Can I Get A Side Of Research?

Studying in Powell Library

One of the many things that I love about UCLA—strike that, there’s everything to like about UCLA—is that students have the ability to literally put education into their own hands by taking up research positions regardless if it pertains to one’s major, and there are initiated student courses where current undergrads can facilitate a class. I took up a research position at the North Campus Student Research Program (SRP) during my first quarter at UCLA.

Being that one of my main reasons for transferring was to research in Sociology, which is quite untraditional as research is normally correlated to science, I wasn’t able to find it in most other institutions and I was inspired to pursue it at UCLA. So, as soon as I got accepted, I upheld my personal promise to find research and looked no further than the opportunities of the SRP. Although I was quite intimidated jumping into this right away, I was pleasantly surprised how accessible it is for students to not only find research but also find research in the social sciences.

I settled with Professor Walker’s sociological and economical effects of food trucks. I know what you’re thinking, am I eating food all day or what? I was shocked myself! Professors are so passionate about eclectic subjects and it’s so inspiring to be given the chance to network as well as study beside them in their research. Basically, this research is much more than the curb-side food joint as I am involved with a team of four undergraduates—who are currently studying various subjects from political science to biology, meaning that the constraints of majors are irrelevant in research curiosity—that code the menus of food trucks across three United States’ cities: Los Angeles, D.C., and Chicago.

To code these menus, we start with their Twitter handles (@name) to locate Google images, Twitter images, and Web images (in regards to their website) of their menus. By looking at their menus, we get a feel of what cuisine is on their menus and are able to code them by Yelp categories (e.g. Mediterranean, Japanese, Asian Fusion, etc.) to see how the relation of their prices and cuisine type are affected by the food truck legislation of that particular city.

But please note that this research didn’t come with a warning that I’d be staring at food all day, which makes me starving at the end of the 8-10 hour commitment per week. Despite that minor repercussion, I love every bit of researching. I have been working with Professor Walker for about two quarters now, and I hope to continue until the end of this academic school year to see how and where this research will ultimately lead!

Finals Survival Guide: Winter 2015

powellIt’s that time of the quarter again for UCLA students: finals. Before you run and hide in your dorm room, binging on Bruin Cafe whilst watching the new 3rd season of House of Cards.. again, keep these tips and tricks of the trade in mind so you can go from intimidated and hopeless to confident and knowledgeable! Whether you have 50+ pages of reading left, a 6-8 page essay, or just a classic free-response final, you have no need to fret as long as you tackle finals week with preparation:

1. Form a study group

Sometimes, sticking your head in a book for hours on end with a cup of hot caffeine as your closest friend is not the call (and by sometimes, I mean most times). By forming a study group with fellow peers in class, you will catch information you didn’t absorb the first time around in lecture and also re-emphasize important topics in class. Verbally discussing concepts is much more effective in long-term memory and will enhance your performance on your finals.

2. Time management is key

Scenario A: It’s Sunday. Your 6 page paper (mostly written.. ish) is due tonight, your organic chemistry final is Tuesday at 8 AM, you have work tomorrow from noon to 4, it’s your best friend’s birthday on Wednesday and you promised you would go to all-you-can-eat sushi, and your Poli-Sci final is on Thursday and you haven’t even started reviewing! Stop, breathe, relax. Open your agenda (if you don’t have one, then go get one! Or make Google calendar your new best friend) and assign time slots to everything on your to-do list. Make sure to base this on priority and deadline. For example, edit your paper now so you have time to practice O-chem tonight as well!

3. Take care of yourself

If you can’t remember exactly when you took your last shower, then something needs a little tweak in your finals lifestyle. While it can be easy to forget the fundamentals (showering, brushing your teeth, eating healthy), be motivated by how much better you feel – and hence, how much better you study and perform – when you truly take care of yourself. A wise friend once told me, “look good, feel good,” which means to say that you will be more confident in your studies and finals endeavors when you take the time to maintain proper hygiene, eat healthy, and exercise to manage stress.

 

Happy finals and have a great spring break!

