Candler Weinberg, center, enjoying the great outdoors in December 2019 at Yosemite with his mother, Sherry, and his sister, Coco.
Losing his home to wildfire prompted a change in direction for a young man whose love for community service led him toward UCLA Luskin
reporting and visual direction by Hon Hoang
photography and captions by Candler Weinberg
The First Public Affairs Graduates: One in a series of profiles
‘it became clear to me that marginalized, low-income communities suffer from natural disasters…’
For his required capstone project, Weinberg took advantage of opportunities presented by his UCLA Luskin internship with the Forest Service’s Office of Emergency Medical Services. And Weinberg incorporated knowledge he had gained the hard way as a victim of wildfire.
“After the fire, it became clear to me that marginalized, low-income communities suffer from natural disasters at vastly disproportionate rates compared to other populations,” he said.
His capstone project involved data analysis of incidents involving the use of emergency medical services in U.S. Forest Service lands from 2019-20. He sought to provide Forest Service leaders with a big-picture perspective on the use of their resources and the impacts of their decisions on both patient care and employees.
One set of data led him to analyze 30 patient care reports. Another data set focused on wildland firefighters and employees who were injured or became ill in the line of duty.
“Wildland firefighting is an ostensibly dangerous occupation with many occupational hazards, and as such, having a clear idea of illness and injury trends will help [fire officials] and other stakeholders best prepare for, respond to, mitigate and learn from these incidents,” Weinberg said.
‘I have the capacity, capability, knowledge and desire to serve communities…’
As a senior at UCLA, Weinberg found himself again adapting to changing circumstances when the COVID-19 pandemic upended everyone’s lives and forced him — and his professors — to make major adjustments. Work, research and learning all had to be done remotely.
He credits Professor Fernando Torres-Gil with helping direct his research, calling it a “truly amazing experience.”
Next up for Weinberg will be pursuit of a master’s degree in public affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he plans a concentration in environmental policy and natural resource management.
As his undergraduate commencement neared, Weinberg reflected on the sometimes winding path of his journey so far and expressed confidence in how well the Luskin School prepared him for what lies ahead.
“I have the capacity, capability, knowledge and desire to serve communities and to further myself through education and experiential learning” to achieve those goals.