THE MAJOR POWER OF MINORS

ART BY DOWN THE STREET DESIGNS   |   ART DIRECTION BY KATIE SIPEK

With 90-plus minors — and more constantly taking shape — UCLA offers endless educational opportunities for resourceful students and faculty to innovate and collaborate. In their own words, here are a few stories of Bruins who crafted a powerfully unique path of their own.

Sherwin Atighetchi
physiological science major/food studies minor

I want to go to medical school, so I’m majoring in physiological science to be as prepared as possible. But I’ve always felt that there isn’t enough of an emphasis on nutrition within medicine, so I chose to minor in food studies. I wanted to learn more about something I’m really passionate about and that I believe will make me a more effective doctor one day. 

Plus, I hope my minor will help me stand out more in the process of applying to medical school. I could have chosen a more traditional minor, but I wanted to pursue something that really interested me, and that I could talk about passionately in my medical school applications.

The classes I’ve taken in food studies have been my favorites at UCLA, covering everything from nutrition to urban agriculture to the cultural significance of food — one of the best was a class on chocolate in the Americas.

When people focus too much on their major, they don’t get to see the wide scope of study a place like UCLA has to offer. So having a minor opened up my entire college experience, where I could follow my curiosity and find joy in the unexpected. 

Anushka Chakrabarti
mathematics and economics double major/professional writing minor

I’ve always been interested in math and how it intersects with economics. After I got to UCLA, I took a few classes and realized I wanted to major in both. But  at the same time, I’d always been an  avid reader and writer; I had made it  a point to write for the Daily Bruin.  And that got me to thinking: maybe  I could consider a minor that would help me diversify my skills.

I’ve loved how customizable my professional writing minor is to my interests — I’ve taken writing courses based in journalism, finance and entrepreneurship — and it’s the perfect fit to balance my major.

My roommate and a lot of my friends are in the minor with me, and we all have different pathways. For example, I know a lot of pre-med students who are minoring in professional writing because it’s incredibly valuable to be a good communicator and to be able to write in that sphere. After I graduate, I’d love to go into data journalism or finance because they both tie together everything I’m learning. 

My major/minor combination has really shaped my time at UCLA in lots of great ways. Not only did it help frame a career pathway for me, but it’s kept me well rounded and ensured that I’ve never stopped exploring UCLA’s  campus or its course options!

Lilah Haye
world arts and cultures/dance and public affairs double major/African American studies minor

I always knew I wanted to double major, but it wasn’t until junior year that I had the idea to add the African American studies minor. I’m mixed race, so it was personally important to me. You wouldn’t expect dance, public affairs and African American studies to overlap, but they do — I’ve written papers on everything from the racialization of dancing bodies to the politics and perceptions of different racial groups’ dance styles.

Right now I’m in a Black reproductive justice class, a topic I focused heavily on for my public affairs major, too. I also got to choreograph a dance piece about intersectionality and how women of color experience additional levels of disempowerment.

I’m proud that I had such a well-rounded UCLA experience and got to take classes in so many departments with so many professors. I loved everything about African American studies — Professor Tananarive Due’s Black horror film aesthetic course was easily one of the most interesting I ever took. 

Although I just made the Raiderettes — the NFL cheer team — my goal is to eventually get my master’s in public policy. I’m already looking up local Las Vegas legislators I’d be interested in learning more from. I encourage anyone to pick up a minor—my interest in the political sphere was solidified because of mine.


“UCLA is such a big school. Minors allow you to branch out and meet great professors in other departments, and you never know what will inspire you.”

—LILAH HAYE

Mark S. Handcock
professor of statistics/creatorof the social data science minor

Statistics falls under the division of physical sciences. I was inspired to create the new social data science minor after a conversation with Darnell Hunt, who as dean of social sciences is always interested in incorporating these ideas across his division. We were discussing how the data that social scientists see is very different than the data they see in other disciplines, so we needed a new minor focused on what our social sciences students will actually encounter.

We wanted this minor to be of broad interest. Say you’re majoring in anthropology — this minor will give you exposure to the data science issues and methods you can apply directly to what’s happening in the anthropology field. Students in this minor will be better social scientists with more tools at their disposal; with statistical skills, you can contribute to almost any science.

This minor is also great for students who want to have more options. Let’s say a geography student graduates, but decides to get a job in industry rather than research — they’ll be more attractive to employers, because they’ll be data scientists who can think like social scientists. 

Statistics is very interdisciplinary by nature, and the most important thing about this minor is that it strengthens ties between the physical sciences and social sciences divisions. After all, the more divisions, departments and individuals interact, the better we’re all going to be as scientists. 


“I’m proud the new social data science minor will allow students to interact more with the incredible UCLA statistics community.”

—PROFESSOR MARK S. HANDCOCK

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