Keeping It ‘K’

10502226_676094469150889_6552506578771342466_n

I’m a recent UCLA transfer student from UC Santa Cruz. Amongst the forest and mountainous climate, UC Santa Cruz isn’t as different as UCLA due to their equal pride in community service. At UC Santa Cruz, I along with a group of undergraduate students began the first chapter of Camp Kesem at UC Santa Cruz last year. Camp Kesem is a national non-profit organization that strives to bring a community of children that have been affected by a parent’s cancer together for a week-long summer camp of shared realities and empathy. Working a year to not only raise, but exceed $30,000 (our fundraising goal) as well as meet thirty amazing campers ranging from 6-16 years old is not only humbling but motivating to continue working with this group of dedicated individuals.

Upon arriving at UCLA, I knew that I wanted to get involved with Camp Kesem UCLA because of my amazing summer meeting, working, and loving this community. While I was a member of Camp Kesem UC Santa Cruz, I learned that in the light of despair, disease, and death, hope can still be found with the physical presence of loving friends, family, and community. Therefore, this inspiring mantra has motivated me to find every outlet possible to be involved with Camp Kesem UCLA.

After stalking their Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/campkesemucla), I was invited to UCLA’s Camp Kesem Reunion (once a quarter events for the campers and counselors to catch up), and I found the UCLA community  to be just as magical as my own time at Camp Kesem UC Santa Cruz. For instance, a little girl named Lady Bug reminded me of the initial shyness we all feel when we meet new people, but after bonding about dogs and cookies she ended up introducing me to other counselors and campers! It’s amazing how the bond from one camp to another doesn’t change—they’re still Keeping It ‘K’!

After reunion, I excitedly finished my application to become a UCLA Camp Kesem counselor. After an initial interview, I got a call from Snickefritz, a student coordinator on Camp Kesem UCLA’s committee, congratulating me on becoming a Camp Kesem UCLA counselor! We have already had a few meetings, and I am excited to continue my involvement in this fantastic organization here at UCLA.

IASA: Cool Club on Campus!

IASA

This week I’d like to highlight one of the awesome clubs we have on campus here at UCLA. The club is called the International Affairs Student Association, run by students from diverse majors and backgrounds including Sociology, Political Science, Global Studies and many more. The clubs mission statement is as follows:

“We seek to grow and learn from each other by providing a space in which students can freely discuss international issues with their peers outside of the classroom. We cover various subjects every week in our current events section and presentation section that seek to provide our members with more information on topics that they may not be familiar with yet.”

Founded in Fall 2013, the club has put on many interesting and informative events on and off campus for students to attend! For example, most recently, IASA curated an event to discuss the current events taking place in Ayotzinapa, Mexico and Mexico’s political state in general. IASA invited UCLA History professor Maria Vazquez to come and speak to students about the missing students in Ayotzinapa and how Mexico’s political structure and apparent corruption is being influenced by the United States. She highlighted the negative influences of the drug cartels and how the US drug market has been affecting Mexico. The students were able to openly discuss this issue in a question and answer session after the event.

It’s great to recognize the intellect and political awareness of students at UCLA! We are a university that values open discussion and freedom of thought. Everyone has a voice at UCLA that is both appreciated and challenged in and outside of the classroom.

UCLA Chamber Ensemble

UCLA Gluck Jazz Combo: Julian Le

Copyright 2011 Pamela Springsteen

 

For the past three quarters, I have been a part of the UCLA Chamber Ensemble.
Sounds pretty fancy, huh?
But surprisingly, you don’t have to be a musical prodigy to be in it. It is actually a class that is open to UCLA students of any major. The only requirement is that you know how to read/play music, and that you have a love for music. Not many people know about it, and many of the non-music majors shy away from taking the class. But my experience has been truly valuable and enriching. It has been amazing to see how music can connect people of vastly different majors, interests, backgrounds, and beliefs. It is always a joy to come together as a group once a week to produce music that we love and to be able to share it with others at the end of the quarter through a performance.

The course is called “Chamber Ensemble,” and to enroll into the class, you have to first contact Professor Gary Gray and tell him that you are interested in taking his course. He usually asks students to make an appointment with him to hear you play. There is no need to be stressed about it, because he mainly wants to see if you know how to read/play music on your instrument!
So you music-lovers out there, join the UCLA Chamber Ensemble! When else will you get a chance to play music with fellow UCLA students? Take advantage of the opportunity.

