Unexpected results

Research talk

I spent a good chunk of my day on Saturday talking to potential freshmen at a fair for newly admitted students. When I spoke to the incoming science students about applying for [Program], I always highlighted the impact on grades, retention in the sciences and participation rates in undergraduate research programs. The students would nod, probably overwhelmed with all the information and opportunities they’d learned about. The students perked up when I introduced them to current students and alumni helping us outreach. “How did [Program] benefit you?” I asked one of the volunteers.

All 10 students who volunteered throughout the day answered the same. It wasn’t grades and research was secondary even though they’re all in labs and some are going on to grad school in the fall. Nope, they all stressed the great friendships they developed with other [Program] students.

I love working with [Program], but at this point I don’t expect many surprises. Each year we do the same thing, it’s just a different set of students. I was wrong. I know our students develop friendships in the program. That makes sense since they spend several hours a week together and have a lot in common. We measure a lot of things and evaluate all aspects of the programs, but I don’t recall ever asking about friendships developed through [Program]. The researcher in me wants to study this and interview our students. The student affairs practitioner in me feels like we’re doing something right.


South Campus changes

South campus student center

When I first started at UCLA, the tour guides who worked with the orientation program told us that the Bomb Shelter used to actually be a bomb shelter at the height of the Cold War. Of course, it was located in the Court of Sciences near the engineering and science departments because in case of a nuclear attack, it’d be more important to save and engineering or physics professor than one in the humanities or arts. After the Cold War, it was converted in to an eatery with different food options for students. Something like that. Freshman orientation was a long time ago.

The myths about buildings and campus landmarks were all intended to get us to better remember the campus.

I should get out of the office for lunch more often, especially with this lovely area a few steps away

The Bomb Shelter was razed a few years ago to make way for a snazzy new Court of Sciences Student Center. The LEED certified building opened up a couple of months ago. I walk by often, but hadn’t actually checked it out since I always bring my own lunch.

I still haven’t visited any of the new eateries or been in the building, but I like the outdoor changes. The grassy rooftop might become my go-to spot when I need to get out of the office after staring at the computer too long or freezing with the always-too-cold AC. I like the nearby botanical garden too, but that area is shaded and sometimes I want to sit in the sun.

Sometimes I get tired of being at UCLA forever (only have myself to blame on this one). Other days, I appreciate that being around a long time lets me see the changes. Yesterday was one of those days.

Escuela, Familia

Board games and blowouts

The board game crew

I’m slow when it comes to recapping weekends, vacations and fun days with the family. It’s worse if I have to upload and edit pictures. I know some bloggers do this daily and even recap each day of their vacation, but I can’t do that.

After being back at work for a couple of days, I’d like to go back and relive the long weekend — except for that part on Saturday night when the UCLA football team forgot to show up at the Coliseum. Yikes.

Other than Saturday night, the long weekend was filled with good times.

Sean and I kicked it off by watching The Muppets on Wednesday evening. We both loved it as did the rest of the audience in the theater. I plan to see it again soon. I’m pretty sure I missed some cameos and jokes because I was laughing too much (manically, of course). I’d also like to learn some of the original songs and add them to my karaoke go-to song list.

Silly pic #3

After for going for a sunny mid-day run on Thursday, I headed over with Sean to my madrina’s house in East LA. Madrina Chilo always hosts Thanksgiving and other family members bring sides and desserts. By the time Sean and I arrived a little after 3 with our sweet potato casserole, most of the family had already eaten. I’d barely eaten in the morning so, I couldn’t be bothered to photograph my first plate. After scarfing down turkey, ham and lots of carby sides — stuffing! mac and cheese! — we retired to a spare bedroom with the rest of the cousins.

About to send a text message?

We played Imagine If and Last Word, took silly photos, and tried to keep baby Minel from stealing our cell phones. I liked the Last Word. It’s an easy game to set up and play with several people. It also made us laugh a lot as we tried to think up words that went along with the category (e.g. things in a purse) that started with the designate letter. Before everyone went home, we also picked names for the big family Christmas gift exchange.

First Thanksgiving together

I hope Sean enjoyed his first Thanksgiving with my family, even if he didn’t get his usual turkey leg… at least not initially. I luckily was in the kitchen just as Madrina Chilo was carving the second turkey and asked for the turkey leg to take home with my other leftovers. Yes, I brought my own tupperware.

I didn’t do any late night shopping on Thursday or hit the stores for deals on Friday and attempted to make some pumpkin pie. It didn’t work out well, but redeemed ourselves with some brownies. Instead, we ate leftovers, watched movies (Drive and The Muppets Take Manhattan) and were lazy.

Saturday was another chill day. I supported some small businesses (local nail salon for a pedicure, tacos from a local restaurant). I didn’t watch the USC/UCLA game since I don’t have cable. Instead I just got ESPN updates with each scoring play. A 50-0 loss sucks, but I wasn’t terribly disappointed or embarrassed. I’m not the one on the field or sidelines. Nor am I the one hiring and recruiting the coaches and students involved with the football program. There are many other reasons to be embarrassed and ashamed by college football programs and your alma mater than losing in a blowout to your rival.

