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Where Are They Now: Cailin Crockett

Cailin Crockett ’10 made history as one of UCLA’s first Astin scholars, an undergraduate scholarship program supporting hands-on experience in civic engagement. We featured the Astin scholars in the College Report in 2010 and recently caught up with Cailin to find out what she’s been up to.

Cailin Crockett is out to change the world for the better, particularly on behalf of survivors of domestic and sexual violence—and she credits UCLA with igniting her passion for activism and public service.

“UCLA encouraged me to become a compassionate, conscientious and global citizen,” she said.

Based in Washington, D.C., Crockett has carved out a niche in public service focusing on policy in support of women and girls. The political science alumna most recently served as policy advisor in the Office of Vice President Biden, where she worked to strengthen government policies that address the human rights of underserved trauma survivors in the U.S. and around the world. She has also been a special assistant for gender policy and elder rights for the Department of Health and Human Services, and a gender specialist in the Bureau for Policy and Program Support at the United Nations Development Program.

She said that her UCLA education, both inside and outside the classroom, laid the strongest possible foundation for her career.

“UCLA is where I honed the skills that I use every single day in my work, especially critical thinking and the ability to analyze a large amount of information about an issue, take in the key points, and advocate a defensible position,” she said.

Crockett said that she saw UCLA as a place to immerse herself in learning and discover her passions. She was particularly drawn to the study of political theory for its distillation of concepts such as human rights and equality into a set of logically arguable points. Her political science courses gave her an appreciation for the power of research, data and statistics to inform and persuade.

And she recalled a freshman cluster course on the environment taught by professors from all over campus, who “urged us to use our privilege in getting a top education to make the world a better place.”

During her sophomore year, Crockett was selected to represent UCLA at a forum in France at which youth from NATO-member countries interacted with youth from Afghanistan, in order to deepen understanding about what was at stake in the war against the Taliban. She later went on to earn a master’s degree in Politics from the University of Oxford.

Crockett, who minored in Spanish and studied in Spain for a semester, said that her language proficiency has benefited her international work. But it was her civic engagement experience in her senior year that ignited her passion for activism and feminism.

For her project, Crockett focused on the causes of homelessness, specifically the impact of domestic violence and veterans’ issues. She accompanied community workers providing financial literacy and life skills workshops at the VA and a women’s center in downtown L.A. There, she interviewed scores of people about their journeys in and out of homelessness.

“It was incredible to be immersed in the experiences of these vulnerable populations,” she said. “It’s even more meaningful now because of my work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, many of whom are homeless as a result.”

Crockett, an Alumni Scholar and third-generation Bruin, said that having chosen a career in public service, she is particularly proud that she graduated from a highly respected public university with a reputation for local and global leadership.

“No matter where I go in the world, people know about UCLA,” she said.

Where Are They Now: Hetty Chang

On June 1, 2016, UCLA alumna and NBC4 Southern California reporter Hetty Chang returned to campus to cover the dramatic events of the murder-suicide on campus at UCLA.

As a sociology graduate of the Class of 2000, Chang said covering the story at UCLA hit especially close to home. But the incident also gave Chang an opportunity to reconnect with the campus. She spoke with the UCLA College to discuss her trajectory since graduation and some of the defining moments of her broadcasting career to date.

As a child, Hetty Chang rarely missed the evening news, especially Asian American newscasters whom she saw as role models.

“The reporters I saw were pretty, confident, poised and smart,” Chang said. “And they were Asian, which made me believe I could someday be like them.”

Today, the UCLA alumna has her own television role as a reporter for NBC4 Southern California, where she can be seen weekdays during the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts, breaking the big stories of the day. Chang covers much of Southern California and, in particular, Long Beach, the South Bay and Orange County.

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Hetty Chang ’00

She has also covered national stories such as the hunt for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner and the O.J. Simpson robbery case. She has received an Emmy Award, and is the first recipient of the Asian American Journalist Association New Media Fellowship as part of a pilot program with NBC4.

Before she set her sights on journalism, Chang dreamed of attending UCLA; however, after graduating from Whitney High School, one of the top public high schools in the country, the Cerritos native did not get into UCLA the first time around. She was undeterred and after two years of tenacious study at UC Irvine, she was accepted to UCLA in 1998 as a transfer student majoring in sociology and Asian American Studies.

