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.

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.