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Optimist Bios

From the innermost parts of the mind to the ends of the universe and all aspects of life, UCLA's 500,000 living alumni, renowned faculty, visionary partners and extraordinary students bring a unique energy we call Optimism to everything they do. Whether their achievements are celebrated around the world or make a difference far from the spotlight, UCLA Optimists believe anything is possible — and frequently prove it.

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D’Artagnan Scorza Educator, veteran, public servant LEARN MORE
Elizabeth Laugeson Psychologist, autism pioneer, social skills trainer LEARN MORE
Valorie Kondos Field Choreographer, coach, breast cancer survivor LEARN MORE
Judy Baca Artist, educator, activist, community arts pioneer LEARN MORE
Casey Wasserman Philanthropist, businessman, civic leader LEARN MORE
Adam Cheyer Computer scientist, artificial intelligence pioneer LEARN MORE
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Author, activist, hoops legend LEARN MORE
Troy Aikman NFL Hall of Famer, superstar sportscaster LEARN MORE
Marion Anderson Visionary management school philanthropist LEARN MORE
Arthur Ashe Humanitarian, statesman, tennis icon LEARN MORE
Carol Bakhos Professor and Chair of the Program in the Study of Religion LEARN MORE
Paul Barber Marine biologist, geneticist and mentor LEARN MORE
Gary Beban Heisman winner, record setter, scholar-athlete LEARN MORE
Mayim Bialik Actor, neuroscientist, role model LEARN MORE
Dustin Lance Black Academy Award winner, LGBTQ role model LEARN MORE
Jack Black Funnyman, rocker, A-list actor LEARN MORE
Angel Blue Protégée of superstar tenor Plácido Domingo LEARN MORE
Leah Platt Boustan Economic historian, rising academic star LEARN MORE
Tom Bradley Pioneering politician, first African-American mayor of Los Angeles LEARN MORE
Eli Broad Legendary business leader, multidimensional philanthropist LEARN MORE
Ralph Bunche First African-American Nobel Prize winner, acclaimed diplomat, political scientist LEARN MORE
Carol Burnett America’s funny girl, pioneering comedian, actor, writer LEARN MORE
Kenny Burrell Jazz master, music education trailblazer LEARN MORE
Brad Carter Character actor, musician, history-making patient LEARN MORE
Nancy Cartwright Emmy winner, voice artist, author, entrepreneur, race car driver LEARN MORE
Vinton Cerf Computer scientist, technology visionary, father of the Internet LEARN MORE
Vladimir Chernov Renowned opera singer, acclaimed vocal educator LEARN MORE
Bhagwan Chowdhry Microfinancing thought leader, banking innovator LEARN MORE
Warren Christopher World leader, diplomat, Medal of Honor winner LEARN MORE
Judy Chu First Chinese-American woman elected to Congress LEARN MORE
Johnnie Cochran Superstar lawyer, TV personality, lightning rod for racial issues LEARN MORE
Derrick Coleman Barrier-breaking NFL fullback, Super Bowl champion LEARN MORE
Kara Cooney Egyptologist, TV host, speaker for the dead LEARN MORE
Francis Ford Coppola Visionary filmmaker, movie industry iconoclast LEARN MORE
Ally Courtnall Runner, soccer star LEARN MORE
Angela Davis Writer, educator, agitator LEARN MORE
Agnes De Mille Choreography innovator, acclaimed instructor LEARN MORE
James Dean Actor, icon, rebel LEARN MORE
Jared Diamond Scientist, author, Pulitzer Prize winner LEARN MORE
John DiFiori Intercollegiate and professional sports medicine specialist, educator, family physician LEARN MORE
Ava DuVernay Director, screenwriter, barrier breaker LEARN MORE
Anna Lee Fisher Astronaut, chemist, doctor, space hero LEARN MORE
Danusia Francis Gymnast, British All-American LEARN MORE
James Franco Actor, author, provocateur LEARN MORE
Rajit Gadh Engineering professor, inventor, technological innovator LEARN MORE
Adriana Galván Award-winning developmental neuroscientist LEARN MORE
David Geffen Philanthropist, passionate advocate, investor in the greater good LEARN MORE
Dan Geschwind Autism researcher, genomics scientist LEARN MORE
Andrea Ghez Astronomer, MacArthur Fellow, galactic explorer LEARN MORE
Greg Ginn Punk rock innovator LEARN MORE
Greg Graffin Punk pioneer, paleontologist, professor LEARN MORE
Cameron Hajialiakbar Coach, “Champion of Change” LEARN MORE
Herbie Hancock Jazz great, Grammy winner LEARN MORE
Dawn Harper All-American, Olympic medalist LEARN MORE