Work Study

Copyright 2013 Coral von Zumwalt

In the midst of midterm season, I thought I’d share a kernel of knowledge with you all about the work study experience, as I’ve been through a very thorough recruiting process this past quarter.

Work study is a federal program that allows students to hold a part time employment position while studying. Students who receive work study are given an allowance (aka the limit that you can earn). For instance, if you are given a work study allowance of 2000 USD, it means that you can work a student job with a pay rate of $10 for 200 hours or a job with a pay rate of $15 for approximately 133 hours for the school year.

What’s so great about work study?

First off, work study is subsidized by the government. The government essentially pays half of your pay check (so for every $10 you earn, $5 comes from the government etc.). This makes you a highly sought after employee because of your competitive pay rate.

Second of all, it allows you to gain job experience– without having to go off campus if you prefer. The great aspect of working right here at UCLA is that employers are generally more understanding of midterms and other commitments in college life. They are usually more lax about hours during midterms/finals weeks.

Last but not least, it is just as valuable as any other job. It bulks up your resume, especially during the years when you are not yet eligible for major internships. It gives you experience in working in a professional setting while still being a student. It also helps build relationships with your employers (many of whom are professors and administrative personnel on campus) and coworkers. In addition, a little cash wouldn’t hurt.

So how do I get a work study job?

You need to receive work study as part of your financial aid package to be eligible for the work study program. (You can refer to the financial aid website if you are not certain of your status, they’ll be able to help you out). If you are awarded the work study component as part of your financial aid package, take it. Even if you do not manage to secure employment, FA will not penalize you.

To start off the hiring process, refer to the work study bulletin and keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities. During the beginning of each quarter (fall, specifically), employers post job openings here. They are usually seeking work-study students, so you have an advantage. Prepare a thorough cover letter and resume, select a couple of job positions you are interested in, and contact the employer via email! If you pass the resume screening process, employers will usually invite you in for an interview (level of formality varies depending on where your potential job is located) and explain what the job entails.

If you are hired on the spot, congratulations! Usually employers take around a week to get back to you. If unfortunately the position is filled by another student, do not despair– we’ve all been there. Time to polish your A-game and contact more recruiters!

There are positions open in all fields– I’ve seen clerical jobs, research assistant jobs for both the sciences and the humanities, and tech support positions as well. The multitude of jobs available mean that not only can you get a student job, but also secure one that may align with your future career interests!

I’ve held two work study jobs thus far, and I can say that they have been the most rewarding experiences in my college life. I currently work at the Anderson Graduate School of Management, and the MBA environment I’ve been exposed to as a result of this job has helped me develop a better understanding of the level of professionalism required to pursue a MBA degree. In the past, I’ve also assisted an English professor on his publication, and it was incredibly rewarding as well. Being able to get a taste of the real world while still enjoying the perks of being a UCLA student is definitely eye opening!

Cheers, and good luck to all the students out there knee deep in midterm season.

Farewell, Summer

Bruin statue
Photo Credit: Copyright 2013 Coral Von Zumwalt

This summer has been by far the longest yet most fulfilling summer I’ve had in years. As you may recall, I’ve taken a brief sabbatical abroad studying in the London School of Economics, headed over to Unicamp for a wonderful week of Woodsey fun, and returned to UCLA to get a taste of apartment life! One week ago marked my 365th day here in Los Angeles (I haven’t been home in over a year already). It’s been quite a journey! Fall is fast approaching (though the weather certainly doesn’t feel like it), and I am so glad that school is almost starting: you have no idea how much I’ve missed you all.

Anyways, I thought I’d update you all on a couple of resources I have stumbled upon in the past year that may help during the school year!

Writing Success Program at UCLA

The WSP program at UCLA is a wonderful writing counseling program here on campus! All the services are free of charge, and all you have to do to receive one whole hour of college-writing help is to sign up for a time slot at the Student Activities Center! I first came here when I was freaking out about my first college essay I had to turn in for a rather intimidating class- Comm 10, and my counselor was extremely helpful in helping me structure my writing and guiding me along the process of brainstorming! I sought my counselor out for not only writing help but eventually also interview and career help! She was truly not just a counselor, but also a mentor and a friend. (I’ll also be interning there this fall, so come drop by and say hi!)

