A photo of Royce Hall.

Alumna’s Gift will Support the Study of Contemporary Chinese Culture

A $250,000 donation from economics alumna May C. Chong has established the Heritage and Hope Endowment in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. Augmented by $125,000 from the Humanities Centennial Match, the gift will support students and faculty researching contemporary global Chinese culture and/or religion, specifically Buddhism.

A photo of Royce Hall.

Royce Hall (Photo Credit: UCLA)

“We are deeply grateful for May Chong’s generous gift, which will firmly embed contemporary Chinese cultural studies on our campus,” Dean of Humanities David Schaberg said. “More broadly, this gift further empowers UCLA in its mission to educate global citizens and foster greater cultural understanding.”

Chong, who graduated from UCLA in 1979, grew up in Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States after graduating from high school. As a student, she spent hours in the Richard C. Rudolph East Asian Library in UCLA’s Young Research Library, considering it her “home away from home.” In 2011, she established an endowment for the library supporting the acquisition of books and materials, including primarily Chinese classics, culture, education and modern literature, as well as publications in Chinese or dual language (Chinese-English).

“It is my hope that these complementary gifts will help UCLA become known as a premier cultural and educational resource for both Chinese and non-Chinese-speaking people who are interested in Chinese language, teachings and cultures,” Chong said.

Chong is a longtime financial adviser currently employed by UBS Financial Services. She previously worked for Merrill Lynch. In 2014, she was named by the Financial Times among the Top 100 Women Financial Advisors. In the same year CEOWorld placed her on their America’s Top-Ranked 100 Women Financial Advisors list. She is married to Danny Yiu. They have a daughter who graduated from NYU in 2017.

Photo of Leia Yen.

UCLA transfer student wins a Marshall Scholarship

Photo of Leia Yen.

While at UCLA, Leia Yen founded Bruins for Urban Debate, an organization that mentors young debate students. Credit: El Camino College

Leia Yen, who graduated from UCLA in 2019, has won the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, making her the first Bruin to win in nine years, and also the first UCLA transfer student to receive the award.

The Marshall Scholarship — which finances one to two years of graduate study at any U.K. university — is awarded to approximately 45 American college graduates each year.

As a Marshall Scholar, Yen will pursue master’s degrees in digital humanities and digital culture and society at King’s College London.

“I see my studies at King’s College as a chance to develop an international, collaborative approach to digital humanities, not only between the U.S. and the U.K., but also with other institutions, nations and communities that have been underrepresented in traditional tech-related fields,” Yen said.

At UCLA, Yen focused on digital humanities, presenting two projects at Undergraduate Research Week and working as a research assistant for Ramesh Srinivasan, professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research focuses on inequalities in technology and digital culture.

A native of Torrance, Yen transferred to UCLA from El Camino College, where she was an active member of the college’s speech and debate team. Even after transferring to UCLA, she continued coaching the El Camino debate team, because the experience was so transformative. Yen proudly noted that all of the students she mentored on the team last year had successfully transferred to UCLA.

She also coached high school debate teams in the Los Angeles Unified School District through the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League. At UCLA, she founded Bruins for Urban Debate, a student organization that mentors young debate students.

“I care about making education accessible and inclusive, and I see debate as a way of empowering students with the portable skills that will make them effective students, advocates and leaders, even after their debate careers come to an end,” she said.

Yen was drawn to UCLA after her experience at Bruin Day for transfer students, when she met faculty, staff and students who showed her how much UCLA values transfer students and the perspectives they bring to the campus. These supportive mentors inspired Yen to become a mentor at the UCLA Transfer Student Center.

“It’s important to me to support transfer students, because it really does make a difference when you have an advocate, friend, mentor or leader who knows how to speak and work from their own experiences,” Yen said. “I loved being a community college student, and I loved being surrounded by people who shared my love for the transfer community.”

When the British consulate called Yen to tell her that she had won the Marshall Scholarship, she was driving to a tournament for her El Camino debate team. She told the students the good news when she arrived.

“Throughout the tournament, I heard those students talking about the Marshall, Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships. And to my delight, they were thinking openly about what it would be like to pursue the scholarships themselves,” Yen said. “This is what representation does. Hearing my students dream big made me feel like I had won the Marshall all over again.”

This article originally appeared in the UCLA Newsroom.

UCLA’s Bunche Center Launches New Arthur Ashe Legacy Website

Hundreds of videos, interviews, photos, articles and other resources related to the life of tennis legend and UCLA alumnus Arthur Ashe are now accessible via the Ralph J. Bunche Center at UCLA on its new Arthur Ashe Legacy website.