“When people hear UCLA, it’s a tremendous honor,” Chang said. “So I kept my eye on the prize.”

After graduation, she had a brief stint as an intern with Channel 35 News, L.A.’s cable station. She soon realized that she would need to move to a smaller city to get her big break.

“Journalism is a unique field in the sense that you have to move to a smaller market to gain experience,” she said. “Very few reporters actually start out in a large city.”

Chang worked at KRNV, an NBC affiliate in Reno, for nearly four years before landing a job at the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas. There, she covered one of her most memorable stories, an interview with then-Senator Barak Obama—10 days before he won the 2008 presidential election.

“That was an unforgettable experience, to have a precious few minutes with the future president,” Chang said. “It was getting a front row to history being made.”

After covering several major stories in Las Vegas, Chang earned sufficient recognition to be a competitive candidate as a reporter in Los Angeles, the second-largest media market in the country. She was hired by NBC4 in 2013.

Getting to meet individuals from all walks of life is Chang’s favorite part of the job at NBC4. In addition to breaking news, she often tells inspiring stories through NBC4’s Life Connected series that airs every Sunday during the NBC4 News at 11 p.m., where she reports on the many unique ways people and communities come together.

Chang recently covered a 94-year-old Torrance, California resident who holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for most Olympics attended, with the Rio Olympics being his 19th.

“I get to meet all these interesting and inspiring people I would never cross paths with in any other industry,” Chang said. “I also feel a great responsibility for telling their stories.”

Chang said her studies at UCLA prepared her to approach every story with sensitivity and authenticity.

“I cover a very large swath of Southern California, which is so tremendously diverse, as is UCLA,” she said. “UCLA really gave me a great foundation from which to approach the news stories that I come across every day.”

She said UCLA’s competitive academic environment also helped her learn to face every challenge head-on and never to take ‘no’ for an answer.

“There were a lot of people who told me, ‘This is a very competitive field; you’ll never make it back to L.A.,’” Chang said. “But if I’d listened to them I wouldn’t be here. You have to be persistent.”

Even in the most challenging moments, Chang said she always remembers where she came from to keep her moving forward.

“I want to make my alma mater proud, much like I want to make my hometown proud and my family proud,” Chang said. “I think it really comes down to that great sense of pride.”

UCLA launches master of social science program

 

Applications are now open for a new Master of Social Science (MaSS) Program, a nine-month degree program that will be the first of its kind on the West Coast. Launching in Fall 2017, the UCLA MaSS program is expected to attract high-potential students who will benefit from training in social science research and perspectives to become strong candidates for top Ph.D. programs or for career positions requiring sharp analytical, quantitative and qualitative skills.

A view of Royce Hall from the southwest, across the Shapiro Fountain.Twenty-first century social science research increasingly cuts across disciplines, but most undergraduate-level training in the social sciences continues to be organized along disciplinary boundaries. The UCLA MaSS program will address the need for new approaches to social science education by offering interdisciplinary training in problem-based social science research.

Working closely with faculty mentors, students will learn the nuts and bolts of social science research, including how to: identify and frame complex social problems; conduct, interpret and evaluate relevant research; analyze research data generated from different theoretical, methodological and disciplinary approaches; and present findings in clear and compelling ways.

“This is an ideal way for students to ‘activate’ their undergraduate degree and be highly competitive for desirable professional opportunities or top doctoral programs,” said MaSS chair Juliet Williams.

The MaSS program plans to enroll twenty-five students each year, and merit and need-based aid is available. Along with core courses and electives, each student will design and submit a major research paper, gaining hands-on research experience outside the classroom. Also on offer will be practical workshops on how to apply to Ph.D. programs, conduct scholarly research online, use data management and analysis programs, and ace job interviews.

For more information please go to http://mass.ss.ucla.edu/

Key dates:

November 30, 2016 4-6 p.m.: MaSS Open House (registration required)
January 6, 2017: early admission application deadline
April 30, 2017: final application deadline

Video: UCLA scholars on the presidential race

UCLA faculty, visiting scholars and political thinkers continue to grapple with a contentious presidential campaign that includes “two of the most unpopular candidates in American history,” as Bill Schneider, longtime political analyst and current visiting professor in the UCLA Department of Communication Studies put it during a recent campus event related to the election.