German Exchange Students Explore Policy in Los Angeles Hertie School of Governance students Niels Boehm and Oliver Loeffler share their experience studying at Luskin as part of an exchange program.

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Niels Boehm and Oliver Loeffler traveled from Berlin, Germany to spend Fall quarter here at the Luskin School as part of a reciprocal international exchange program with the Hertie School of Governance. The Hertie School is a private governance and political science school in Berlin. Two Luskin students, Naoki Yamazaki and Hirofumi Kyunai, returned from Hertie in January.

Boehm’s focus is on climate change policy, including energy and transportation policies. Loeffler studies international labor governance, looking at how governments can induce transnational corporations to uphold human rights standards. Before the two students returned to Germany last quarter, we asked them to share their experiences and unique perspectives with us about living and studying at UCLA and the Department of Public Policy at the Luskin School of Public Affairs.

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Luskin: Why did you choose to come to Los Angeles?

Loeffler: I thought living in a mega-city such as LA would be interesting from a policy perspective.

Luskin: Did you feel you could venture out into the city and get to learn about public policy that’s actually happening in LA?

Boehm: I had a great course about transportation policy planning. Urban Planning professor Brian Taylor was very engaged in giving us the opportunity to get to know what we were learning about in class in real life. So we did a one day field trip and visited the major transportation policy and planning institutions around the city. That was a good experience because it linked the theoretical class debates to the real world.

Loeffler:  I think what’s good also about the Luskin school is that it offers programs which are directly related to the challenges here in LA and offers connections to other public policy courses.

Boehm: This is also a great opportunity for us because we can take courses from different departments. I think that was also one of my major motivations to come to UCLA, that you offered students the opportunity to pick courses out of this really impressive curriculum.
 

Loeffler: That’s a great point. My policy focus is on the frontier between the public and private sector. The exchange program offered me opportunity of studying at the management school (Anderson) which I would have never had studying in Berlin only. That’s a big asset of the exchange program — that you can pick courses you’re really interested in and help you advance your focus area.

What’s also great about my stay here is that my girlfriend was able to visit me for a month. The scheduling of the university was flexible which allowed us to travel a little bit. We got a tent from the outdoor recreation center here at UCLA, rented a car and drove up the PCH.


Boehm: Yeah I would also underline you have this great combination of studying and opportunities to do all kinds of things, whatever you want.

Luskin: Was there any cultural shocks or things you thought were strange or funny about studying in America?

Boehm: We’ve both traveled around the world to a lot of countries… but we got to see how things differ in terms of daily life. You have these dining halls here on campus, all this school pride for example. I mean we knew it existed, but to live it and to go to a college football game and tailgates was different. It was a cultural shock I would say, how huge the identification with the school is.

Loeffler: In Germany we would watch American TV shows…and are aware of what’s going on in politics and society in the US. But living here and experiencing some of the major political and social discussions was a great experience. I got a much better feel about the inner functioning of this country.

Luskin: Can you elaborate on the difference between studying in LA as opposed to Berlin?

Loeffler: The structures of the courses are sometimes a little different and also in terms of class discussions, there’s a different style to it. But it’s not a difference of quality, just maybe the difference between the European and the American system.

Luskin: Would you recommend your other classmates to come here in the future?

Both: Yes. Definitely.

Boehm: We had a presentation on the Hertie School because there’s discrepancy between the students who go to Berlin and the students who come to UCLA and want to come to UCLA. We have like 20 to 30 applicants for the few spaces here, but there are very few people who would come to Germany, so we try to promote it and engage people more

Luskin: So, can you give your pitch for why your German friends should come to UCLA and why your American friends should go to the Hertie School?

Loeffler: UCLA is the policy capital of the US and in the US there are a lot of policy challenges, especially topics related to urbanization and social inequality, which really crystalize here. We are in California, where a lot of innovative solutions are explored. UCLA offers a lot of resources to students and is a great campus and it’s a fun place to be. It’s California.

Boehm: I think for Germany, my pitch is if you want to get to know Europe, Berlin is the best place to do it. Berlin is currently the most exciting city in Germany. Politically, its the most relevant city for both German and European politics. Also, it would be a great opportunity because it’s an English-speaking environment and Berlin has an international character,  so you wont have any issues to get along with your language skills which can be a major barrier for people.

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If you are interested in learning more about the Hertie Exchange Program, there will be an information session on Thursday, March 12 from 12:30 – 1:00p.m. in room 4371. Naoki Yamazaki and Hirofumi Kyunai will discuss their experience at the Hertie School and answer any questions at the info session.

