Chloe Cheng is a fourth-year biochemistry student. She joined the lab as a second-year student and largely worked with the guidance of Evan Abt, a graduate student in pharmacology. She has helped him with his research about interferons, which stimulate genes that affect nucleotide metabolism and pools that cancer cells use to make DNA.
Cheng attributes her technical skills to the direction that Abt gave her when she first joined. She believes that it is vital to have one-on-one mentor interactions when first beginning in a lab. ''You get the attention you need and your questions answered,'' said Cheng. Abt helped Cheng develop into the researcher that she is now, and she appreciates the guidance he has given her throughout their years working in the lab.
Fourth-year student Fernando De La Torre and third-year student Emma Edmond are both molecular, cell and developmental biology students working as undergraduate researchers in Dr. Leanne Jones’s lab. Mentoring Edmond has helped De La Torre learn how to manage his time better and communicate more effectively. He found not only a mentee in Edmond, but also a friend he can share laughs with. ''I know his schedule better than he does,'' Edmond said. ''My project needed someone who could take it over. She definitely has the work ethic to push the project forward,'' De La Torre said.
For Edmond, having a mentor has taught her to convey information to others without being condescending or rude, and she believes having a mentor has been crucial to her growth as a researcher. ''Not having guidance can make you feel like you’re drowning,'' said Edmond, ''It’s really beneficial when your mentor is kind and compassionate, and makes you feel like your questions are valid. I feel very much like my help is needed and wanted.'' Graduating at the end of the spring quarter, De La Torre is confident that he has set Edmond up for success and that she now has all the tools to advance the project.
Meenah Alam is a fourth-year percussion performance and music education student who has been a pupil under UCLA music lecturer Raynor Carroll. Whether through the weekly class practices or biweekly private lessons, Alam and Carroll have been working together for the past four years. When reminiscing on Alam’s audition, Carroll said that she had presented herself in a very mature way despite being 16 at the time, and he could tell from her personality that she had what it takes. ''(Her personality) just emotes and it’s positive and just good for the studio,'' Carroll said.
Carroll keeps logs of every lesson to help track the progress of his students. Alam explains that Carroll focuses on where his students want to go and how he can help get them there. ''He is looking at that from the very first lesson,'' said Alam. While Carroll makes sure to teach his students the necessary skills to be a good percussionist, he also focuses on their development, something he believes is his role as a mentor. ''The goal is that after they finish here, they feel confident in what they’re doing,'' said Carroll.
Zain Khalifeh, Alex Bednar, Rishi Bhargava and Benjamin Lee (left to right) are all members of Model United Nations at UCLA. Bednar and Bhargava are both graduating fourth-year students. Bednar is studying geography and environmental studies while Bhargava is studying computer science. Khalifeh is a second-year biochemistry major, and Lee is a second-year political science major and statistics minor. Khalifeh originally wasn’t planning to join MUN when he got to college, but Bednar remembered him from BruinMUN, an annual high school conference that MUN at UCLA hosts, and convinced him to stay. Bhargava was similarly able to convince Lee to join during the Enormous Activities Fair.
All four believe that friendship is a huge component to MUN, and Bhargava claims that some of his closest friends are ones he has made inside the club. Bednar and Bhargava had upperclassmen they could turn to as resources, and they have continued the unofficial role of being mentors to newer members. ''I hope that we’ve at least done some of the same things that the seniors did for us,'' Bednar said. Khalifeh explains that the seniors have been huge role models, and he also wants to ''have a good influence on people’s lives.'' Having someone to go to who can help new people feel welcomed is of great importance when joining a large club. ''It’s incredibly important to have that figure in any club, and Rishi has been that person to a lot of people within the club,'' Khalifeh said.
Shayna Maci Warner is a fourth-year world arts and cultures student with a concentration in visual culture and a minor in film. Will O’Loughlen is the media lab manager for the WAC department. Warner decided to document the Sins O’ The Flesh shadow cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Nuart Theatre for an assignment that required going to a place that is visually interesting. After figuring out that there was much more to the community than visual appeal, Warner took on the project of documenting the RHPS community. O’Loughlen became a helpful resource for Warner to come to with technical questions as well as for advice about the process of creating a documentary.
''It turned into this narrative about having a safe, queer space to be expressive and open and not worry about what anyone thought,'' said Warner. ''I get lots of people coming through the place with different levels of interest ... but (Warner) has been very aggressive about making the movie, and not everyone is like that,'' O’Loughlen said. Whether it was renting out equipment or discussing how to improve the sound quality, O’Loughlen was an important guide for Warner to go to during the year-and-a-half process of making the documentary.
Connor Hum is a fourth-year materials science and engineering student and a co-president of UCLA’s Wushu team. He joined the club as a freshman, along with the other co-president Melanie Ngo, a fourth-year biochemistry student. Together, Ngo and Hum have worked to mentor first-year students Chuan Chen, a computer science student, and Chen Yap, an astrophysics student, to fill their shoes as co-presidents for the upcoming academic year. Chen and Yap, much like Hum, have been practicing Wushu since they were very young. ''With so much experience, they seemed like natural fits for the role of co-president,'' said Hum.
Hum’s and Ngo’s focus on mentorship has been especially strong this year. Not only do Hum and Ngo act as mentors to Chen and Yap, they are in charge of mentoring the whole team. ''We’ve gotten about 15 freshmen to join and stick with us this year,'' said Cho. With so many new members, Cho felt it was important to make sure the team was also a safe space for students to have fun and make friends. ''We’re a close-knit team,'' said Cho. ''It’s been a lot of fun.''
Tracy Saw, a fourth-year psychology and global studies major, has been a research assistant in Dr. Tiffany Brannon’s culture and contact lab since her sophomore year. She started by helping her run studies and read literature, which helped inspire her own research goals going into her fourth year. ''(Saw) has always been very ambitious and a hard worker in the lab,'' Brannon said. ''It was a natural trajectory for her to do her own independent work.''
Saw’s research looks at how social media communities, specifically hashtag communities, can foster belonging among racial minority students. Saw used Twitter data in her research, which Dr. Brannon says no one in her lab has done before. Some of the hashtags Saw looked at were from UCLA groups and protests, such as #BruinLivesMatter and #BruinStrong.