Graduation letters: Erika D. Beck


Brandon Sarmiento

Illustration by Brandon Sarmiento

Erika D. Beck

Erika D. Beck, Ph.D., is the president of CSUN. You can learn more about her here.

Letter to my younger self

Dear younger Erika,

Congratulations! You’re about to graduate from UC San Diego with your Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a goal you’ve had since you were 12 years old. You did it! You’ve set your sights on a career as an experimental psychologist, but I’ve got some news for you. There’s a path before you that you can’t yet see.

As you start to write the next chapter, make sure to embrace life’s beautiful journey. Live in the moment. Ask better questions. Stop obsessing over timelines (but do keep track of due dates!). Trust your gut – There’s no such thing as a “right path” and it’s never too late to course-correct or choose a new journey. Failure is hard, but it’s a wise teacher. Wicked challenges are opportunities for growth and development. Ask for help when you need it.

Find balance. Take care of yourself and don’t forget to laugh as often as possible. You can’t do everything you want to do if you’re running on empty, or if your hair’s so long it’s distracting you. Make time for the haircut.

Embrace your unique identity and keep living a values-driven life that brings you purpose and meaning. Love big, show gratitude and make time to celebrate. Surround yourself with the richness and beauty of diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences.

When others see something special in you that you don’t recognize, trust them and look again. When you see something in others that they don’t recognize, show them. Honor those whose shoulders you stand on. And hug your mom extra tight on graduation day, you won’t always be able to do that.

Confidence will take you everywhere. So will a fabulous pair of shoes.

And never, ever doubt your ability to make an impact.

You’ve got this!