ANTEATERS MAKING SOCIAL CHANGE
A Message from Dean Hayes
TOM ANGELL'S LEGACY LIVES ON
Table of Contents
A Message from Dean Hayes (Page 3)
Anteaters Making Social Change (Page 4)
Anteaters Stay Resilient in Face of COVID-19 (Page 5)
#Gradeater Spotlight (Page 6)
Tom Angell's Legacy Lives on with Generous Donation (Page 7)
UCI's Rodrigo Lazo and Jaymi Smith Join Graduate Division as Associate Deans (Page 8)
Upcoming Events (Page 9)
A MESSAGE FROM DEAN HAYES
Welcome to our first edition of the Graduate Division Quarterly Magazine! We were excited to learn from our UCI graduate alumni base around the world that many of you are interested in reconnecting with your alma mater. We are thrilled to help you keep up with the exciting things happening at UCI. Whether you’re just down the street in Irvine or on another continent, we hope this magazine can help you stay connected and informed. Afterall, this is and will always be your university.
I took over as the Dean of the Graduate Division in the Fall 2019. It’s been a chaotic first year to say the least. However, throughout the challenges of a pandemic and a collective awakening around race and social justice, it has been a true pleasure to watch the way the Anteater graduate community has hung together, helping each other, rolling with the changes, and still managing to get their own schoolwork and research done. In this edition of the magazine, we highlight that resiliency and inspiring spirit. Our graduate scholars are not just the leaders of tomorrow, the are the leaders of today.
Thank you for reading and for being a part of our Anteater community.
Gillian R. Hayes
Vice Provost of Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division
Robert A. and Barbara L. Kleist Professor of Informatics
University of California, Irvine
" In order to affect large change, you start within your community."
Just like any university, UCI’s students are the lifeblood and heartbeat of the UCI community. Afterall, without young ambitious scholars, what would UCI be? Over the last eight months, UCI’s graduate students have been tested like never before, both physically and mentally. It goes without saying, Anteaters pride themselves in being the future leaders of this country, but through a COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and an election year, Anteaters have proved to not only be the leaders of the future, but the leaders of today.
“I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that change needs to happen, and it needs to happen now,” said Reginald Gardner, a third year PhD student in Informatics specializing in Games Studies. “Being a gay, Black man, I’ve unfortunately felt this pain and social unrest for years.”
Gardner isn’t just a passionate student at UCI. He’s also the vice president of internal affairs for, Associated Graduate Students (AGS) where he focuses on representing graduate professional student interests to all on-campus entities that affect students’ needs and rights. This includes the Coordinated Governance Group, Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Campus Climate and Inclusion.
“I’m involved in AGS, because all of our students need a voice right now, more than ever before,” Gardner adds. “I think the only thing more important than understanding the struggle, is doing something to change it.”
Change is something UCI is committed to making, as the university launched the Black Thriving Initiative in late August, which recognizes and responds to anti-Blackness as an existential threat to UCI’ mission as a public research university. As powerful as the initiative hopes to be, it’s the organic passion and commitment to change among the students that will really create change.
In late July, fourth year PhD student, Angeline Dukes, a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, reached out to Twitter and asked when there would be a Black in Neuro week. This was partly in response to an alarming stat that only 13% of all neuroscientists in America are Black. It didn’t take long for Dukes’ question to be answered.
“I didn’t have much of an expectation, but the response was incredible,” Dukes said. “People from all different universities and places voiced their support and within a matter of days, we were able to create Black in Neuro Week.”
Black in Neuro Week was held nationwide from July 27- August 2, with numerous panelists, presenters, and webinars filling the week, in an attempt to educate the masses.
“Growing up, I thought all scientists were old, white men because that's what we see in the media,” Dukes added. “It is difficult to strive to be what you have never seen. Seeing and being mentored by brilliant Black female scientists at my undergraduate institution, Fisk University, inspired me to apply to graduate school. To this day, they are still a valuable part of my community and reassure me regularly that I belong in neuroscience.”
The @BlackinNeuro Twitter handle has nearly 20,000 followers since it was launched in July. Black in Neuro also just completed a successful virtual weeklong conference from Oct 31- Nov 4.
Graduate acting students out of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Tolu Ekisola, Arizsia Staton, and Hailey Byerly have also started their own movement called “Students Mobilizing Change”.
The organization was founded in the wake of George Floyd’s murder back in May, with the goal being to create a more inclusive environment that better represents, supports, and showcases its diverse body of students.
“We want to reform the system we have here,” Byerly said back in July. “I do believe in order to affect large change; you have to start within your own community and that’s right here at UCI.
SMC is working to construct a student-run reporting system within the School of the Arts where students have options other than administrators or faculty members when it comes to reporting any acts of racism, violence or other inappropriate social conduct. The goal is to hold people accountable for the short and long term.