Although the Hertie School program is a Master of Public Policy, many of the elective courses are relevant to all three Luskin School Departments. Applications will be due on Monday, March 23.

Bridget Freisthler’s Research Shows Correlation Between Alcohol Density And Crime Research examines liquor stores in South LA

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By Angel Ibanez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Social Welfare professor Bridget Freisthler was recently mentioned in an article for her expertise on alcohol and abuse. Part of Freisthler’s research is based on substance use and related problems, and child abuse and neglect.

In the article titled, “South LA liquor stores may put residents’ health at risk” published by Intersections South LA, reporter Morgan Greenwald discussed the correlation between liquor stores and the detrimental effects it causes on communities.

South L.A. has one of the highest density of liquor stores with 150 liquor stores and one of the highest car accidents rates involving alcohol in the country. A study in the county showed that an increase in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes correlated with the number of liquor stores in the area.

The article references Professor Freisthler’s research on the effect that access to alcohol has with violence, “places that have higher densities of outlets have increases in violence, child abuse and neglect [and] traffic crashes,” said Freisthler. 

Many organizations in the community are getting involved to decrease the liquor store density in hope of closing stores that contribute to the cycle of crime and addiction.

 

 

Contributing to Community and Higher Education Antonia Tu (MSW '73) is giving back to support young Social Welfare students and the community.

By Adeney Zo

After working in social welfare for 10 years and in business the years following, Antonia Tu (MSW ’73) found a new way to give back to the community.

She and her husband, Norman Tu, recently created the Antonia Tu Fellowship in Social Welfare. “I appreciate the opportunities given to me [at Luskin], so I’m trying to do the same thing for students now,” says Tu. “I know that people going into social work are not there to make money, so I want to help them with books and costs.”

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Antonia Tu

Kate O’Neal, assistant dean for External Relations, was also involved in the process of creating the fellowship. “When we met, Antonia asked about how she could do something more substantial to give back and support young Social Welfare students,” says O’Neal. “Now every year, a promising student in Social Welfare will receive support in Antonia Tu’s name for their education at UCLA.”

Tu first came to the US as an international student from Hong Kong, going through community college and eventually the UCLA Social Welfare program. Following graduation, she worked in the field of developmental disability for 10 years before starting DCL Corp, a distribution fulfillment business, with her husband in 1982.  She held various executive positions in Human Resources and Operations.  Today DCL is a successful business with locations in Northern and Southern California and Louisville, Kentucky.

“From social work, I learned how to find the right employee and place them in the right position, so the skill set was transferrable,” explains Tu. “I would assess strengths and weaknesses of families and clients, which was later very applicable in business.”

Now retired, the Tu couple give back to their local community through a number of scholarships and donations. They contribute to a scholarship program for Asian high school students with financial need in the Bay Area, as well as a self-help group for the elderly. Tu also sponsors her former community college on an annual basis in addition to the new Social Welfare fellowship program at the Luskin School.

“We’re very active in the community, so I’m still involved in social work, in a way,” says Tu. “This is the beginning of a phase that I hope my children can follow by giving back to the community.”

Todd Franke, Chair of the Social Welfare Department says: “It is extremely gratifying to me to see alumni like Antonia giving back to UCLA Social Welfare, helping our next generation of students to achieve their MSW degree and embark upon rewarding careers in social work.”

 

Mark Kaplan Says There is Lack of Analysis of the Military as a Social Setting The social welfare professor discussed mental health and suicide prevention for veterans on NPR.

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By Alejandra Velarde-Reyes
UCLA Luskin student writer

According to an NPR radio broadcast on Thursday morning, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, or about one every hour. The broadcast invited experts in mental health and veteran services, including social welfare professor Mark Kaplan to address the problem of suicide risk among returning veterans.

In 2007, Kaplan was part of one of the first groundbreaking research studies to reveal that veterans were at higher risk of suicide than the general public, a study that followed thousands of veterans over a 12 year period. Gaining national attention by the media and by congress, the study prompted increased action toward suicide prevention for veterans, Kaplan said in the broadcast.

Since then, new studies have been conducted revealing more detailed information and Kaplan has become more involved in the issue of veteran suicide risk. He expressed concern over gun access, higher risk women in the military, and what factors really contribute to suicide and mental health problems for veterans.