Career Center 

The UCLA Career Center (located on Strathmore) provides free career guidance services to all UCLA students. They help you with perfecting your resume, prepping for interviews, and even have an entire library devoted for the job search. Periodically, they also host “sneak peeks” and “jumpstart” events, where recruiters from various industries come and meet interested students. It took me one whole year to take advantage of the resources here, but it truly is a goldmine, and I highly encourage you to go check out what they have to offer, regardless of your current class standing!

Bruinwalk

http://www.bruinwalk.com is an incredibly useful website for finding reviews of professors and evaluating what courses you may like to take.

The other physical bruinwalk is also a treasure trove, as there are tons of students flyering about campus events all the time. If you happen to not be in a rush for class, it wouldn’t hurt to take a couple of flyers and see if there’s an event you would like to catch!

CAC (College Academic Counseling)/ ASK Peer Counseling

This counseling center (located in Murphy) is extremely helpful for any lost souls who would like to figure out how to better structure their class load, or anybody who would like some guidance in their academic path (including extending units). I’ve visited this place numerous times over the school year to make sure I was on track. These services are free as well!

In conjunction with CAC, there are also the blue booths located all over campus called “ASK Peer Counselors”. These are peers who have been trained extensively and can handle all sorts of questions regarding class enrollment, deadlines and restrictions. If you don’t have enough time to drop by Murphy or just have a quick question, pop in and ask for help from one of your peers!

Ashe Center 

If you’re sick, this is the place to go. They also offer vaccines/TB Tests/additional medical services that are fully insured by UCShip. Stay healthy and take care of yourself! There is also a newly opened “U See LA” located in Ackerman that can help you out with vision problems.

Education Abroad Center

This center is also located in Murphy, and you can receive detailed information (academic and financial) all at this place. If you have any queries about studying abroad, this place has all the answers! I believe that college is one of the best times in your life to go abroad and explore. My summer in London was definitely one of the best summers thus far!

Dashew Center 

This is the center for international students. They can help international students out with any issue they may come across while studying in a foreign land. They also hosted Global Siblings, which is an incredible program: I met so many great friends through this program! (I actually ran into my sibling today so I’m feeling quite nostalgic.)

 

UCLA is a big school: just by the sheer size of the student population, it’s easy to feel intimidated. However, do not fear, because, as Dumbledore once said, “Help will always be given (at Hogwarts) to those who ask for it”. UCLA may not be called Hogwarts, but it truly is a magical place! Here’s to another great school year! Cheers!

Home Game Opener

This past week UCLA had its first home game of the season! Even though we’re still on summer break, groups of UCLA students were still able to mob out to the Rose Bowl to cheer on our Bruins. Since not everybody is in town, we combined tailgates with my roommates, sorority sisters and friends from UniCamp. Tailgating was a blast and the game itself  was a ton of fun watching our team win another game and spending time with quality people. I’m super excited for the games to come!

A Cappella

Bruin Harmony--- Photo Credit: UCLA Image Library

UCLA has a vibrant music scene, boasting of over a dozen a cappella groups. I thought I’d give a quick breakdown of the groups here at UCLA for all ye acapeople 🙂

  • Single-sex A Cappella Groups:
    • All Male:
      • Bruin Harmony
    • All Female:
      • Random Voices
      • Signature A Cappella
      • Cadenza A Cappella
    • Co-Ed:
      • Awechords A Cappella
      • Resonance A Cappella
      • Awaken A Cappella
      • Scattertones A Cappella
      • Deviant Voices
      • Medleys A Cappella
      • Road to Damascus A Cappella (Christian A Cappella Group)
      • Youthphonics A Cappella (Service A Cappella Group)
      • TAU A Cappella (Mandarin Song A Cappella Group)
      • Naya Zamaana A Cappella (South Asian A Cappella Group)
      • SouLA A Cappella (Chinese A Cappella)
    • And more! There are a couple of unregistered-groups (or so I’ve heard) who are just starting out.

Each fall, (and also select groups during the winter and spring) these A Cappella groups on campus hold auditions to welcome new aca-talent into their ranks. Most of the a cappella groups have sign-ups available via acaspot.com, an inter-collegiate a cappella website. The audition process usually consists of an initial audition (where you show off your individual talent), and callbacks, where you will sing with the group to see how well you mesh with the group.