Richard Heck Chemistry pioneer, Nobel Laureate LEARN MORE
Juan Felipe Herrera First Latino Poet Laureate of the U.S. LEARN MORE
Eric Hirshberg Adman, gaming executive, creative trailblazer LEARN MORE
Lauren Cheney Holiday Soccer star, Olympic Gold medalist, World Cup winner LEARN MORE
James Horner Academy Award-winning composer LEARN MORE
Darnell Hunt Sociologist, entertainment industry researcher, culture studies scholar LEARN MORE
Rafer Johnson Olympic Gold decathlete, African-American inspiration LEARN MORE
Tracy Johnson Molecular biologist, RNA researcher, mentor LEARN MORE
Florence Griffith Joyner Electrifying sprinter, Olympic champion LEARN MORE
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete, Olympian, role model LEARN MORE
Guy Kawasaki Apple evangelist, business guru LEARN MORE
Judy Kaye Tony Award winner LEARN MORE
Meb Keflezighi Marathon champion, Hall of Famer and four-time Olympian LEARN MORE
Leonard Kleinrock Engineer, computer scientist, Internet pioneer LEARN MORE
Alex Korb Neuroscientist, adjunct professor, author LEARN MORE
Jorja Leap Anthropologist, social worker, gang intervention guru LEARN MORE
Sydney Leroux Soccer star, Olympic Gold medalist, World Cup winner LEARN MORE
Meyer Luskin Business leader, philanthropist, advocate for social mobility LEARN MORE
John Mazziotta Neurologist, brain science pioneer, healthcare educator LEARN MORE
Megan McArthur Astronaut, aerospace engineer LEARN MORE
Ann Meyers Drysdale Basketball legend, women’s sports icon, award-winning broadcaster LEARN MORE
Reggie Miller Basketball superstar, NBA commentator LEARN MORE
Robert Miller Global artist, mentor to rising stars LEARN MORE
Timothy Miller Surgeon, med school professor LEARN MORE
Nathan Myhrvold Inventor, entrepreneur, Renaissance Man LEARN MORE
Anita Ortega All-American, national champion, police captain LEARN MORE
Elinor Ostrom Political economist, Nobel Prize Laureate LEARN MORE
Randall Park Actor, director, writer, role model LEARN MORE
Alexander Payne Director, Academy Award-winning screenwriter LEARN MORE
Kal Penn Actor, producer, civil servant LEARN MORE
Roman Phifer Super Bowl champion, documentarian LEARN MORE
Todd Presner Educator, author, digital humanities trailblazer LEARN MORE
Anthony Pritzker Venture capitalist, triathlete, advocate for a sustainable society LEARN MORE
Ajwang Rading Scholar, political scientist, humanitarian LEARN MORE
Ana-Christina Ramón Social psychologist, researcher, champion of equity LEARN MORE
Rob Reiner Emmy Award-winner, director, producer, crusader for social justice LEARN MORE
Tim Robbins Actor, screenwriter, director, producer, activist LEARN MORE
Dave Roberts Player, Manager, Barrier Breaker LEARN MORE
Jackie Robinson Baseball legend, barrier breaker, hero LEARN MORE
Gary Ryals Navy SEAL, Bronze Star winner, entrepreneur LEARN MORE
Kay Ryan U.S. Poet Laureate, educator, Pulitzer Prize winner LEARN MORE
Gaurav Sant Scientist, teacher, inventor, visionary LEARN MORE
Randy W. Schekman Medical pioneer, Nobel Prize Laureate LEARN MORE
Christine Simmons Sports executive, community leader, UCLA Alumni board president LEARN MORE
Dennis Slamon Oncologist who revolutionized breast cancer treatment LEARN MORE
Laurence Smith Climate change scientist, geologist, author LEARN MORE
Woody Strode Campus hero, NFL pioneer, movie star LEARN MORE
George Takei Actor, Asian-American activist, gay rights leader LEARN MORE
Terence Tao Mathematical prodigy, Fields Medal winner LEARN MORE
Paul Terasaki Transplant medicine pioneer, life sciences education benefactor LEARN MORE
Abel Valenzuela Immigration and day labor expert, thought leader LEARN MORE
Lynn Vavreck Political scientist, presidential election expert, campaign analyst LEARN MORE
Luke Vellotti International Chess Master and undergraduate student LEARN MORE
Mericien Venzon Skater and science researcher LEARN MORE
Antonio Villaraigosa Politician, activist, mayor of Los Angeles LEARN MORE
Bill Walton NBA legend, sportscaster, Deadhead LEARN MORE
Taylor Wang Astronaut, inventor, physicist LEARN MORE
Kenny Washington Football legend and NFL pioneer LEARN MORE
Henry Waxman Politician, watchdog, public hero LEARN MORE
Russell Westbrook NBA All-Star, Olympic Gold medalist LEARN MORE
Susan Wojcicki Technology pioneer, business leader LEARN MORE
John Wooden Basketball immortal, life teacher, Coach LEARN MORE