“We’ve assumed many suicides were associated with trauma from deployment but a recent study found that…the risk of suicide among veterans who were deployed and those who were not, were not significantly different,” Kaplan said.

The broadcast explored the reasoning for such evidence, suggesting that it is military service itself rather than exposure to war that causes higher suicide risk.

Though the military attempts to increase resilience in soldiers individually, Kaplan said there is a lack of analysis of the military as a social setting.

“What about the psycho-social environment of the military? What role that may be contributing is pretty much unknown,” Kaplan said. “The military has been resistant to looking at itself as an institution and instead focused on individuals and defines the problem in purely psychiatric and therapeutic ways.”

Kaplan suggested that other factors such as family crisis and financial problems that have little to do with military service precipitate events that lead to suicide.

The segment also addressed the problem of veterans’ access to guns, a central element in suicide risk among veterans.

“There are many veterans who still sleep with a gun under there pillow. This is not uncommon. Many find it difficult, whether they are at risk or not, to part with their guns. We need to do a much better job at probing for gun access and doing something about it,” Kaplan said.

 

John Villasenor on digital media sales, hardware hacking and banking for the poor Research on digital security and risk assessment

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By Angel Ibanez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Public Policy and Electrical Engineering professor, John Villasenor, was recently featured in the media on the topics of selling used digital media and the growing danger of hacked hardware. He also co-wrote a blog post for the Brookings Institute on the role of the global financial system in helping the poorest and most vulnerable.

In the article titled, “Secondhand Downloads: Will Used E-Books and Digital Games Be for Sale?” published by Bloomberg News, reporter Joshua Brustein explained that the mechanics of selling used digital media are not clearly set and possibly not legal. Professor Villasenor offered one potential solution to addressing some of the issues in music: to establish a “short-term online lending library” for songs. 

Through this short-term lending library, the owner of the song would “lose access whenever someone else listened to the song he contributed.” When capitalizing on the song, the recording artist would only be able to “sell the number of copies of a song equal to the maximum number of people listening to it at any one time.”

Popular Science’s “Nowhere to Hide” piece discusses the growing problems that hacked hardware could cause for security in the future. The article references Villasenor’s research in which he stresses the realization that possible attacks are only a matter of time “the laws of statistics guarantee that there are people with the skills, access, and motivation to intentionally compromise a chip design.” This becomes an ever bigger problem when so little is being done to prepare for such a scenario, “defensive strategies have not yet been fully developed, much less put into practice.”

In a blog post co-written for the Brookings Institute last week, Villasenor and Peer Stein discussed how the current rise of “retrenchment by global financial institutions may be undermining years of progress in providing the world’s poor with financial services.”

The problem of retrenchment comes from large fines against banks for failing to comply with international sanctions and anti-money laundering rules. Banks are doing what is known as “de-risking” where they restrict or terminate business with clients to avoid risk. 

This has led to a rise in banks closing remittance accounts and has affected civil society organizations. One NGO involved in helping women’s groups in the Middle East was denied a bank account to avoid the risk of funds indirectly ending up in Syria. 

In order to address this important problem, Villasenor suggested three pillars necessary for finding solutions going forward:

1. Public authorities need to provide more meaningful information on ML/TF risks to the financial industry, clarify their regulatory expectations, and adopt a genuinely risk-based approach in their supervisory and enforcement actions.

2. Financial institutions need to step up their understanding of the risks of their customer base, and direct internal control efforts accordingly. Risk management approaches should focus more on individual clients, and not write off entire sectors.

3. Countries with significant inflows of remittances need to improve the effectiveness of their regulatory regimes to combat ML/TF, and to provide more comfort to global financial institutions with banking relationships with clients in the developing world.

After Academic Career, Professor Writes for Kids Emerita Social Welfare profesor Diane de Anda has established a post-instructional career as an author of bilingual children's books.

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When she was younger, Diane de Anda recalls listening to stories from her grandparents about the Mexican revolution and other historical events they had lived through. After working as a professor and researcher in the department of Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin, she decided it was time to go step away from her academic roots and focus on creative writing, submitting short stories and poetry for publication in various literary journals.

In addition, de Anda has become an award-winning author of several works for children, including The Patchwork Garden and A Day Without Sugar. She also writes satirical pieces about current political and social issues that are published in the Humor Times and Satire and Comment.

Before becoming a professor at UCLA, de Anda’s experience as a junior high school teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District inspired her to work with youth, drawing her into the field of social welfare with a focus on issues related to young populations and families, particularly in the Latino community.

