UCLA helps faculty keep their skills polished

Whether they’ve already risen up the ranks in their department or are still early in their careers, just about every professor is familiar with the feeling of walking into a lecture hall for the first time and standing in front of students who expect to learn something from you. While these professors may be experts in nanotechnology, award-winning architects or leading historians of ancient Chinese civilizations, it’s understandable that being able to convey that knowledge to a room full of people isn’t always second nature.

Scholarship recipients and donors come together at scholarships luncheon

From left: Lau scholars Yang Wang and Rochelle Ellison with Stanley Lau’s nephew Dennis and son Michael

Scholarship recipients had a unique opportunity to meet their donors and share their achievements at the UCLA 2019 Scholarships Luncheon on March 3.

The annual brunch was held in Carnesale commons and celebrated scholars from across the campus including those supported through the UCLA Division of Undergraduate Education. Students had the opportunity to meet with their donors over coffee, tea, and hors d’oeuvres, before joining them at their tables. The brunch program featured remarks by Chancellor Gene Block, leadership staff, and UCLA students who shared their own scholarship stories.

Undergraduate Education philanthropist guests included Dick and Eve Bergstrom, Rica and Ellen Rodman, Dennis and Michael Lau, David Brady and Stephen Petty. Collectively support from these individuals, families and foundations have helped fund three students in the Academic Advancement Program (AAP), four students conducting research in physical sciences or life sciences, and one transfer student.

Leslie Hwang, a senior majoring in neuroscience, received a scholarship from the Bergstroms through AAP. She said the brunch was “inspiring,” and she enjoyed meeting the Bergstroms in person. They wanted to know more about her hobbies and goals, and shared more about themselves – including some great book recommendations.

“The brunch felt like a celebration of achievements and a sense of community where our diversity – backgrounds, races, cultures, genders – are able to mingle and build a network of support,” Hwang said. “Each person has his or her own share of hardships and at least for me, the speakers did a wonderful job of sharing their personal narratives and passions that resonated within me. I found their perseverance inspiring and the entire time throughout the brunch was just absolutely amazing.”

Rochelle Ellison received a Lau scholarship for her research in the life sciences. A junior molecular, cell and developmental biology major, she said the scholarship allowed her to spend more time working on her research project in Dr. Stephen Young’s lab at UCLA Medical Center instead of worrying about getting a job on top of her classes, studying and other commitments.

Although Stanley Lau passed away, Ellison was able to meet his family at the brunch, who told her how important it was to him to support UCLA students.

Ellison was touched to learn that Lau kept the thank you letters that “his students” wrote to him near his bed so that he could read them from time to time.

“I appreciated being able to hear stories about Mr. Lau to form an image in my mind of the person I will forever be grateful to,” Ellison said. “I also enjoyed being able to personally thank the Lau family and to tell them how much their generosity means to me.”

Chancellor Gene Block with scholarship recipients

From left: David Brady, Warner Scholarship trustee; Vanessa Berg, Warner scholar; Stephen Petty, Warner Scholarship trustee

Vice Provost of Enrollment Management, Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, speaking to the audience.

AAP Alum Featured on Fox 11 Los Angeles

Academic Advancement Program alumna Ashley Williams ’12 was featured in a Fox 11 Los Angeles news segment honoring anchor Christine Devine. The Drew Child Development Corporation honored Devine at its “It Takes a Village Awards” for her work advocating for foster youth through her weekly segment “Wednesday’s Child,” which profiled local foster youth. Williams was one of the children featured on Wednesday’s Child and was ultimately adopted by a couple who saw her on the show, and her father made a surprise appearance at Devine’s award ceremony.

After being adopted, Williams went on to graduate from UCLA and received her law degree from Southwestern Law School. While at UCLA, she was a leader on campus. She co-founded the UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholars program and was a  Sidley & Austin Pre-Law Initiative Scholar, UCLA Law Fellows Scholar, and UCLA Afrikan Graduation Co-Chair, among other leadership positions.

Associate vice provost Charles Alexander selected to contribute to Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research selected UCLA associate vice provost for student diversity Charles Alexander as a contributor for the 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health.

The report will document key issues, progress, challenges and opportunities in oral health in the United States. It is commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Public Health Service’s Oral Health Coordinating Committee.

Kathryn Atchison, professor in the UCLA School of Dentistry’s Division of Public Health and Community Dentistry, is serving as a section editor on the report and invited Alexander to join the team that is contributing a section titled Oral Health Integration, Workforce and Practice. He will submit material and text on “Pipeline Programs to Increase Underrepresented Minorities in Dental Schools.”

The last Surgeon General’s report on oral health was published in 2000, and “generated a lot of buzz in dentistry,” Alexander said. The report’s findings led to millions of dollars being pumped into efforts to improve recruitment and diversity in the field, access to care, and curriculum reform. Now, 20 years later, the goal of the new report is to see if these efforts had a lasting impact.

“In 2000, less than four percent of dental practitioners were African American, five percent were Latino and less than one percent were Native American,” Alexander said. “How far have we come?”

Alexander has long been a champion for pipeline programs and increasing diversity in dental schools. He is currently an associate adjunct professor in the UCLA School of Dentistry and previously served as an associate dean for admissions and student affairs at UC San Francisco, where he directed the Dental Careers program.

“I’m excited to contribute to this important document that is evidence-based and that heightens the issue to create more diversity in the dental profession,” Alexander said.