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Student speaker urges graduates to be bold, take risks

June 10, 2016

Angela Wu

Angela Wu is headed to a Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan

Inside a stadium filled with graduates and well-wishers, Angela Wu encouraged students to take risks and to be fearless in life. 

“I’m talking about accepting new challenges as they present themselves over our lifetimes, those that give you butterflies in your stomach and make you doubt your abilities,” she told the gathering.

Wu was the student speaker at the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology’s Commencement, which was held Friday afternoon. She received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in mechanical engineering.

Wu earned distinction during her years at Cal State LA. She won first place in the Cal State LA Student Symposium last year and went on to participate in the annual CSU Student Research Competition. Her master’s research in parametric analysis and optimization of thermal systems has been published in a journal and presented at a conference. Wu also worked as a student engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

But the road to success was not always easy. 

Wu grew up in Suriname, a Dutch-speaking nation in South America that borders Brazil and the Caribbean Coast. Her parents left China and settled in Suriname in hopes of escaping poverty. It was a big risk, but the family sacrificed to allow Wu to study in the U.S. and pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Wu soon learned that the career she dreamed of was not for her. She eventually found her true calling in mechanical engineering.

“I took on mechanical engineering courses without knowing a single thing about the profession or the major, and found my passion,” she said.

Wu has no regrets about her journey.

“Each challenge that I’ve faced so far scared me and made me doubt myself, but I would not be the person I am today if I said no to these opportunities,” she said.

Wu has been accepted in the Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. She’ll begin her studies in the fall. 

Photo: Angela Wu addressed fellow students at the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology Commencement. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores)