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Student organization plans to provide peer bonding community for incoming students

Leanne Ton (left), a third-year business economics student, and Anqi Chen (right), a third-year business economics and music performance student, founded Bruin Bonding to create a community to provide students with guidance on planning their academic and career goals. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

By Martín Bilbao

April 1, 2019 11:35 p.m.

A new student organization aims to create a community to provide students with guidance on planning their academic and career goals.

Bruin Bonding aims to help incoming students by connecting them with upperclassmen who could give them advice on classes, professors and other opportunities through a peer bonding program. Anqi Chen, a third-year business economics and music performance student, and Leanne Ton, a third-year business economics student, founded the organization in the fall.

The organization is in its early stages, but will begin fundraising for its planned peer bonding program, guest speaker events and socials on April 8 in Bruin Plaza.

Chen and Ton founded Bruin Bonding to address what they saw as a lack of guidance for new UCLA students.

“We both came into UCLA feeling like we didn’t have a lot guidance or resources or anyone to really show us the steps when we got here,” Ton said.

Toward the end of their second year, Ton and Chen initially planned to look for internships and leadership opportunities, but decided to redirect their efforts toward creating opportunities for other students on campus.

“This was a point where we both felt like we had a lot more experience on campus and we could provide more guidance on what we’ve been through, what was difficult, what we wish we could have done sooner, and just helpful tips for other people,” Ton said.

They deliberately chose the name Bruin Bonding to emphasize social interactions, Chen said.

“We didn’t want to start focusing too much on the professional aspects,” Chen said. “When you think about the word ‘networking’ you feel like the relationship between two people is not deep enough, like it’s pretty shallow.”

Bruin Bonding will begin recruiting student volunteers for mentor positions this quarter. The organization’s 10 officers are still figuring out the responsibilities and requirements of the peer bonding program and focusing on building a social environment for prospective members, Chen said.

“We didn’t really want to make it sound like there’s a hierarchy,” Chen. “In the end we are all peers and we are all Bruins.”

Eric Leung, a third-year business economics student, joined Bruin Bonding in the fall when the club was first forming. Leung said he thinks Bruin Bonding is different from purely professional or social student organizations because it combines aspects from both.

“Bruin Bonding stands in the middle. We come from a very diverse background,” Leung said. “We are more about exploring things together.”

Nina Tum, a third-year business economics student, was approached to join Bruin Bonding by Ton, with whom she shared a class. Tum was motivated to join partly because she felt her experience in a high school mentorship program would be valuable, she said.

“We don’t want to just be mentors advising or telling younger students what they should do or what they shouldn’t do,” Tum said. “We want this to be an open forum for everyone to be comfortable and express their ideas and feelings.”

Tum said Bruin Bonding aims to be inclusive to all majors as opposed to other organizations that target students with certain majors or career goals.

“We are a group of people from very different backgrounds … like music majors, science majors and economics majors,” Tum said. “At the end of the day I think we are all students and we relate to each other in that manner.”

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Martín Bilbao | Alumnus
Bilbao was the Assistant News editor for City and Crime from 2019-2020. He graduated with a degree in political science student and previously worked as a News contributor for Features and Student Life.
Bilbao was the Assistant News editor for City and Crime from 2019-2020. He graduated with a degree in political science student and previously worked as a News contributor for Features and Student Life.
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