“Most people don’t like teaching junior high students, but I adored them,” de Anda said. “They were at a very critical point in their lives. I think if you catch potential problems (at that age), they have a chance for more productive adult lives. Working with youth seemed like a hopeful kind of thing to do.”

Though she enjoys writing creatively, she doesn’t think this has to compromise her academic work. She continues to contribute to the social welfare literature and also spends time discussing research with former doctoral students and faculty members.

“I love research and its intellectual challenge. I invite present and former doctoral students and faculty members to my house where we have dessert and share ideas about research,” de Anda said. “Research is an intellectual endeavor that should not be limited to the classroom; rather, intellectual exchange should be part of your life as a whole.”

During her time as a professor, she taught subjects including cognitive behavior, adolescent behavior, cross cultural awareness and research at the master’s and doctoral levels. De Anda formulated the concept “bicultural socialization,” and her best-noted research focused on adolescent pregnancy and motherhood.

Her passion for social work and working with adolescents has extended beyond her work in academia. De Anda has consulted and volunteered for organizations that provide services to disadvantaged youth, such as the Human Services Association and El Nido Family Centers, among others. Her focus in this work has been on stress and coping, violence prevention, and adolescent pregnancy and STD prevention in Latino youth.

Rosie Ramos, the director of the Pasitos Early Head Start program at the Human Services Association, and a 10-year colleague of De Anda’s, spoke highly of de Anda’s dedication to the subject.

“She is a very hard working and genuine person, very dedicated and most caring about what happens to teens and pregnant mothers, “ Ramos said. “I have a great deal of respect for her and the work that she does.”

De Anda said what she enjoyed most during her time as a professor at UCLA was interacting with her students. After retirement, she has kept in touch with many former doctoral students, advising and encouraging them to publish their own research.

“I find speaking with students the most rewarding both personally and intellectually. They were always challenging and interactive in my classes,” she said.

Susan Snyder was a student in de Anda’s courses on cultural competence and cognitive behavior theory. She was part of Snyder’s dissertation committee and helped her edit her manuscripts.

“Dr. de Anda provided the most feedback I have ever received on papers,” Snyder said. “Even though my dissertation was over 100 pages, she provided comprehensive feedback on each page.

“She has a way of teaching that energizes students and makes learning engaging, bringing energy and passion in a way that few can master,” Snyder added.

Though Snyder said de Anda’s courses were the most difficult she had, she said her impact in academic life and the larger community inspired Snyder to pursue a career in academia.

“Dr. de Anda is compassionate, generous and tireless. She is incredibly brilliant and able to analyze complex problems with ease. She also is a phenomenal writer,” Snyder said. “More than anything Dr. de Anda believes in ensuring that each person is treated with dignity and respect. She is a stalwart advocate of social justice.”

In the future, de Anda said she hopes to continue working with doctoral students at UCLA, helping them with their writing as well as publishing her own collection of short stories for adults and the additional children’s books she has written, including a collection of 80 animal limericks and a book of nonsense poems for young boys.

Bohnett Fellows Make a Difference in L.A. Mayor’s Office UCLA Luskin's signature executive apprenticeship program provides on-the-job training and networking opportunities, including this visit to Washington, D.C.

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By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

From L.A. to D.C., students in the David Bohnett Fellowship program are making an impact wherever they go.

This fellowship program, sponsored by the David Bohnett Foundation, gives UCLA Luskin students the unique opportunity to work in the L.A. Mayor’s office.

UCLA Luskin was the first of three schools across the nation to offer the Bohnett Fellowship, followed by the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Since its inception in 2006, fellows have had the chance to apply their studies to local issues, from homelessness to transportation alternatives.

Second-year Social Welfare master’s student Skylar Lenox had the opportunity to form and implement the Mayor’s Volunteer Corps, a group meant to “connect Angelenos with high impact volunteer opportunities . . . with Mayor Garcetti’s vision. It’s about finding opportunities that are high impact and meaningful,” said Lenox.

Kelsey Jessup, a second-year Public Policy student, was already interning at the Mayor’s office when she was accepted into the program, but the fellowship opened the doors to new opportunities within the office.

“Even as an intern they treat you as part of the staff . . . but with the fellowship expectations rose,” said Jessup. “I was there full time, doing bigger projects and more pressing things for the office.”