“We would like to create a more equitable, a more transparent, inclusive, and safe environment here on campus,” Ekisola said. “Everyone should feel comfortable to be themselves and express themselves in a respectful way."
Students are making an effort to not only change the environment at UCI, but also the way curriculum is structured.
“I want to be able to help change the curriculum here at UCI and make things not only better for us, but for all people of color that come long after us,” added Byerly. “Racism is very much systematic."
While big change is still needed, SMC’s mission is also to remind people that real change starts with each individual.
“My first form of activism is reminding people to love themselves,” Staton said. “We as Black people matter, we’re not better than anyone else, but we matter and are worthy.”
For more information on both of these worthy student-run groups, visit blackinneuro.com and smc-ctsa.org.
Anteaters making social change
AntEATERS STAY RESILIENT IN FACE OF COVID-19
SCHOLARS ADJUST TO A NEW WORLD OF ACADEMIA
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in this country, but with struggle comes the strength to go on and the will to become resilient. UCI graduate students have become the epitome of strength and resiliency in such uncertain times. Whether it’s been conducting research in search of a cure for the virus or students making adjustments to allow their research to be done while physical distancing, it’s become obvious that the future is in good hands with our Anteaters leading the way.
Second year ICS graduate student, Lucretia Williams has been doing her part to be optimistic and as flexible as possible with the virus.
“It’s been tough, but I feel like I’ve been lucky for the most part,” said Williams. “Most of my research is on the computer and can be conducted remotely.”
Williams’ research focuses on developing health technology for people of color.
“My research absolutely has been more challenging, because obviously with everything happening in the world right now, that’s the stuff causing anxiety and affecting people's health,” Williams said. “This is life though, as reality changes, our research needs to, or else what’s the point?”
Second year PhD candidate Colleen Brown is another student who has had to make drastic changes to her research. Working out of the School of Social Ecology and pursuing her PhD in Psychological Science, Brown’s research focuses on finding more practical ways to discipline our youth in the justice system. Instead of sending them to prison or a juvenile detention center, Brown is working to develop a program where an offender is closely monitored and checks in frequently with the court, instead of automatically being locked up.
“There are obviously some exceptions, but I believe most people deserve a second chance,” Brown said. “My research shows that given a second chance at real life, most of these people actually learn their lesson and aren’t as likely to commit a second offense.”
There’s just one problem, with the courts shutdown due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, how do these people check in with the people they need to?
“It’s certainly an issue, but we had to get creative.” said Brown. “Instead of having them physically check in, we’ve started providing them each with iPads in order to conduct physical check ins to keep on track.”
In reality, most of these people didn’t have vehicles to travel back and forth to court with anyway, so they would uber. In some ways, the pandemic has relieved some financial burden.
While some students have had to adjust their research, some have admitted that the pandemic, while at first was frustrating, has actually been good for the practical use of their research.
Third year ICS PhD candidate Jazette Johnson is a perfect example of that. Coming out of the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, Johnson is pursuing her PhD in Informatics and her research centers around developing effective communication methods for people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“It was really frustrating at first and I almost wanted to give up at one point,” Johnson said. “After collecting myself I realized, my research would be more practical than ever before. As people get older, it’s naturally harder for them to move around, whether there is a pandemic going on or not.”
Johnson shifted her focus and is now working on physically distanced methods for Alzheimer’s patients to reconnect with loved ones. It won’t be easy, but she’s determined to make it work.
“Life is all about rolling with the punches and making adjustments,” Johnson said. “It’s not easy all the time, but anything that matters in life shouldn’t be easy.”
There are many stories like this across UCI’s now virtual campus. Some days are better than others, but for our Anteaters, the research never stops.
Our inaugural #Gradeater Spotlight features Connor Strobel, a fourth year PhD candidate in UCI’s Sociology department. In addition to his studies, Strobel serves as the newest president for the Associated Graduated Students (AGS). AGS is a student run organization that serves as a liaison between UCI’s graduate students and the university. Prior to becoming President, Connor served as vice president for 4 years and helmed the UC Graduate and Professional Council, the systemwide advocacy organization. Drawing from his experiences prior to UCI, Connor has been a mentor to UCI’s club Students Consulting Nonprofit Organizations (SCNO) for 6 years. He graduated early, summa cum laude with a BA from the University of New Hampshire
UCI caught up with Strobel to ask about his studies, his new AGS president role, and more.
Q: Why did you decide to continue your education at UCI?
A: It was a pretty easy decision for me. Aside from the great education I really wanted to end up on the west coast. California is not a bad place to be.
Q: What made you get involved in AGS and why did you eventually run for AGS president?
