By Jessica E. Guillen, Master of Social Welfare, 2014
This trip was truly an eye opening experience. As a group we were given a behind-the-scenes tour of an office that works to affect change in this state with regards to its air quality. This change that the California Air Resource Board staff is tirelessly working for is for the benefit of all residents regardless of race, class, age or political belief.
We were very cordially welcomed by our esteemed host and all our inquiries were answered by the chairwoman herself and her more than knowledgeable staff. They took time out of their very busy schedules to not only inform us about the important work that they do and give us the opportunity to ask questions, but they also wanted to learn more about us and our interests so as to personalize this visit. We were given a personal tour of the main office as well as fascinating visit to the air monitoring building and laboratories. The scientist and engineers that work in this building were open and answered our questions in a way that even I, as a novice when it comes to science, could understand and relate to.
As a Social Welfare student in the Luskin School of Public Affairs I am truly motivated to work towards equality for all and fight for social justice for those who have no means to fight for themselves. What this trip to Sacramento, to meet the men and women who work on the California Air Resource Board, showed me was that this entity was doing just that. CARB works to protect the air that we all breathe, they strive to pass legislation that ensures that the populations that do not have a voice have a partner who states they to have a right to clean air.
As a student, this trip also allowed me to see all the possibilities of employment within a government agency and the diversity of specialties that are brought to the table. It was clear that an education from UCLA, and specifically the Luskin School of Public Affairs, can fit in to an organization such as this one. The members of the chairman’s staff each have unique educational backgrounds that offered the organization an important point of view and knowledge base. As a social welfare graduate I can easily see myself fitting into an organization like this one which responds to the need of the community or in this example the needs of a whole state, and steps forward to enact change that will bring about justice for the whole population.
The Senior Fellows mentoring program  offered me this great opportunity to learn from an exceptional woman – Mary Nichols – who has dedicated her work to the improvement of the air quality in the state of California. She works tirelessly to improve the health of millions, from children to adults alike. Mrs. Nichols’ energy and passion evokes a feeling of excitement and urgency that makes one see that this work is not only important but it is critical that these advancements are happening now and not something that can wait years to take place.
It was both an honor and a pleasure to meet Mrs. Nichols and her staff and get the opportunity to learn from them and understand how I to can enact change in my community and work towards social justice for all.