By Stan Paul
The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Open House highlighted the first official day of the fall quarter for new and returning graduate students in the departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning. Following a busy week of orientation and information sessions, the event brought students together with Luskin alumni, faculty, staff and representatives from the school’s many student organizations.
“This week solidified my decision to come here,” said Jordan Hallman, a first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student who came to UCLA from Denver, Colo. “I know I definitely want to be a part of this.”
Fatima Cervantes, who is from the Los Angeles area, said she decided to start the Social Welfare master’s program (MSW) this year as part of her commitment to social justice.
Faculty were also on hand at the event, greeting new students and catching up with Luskin alumni.
Ailee Moon, a professor of Social Welfare, said she started the first day of the quarter with her 8 a.m. course on the foundations of social welfare policy. “I love this class,” said Moon, who added that she had a great first impression of her 108 students who continued the first-day discussion after class and were already showing up for office hours.
Recent Urban Planning alum Nathan Holmes MURP ’15, a planning deputy with Los Angeles Council 15, shared advice for new and continuing students. “Continue talking to people,” Holmes said. “The more you talk to people, the more you learn.” Holmes stressed the importance of continuity and building “a stronger bridge between students taking Urban Planning and those already working in a variety of roles.”
Tina Gall, a 1982 Urban Planning alum and municipal government consultant, offered the following advice: “Once you complete your degree, always remember to give back.”
Students representing the School’s many organizations were busy meeting students interested in the variety of opportunities Luskin groups have to offer. “We’ve had a lot of people sign up, with good representation from all three departments,” said second-year Public Policy student Cameron Burch, a member of the Luskin Women’s Leadership Network.
Tae Kang, who graduated with his Master of Public Policy (MPP) in June, said that, after a summer of teaching, he is working for a startup philanthropic initiative. Kang said of Luskin: “I learned how much teamwork, communication and collaboration matter,” adding that he is already applying the lessons he learned at Luskin to his new venture.
Although absorbing all of the first week activities and information has been a challenge, Urban Planning student Khaliha Haynes said, “I am really happy to be here and excited to see what can be accomplished over the year.”
Luskin staff and advisers who helped plan the week’s activities — and worked hard to make the annual event a success — joined the Open House festivities.
“There’s something magnetic about the start of the academic year,” said Jennifer Choy, associate director of admissions and recruitment for the Department of Urban Planning. “The new students are bright, passionate and invigorating — ready to make the most of their time here at Luskin, excited to take this next step in their professional, academic and personal path toward public service.”
“Everyone has been very helpful and nice,” said first-year MPP student Ramandeep Kaur. “That’s the best part.”