Kelcie Ralph Wins UCCONNECT Outstanding Student of the Year

By Adeney Zo

ralph-kelcieKelcie Ralph UP Ph.D ’15 was selected as the UCCONNECT Outstanding Student of the Year, an award which will grant her a $1,000 honorarium and cover her cost of attendance for the 2016 95th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting.

UCCONNECT is an organization established to support faculty research in its consortium of five UC campuses along with Cal Poly, Pomona to align with the new University Transportation Center’s theme: “Promoting economic competitiveness by enhancing multi-modal transport for California and the region.” Each year, a review panel of transport experts selects one Outstanding Student of the Year based on the strength of the student’s candidacy and academic work.

Ralph was recognized at the Council of University Transportation Centers Annual in Washington, D.C.

MPP Student Selected as Semi-Finalist for Presidential Fellowship


Public Policy student Ryan Rosso has been selected as a Semi-Finalist for the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program.

The Presidential Management Fellowship is a leadership and career development program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Fellows are given a two-year appointment at a Federal agency, in addition to participating in career development and networking activities organized by the program. Throughout their appointment, fellows work through a series of developmental assignments and receive feedback for their work.

Rosso, one of 5 UCLA Semi-Finalists and the only Luskin representative, was selected from a pool of approximately 6,000 applicants. A first year in the MPP program, Rosso is concentrating in public finance, education and tax and hopes to work as a budget analyst in the future.


Students Report on Assignments Around the Globe Students living and working abroad will be blogging about their professional and personal experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog

A sexual health study in the Dominican Republic. Federal water policy in Mexico City. A bus rapid transit line through Nairobi, Kenya.

These are just three of the projects that UCLA Luskin students will be tackling this summer as they live and work in countries around the world. Most of the students travel under the auspices of the International Practice Pathway program, the experiential component of the School’s Global Public Affairs initiative that’s intended to expose students to a broad range of policy and practice in communities around the world.

No matter what facilitates their travel, every student working abroad this summer is driven by their innate curiosity about the world and motivated to better understand their circumstances and themselves. This year’s students are:

  • Sandra Bernabe (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Humberto Castro (Urban Planning), Mexico City, Mexico
  • Carmen Chen (Urban Planning), Istanbul, Turkey
  • Shafaq Choudry (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Cally Hardy (Urban Planning), India
  • Jason Karpman (Urban Planning), Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Mohan Khidia (Urban Planning), India
  • Joseph Lawlor (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • Maritza Lee (Urban Planning), Hyderabad, India
  • David Leipziger (Urban Planning), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Katie Merill (Social Welfare), Geneva, Switzerland
  • Marissa Sanchez (Urban Planning), Panama City, Panama
  • Ryan Sclar (Urban Planning), Chengdu, China
  • Elsie Silva (Social Welfare), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The students will be blogging about their experiences on the UCLA Luskin Abroad blog.

Vancouver Trip Demonstrates Lessons in Sustainability Insights for urban and regional planning from Vancouver


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

After a week-long trip to Vancouver for their spring break, 14 urban and regional planning students returned from the journey with a report of seven implementable lessons about sustainability that they learned from “the greenest city in North America.”

They presented their findings on May 19 to a group of more than 50 sustainable living students and professionals in an event hosted by the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. The trip was inspired by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recent Sustainable City pLAn, which aims to develop short and long-term strategies to address climate change and increase urban sustainability. The plan was modeled after Vancouver’s 2011 Greenest City Action Plan.

Entirely student led and organized, the trip included stops to meet with government agencies, researchers, non-profits and other stakeholders working in different areas of sustainability  to learn about their most successful practices that would be relevant for Los Angeles. Though the team analyzed several more Vancouver successes, they decided to hone in on seven that they believe Mayor Garcetti has already identified and are achievable today. The report outlines how the students encountered each lesson and how Los Angeles can successfully implement the ideas.

Some of the objectives they identified included generating and distributing energy at the neighborhood scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using data to drive policies that increase access to green space, and creating a space in City Hall to collaborate on design-build projects using the expertise of higher education institutions and graduates.

Aaron Ordower, a second-year Urban Planning student involved in the project, said he enjoyed touring the LEED-ND Platinum Olympic Village, where the students were able to talk to urban planning students from the University of British Columbia and exchange ideas about how to improve sustainability in their urban communities. The visit taught them several conclusions about energy generation on the neighborhood scale.

“Los Angeles should consider brownfield sites and other large redevelopment projects as opportunities for district energy generation. A local utility was made feasible because it was built in a new neighborhood, the Olympic Village,” the students said in their report.

Ordower said he enjoyed experiencing the sustainable elements of Vancouver such as its seamlessly integrated bike planning and access to open space.

“The remarkable thing about Vancouver is how similar it was to L.A. 30 years ago, with respect to the number of people using public transit, biking, access to quality public space, and innovation in renewable energy,” Ordower said. “ We hope the report offers a glimpse into some of those successes that are well within L.A.’s reach.”

The trip was sponsored by the UCLA Luskin Hildebrand Award for Canadian Studies, the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Grant, the UCLA Center for Canadian Studies and the Liberty Hill Foundation.


Urban Planning student awarded prestigious David L. Boren Fellowship The $24,000 fellowship will fund Phoebe Brauer’s studies and research for her master's thesis in Burma

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
Luskin Student Writer

Urban Planning student Phoebe Brauer was awarded the prestigious David L. Boren Fellowship for $24,000 and will be taking the opportunity to travel to Burma to conduct research for her master’s thesis.

