Alumni Spotlight

An Interview with Konstantinos Duncan Palamourdas, Class of 2012

Academic reasons mostly. At the time I applied, UCLA had one of the best Mathematical Logic departments in the world (it still does) and since that was my field, it felt like the perfect fit. Plus, the fact that UCLA is in beautiful and sunny Los Angeles doesn't hurt either!

What are your future career plans?

I like to define the word "Career" in a similar way that the Oxford dictionary does, i.e. as "progress through life in general". In that sense, I like to stay on a path that will help me both evolve as a person and be helpful to society. What this means in practical terms, is that I need to work on something that keeps challenging me, but it's also useful for other people too. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be born in a family of incredible educators, so I found a way to channel these needs from a really young age by constantly changing the topics that I study or teach. That way I can explore different aspects of myself and of others too. This approach can also keep things fresh and protect me from intellectual "stagnation".

What is your most memorable moment at UCLA?

That has to be the time that Jennie Weingarten (Assistant Director, Programming) surprised me with an award for "Outstanding International Student" for my involvement with the international community back in 2010. What made this moment so unique was that no such certificate had been awarded to any other student before. But Jennie, being the great innovator that she is, came up with the idea on the spot, and honored me in a way that I will never forget for as long as I breathe.

Greatest Achievement at UCLA

The Sorgenfrey Teaching Award, which was given to me in recognition to my contributions to the teaching program of the Math Department. In case it's not obvious, I do have a soft spot for awards, as they are often representative of one's personality and attributes. I do put a considerable amount of effort in my teaching sessions, so seeing all this work being rewarded and appreciated, is a feeling that is only second to my students' own gratitude.

Advice for New International Students

I do not have advice, but I do have a recommendation: If you are coming to our community for the first time, it may be worth it to give it a chance and try to stay out of your comfort zone for a while. That includes meeting new (and potentially very different than you) people, experiencing new cultures and even speaking a foreign language for prolonged amounts of time. I know it's tempting to stick to your "own" cultural group, use home country products and speak your mother tongue all the time, but it could also be very restricting on your overall experience as it could drastically limit your exposure to what the international community is all about. Plus, there's truly only one kind of people and that's the human kind, so as long you stick to that, you will be fine!

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