By Stan Paul
Alexis Oberlander is a rising star at UCLA.
That’s no surprise to anyone who knows and works with the Urban Planning graduate adviser, as well as those who have worked with her during her career. For her work and achievements at UCLA and the Luskin School of Public Affairs, Oberlander was honored with the 2017 Rising Star award at the annual Administrative Management Group reception at UCLA’s Morgan Center on June 22, 2017.
Since coming to UCLA in 2008 and to the Luskin School in 2014, Oberlander has established a reputation as an outstanding UCLA employee, colleague, leader and innovator. Supporting nominations from faculty, supervisors and colleagues were unanimous: Oberlander far exceeded the criteria for the Rising Star award.
“Alexis Oberlander is an extraordinary colleague,” said Vinit Mukhija, chair and professor of urban planning. “UCLA is lucky to have her, and we in urban planning are fortunate to have her.”
Mukhija cited Oberlander’s commitment and “unconventional thinking” in problem-solving for the good of the School and its students.
In addition to her dedication to her students and effectiveness in assisting them through their graduate careers, Oberlander “has gone out of her way to become familiar with the profession of urban planning to be able to appropriately advise our students,” Mukhija said. “She is adept at helping students maximize their opportunities for financial support, gain professional work and networking experience, while maintaining the highest standards of academic accomplishment.”
Criteria for the award include the potential to make a positive impact, establishing a leadership role, and pursuing both training and development opportunities.
Examples of her recent work include helping to develop, promote and serve as project manager for UCLA’s Food Studies Graduate Certificate program, which is open to all UCLA graduate students.
Oberlander said that the Food Studies Graduate Certificate has allowed her to merge her personal passion and professional life. “I am so happy to see the certificate thriving, to see students from across campus connecting in ways they have never done before,” she said.
Mukhija cited another instance of Oberlander’s initiative when she recently worked with other Luskin staff members to organize an open forum on gender equality for staff, students and faculty in recognition of International Women’s Day and “A Day Without a Woman.”
Another initiative was a career development conference for other student affairs officers (SAOs) to help Oberlander’s colleagues campuswide learn about career opportunities — “and their own potential,” she said.
“There is nothing more motivating than knowing people believe in you,” Oberlander said. “I guess that’s what this means to me. It shows me that my work matters and that people see potential in me.”