UCLA Motto

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

UCLA sign at the University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA Motto

The UCLA Motto serves as a cornerstone, encapsulating the ideals and aspirations of a world-class institution. In this blog, we will explore the significance of these guiding words and how they shape the culture of an esteemed educational community. Stay with us to learn how a simple motto can have a profound impact on your academic and personal growth. Take the next step to understand the power of words in shaping an institution’s legacy.

The History of the UCLA Motto

Understanding the roots of the UCLA motto provides valuable context for its later developments. After all, history plays an integral role in shaping any institution.

Let’s delve deeper into the fascinating history of the UCLA motto, exploring its origins, significance, and how it has evolved over the years.

Origins of the Motto

When UCLA was established in 1919, it needed a motto that perfectly encapsulated its mission and vision. The Latin phrase “Fiat Lux”, found in the biblical book of Genesis, was chosen. It was a perfect fit, reflecting the university’s commitment to enlightening its students and the surrounding community.

The phrase “Fiat Lux” translates to “Let there be light.” This powerful expression signifies the university’s dedication to illuminating minds, fostering intellectual curiosity, and promoting the pursuit of knowledge.

This phrase wasn’t chosen arbitrarily. Universities have long used Latin mottos to convey their values and mission. It was a deep appreciation for these values that led to “Fiat Lux” being chosen as UCLA’s motto.

By adopting this motto, UCLA declared its intention to be a guiding light in the world of education, shedding light on the complexities of the universe and empowering individuals to make a positive impact.

an UCLA student posing beside a bear statue, the inspiration behind the UCLA official mascot

Evolution Over the Years

Over the decades, the meaning of the motto has evolved. While it initially symbolized the pursuit of knowledge, it has come to encompass social justice, inclusivity, and broadening horizons. It signifies UCLA’s continuing commitment to being a beacon of knowledge and societal change.

As the world has changed, so has the interpretation of “Fiat Lux.” It has evolved to represent not only the acquisition of knowledge but also the application of that knowledge to address pressing social issues. UCLA strives to be a catalyst for positive change, using education as a means to create a more equitable and just society.

Moreover, “Fiat Lux” embodies the university’s dedication to inclusivity. It serves as a reminder that education should be accessible to all, regardless of background, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. UCLA aims to create an environment where diverse perspectives are celebrated and where every individual has the opportunity to shine.

Despite these shifts, the essence of “Fiat Lux” has remained constant – striving to bring light where there is darkness and knowledge where there is ignorance. It serves as a guiding principle for UCLA, inspiring students, faculty, and alumni to make a positive impact on the world.

The motto continues to shape the university’s identity, reminding all Bruins of their responsibility to use their education and skills to make a meaningful difference in society.

So, the next time you see the phrase “Fiat Lux” associated with UCLA, remember its rich history and the values it represents. Let it inspire you to seek knowledge, promote social justice, and be a beacon of light in your own community.

Unpacking the UCLA Motto

Now, let’s explore what the phrase “Fiat Lux” truly means, not just in translation, but in the context of the university and its values.

When we delve into the depths of the UCLA motto, we uncover a rich tapestry of meaning and significance. “Fiat,” derived from Latin, carries with it a sense of authority and power. It can be translated to “let it be” or “let there be,” invoking a sense of creation and manifestation. On the other hand, “Lux,” also of Latin origin, resonates with brilliance and illumination. It can be translated as “light,” symbolizing knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment.

Together, “Fiat Lux” can mean “Let there be light.” This denotes not only the physical presence of light but also the metaphorical unveiling or revelation of knowledge. It encapsulates the essence of UCLA’s mission, which is rooted in the pursuit of education and research.

Moreover, this ancient language offers a sense of permanence to the motto. It signifies the everlasting nature of the pursuit of wisdom and enlightenment. Just as light has been a symbol of hope and guidance throughout human history, so too does “Fiat Lux” represent the enduring quest for knowledge and the continuous illumination it brings.

