over 30 publications and various patents. In addition, he regularly mentors other scientists and engineers as well as STEM students. He was recently recognized as the Department of the Navy’s Top Scientist of the Year.

In addition, Jose was recognized as an Honoree at the 2016 Celebration of Graduate Success for his impact in his field, Computers and Cybersecurity. He provided some insight on his professional journey in an interview for his recognition.

When you look back at your time at UCI, what memories still stick out to you today?

When I was an undergraduate at UCI, I formed a community with other first generation college students. I loved being a mentor in this community, and the experience propelled me to go to graduate school. There, I learned from the examples set by faculty members, particularly Dr. Debra Richardson (advisor).

How has your vision for your career evolved from your time as a student?

When I was an undergraduate, the Internet was booming and so I always assumed I would go straight into industry from graduate school. However, I decided to work in a national laboratory, where I could interact with both industry professionals and academics. I love that my job is so varied, and that it allows me to work on different aspects of national cybersecurity and decision analytics to support warfighters. 

As you look ahead in your professional journey, what are you looking forward to?

I am passionate about helping others at UCI because of all I received when I was there. Every summer, I host interns from UCI. I am proud to say I have helped three UCI alumni find permanent positions. I also volunteer with the UCI CAMP (California Alliance for Minority Participation) Program.

UCI Grad Slam Finalists

Grad Slam is a systemwide competition that asks graduate students to take mind-bending research and make it simple in three minutes or less. This competition not only highlights the excellence, importance and relevance of UC graduate education and research, but it is also designed to increase graduate students' communication skills and their capacity to effectively present their work with poise and confidence.

Enjoy encore presentations by UCI Grad Slam finalists and a chance to hear a bit more about them, their next steps and their Grad Slam experience in a special Q&A session.

Megan Newcomb | UCI Grad Slam Champion, Ph.D. Candidate, Chemistry – “Natures Climate-Saving Machines”

Sumner Norman | UCI Grad Slam 2nd Place Winner, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering – “Rehab Robots Lend a Helping Hand”

Peter McPartland | UCI Grad Slam Finalist, Ph.D. Candidate, Education - "Battle to Belong: Underrepresented Students in STEM"

Relive the 2017 competition now! - Watch the UC Systemwide Grad Slam Finals:

New Alumni Welcome Reception

This year, for the first time, we invite our newest doctoral graduates to start their celebration early as graduate alumni welcome them into the alumni community. To celebrate their tremendous work and dedication, graduate alumni will greet UCI’s newest Ph.D.s with a special gift at the reception.

Join us for hors d’oeuvres and networking at this very special gathering!

5:00 PM | New Alumni Welcome Reception

*Immediately following the conclusion of the Celebration symposium

Location & Parking

Newkirk Alumni Center

University of California, Irvine
450 Alumni Ct.
Irvine, CA 92617

Newkirk Alumni Center: Google Map

Campus Map: Interactive (type "alumni" in search box)

Event parking for our visiting alumni and guests will be available in Lot 14 and 14A. Parking passes will be distributed at the entrance of Lot 14 on the day of the event.  Additional/overflow parking will be available in the Mesa Parking Structure.

Students and staff with a valid parking permit are asked to park in the Mesa Parking Structure to ensure enough space for our alumni and guests.

How to Prepare for the Celebration

  • Bring business cards to network throughout the event
  • Come prepared to take notes as there will be great conversations and action planning
  • Update your LinkedIn profile with a current professional picture and recent work
  • Practice your micro introduction for Speed Networking
  • Stay for the New Alumni Welcome Reception – Alumni will congratulate and welcome the newest PhDs into the alumni community and continue the networking. New grads will receive a special gift. 

Be a Part of the Conversation

We need your voice! Join our community on social media and connect with fellow alumni and current students, postdoctoral scholars, staff and faculty in the graduate community. Learn what’s happening on campus, what’s coming up on the Graduate Division calendar, and how you can continue to be involved in the community.







Preparation Workshops for Current Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Scholars

Graduate students and postdoctoral scholars interested in attending Celebration of Graduate Success for the first time will need to complete the preparation boot camp. Reservation for this boot camp is found in the registration for the Celebration event.

Building a professional brand opens up the professional and networking opportunities necessary to establish a successful career. In this interactive workshop you will learn how to leave a meaningful impression with whomever you meet at the Celebration or beyond. Focus will be on networking strategies for any occasion, your brand, your 30 second elevator pitch, maximizing your LinkedIn account, and effective follow-up.

Networking and Your Professional Brand Boot Camp

Presented by: Neda Moayedi, Graduate Career Counselor
Option 1: Friday, May 19, 1:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Option 2: Thursday, May 25, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Location: Graduate Resource Center


We look forward to celebrating with you soon. If you have questions, please email us at

Section 3