Jessup works in the Performance Management and Budget & Innovation department. At the start of her fellowship, Jessup became involved in one of the largest projects at the mayor’s office. “When Mayor Garcetti came to office in 2013, he took the role of CEO and planned to interview and evaluate all general managers of the city departments,” Jessup said. “I worked with my team on the analysis, and it was a great opportunity to learn about all the departments.”

Beyond working locally, however, fellows had the opportunity to travel and speak with students and policymakers across America.

In October, Bohnett Fellows from three different cities converged in Detroit to discuss how policy changed and revitalized Michigan’s most populous city. A group of UCLA Bohnett fellows also attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., an annual event for mayors to discuss policy issues. The program was featured in Governing magazine.

“The conference allowed me to get out of academia and in the practical world,” Lenox said. “It has been the link between theory and practice, which allowed me to better get into the mindset of a practitioner.

“I learned what it means to be a leader in your city and evaluate policy in a way that brings in not just [the] ideal,” she said.

The conference allowed for Bohnett fellows to witness the perspectives and ideas of mayors in different areas of the U.S., and facing different challenges, coming together in a cohesive discussion.

“My biggest takeaway was that I felt inspired by what people across the nation are doing. Just being around all these mayors who want to collaborate and serve the public is inspiring,” Jessup said. “It makes me proud to work in a city that’s part of that movement.”

Both Lenox and Jessup will be finishing their work at the Mayor’s Office this year, but their future in policy and social work is just beginning.

Jessup, who studied theater as a UCLA undergraduate and worked in a variety of fields, views the fellowship as a window of opportunity for a career in public policy. “I’m learning skills, but without the experience of the fellowship I would have had a much harder time getting work experience on the field,” said Jessup. “It’s given me the foot in the door that I really didn’t know how I was going to get.”

Lenox is equally optimistic about the path she will take following the end of the fellowship and her studies at UCLA Luskin. “The fellowship is not just funding our education – they are really invested in us as leaders and future change makers,” said Lenox. “I really see social work as one of the most powerful disciplines you can be trained in for creating positive social change and being a service to others.”

VC Powe, executive director of External Programs, has overseen the program since its inception. She says the proof of the program’s promise is that all the graduates of the fellowship have secured full-time jobs in public service fairly quickly after graduation.

More information about the Bohnett Fellowship, including application information for UCLA Luskin students, can be found on the program website.

Op-Ed: Turn to Europe for Models for California High-Speed Rail Stations Urban Planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris argues in the L.A. Times that train stations should strive to connect with their communities.

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In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, Urban Planning professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris shines light on California’s unique opportunities in building the nation’s first bullet train.

In designing the rail system, Loukaitou-Sideris wrote that cities should focus on the extending half a mile around the station and the broader region in order to make the most of the $68 billion investment.

“The arrival of high-speed rail can provide opportunities to transform adjacent station areas and reshape local economies through thoughtful planning and policies that integrate the railway stops with the local business and physical environment,” Loukaitou-Sideris wrote in the op-ed.

Loukaitou-Sideris encouraged California to look to rail systems in Europe as examples for designing a transportation system that would build community and stimulate the economy. She provided examples of European rain systems that incorporate its surroundings in an efficient way, including Madrid’s Atocha high-speed railway terminal and Germany’s Leipizig central train station, which both serve as shopping, eating and entertainment destinations.

“The architects of stations must focus on breaking down the barriers caused by coping with a massive transportation infrastructure, employing good design to place rail tracks out of the way and to increase the station’s connectivity to its surroundings,” Loukaitou-Sideris wrote.

In addition to providing transportation to increase connectivity, Loukaitou-Sideris addressed the need to find alternate forms of transportation to access stations in order to encourage walking to attractions near the terminals. Concealing parking structures and providing bike and car sharing facilities, for instance, can encourage people to visit nearby landmarks and entertainment centers.

Loukaitou-Sideris wrote that future planning and design should consider the municipal and regional context and assets of cities in California and should connect smaller cities and larger cities.

“Smaller cities should engage in complementary planning with bigger cities…and seek to identify productive relationships with newly accessible neighboring areas,” she wrote.

With these ideas in mind, Loukaitou-Sideris argued that California has the potential to design railway stations that become city landmarks and build community in regions across California.

In addition to her work as an educator, Loukaitou-Sideris conducts research on the public environment of the city, its aesthetics and impact on residents. She focuses on seeking to integrate social and physical issues in urban planning. Loukaitou-Sideris has served as a consultant to the Transportation Research Board, Federal Highway Administration and other projects. Her published works include “Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation over Public Space” and numerous articles.