A: I’ve always liked making a difference and felt it was important for me to do so. I get a lot of pride in being able to represent the student body and voicing their concerns in the most responsible way I can. I think AGS is such an important organization, not only for the students, but for the university as well. Sometimes it’s hard to access and see what things the university is trying to do and why. AGS can sometimes translate that message a little easier since it is an organization run by students. It also works the other way as well, where we have access to some university officials that some students may not.
Q: You’ve been elected into your position at a time with a lot of uncertainty, not only within our community, but the country as a whole? What are some of the issues you plan to focus on right away?
A: Yes, it certainly is a wild time in our world right now, but one of the things I’d like to do right away is try and get our administration and student body on the same team. I think a lot of our students have lost trust in the administration, fairly or unfairly, but that’s unfortunately not unique for UCI. There is a lot of frustration with policy regarding COVID-19, when it comes to coming back to campus or the housing policy. I think both sides just need to do a better job of understanding the other’s point of view. I think safety, peace of mind, and wellness in the graduate school environment or some of the most important things I want to focus on right away.
Q: Describe your research
A: My research focuses on how people’s world views and frames affect people’s health and legal outcome. Some of my work also focuses on how differences in gender can determine how someone recovers from an eating disorder. Racism and social injustice is a real thing not only in this country, but around the world. There are a lot of factors that determine how an individual is preserved and treated. That’s what I’m trying to solidify.
Q: What was your reaction to being elected the newest AGS president?
A: Honestly it was a complete honor. Shane (Wood) was a strong person in this position before me, so AGS and the student body would have been in great hands no matter the outcome. With that being said, I think my background and connections can provide a lot of benefits for the university. UCI and the people affiliated with this university are truly things I care about, so it’s not hard for me dedicate myself to the university. I certainly won’t have to do it alone either, as I have a great cabinet who will fight for this university and students right alongside me.
Lisa now hopes to keep her father’s legacy alive for years to come, as she’s pledged to donate her estate entirely to UCI as a planned gift in an effort to make sure the already established Tom Angell Fellowship continues to thrive and encourage mentorship
“My dad’s legacy is important to me, and I want it to continue,” Lisa says. “I can’t think of a better place for my assets to go.”
“We can’t thank Lisa enough for her gift,” adds Vice Provost of Graduate Education Gillian Hayes. “Her contribution will go a long way toward not only preserving her father’s legacy, but also keeping mentoring excellence as one of UCI’s top priorities for graduate education.”
Even seven years after his passing, Tom’s legacy lives on stronger than ever in the form of the Tom Angell Fellowship. The fellowship was formed in 2014 to honor graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty members who have demonstrated an excellence in mentoring.
“Mentorship was very important to my dad,” Lisa says. “He believed that helping others was one of the biggest ways a person could give back.”
Not only did Tom help people, he saved people’s lives. He started at UCI as a general counselor in the UCI health center, before transitioning to Graduate Division to serve as the first specific graduate counselor in the UC system. He specialized in helping graduate students balance the rigors of academia, while maintaining a healthy personal life.
“Tom was just excellent at everything, but you would never know it because he was just so humble,” says Graduate Division Assistant Dean Court Crowther. “I remember when he first came to Graduate Division, I’d see him in the office early every morning, only to find out he would train in the pool every day before work.”
“I would constantly see students walk into his office with tears streaming down their face, but then walk out with beaming smiles after meeting with him. The man was special. The world would be a much better place with more Tom Angells in it."
"I thought 'wow, that's my dad. I didn't know any of these students, but he touched them all'. It was pretty incredible."
UCI believes that one can’t put a price on mentorship or wellness, so it was no surprise to see the Tom Angell Fellowship become a quick reality.
"Tom was a beloved counselor who helped many graduate students overcome problems to successfully complete their degrees." former Vice Provost of Graduate Education Frances Leslie adds. "When he passed away his family and friends donated to a fellowship fund in his honor, to acknowledge students, postdocs and faculty who are wonderful mentors like him."
It’s one thing to provide inspiration for someone, but it’s priceless when one’s actions can actually lead to change. In the case current graduate students Katy Wimberly and Arianna Brown, this is exactly what happened. After both were named Tom Angell Fellowship recipients in 2019, the two created the PACE program.
PACE is the Physics and Astronomy Community Excellence program. It is a collection of peer mentorship programs that aim to normalize a holistic approach to success as a UCI physics student and to strengthen the student community.
“For me, hearing about Tom Angell and what he did for the students of this university was just so inspiring,” says Katy. “It made me want to do something.”
Prior to creating PACE, Katy completed the Graduate Division’s Mentoring Excellence Program and served as a peer mentor in programs like Competitive Edge.
“I think both Katy and I realize that we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our mentors, so it was pretty important for us to try and give back in a sense,” Arianna says.