The website was migrated from the site of the former Arthur Ashe Learning Center (AALC), which transferred its activities to UCLA in October 2017.

Ashe’s widow, Jeanne Moutousammy-Ashe, founded the AALC in 2008 to promote her late husband’s legacy and values.

Arthur Ashe at UCLA, 1965 (Hoover Photographic Collection, UCLA Library)

Visitors to the new website can read a brief biography of Ashe’s life and an excerpt from his book, A Hard Road to Glory, and watch archival video clips featuring Ashe and Moutousammy-Ashe. Educators can download activity books about Ashe for elementary and middle school students.

The website also retains hundreds of blog posts written by former AALC staff and other guests about topics such as civil rights, African-American leaders in sports, arts and the military, and historic events.

Along with the website, UCLA will acquire exhibit materials including photographsby Moutousammy-Ashe and artworks, and endow an Arthur Ashe scholarship to be awarded to students who exemplify the ideals Ashe displayed as a UCLA student.

Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Patricia A. Turner said it is an honor for UCLA to become the guardian of Ashe’s legacy and that the new website ensures that Ashe’s life and achievements will live on, accessible to anyone around the world, at the alma mater he loved so much.

“This is a truly special moment for UCLA, and we are grateful to have been entrusted with Arthur Ashe’s towering legacy,” Turner said. “The scholarship and exhibit materials are tangible reminders of his transformative impact on the world.”

Where Are They Now: Kevin Brazile

Judge Kevin Brazile recently appeared in a UCLA Newsroom article featuring his involvement in the College’s JusticeCorps program. The College recently caught up with Brazile to learn more about his time at UCLA and how he has dedicated his life to the law.

As a young boy, Kevin Brazile didn’t know any lawyers. But he always looked up to his elder brother who was a deputy sheriff.

“You’ll be the first one in the family to go to college,” Brazile recalls his brother saying. “You’ll be the first one in the family to ever go to law school.”

Today, Brazile is Assistant Presiding Judge with the Los Angeles Superior Court, the busiest and largest court system in California.

Brazile’s journey to the Superior Court started with the constant support from his brother, who at any chance he could get, would introduce him to his own lawyer friends. Those interactions fascinated Brazile, and although his family was poor, he knew that one day he would attend UCLA and become a lawyer.

It wasn’t an easy road. He first attended West Los Angeles Junior College, and then transferred to UCLA after two years.

As a non-traditional and first-generation student, Brazile remembers studying during the day and working several jobs during the evening and weekends to pay for school.

“I worked at a clothing store and at a place where we loaded boxes on trucks – I did whatever I could find,” he said. “I did gardening at one point and even worked for a moving company because I needed money.”

Despite the hard work outside of the classroom, Brazile was determined to make the best of his opportunity at UCLA. He excelled in his coursework and graduated in 1980 not only with a B.A. in political science, but with the distinct honor of cum laude.

By the time he completed his undergraduate career, he knew he wanted to pursue law at UCLA.

“When I got into the UCLA School of Law – that was it,” Brazile said. “I didn’t want to go anyplace else.”

Brazile earned his J.D. in 1983, passed the California Bar Exam, and immediately began to practice law.

Once a Bruin, Always a Bruin

Brazile worked 18 years with the County Counsel’s Office where he was the first African American to serve as division chief of the General Litigation Division. There, he oversaw the defense of police misconduct as well as employment discrimination and sexual harassment litigation.

It was also during his tenure with the county that he successfully argued the case Conn vs. Gabbert before the United States Supreme Court.

Brazile recalls working tirelessly on the case, which dealt with the question, “Does a prosecutor violate the opposing attorney’s Fourteenth Amendment right to practice his profession when the prosecutor causes the attorney to be searched at the same time his client is testifying before a grand jury?”

He readily admits to being extremely nervous during the months leading up to his arguments, but he was determined to know the facts of the case better than the opposition.

Sticking to his personal mantra, “Be ready. Be prepared,” Brazile sought the help of his alma mater to prepare for arguments before the Supreme Court. The UCLA School of Law referred him to then-professor, John Wiley Jr., an expert in antitrust, intellectual property and criminal law.

“John didn’t know me and I didn’t know him, but he said, ‘You’re from UCLA. You’re one of our former students, so I’m going to help you.’” Brazile said.