Boren Fellows live in countries around the world, immersing themselves in language and culture to fluently learn a variety foreign languages in the span of 12 weeks to 24 months.

The fellowship is an initiative of the National Security Education Program, which provides funding opportunities for students interested in federal national security to learn foreign languages in underrepresented regions critical to U.S. and national security interests around the world. The NSEP aims to create a larger pool of qualified U.S. citizens to work internationally for federal national security.

Along with the funding she will receive to travel to Burma and study a foreign language, Brauer will be given the opportunity to work for at least one year in the federal government after she graduates.

In a press release, David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma and a former senator who played a key role in the creation of the program, said he thinks future leaders should have a deep understanding of the rest of the world, its cultures and languages.

Previous award recipients and alumni of the program have worked in the federal government.



Tracy Colunga Named 2015 MSW Alumna of the Year Colunga to be honored for her tireless work in community development and safety at Social Welfare Alumni Gathering

By Adenezy Zo

Tracy Colunga (MSW ‘01) has been named the Joseph A. Nunn Alumna of the Year for the Department of Social Welfare, an honor granted each year to an alumnus from the department at UCLA Luskin.

Tracy 2Colunga has been working tirelessly in community development and safety for the city of Long Beach since joining Development Services in 2012. As part of her current role in the Neighborhood Relations Division, Colunga oversees the Safe Long Beach Violence Prevention Plan, a program that facilitates community discussion and provides resources for creating long-term safe environments in the city. Colunga has worked to secure major grants for community safety and neighborhood livability gaps, such as the planning grant from the California Endowment which funded the Violence Prevention Plan in its first stages of development.

Beyond her work in Development Services, Colunga’s involvement with the community extends to her role on the Board of Directors with Goodwill Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County and as organizer for the annual EmpowerHER Young Women’s Empowerment Conference for girls who are in foster care, on probation, or at-risk in Long Beach. For the past eight years, Colunga also worked as a field instructor for the Luskin School and recently  taught as a part-time lecturer in the Social Work Program.

Colunga will receive her award at the Social Welfare Alumni Gathering on Saturday, May 9th at the Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar from 5:00-7:00 pm. Those interested in attending should RSVP by Thursday, May 7th.


Fellowship Opens Doors to Reagan Archives As recipient of the inaugural Ronald Reagan Public Policy Fellowship, Anthony Rodriguez is gaining an up-close view of the workings of government


By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Anthony Rodriguez was in the village of Mukuwila, Zambia, when he received the call offering him an interview for the Ronald Reagan Public Policy Fellowship. After two years of serving in the Peace Corps, Rodriguez was ready to begin working at a private investment firm in the summer months before he started his master’s degree program at UCLA. However, he decided to fly to Los Angeles early to seize this opportunity instead.

The first-year Public Policy master’s student was the first to be awarded the new fellowship consisting of a two-year $30,000 scholarship at UCLA Luskin through the Ronald Reagan Foundation.

As a fellow, Rodriguez will be studying the effects of Ronald Reagan’s economic, social and international policies on the state of California and the Federal government. In addition, he will have access to the archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and will be working on projects such as creating resources for teachers and students available on the Foundation website.

After Rodriguez graduated from California State University Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in business law in 2011, he joined the Peace Corps and for two years worked primarily in the food sustainability field in Zambia.

“We introduced fish ponds to the village where people could take the byproduct from the maize and other crops to use it as input for the fish to create a good source of protein,” he said.

During his time with the Peace Corps, Rodriguez was able to use his marketing skills to promote small-scale businesses. He also taught about HIV awareness at local schools and introduced solar lights to the village, which previously had no electricity.

His current academic focus is in public policy with a concentration in monetary policy and macroeconomics.

“I chose UCLA because of the flexibility they allow students in creating their own concentration,” he said. “When I read about the Reagan scholarship I thought it was a perfect partnership between what I want to study and an era in American history when monetary policy played a huge role.”

Rodriguez said he feels a sense of duty to his country and to serve the public. His decision to join the Peace Corps and study public policy was inspired by his father who served in the United State Air Force and his grandfather who served in the Nicaraguan military.

His interest in history, particularly as it relates to monetary policy during the Reagan administration, started early when he was a child.

“My Dad and I would always watch Jeopardy and I would play Trivial Pursuit with my three sisters,” he said. “When I was in the Peace Corps, I became more interested in reading about the period during the late 70s and 80s which were times of depressions and recessions.”

In the future, Rodriguez hopes to apply for a summer internship with the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

“Upon graduating I’d like to have a job with an international macro organization such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the United Nations. I am also not opposed to working domestically for the Treasury or for the Federal Reserve,” he said.

This year, however, Rodriguez said he wants to focus on learning the fundamentals of the public policy program and being a part of the Reagan Foundation.

“At the foundation, we have some projects going on this year including the Great Communicator Debate Series, which is a nationwide debate competition for high school students. We are also working on a project to submit AP questions for high school students about history and micro or macroeconomics,” he said.

Rodriguez said he is enjoying being exposed to many intelligent individuals including politicians like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and former defense secretary Robert Gates.

“This has allowed me to interact with people with really impressive resumes and with leaders of our country. That’s what I hope to be someday as well,” he said.

Rodriguez said he has worked extra hard to keep up with his classmates, but he thinks it will benefit him in the long run.

“There is an interesting dynamic of people from all over the world. It’s almost intimidating how educated this class is. But that’s how you become stronger,” he said.