Demetri Brizolis, a longtime resident of Rancho Santa Fe, addressed the UCLA Department of Mathematics graduating class of 2017 on Father’s Day, June 18. The department, ranked 7th in the world, graduated over 400 students, including 34 doctoral students, in pure and applied mathematics before an audience of 1,000 that included faculty, family and friends.
Brizolis, who received all three of his degrees in mathematics from UCLA, was chosen to address the graduating class for his background that exemplified the relevance and flexibility of a degree in mathematics. He originally pursued the traditional, academic role of a Ph.D and enjoyed a successful career as an associate professor, conducting research and publishing mathematical papers in the field of number theory. Subsequently, he entered the private sector where he applied his problem-solving skills to carve out a second career in real estate and finance.
During his address, Brizolis praised the students for their accomplishments, thanked the esteemed faculty for inspiring their students and sharing their wisdom, and gave an insightful, historical account of mathematics for the benefit of the families of the “newly minted mathematicians.” His address contrasted the limited job opportunities when he graduated to the diverse, dynamic and exciting career opportunities that are available to the graduates of 2017.
In closing, he welcomed the graduates to an “elite club, where your entry fee, in the form of years of hard work, had already been paid.” With their “membership” came the responsibility to inspire others and to leave a positive mark for the benefit of humankind.
Brizolis is currently a Visiting Associate Professor of Mathematics at UCLA and President of DAABCO Industries, Inc., a privately held investment company. In attendance were his wife, Ann, their son, Alex, a UCLA alumnus, his wife, Merritt, and their 1-year-old son, Theodore.