Under Wiley’s mentorship, Brazile fine-tuned his arguments and ultimately received a unanimous judgment from the Supreme Court in his favor.

Looking back at this career-defining experience, Brazile notes that it was his connection to UCLA that helped him to succeed.

“The people I met at UCLA are now lifelong friends and we help each other,” he said. “We’re there for one another, supporting each other in the good times and the bad times.”

To this day Brazile is good friends with Wiley, who now serves as a judge with the Superior Court.

In 2002, after nearly two decades as a lawyer and with a successful Supreme Court ruling under his belt, Brazile was appointed judge.

A Mentor for the Next Generation

Seeing firsthand the benefits of mentoring on his own life, Brazile has made a point of mentoring young minority lawyers. During his 15-year tenure as a judge, Brazile has sought to put people in a place to lead, and he encourages them to do their best to make a difference.

“Once you get to the top, you don’t want to push the ladder away, you want to hold it for somebody else,” Brazile said.

After completing his term as Assistant Presiding Judge, he will become the next Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. In his new role, Brazile would supervise 38 courthouses and nearly 600 judges and commissioners. He would also be the first African American Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Looking to the future, Brazile said, “I am excited about the opportunity to be the next Presiding Judge and look forward to finding, shaping and developing new leaders for the court.”

 

 

 

Visionary alumna Martine Rothblatt honored with UCLA Medal

Rothblatt is the CEO of a billion-dollar pharmaceutical company, who also remains a staunch proponent of generic drugs; she founded Sirius XM satellite radio; she’s helped develop pioneering work on organ transplants; she’s a powerful advocate for transgender rights; she’s a lawyer, medical ethicist, futurist, pilot, triathlete, parent and world-changing technologist.

Where Are They Now: Bryan Pezeshki

Co-founder of Swipe Out Hunger and proud Bruin Bryan Pezeshki ’12, MBA ’16 has a passion for service. He recently obtained his M.D. from Duke University and aspires to direct his passion toward creating systematic change in health care.

Pezeshki works as an emergency medical resident at the Brookdale University Hospital & Medical Center, one of the main level 1 trauma centers in Brooklyn, NY. A self-described social entrepreneur, he ultimately plans to take the knowledge he gathered from treating individual patients to create large-scale changes that affect a greater number of stakeholders. He regularly draws on his UCLA experiences and connections in his current role.

Pezeshki’s work at Swipe Out Hunger proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of his undergraduate years at UCLA.

“We saw the inefficiency of wasted meal swipes and recognized the prevalence of student hunger on campus,” he said.

He said that one of his best memories was going to Washington D.C., where President Obama recognized Swipe Out Hunger as a White House Champion of Change.

Pezeshki also completed cancer research at UCLA Health’s oncology department and went on to co-author an article titled “Patients’ Willingness to Participate in a Breast Cancer Biobank at Screening Mammogram” in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

After completing his B.S. in neuroscience, Pezeshki knew that although he wanted to pursue a career in medicine, he wanted to make a bigger impact. He was able to enter into a dual program that allowed him to pursue an M.D. at Duke University while simultaneously acquiring an M.B.A. at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“I wanted to gain experience and expertise in the business side of healthcare administration that is rarely taught in medical school,” he says, “I am honored to have the opportunity to do what I love– to help people in need.”­­­­­­­­­

Pezeshki received a plethora of scholarships including the UCLA Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Award and the UCLA Anderson School of Management Merit Fellowship. “The awards were immensely helpful, especially with rising costs,” he said, “Looking back, those were crucial in helping to decrease the burden and allowing me to pursue my passions.”

Pezeshki said that one of his favorite aspects of working in the medical field is creating individual patient relationships. He would love to give back to UCLA and is considering returning as a clinician after completing his residency.

His advice to current students? “Focus on your studies and career, but most importantly, have fun and do what you love.”

Where Are They Now: Andrew Nicholls

The Spring 2013 issue of the College Report magazine featured psychology major Andrew Nicholls’ military service and his veterans advocacy work at UCLA. We recently caught up with him to learn more about his post-graduate career path and current endeavors.

Having spent more than nine years in the U.S. Army, Andrew Nicholls ’13 draws on his personal experience and UCLA education to pursue mental health advocacy for veterans and help them with the transition to civilian life.