Word by Word Analysis

Delving deeper into the individual words that compose the motto, we gain further insight into their profound meanings. “Fiat,” with its connotation of authority and creation, resonates with the power to bring forth change and transformation. It embodies the spirit of innovation and progress that UCLA strives to instill in its students.

On the other hand, “Lux” encompasses the brilliance and radiance of light. It symbolizes the illumination that comes from acquiring knowledge and the enlightenment that follows. Through the pursuit of education and research, UCLA empowers its students to become beacons of light, illuminating the world with their ideas and discoveries.

Smiling students looking at something on a laptop.

Symbolism in the Motto

“Fiat Lux” isn’t just a phrase – it’s a symbol that encapsulates the core values and aspirations of UCLA. The “light” in the motto is often interpreted as wisdom or knowledge, as light and knowledge have been historically linked throughout various cultures and philosophies. It represents the transformative power of education, which has the ability to dispel ignorance and bring about positive change.

To students, the phrase serves as a constant reminder of their duty to seek, receive, and disseminate knowledge. It symbolizes the responsibility they bear in their quest for personal development and societal progress. By gaining knowledge, students can light their own path and, in turn, illuminate the paths of others, thus serving society as a whole.

Furthermore, the symbolism of “Fiat Lux” extends beyond the individual student. It encompasses the collective pursuit of enlightenment and the shared responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. The motto inspires a sense of unity and purpose among the UCLA community, fostering a collaborative environment where ideas are exchanged, knowledge is shared, and progress is made.

In conclusion, the motto “Fiat Lux” goes far beyond a mere translation. It embodies the essence of UCLA’s mission, values, and aspirations. It represents the transformative power of education, the pursuit of knowledge, and the responsibility to make a positive impact on the world. As students and scholars continue to embrace the spirit of “Fiat Lux,” they contribute to the ongoing legacy of enlightenment and progress that defines UCLA.

The Influence of the UCLA Motto

As with everything in the university, the motto permeates its culture and shapes students’ identities. Its impact cannot be understated.

When we delve into the influence of the UCLA motto, “Fiat Lux,” we uncover a rich tapestry of effects that reach far beyond a simple phrase. This motto not only serves as a guiding principle for the university but also as a catalyst for transformative experiences and personal growth.

Impact on University Culture

“Fiat Lux” influences UCLA’s communal ethos by fostering an environment of discovery and enlightenment. This is evident in the university’s commitment to research, cultivation of innovative ideas, and its focus on inquisitiveness and curiosity. The motto, in essence, fuels the university’s vibrant intellectual community.

Within the walls of UCLA, the motto acts as a beacon, guiding faculty, staff, and students toward a shared pursuit of knowledge. It serves as a constant reminder that the pursuit of truth and understanding is not only encouraged but celebrated.

Furthermore, the motto has an imperceptible effect on shaping the behaviors and attitudes of everyone on campus – from professors to students to staff – reminding them of the value of knowledge and the responsibility of sharing it. It fosters a sense of intellectual responsibility and encourages individuals to contribute their unique perspectives to the collective pool of wisdom.

At UCLA, the motto is not just a slogan; it is a living, breathing force that permeates every aspect of university life. It encourages collaboration, stimulates intellectual discourse, and inspires individuals to push the boundaries of their own understanding.

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Role in Shaping Student Identity

The motto also plays a vital role in shaping student identity. Its core idea of pursuing enlightenment shapes students into active seekers of wisdom and progressives. They aren’t just students, they are torchbearers of knowledge, shining light where there is ignorance.

When students step foot on the UCLA campus, they are not merely embarking on an academic journey; they are becoming part of a community that values intellectual growth and the pursuit of truth. The motto instills in students a sense of purpose and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world.

This identity is a crucial part of every student’s experience at UCLA, and it shapes them into enlightened citizens committed to making a tangible difference in society. The motto serves as a constant reminder of the power of education and the responsibility that comes with it.

