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Shantal Marshall

photo of Shantal Marshall My name is Shantal Marshall and I am currently a third year PhD student in the Psychology Department at Stanford. My mother is originally from Durango, Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a little girl. My father is European American from the Midwest. I was born and raised in San Diego, California and was the first in my family to attend a university, which I paid for completely with grants and scholarships. I completed my undergraduate degree at UCLA in 2004 with majors in psychology and sociology.

I decided to apply to graduate school when I realized that I had more questions than I had answers concerning human psychology. Graduate school allows you to choose the specific questions you want to try and find the answer to, and gives you the tools necessary to produce knowledge, instead of simply reading about it in a textbook. When applying to graduate school, you need to choose programs strategically so you could cast a wide net but still choose departments that have faculty you would enjoy working with. While I was applying I leaned a lot on others a lot to help me polish my application and keep me motivated when the process seemed overwhelming. Some of the best advice I can offer is to have an organized system!

Although I had been researching graduate school for some time, it was still a culture shock to both visit and when I finally enrolled at Stanford. Most of my fellow graduate students were not only White, but also had parents who were lawyers, doctors, professors, and the like. Many also already had connections within the field and knew names and areas of research that would help them network, which is how many people get jobs. I learned to be a fly on the wall my first year and absorb as much as I could instead of feeling sorry for myself for coming in "behind." I also had to feel comfortable asking questions. After coming in top of your class as an undergraduate, it is hard to train yourself to ask questions but it is the single best way to get the information you need to become a successful graduate student.

The most surprising thing so far has been the path my interests have taken. I have a few projects that I work on simultaneously ­ all different from the original questions I had ­ but all of them just as interesting. Išve also benefited from working with more than one advisor, which teaches me different angles to take when attempting to answer a question. I am lucky to have social support from my participation in EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education in the Social and Behavioral Sciences). I also make it a point to keep myself healthy by making the time to work out and also to relax, so that my life is (somewhat) balanced even though it can get hectic at times. But one of the biggest reasons I wanted to go to graduate school is to have no day be like any other, and it is definitely proving to be exactly that!

Ifeoma Amah, ABD

photo of Ifeoma Amah

Hello Everyone:

First and foremost, I want to thank you all for writing letters of recommendation for the UCLA Outstanding Graduate Student Award on my behalf. Second, I want to inform you all that I was one of two graduate students selected out of a highly competitive application pool to receive this award. Here goes a recap of the award for you:

"The Outstanding Graduate Student Award recognizes graduate students for their academic excellence, research contributions, and service to the University and community. Candidates must be scheduled to receive their degrees sometime within the current academic year. Nominations close the end of July for the next year. Awards are presented at the annual UCLA Awards Ceremony in June. All recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award receive a $500 honorarium, life membership in the UCLA Alumni Association, and the Chancellor's Service Award."

Thank you all once again for your time and support.


Ifeoma Amah, ABD
Doctoral Candidate
University of California, Los Angeles
Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
Division of Urban Schooling

To read an article about Ms. Amah on the UCLA Alumni web site, click here

Krista L. Hawkins

photo of Krista L. Hawkins My name is Krista L. Hawkins. I transferred from West Los Angeles Junior College. My journey at UCLA began during the summer of 2005. I was fortunate to be a part of TSP (the AAP Transfer Summer Program). This program helped me to solidify my decision to attend graduate school and gave me the guidance I needed to become a successful student and future graduate applicant. I am majoring in Women's Studies with an emphasis in communications and the arts. I received the first AAP Arts Initiative (iARTS) in 2005 (it is currently known as Arts In).

I am currently working on my honors senior thesis. I discovered an alarming statistic, which led to this research project: African American teens represent 60% of newly reported AIDS cases, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's National Survey of Teens on HIV/AIDS 2000 ( As a mother of two girls ages eight and eleven, I am extremely concerned with the rise of HIV/AIDS among African American youth. The purpose of my study is two-fold. First, I am investigating the ways in which the media influence African American female youth. Second, I explore art expression and media literacy as possible methods for social, educational and retention tools of HIV/AIDS prevention material. After graduation, I plan to receive a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy specializing in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount along with a Ph.D. in Psychology or Interpersonal and Health Communications.

Jody Rucks

photo of Jody Rucks My name is Jody Rucks and I am a 4th year Film and Television student with a Philosophy minor. My plans after graduation include graduate school in New York, and ultimately a life as a filmmaker, philosopher, film theorist, and social activist.