Nicholls works as a clinical care manager at Evergreen Health in Kirkland, WA, where he conducts assessments of mental health and assault risk as well as crisis prevention. He plans to return to the Veterans Affairs office in Seattle to continue his research on veterans’ mental health.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 prompted Nicholls to enlist in the military. While on active duty in Iraq he worked mainly on rebuilding community infrastructure and vocational programs. Unfortunately, his Army experience left him with lasting effects of PTSD, a struggle that led to his interest in veterans’ mental health advocacy.

Nicholls set his sights on UCLA and enrolled as a transfer student in 2011. He was named a UCLA Regents Scholar, honoring him as one of the top applicants of his class. He credits his mentor, psychology professor Christine Dunkel Schetter, with showing him how psychology research and social work could be a way to leverage his experience to help others.

“UCLA pushed me to challenge any notions I had of the status quo,” Nicholls said.

In 2012 while at UCLA, Nicholls founded the Killed in Action, Wounded in Action (KIA WIA) Foundation, which raises awareness of the sacrifices of men and women wounded or killed in the Global War on Terror. He also initiated an undergraduate seminar titled “Fast Cars and Battle Scars: Understanding the Modern Combat Veteran and PTSD,” which explored basic training, soldier perspectives and transition to civilian life. Nicholls said he was impressed by the depth with which the students engaged with the material, and he has stayed in touch with many of them.

“Leading that seminar was my top achievement while at UCLA,” he said. “Teaching reminded me of my time in the Army. What I loved about my experience in the military was leading a team and feeling a sense of comradery.”

After graduation, Nicholls continued to work for KIA WIA and obtained a master’s degree in social work from USC. He recently co-authored an article titled “Tattoos as a Window to the Psyche: How Talking about Skin Art Can Inform Psychiatric Practice due for publication in the World Journal of Psychology.

Faculty member and his wife give $1 million to UCLA College

Michael Jung, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College, and his wife, Alice, have donated $1 million toward the establishment of the Michael and Alice Jung Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery.

The gift was matched by the UCLA division of physical sciences for a total contribution of $2 million. The match was made possible by a program established after UCLA sold its royalty interest in Xtandi, a compound developed by Jung and his research team for the treatment of prostate cancer. With its share of the proceeds from the Xtandi transaction, UCLA has also made matching funds available for gifts that support undergraduate scholarships at UCLA.

“Xtandi has not only saved lives; it has been a wonderful boost to UCLA due to the matching program, and we have Mike Jung to thank for that,” said Miguel García-Garibay, dean of physical sciences. “He and Alice have set a terrific example by endowing a chair in Mike’s department, for which we are very grateful.”

Mike Jung (Penny Jennings/UCLA)

Jung is an authority on synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry. He is an inventor on 34 issued patents and 36 patent applications arising from both his consulting activities and his own research. He has more than 15 ongoing academic research collaborations and consults for more than 20 industrial laboratories in both biotech and pharmaceutical settings.

His current research holds promise for the development of new drugs for the treatment of various diseases and conditions, including for breast, lung and prostate cancer; antiviral diseases; muscular dystrophy; multiple sclerosis; osteoporosis; and even hair loss.

“My wife and I hope that our gift will enable UCLA to hire a faculty member who could continue to do similar drug discovery research well into the future, with the hope of producing more useful drugs,” Jung said.

A native of New Orleans, Jung received his B.A. from Rice University in 1969 and, as a National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellow, went on to earn his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1973. He completed a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) postdoctoral fellowship at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zürich before joining the UCLA faculty in 1974.

Jung has published more than 345 research papers and presented more than 600 lectures on his research. He has supervised 92 doctoral and nine master’s theses, and he has taught more than 130 postdoctoral scholars.

Among the awards he has received are the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, UCLA’s Glenn T. Seaborg Medal and Gold Shield Faculty Prize, and the 2015 Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. He also was elected to the National Academy of Inventors.

“Without chemistry, we wouldn’t have life-saving medicines like Xtandi,” said Catherine Clarke, chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department and a professor of biochemistry. “Thanks to Mike and Alice Jung’s gift, the department will be able to pursue more breakthrough research in medicinal chemistry. Who knows how many more lives will be saved?”

The department of chemistry and biochemistry was named No. 7 in the world in chemistry in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities rankings, and three faculty members and four alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prizes in chemistry. The department has more than 50 faculty, 130 postdoctoral researchers, 350 graduate students and 1,400 undergraduates.

The gift is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

NASA selects UCLA alumna for 2017 astronaut candidate class

Jessica Watkins, who earned her Ph.D. in geology from UCLA in 2015, has been selected by NASA to join the 2017 astronaut candidate class. She will report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for duty this August.