Students and Mentors Come Together for Evening of Conversation Senior Fellows and students discuss mentorship

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By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

On Feb. 10, UCLA Luskin students and Senior Fellows were brought together for a mid-year reception focused on mentoring and networking with a presentation from John Kobara, chief operating officer of the California Community Foundation and a former vice chancellor of external affairs at UCLA.

After students and Senior Fellows enjoyed appetizers and drinks while having the time to network and share their experiences with one another, Dean Franklin D. Gilliam introduced the evening and Kobara’s presentation.

Dean Gilliam emphasized that UCLA Luskin’s goal is to encourage students to become leaders, or ‘change agents,’ and face real world problems. He concluded by testifying to the Senior Fellow program’s strength and encouraging students to take advantage of the time the fellows give as mentors.

Kobara proved to be an example of a strong mentor, sharing words of wisdom from his experience as an entrepreneur and educator. He has served as CEO of the CK12 Foundation and was the president of OnlineLearning.net, two successful start-ups. Kobara has also taught classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels and was the executive director of the UCLA Alumni Association.

His focus for the evening was to urge students to search for meaning in their work.

“The status quo is unacceptable,” he said “Ask challenging questions….How will you make a difference in the world?”

Opening his presentation with a photograph of his mother’s family during World War II, Kobara shared a phrase she would say after being thanked: “Okage sama,” which translates as “Because of you.” He drew inspiration from his mother’s desire to make change despite her adverse circumstances to motivate and advise students to build connections for their futures.

“Regardless of race, identity or socioeconomic status, we share things. Connecting with people in an authentic way is essential,” Kobara said. He reminded the audience about the importance and power of building community and sharing resources through mutual support.

Though being mentored is powerful for both personal and professional improvement, mentoring is a two-way reality chec, Kobara said. Mentors need to be able to give the truth over encouragement, and mentees need to have the courage to ask the questions that need to be asked.

“You have to show up and you have to be seen. It’s about revealing ourselves. When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” he said.

Kobara highlighted a few key points in mentoring and networking during his presentation, including the importance of listening, treating people as equals and being able to speak from a narrative.

“The worst thing you can do is say ‘I’m just a student.’ You’re story is real, it matters,” Kobara said.

After these inspiring words, Kobara moved on to give students more practical advice about introducing yourself in a memorable way, avoiding typical awkward or robotic interactions. He asked his audience, “What is your ‘BIT?”, or “brief introductory talk,” and outlined basic points such as being positive and confident, having a firm handshake, making eye contact and smiling. He added that every introduction should be customized.

“How do we make people interested in what we’re doing? We have to be specific in the way we introduce ourselves,” he said.

To practice this idea, Kobara asked the Senior Fellows and students to stand up and chose one of three powerful poses. Afterwards, they were asked to introduce themselves and their mentor/mentees to two other people, using the tips Kobara had given them.

As the evening came to a close, Kobara reminded students to SWIVEL, or to “Strengthen What I Value, Enjoy and Love,” and to focus their path on passion, courage, compassion and connection.

MPP Students Win Net Impact Consulting Challenge The team of mostly Luskin MPP students won first place at the UCLA Anderson School’s Net Impact Consulting Challenge.

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By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin student writer 

Despite heavy competition from 24 other teams made up of MBA students, an interdisciplinary team of mostly Luskin MPP students won first place at the UCLA Anderson School’s Net Impact Consulting Challenge.

Each team was assigned to assist a nonprofit organization for two weeks. At the end of this period, the teams presented their strategies for improving the organization to a panel of judges. The judges considered criteria such as presentation, quality of analysis, recommendations, and feasibility before reaching a final decision.

“We really didn’t expect to win,” said MPP student Terra Bennett, one of the three Luskin students on the victorious team. “I think it came as a shock to all of us.”

Bennett’s team was assigned to Worksite Wellness LA, a nonprofit that provides healthcare information and resources to workers without access to insurance. The team helped evaluate Worksite Wellness’ program development and provided data analysis and modeling.

“Nobody does what they do. They serve people who are the hardest to reach and hardest to get insured,” said Bennett. “We didn’t do the challenge to win, but to offer something they actually needed.”

Team members Edith Medina (MPP), Magaly Lopez (MPP), Terra Bennett (MPP), Allison Faris (MBA), and Michelle Miro (Civil Engineering PhD) received a $5000 prize for their efforts.