Get out your caps and gowns, folks, because the UCLA Extension Graduation for certificate students is upon us! This year’s ceremony takes place on June 25th at Royce Hall, where 400+ students across Extension will receive their diplomas. Read on for an interview with online student Jane Graham who recently completed her Certificate in Creative Nonfiction and is coming all the way from Palm Desert, California to participate in this year’s ceremony.

Writers’ Program: How did you first hear about UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and when did you decide to take courses?

Jane Graham: I graduated elsewhere with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences in 2008, then took a year off. Bored without classes to take, I decided to look for an online program to work on my memoir, started many years ago. I found that UCLA Extension offered an opportunity to help with this project.

WP: What made you decide to come from your home in Palm Desert, CA (a good 2 ½ hour drive without traffic!) to attend the graduation ceremony? What are you looking forward to most?

JG: In literature, they say you can’t go home again. Perhaps not, but I remember with such pleasure taking classes on the UCLA campus back in the 70‘s and 80s while living in Los Angeles. It is an honor now to be part of a graduating class on that very same campus.

WP: What made you decide to go for the certificate program as opposed to taking courses “a la carte”?

JG: I noticed three little words that sum up my experience: Explore, experience, expand; what a marvelous pithy explanation to your question. I feel a tremendous sense of pride to find and accomplish academic goals at my age of seventy. Unfortunately I never finished college when I decided to marry young and had to work full time to offer support in choosing that domestic life. I did take courses here and there, but did not have the motivation to go back to earn a degree. Since I retired I had the time, and yes, the motivation to learn and accomplish new goals.

WP: What did you think of the online format? What was your experience like with the Writers’ Program?

JG: I discovered online classes during my undergraduate studies and loved its freedom to work within a 24/7 open schedule. I found that I put more time in homework and study when I could “come to class” at my choosing. The Blackboard format was quite easy to learn and it opened a wider opportunity for working people and parents with busy lives.

WP: What are you working on now? How did your experience help you reach your goals?

JG: As I mentioned above, I have been working on my first serious project, my memoir. I hope to have it published someday. Out of this endeavor, I adopted the philosophy: “Trials keep you strong, sorrows keep you human, failures keep you humble, yet success keeps you glowing.” ~Anonymous

I developed a strong appetite for feedback. The more I received, the more I craved. It has helped my memoir to grow and mature. I could not have come this far without the support of my teachers and classmates. I am very grateful for the experience.

Congratulations, Jane, and to all Writers’ Program Certificate students who are graduating this year! Interested in exploring a Certificate program as well? If so, click here!

Carla Janas is the Assistant to the Director. Write to her at

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