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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.

Gift establishes endowed chair in history

Nickoll Family Chair to be awarded to renowned history scholar and UCLA faculty member

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Ben Nickoll

History alumnus Ben Nickoll ’86 was brought up in a family in which helping others and giving back were the norm. Now, he has given back to his alma mater by establishing the Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in History, which will have a focus on women’s history. The inaugural holder will be renowned scholar and writer Brenda Stevenson, who will be formally installed on October 24.

“I am proud to have known Ben Nickoll since my days as Dean of Social Sciences,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh. “His professional career, values and character are testaments to the importance of a liberal arts education.”

He said that the gift would help to ensure the quality and relevance of UCLA’s history department for decades to come.

“As a historian myself, I am deeply touched.” He said.

History chair Stephen Aron said that the gift would bolster the department’s efforts to attract and retain world-class faculty like Stevenson, whose research focuses on the history of slavery in the U.S. and Atlantic World, particularly of enslaved women.

“With this wonderful gift, Ben Nickoll has signaled his belief in the enduring value of a history degree, of excellent teaching, and of studying the past to shape a better future,” Aron said.

Nickoll grew up near UCLA, so it was a familiar fixture in his childhood. He recalled skateboarding through the campus, hanging out in Westwood with friends and attending basketball games with his dad at Pauley Pavilion. His parents were actively involved in the local community and in politics.

“They stood up for what they believed and gave to causes where they could have an impact,” he said.

When he first enrolled at UCLA, he had no idea what he wanted to study.

“Then I took a class taught by Prof. Roger McGrath, a gifted storyteller who brought historical characters and events to life in the classroom,” Nickoll said. “I was hooked and became a history major soon after that.”

After graduation, despite a lack of investment experience, Nickoll moved across country and talked his way into a job on Wall Street. He held high-level positions at top investment banks before co-founding investment firm Ore Hill in 2002. After that firm was sold in 2011, he founded El Faro Partners, an investment firm focused on real estate, private equity, credit and agriculture.

Nickoll is a member of the history department’s Board of Advisors and gave the commencement address at the department’s graduation ceremony in 2008. He is also a founding member of the board of the Fink Center for Finance and Investments at the Anderson School of Business.

“My wife, Chrissy, and I acknowledge that there are many worthy causes and organizations,” Nickoll said. “We believe in focusing the majority of our energy in our local communities, not just financially but also with action when possible.”

And he said he felt the time was right to make a major gift to his home department at UCLA.

If the liberal arts and subjects like history continue to be overlooked in favor of the sciences and engineering, he said, students might not develop a sufficiently broad, informed world view.

“I believe that the study of history is relevant to all aspects of life,” he said. “Take the investment world—an investor needs to understand context and how elements affecting past performance can affect a company today and in the future.”

For her part, Stevenson said that the Nickoll chair would allow her to take her work to a different level.

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Brenda Stevenson

“Thanks to the Nickoll chair, I will now have the resources to undertake larger projects more efficiently and expediently,” Stevenson said. “I’m also going to be hiring some undergraduates to do a long-term project that deals with the history of racial violence in America. Private funding is so important for research initiatives that really do make positive contributions to our lives and to the world and to educating students.”

A professor of history and of African American studies at UCLA, she is the author of several books, including Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South.

Although most of Stevenson’s work focuses on the 19th century, and particularly the Southern U.S., she received the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism award for her 2013 book about more recent events in Los Angeles, The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender and the Origins of the L.A. Riots. Stevenson has been awarded several fellowships, including a Guggenheim in 2015.

Stevenson is at work on two new books: a history of the slave family from the colonial through the antebellum eras and a history of slave women. Her work continues to shed light—on the page and in the classroom—on important parts of human history with a view to creating a more just society.

Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion named

Muriel McClendon has been named Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the UCLA College’s Division of Social Sciences. She succeeds Eric Avila, who is now the chair of the Chicana/o Studies Department.

McClendon teaches and writes about the social history of the English Reformation.  She serves as Vice Chair for Graduate Affairs in the History Department, was formerly the Chair of the European Studies IDP, and has served on a number of campus committees.

She will serve as the Division’s liaison to Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jerry Kang.  She will interact with others in similar roles in each division and school across UCLA.  As Associate Dean, McClendon will assist Interim Dean Laura Gómez in developing strategic plans and evaluating policies and practices aimed at promoting a diverse, inclusive and respectful environment for faculty, staff and students in Social Sciences.