As students immerse themselves in the UCLA community, they are encouraged to embrace the motto and let it guide their actions both inside and outside the classroom. It becomes a part of their personal narrative, shaping their choices, aspirations, and contributions to society.

In conclusion, the influence of the UCLA motto, “Fiat Lux,” extends far beyond a few words etched in stone. It is a driving force that shapes the university’s culture, fuels intellectual curiosity, and molds students into enlightened individuals. The motto serves as a reminder that knowledge is not meant to be hoarded but shared and that through the pursuit of enlightenment, we can collectively illuminate the path toward a better future.

The Motto in Today’s Context

With time, situations evolve, and so does the application of UCLA’s motto. Yet, “Fiat Lux” continues to resonate with students and staff alike.

When we delve deeper into the relevance of “Fiat Lux” in modern times, we find that it goes beyond a simple motto. It has become a guiding principle for the university, shaping its identity and driving its pursuit of excellence.

Relevance in Modern Times

From technological advancements and innovative research to addressing social issues, “Fiat Lux” resonates in modern times just as it did back in the university’s early days. The “light” now shines on diverse areas such as artificial intelligence, climate change, human rights, and much more – all contributing to the comprehensive development of society.

UCLA’s commitment to “Fiat Lux” is evident in its cutting-edge research and groundbreaking discoveries. Scientists and scholars at the university are constantly pushing the boundaries of knowledge, illuminating new paths, and shedding light on complex issues.

Moreover, the motto extends beyond the academic realm. It serves as a reminder that education is not limited to the confines of a classroom. It encourages students to explore the world around them, to engage with different cultures and perspectives, and to embrace diversity.

No wonder, UCLA consistently ranks among the world’s top universities, reflecting its unwavering commitment to “Fiat Lux”.

two college students looking happy and motivated about UCLA motto

Interpretations by Current Students

Students perceive the motto as an invitation to learn and explore. They take it as a clarion call to clear the fog of ignorance, gain enlightenment, and drive meaningful changes in the world around them. They are undeterred by challenges or hurdles that come their way, choosing to seek the “light” in every situation.

For UCLA students, “Fiat Lux” is not just a phrase engraved on the university’s emblem; it is a mantra that guides their actions and shapes their aspirations. It ignites a sense of curiosity and intellectual curiosity, propelling them to delve into new subjects, question conventional wisdom, and challenge the status quo.

This motto echoes through hallways, inspiring UCLA students to become more than they ever imagined possible. It fosters a spirit of innovation and resilience, encouraging them to pursue their passions and make a positive impact on the world.

As they navigate their academic journey, UCLA students embody the essence of “Fiat Lux” by seeking knowledge, embracing enlightenment, and striving for excellence in all their endeavors.

The Future of the UCLA Motto

A timeless motto like “Fiat Lux”, carries itself into the future quite seamlessly. Yet, it might see adaptations, interpretations, and forms of expression as per the changing times.

Potential Changes and Adaptations

As UCLA continues to grow, so will its motto. It will continue to light the way for exploration in new avenues – be it advanced technologies, space exploration, or social reform. The motto won’t change, but its manifestation will diversify, embracing the ethos of the evolving academic landscape and societal expectations.

While adapting to the changing times, the preserved essence of “Fiat Lux” will persist, paving the way for a promising and enlightened future.

Preserving the Motto’s Legacy

The legacy of the motto will continue with the same fervor, guiding the generations of students that walk through UCLA’s portals. Even as the motto adapts and grows, the tradition of seeking and spreading knowledge will remain undiluted – continuing to guide the students and faculty towards illuminating the curve of human knowledge and societal progress.

In the end, “Fiat Lux” isn’t just the UCLA motto, it’s an integral part of the university’s DNA – a DNA that sparks curiosity, fuels the thirst for knowledge, and encourages proactive contribution to society’s betterment.



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