Arianna and Katy are just two examples of many students who have decided to take the baton from Tom Angell in an effort strengthen his legacy.
“I remember being at my dad’s memorial and many students came up to me telling me how much my dad meant to them,” recalls Lisa. “Honestly, I was honored and touched. I thought ‘wow, that’s my dad. I didn’t know any of these students, but he touched them all’. It was pretty incredible.”
As the new academic year gets ready to begin, UCI is set to celebrate the seven-year anniversary of the Tom Angell Fellowship, with his legacy only growing stronger by the year.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure my dad’s memory lives on for years to come through this fellowship,” Lisa says.” He was a great person and I’m lucky to have called him my father.”
Click here for more information on the Tom Angell Fellowship.
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TOM ANGELL'S LEGACY LIVES ON WITH GENEROUS DONATION
Legacy. It’s a word human beings talk and think about constantly. It’s a word that quite frankly is more than just a word, it defines who someone is. How does one leave a positive legacy though? How does one make sure they’re remembered long after their gone? For former UCI counselor Tom Angell, it was actually quite simple.
“My dad had a lot of integrity, was honest, and treated everyone fairly,” says Tom’s daughter, Lisa Angell. “He could be trusted and put a lot of passion into what he did.”
Tom Angell passed away at the age of 73 in October of 2013. He died doing what he loved, training in the pool for an upcoming swim competition. Angell was a national and international champion in short distance Masters Swimming. He also was a U.S. Air Force veteran and served as a mentor and counselor at UCI for over 25 years.
UCI's Rodrigo Lazo and Jaymi Smith Join Graduate Division
Graduate Division has added two excellent members to the UCI Graduate Division staff this month, as Rodrigo Lazo joins the division as its new associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, while Jaymi Smith will serve as the new associate dean for student success.
Lazo comes to Graduate Division with 17 years of experience at UCI, serving as a professor in the English Department, and was the associate dean of the unit from 2007-2010. Smith has been with the Anteaters for 13 years after joining the Drama Department in 2007 and serving as the head of design, associate head of design, and the interim head of scenic design
I’m so pleased to welcome such fantastic academic leaders to Graduate Division,” said Dean Hayes. “Our graduate students and post-docs are at the heart of this university and I’m so excited to be able to provide them with two more advocates who will listen and fight for them.”
At the university level, Smith has acted as an equity advisor for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, was part of the 2017 Provost Leadership Academy, and was a member of the Graduate Council from 2015-20. In her Graduate Council role, she was part of the Subcommittee for Courses and Program Modifications and helped draft policies such as Academic Grievance Procedures, Mentoring Guidelines, and Guidelines for SSGPDPs. She also recently served as a member of the Hellman Advisory Panel.
“I could not be more thrilled to join Dean Hayes’ team at Graduate Division,” Smith said. “I’m here for our students and I want them to reach out to me. I want to make sure our students succeed in and outside of the academic environment.”
Prior to joining UCI, Smith was a freelance lighting designer, production manager, and producer.Her design work has been featured in theaters such as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, LaJolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, The Alley Theater, Hartford Stage, Steppenwolf, The Goodman, and The Denver Center as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain and China. She has designed over 250 productions over the past twenty years and has received awards and nominations from The Ovations, The Joseph Jefferson Committee, The Column Awards, Sage Awards, the Off-Broadway Alliance, Henry Awards, and the Houston Theater Awards.She was the 2003 recipient of the Michael Merritt Emerging Designer Award.
Before Lazo’s appointment at Graduate Division, he served four years as associate dean of Humanities. From 2016-2019, Lazo directed the Humanities Core Program, a year-long introduction to the humanities for first-year undergraduate students.
“There’s nothing I love more than serving our students,” Lazo said. “I’m looking forward to supporting our Black Thriving Initiative at UCI and making sure all of our students are set up for success.”
After more than 15 years as a professor, Lazo finds the most rewarding part of academia is interacting with students and helping them with their research and writing. In 2012, he received an award from the UCI Associated Graduate Students for his contributions as a mentor.
Prior to coming to UCI in 2004, Lazo taught at Miami University. He attended Columbia University’s School of Journalism and worked as a reporter at the Miami Herald.
For more information on UCI’s graduate programs, please visit grad.uci.edu.
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UPCOMING GRADUATE DIVISION EVENTS
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UCI Graduate Alums Talk: Master Class with Bri McWhorter
When/Where: January 28, 2021 | Virtual via Zoom
Time: Mid day (Official time TBD)
When/Where: March 4, 2021 | Virtual via Zoom
Time: 5:00 pm PT
Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series | Featuring: Greg Campbell
When/Where: May 4, 2021 | Virtual via Zoom
Time: Evening (Official time TBD)