The audition process is generally quite laid back and can be a lot of fun. It vaguely resembles a rush process since most a cappella groups hold auditions all through the first week of fall quarter and it is common for auditionees to schedule auditions back-to-back. The first audition generally consists of vocal warmups (scales whatnot) to warm up your vocal chords and test your range, a verse or two from a song you choose yourself, tonal memory and/or sight reading and perhaps a couple of questions for fun.

After auditions, a group of auditionees will be invited back to callbacks. Callbacks are a mock-practice of sorts: auditionees are asked to learn music and sing with the group. Usually it is structured in a similar manner to the regular practices that each group has.

Why join A Cappella?

Regardless of the singing experience you have, I encourage anyone who is interested at singing at a collegiate level to audition! Whether you have a decade of professional singing under your belt or just a decade of belting out your favorite tunes in the shower, a cappella is a lot of fun, and you get to meet a bunch of people who share similar interests. It’s a great way to make friends and grow as a musician! I’ve had a blast singing with Awechords this year. In addition to creating lasting friendships (you see each other up to five hours or more each week), you’ll have the opportunity to perform at an assortment of gigs both on and off campus. For musicians looking for a more-portable instrument (I sure had to make a lot of sacrifices instrument-wise when I came to college), singing is definitely the way to go!

 

Good luck, choose a killer audition song that showcases all your aca-talent, and most importantly, have fun! I can’t wait to hear all of you during fall.

Bucket List: Freshman Year

Photo Credit: Cheechee Lin

As the school year draws to a close, seniors in flowing graduation gowns can be seen all over campus, posing for graduation pictures. I can’t believe that my first year at UCLA is almost over (except for finals, bleh). As UCLA prepares to send off a fourth of its population off into the real world, it’s time to welcome the freshman class.

It’s hard to believe that a little less than a year ago, I was the bright-eyed freshman who stepped foot on this campus for the first time. The quarter system does move at a super fast pace, and it seems as though this year has just been a blur. Now it’s time to take a look back at a fraction of the bucket list I composed right after freshman orientation and see what items I’ve crossed off. I was inspired by a youtube clip I had watched shortly before I moved here 🙂

  1. Take part in the Color Run 2014(I ended up participating in Run or Dye with some good friends this May).
  2. Study abroad for one quarter + (I’m studying abroad in LSE this summer! I’ve never been to Europe before, and I’m counting down the days till I’m there!)
  3. Join an a cappella group  (Awechords A Cappella, you have given me the experience of a lifetime. I’m so glad I get to sing with you all for the rest of my college career!)
  4. Volunteer for an educational cause (Project WILD, Unicamp, I am so incredibly lucky to be able to volunteer with you)
  5. University Chorus, UCLA Chorale, Chamber (Performing in Royce was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had during my undergraduate career. As Dr.Neuen’s last choral class, getting to perform the Beethoven Mass inside UCLA’s best venue was incredible.)
  6. Tour Guide ( I served as a tour guide for Bruin Day! Despite getting stranded outside the elevator from my tour group and having to scour the building for them, it was an exhilarating experience)
  7. Experience Spring Sing (Best show ever!!! More to come on this later)
  8. Figure out what major I want to be (This actually turned out to be not that difficult once I was able to figure out what I was really passionate about!)
  9. Thanksgiving in Beverly Hills ( I had the fortune of dining with an alumni for Thanksgiving since I couldn’t go back home, thanks to the Dashew Center!
  10. Road Trip (LOL my friends from my floor dragged me to San Diego during Winter Quarter amid midterm craziness. I am so grateful they persuaded me, that was definitely an fun-filled adventure!)
  11. Learn something completely random  (Wow. I’ve taken a couple of classes purely for the sake of learning outside my academic career and they were some of the best courses I’ve taken thus far.)

So these were a couple of the things I’ve managed to cross off my list. The rest are little goals or checkpoints I will work towards during the future, and I’ll definitely keep on expanding the list! So for anyone looking to create a bucket list: be as deep, as insightful, or as crazy as you’d like: college is what you make out of it! Set a goal to take a random class, do something you never thought you’d do (like leap off a pole on the top of a mountain), meet some incredible people, and get ready for the ride of your life!