One of the most popular questions I hear from prospective students and their parents in my time at Undergraduate Admissions is about the student-professor gap. They want to know the steps UCLA is taking to bridge that gap, and what resources/opportunities are available to undergraduate students in that regard. I would be lying if I said I never once worried about feeling lost in a big university amidst a sea of undergrad faces, but little did I realize that a “big” university means an even “bigger” diversity of resources that are available to students.
In one of those forwarded-and-forwarded-again emails that circulate the office, I caught wind of a mentoring program offered by the UCLA Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center. I jumped at the chance not only to get to know a retired professor one-on-one, but also to engage and learn from such a unique perspective about our university, academics, student life, and life at large. It seemed so esoteric (yay GRE vocab) yet so matter-of-fact that we should be seeking out unique opportunities like these.
Last month, I met with my Emeriti Mentor Dr. Paul Sheats for the first time, and had a wonderful time talking over lunch about overlaps in our academic interests, my post-graduation plans, potential career paths, his teaching career at UCLA, and so on. It was great to connect over mutual interests in urban planning and classical choral experience. This Friday, I will meet again with Dr. Sheats to pick up our conversation where it left off a month ago, and he plans to check on the progress I have made on the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the quarter.
In addition to the research opportunities I’ve been given with some of the most brilliant minds at UCLA, I am most grateful for this mentoring program that brings together the university’s most experienced and its most sophomoric, creating a unique forum for interaction that is found nowhere else in the UCLA experience.