I am currently working on a research project investigating knowledge in several intellectual traditions: film theory, art theory, the philosophy of aesthetics, and the philosophy of contemporary ideology. I am studying some of the work of such thinkers as Hegel, Heidegger, Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse. My goal is to create an authentic film theory, a theory which respects cinema as a unique art form with specific limits and abilities, and a theory which takes into account the mindset of contemporary humanity in an attempt to create socially and psychologically transformative art.

Jennifer Lynn Fernandez

photo of Jennifer Lynn FernandezMy name is Jennifer Lynn Fernandez and I was born and raised in Southern California. I am from a small city in Los Angeles County, called Santa Fe Springs. I started UCLA as a freshman in 2003, and my major is physiological science. I am the first in my immediate family to receive a bachelor degree from a four year university. I am currently applying to physical therapy programs in pursuit of a Doctorate degree in physical therapy. Besides my interest in science, I also have an interest in education. I want to be a resource and help other students who are first generation college students go to and succeed in college.

The research I am conducting involves first generation college students. I am working with high school juniors and seniors to see not only how many of them are going to college, but to see their motivations behind their decisions to go or not to go college. I want to see if there is a correlation between self-confidence and going to college for would be first generation college students. As I conduct my volunteer work I hope to give these high school students a resource to ask questions and give guidence to what they need to do to get into a four year university. If i did it, i know I can help others just like me go to college.

Antonio Moya

photo of Jennifer Lynn FernandezMy name is Antonio Moya and I am currently a third-year Neuroscience major pursuing a career as a physician. Over the past three years, I have been involved in varying types of Neuroscience research, from gene expression studies to clinical stroke studies. My neurobiology research was conducted in Weill Cornell Medical College, New York under the direction of Tao Sun, Ph. D. Dr. Sun guided my independent study of HOX gene expression in the mouse cerebral cortex. It was great working with both him and his friendly post-docs because they were all so eager to help me learn. Although my research often entailed long work days and stop-by experiments on weekends, I was proud of the progress our lab put forth.

I decided to pursue my research interests in a clinical setting when I returned to UCLA, starting independent research with Neurologist Sidney Starkman, M.D. My current research in stroke neurology is related to the analysis the blood clots retrieved from ischemic stroke patients through mechanical embolus removal. Our lab hopes to find a correlation between blood clot characteristics and the origins of a patient's stroke. It is amazing that fifteen years ago, this research would never have been conducted were it not for the persevering attitudes of stroke physicians. Research is definitely a passion in my life because the prospect of discovery is always ahead of you. I am eager to dive into research because I know that it is never stagnant, but always dynamic.

Akane Takei

photo of Akane TakeiI am a fourth-year Biochemistry major and have been helping Dr. Curt Eckhert and his Ph.D. students in their research lab for a year. Their current main focus in research is to find the mechanism by which boron inhibits proliferation of prostate cancer. My interest in finding a cure for cancer has never left me, since my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Therefore, this research position provided me a step towards my future goal.

Being in a research laboratory has allowed me to extend my knowledge in many ways. I started off with cell culture and now I am working on a project in determining whether boric acid rescues DTT induced cell death. I am fortunate to be in a lab with helpful and knowledgeable graduate students who have helped me to overcome problems in my experiments. Similar to many transfer students, adjusting to a new environment and keeping a good standard at UCLA was not an easy thing for me to accomplish. Especially as the oldest child, I was unable to concentrate on my studies when my mother's malnutrition arose from many of her treatments. Whether I was at school studying or at home doing housework, everything seemed overwhelming and frustrating. However, when I started working at the laboratory, I found myself enjoying and engaged in the research. Although there are many obstacles and hardships waiting for me, one step at a time, I am gaining self-confidence by learning how to manage problems by myself. Being involved in a research has opened the door to many opportunities; academically and for personal improvement.

Kenneth Urbina

photo of Kenneth UrbinaI am a fifth-year student in the College Honors Program majoring in Political Science with a minor in Urban Planning. I will graduate in June 2007 with honors. During my fourth year, I conducted research under the guidance of Dr. James Desveaux in the Department of Political Science. I did a comparative analysis of the impact that post-conflict management has on long-term economic growth in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Besides my academic research, I serve as the Director of Fundraising for Hermanos Unidos, an organization geared towards the creation of Latino professionals through community service, academic excellence, and social interaction. I am also the Co-Founder of the Latino Leadership Council, which focuses on putting together the Conference of Opportunities, aiming to encourage aspiring Latinos to develop leadership skills, promote social engagement, and to raise awareness of career opportunities.

After graduating I plan to participate in the Public Policy Fellowship program with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) followed by earning a joint J.D. and a master's in Public Policy. Eventually I would like to work as a corporate lawyer for a socially responsible corporation in Latin America while simultaneously pursuing a career in Politics.


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