Destiny's Child "Bugaboo" video

At the end of the game, I thought of the UCLA marching band’s post-game ritual. I was in the band during my first two years, it was fun, but time consuming during football season. After each game, we’d play the alma mater, “Hail to the Hills of Westwood” on the sidelines. If we won the game, we’d play and sing a silly song called “Rover.” Then we’d change out of our uniforms and get back on the bus to Westwood. As our buses traveled the final few blocks in to campus, we’d sing the alma mater a second time. I miss those moments and wanted to sing the alma mater again even if it wouldn’t be followed with “Rover.” Maybe when I finally graduate, I’ll audition to be the singer at the ed school ceremony. That would be cool.

Escuela, Política

Cupcakes, cookies and race-conscious admissions

Earlier today, I was making fun of the Berkeley College Republicans on Twitter:

“I’m surprised college Republican groups are still doing the pay by race bake sale thing. That’s so 2000. I think they’d be more original.”

A few minutes later I added a link to the cartoon Lalo Alcaraz (above) published after the UCLA Bruin Republicans held a pay by race bake sale in 2003. I’m not sure you can actually call it a bake sale since they sold Oreos, Twinkies and crackers. Heavy handed with the symbolism much? Fellow UCLA alumni told me the bake sale was also done in the mid 1990s.

I wasn’t offended by the bake sale. Instead, I was surprised they were getting so much attention. Must be a slow news week, huh? Plus, these students could barely read when race conscious admissions were banned in 1995 and 1996 (first by the Regents of the University of California and then by the California electorate). SP-1 and Proposition 209 probably mean nothing to today’s freshman, born in 1993. My politics and education were shaped by those policies.

In the spring of 1998, I was part of the first class admitted under the new race-neutral admissions policies at the University of California. As I made my decision about which UC campus to attend, Berkeley or Los Angeles, I read about the severe drop (up to 50% for some groups at UC Berkeley and UCLA) in the LA Times. I didn’t get in to UC San Diego and wondered if I would have been admitted to San Diego under the old policies. When I toured UCLA and Berkeley with my parents, I noticed students protesting the effects of Proposition 209, a severe drop in the numbers of underrepresented minorities admitted. In the fall when I began classes at UCLA, I was well aware that my freshman class was much less black, Latino and American Indian than previous classes.

In the next few years, I got involved with student groups actively working on diversity issues and admissions reform. I continued my involvement as a doctoral student in higher education. I spent a couple of years on the board of the UC Student Association and lobbied California legislators on bills related to higher education access and affordability. I researched and wrote about admissions practices at UC campuses, attended weekly meetings of black alumni and community leaders pressing for admissions reform at UCLA, and was the graduate student representative on the systemwide Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools. I was definitely plugged in to admissions and diversity issues at UC.

Yet despite my years of activism, research, and lobbying, I hadn’t heard about SB 185. The bill, introduced by Senator Ed Hernandez would allow California’s public universities “to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions.” (Source)

I’m thankful the Berkeley Republicans recycled the bake sale. If not for them, I’d still be out of the loop. Now I can email Governor Jerry Brown encouraging him to sign SB 185 and encourage my friends to do the same.

Corriendo, Escuela

HEOC 4×400 relay: TMAC vs Bees Knees

Team T-MAC aka The Most Athletic Champions

This relay with my ed school people is gonna kick my ass. I’m not a sprinter.

That’s what I tweeted after the first practice with my relay team five weeks ago. I don’t have even a fraction of the speed of some other really fast Mexicans like Leonel Manzano and Ana Guevara. The other women on my team, Ashley and Tanya easily outran me. And of course I was slower than Marc, the one guy on our team. I didn’t feel too good about my chances of running a relay and not making a fool of myself.

Still, I didn’t back out. I liked my speed workouts on the track. At the practices, we did a mix of workouts: sprints of varying distances with recovery jogs or walks; hills; running the stadium stairs; and practiced passing the baton. We even got some unsolicited advice from a man training at professional level on how the “pros” pass the baton.

As I tried my best to become speedier, I also got to know my team, T-MAC. They reminded me of what it was like to be a first or second year in the program and prepare for exams. They were also pretty cool and I’m glad I got to know them. The race was definitely a good way to build community within the program.

The relay was held this afternoon at UCLA’s Drake Stadium track. When I arrived after work, a bunch of HEOC folks were already out to watch the competition between T-MAC (in purple t-shirts) and the Bees Knees (in yellow, of course).

Team Bees Knees (the winners)

The race was fun and challenging. The lineup:


Bees Knees:

Our first two runners would be slower than their first two. We knew this going in to the race. Marc reminded me before we started that we’d behind when Tanya passed off the baton and my job was to catch Dayna. Ashely and Tanya gave it their all. Tanya is slower than Gina, but she kept pace with her so we didn’t lose ground there. Still, we were behind and once Tanya passed the baton to me I had a lot of ground to make up. I tried to catch Dayna, but never did. I did close the substantial gap and was a few steps behind her when I passed off the baton to Marc. The last leg between Marc and Chris was the closest. They were pretty well matched in speed, but Marc couldn’t make up Chris’ small lead. Bees Knees won by a couple of seconds making for a pretty exciting finish.

Taking the baton from Tanya to run the 3rd leg

I was a little bummed about the loss and that I couldn’t catch Dayna. From the photo timestamps, she had about a 17 second lead. I know I could have started faster and pushed harder. I’m more bummed that we didn’t time our splits. I’m pretty sure we all ran faster than we did in practice.

After the race, we were awarded silver beads. The Bees Knees got gold. Then we went off to enjoy a free happy hour and greasy bar food in Westwood. Fun times.

I’m still no sprinter, but at least I didn’t make a fool of myself out there. Now, back to long and easy runs with occasional speed work at the track.