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Alumni Mentor Program – 2018 Awards

2018 Distinguished Alumni Mentor Awards

Garima Verma '15

Garima Verma ’15

Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies and Psychology
Assistant Manager, Digital Marketing at Paramount Pictures

Student mentee Samantha Wolf, a second year communications studies major, shared, “Garima has been an incredible mentor from the very start! She was very forthcoming about the sorts of mentorship she was willing to provide, specifically in regards to helping students find their specific career path (something I needed so desperately). […]

“For my first meeting with her, she treated me to lunch at Paramount Pictures, where she works. Garima had no reservations about allowing me to see her workplace, offering a tour of the lot in addition to a very engaging discussion about our experiences and how they fit into the professional world. It was an overwhelmingly positive first meeting. Knowing that she was on my side and able to offer help calmed a lot of fears about a daunting job search, especially in a competitive field such as media.

“It was great to have that initial meeting with her, for her advice carried me through the next few months of job searching at school. In the meantime, she has also emailed me with numerous internship opportunities in the Los Angeles area. She offered an in-depth and constructive review of my resume, reiterating numerous times that she was always willing to look at drafts of resumes and cover letters for applications. Garima has offered not only personal advice on solidifying interests but also professional advice when it comes to application logistics.

“While Garima excels as an alumni mentor in this traditional sense, she also goes above and beyond to help students in the UCLA community. She graciously offered her time to sit on a panel for a networking night with a student group I am a part of, which allowed her to share her expertise and experience with a broader community. Students responded very well to her advice, a testament to her extremely warm and welcoming personality. Garima was very popular at the event, and I felt so lucky to be associated with her!

“Lastly, Garima has reached out to me regarding continued mentorship beyond the Alumni Mentor Program. She wrote to me, ‘Even though the formal mentorship through UCLA ends in June, I just want you to know that with me, it won’t just end…I will always continue to do whatever I can for you.’ Garima has been a warm, supportive, helpful mentor to me this academic year, and I am excited to continue our friendship into the future. She is an exceptional mentor for her passion, kindness, resourcefulness, selflessness and charisma.”

Student mentee Ruhee Patel, a fourth year communications studies major, shared, “I am a graduating senior and Garima was very supportive and helpful throughout my job hunting experience. She always gave me great advice, helped me prepare for interviews, and even utilized her contacts to help me find opportunities. She was always a phone call, text, or email away and it helped knowing that I had someone so supportive guiding me.”

Robbie Hoeks '12

Robbie Hoeks ’12

Bachelor of Arts, Business Economics
Consultant at Accenture Netherlands

Student mentee Matthew Mueller, an MBA student at UCLA Anderson School of Management, shared, “I found Robbie’s profile while searching for professionals working in the Netherlands, where I am moving after I graduate from UCLA Anderson. While reading his profile I was impressed by his deep passion for Lean Agile deployment, to the point that I knew I had to reach out to learn more about his experience and how it could relate to my professional development. […]

“What I did not realize at the time was that Robbie would become a patient, generous, and thoughtful mentor. From showing me around his office at Accenture in the Netherlands and spending hours explaining Lean Agile processes as they related to my leadership role at UCLA Anderson, to fighting on my behalf for interview opportunities in the Netherlands, he has been steadfast in supporting my path to success. I have leveraged his techniques while facilitating large group sessions for my professional organization and team projects at Anderson and he has always been just a phone call away to provide feedback and guidance for those efforts.

“As I approach my significant transition to a new country I find extreme comfort knowing that there are people like Robbie there who may help me through it. Robbie is a prime example of how an alumnus can step up for a young student in big ways; I believe he is the epitome of a great mentor.”

Pamela Fusek '15

Pamela Fusek, M.S. ’15

Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering
Systems Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Student mentee Supreethi Penmetcha, a second year mechanical engineering major, shared, “While this is her first year in the Alumni Mentor Program, Pam has not only been an incredible mentor, but also a part of my support system here at UCLA. Her endless encouragement and suggestions have helped guide me through the confusing, and sometimes terrifying, process of figuring out both my major and my future. […]

“My conversations with Pam have made me feel more at home at UCLA, as I could confide in her about my initial homesickness and difficulties adjusting to college. I was able to talk to her about how I didn’t feel cut out to be an engineer after taking my first few lower division classes. She shared similar experiences of her own, which helped me feel a lot less alone in my struggles, especially since this was a deeply personal topic. I am forever grateful to have had a female mentor in engineering like Pam.

“Furthermore, Pam has gone above and beyond just offering advice, as she also organized a tour of JPL, her workplace, with another mentor. This was an amazing opportunity and something she was very passionate about sharing with her mentees, even though it required a great deal of planning and time to make it happen.

“Pam has been a fantastic mentor throughout the year, as she always made time to drive down and meet with me at least once a month, and I am grateful I had someone like her to help me through the turbulent transition from high school to college.”

Student mentee Chris Lambert, a second year mechanical engineering major, shared, “Pam was thoroughly invested in the mentoring program. She was exactly the type of supportive and encouraging mentor one needs in their first year of college. Pam always listened to what I had to say and offered thoughtful advice. When she found out I was interested in rock climbing and hiking, she suggested a nearby state park and the local climbing gym for the next two upcoming mentorship sessions. Having mentorship in environments like these made it an enjoyable time for both of us and allowed us to make great conversation.

“Without her, I do not think I could have transitioned as well to the college lifestyle. Pam often recounted examples early in her college career where she struggled to adjust, and that reminded me that I am not the only one who has faced these challenges. Her wisdom helped me overcome many of the roadblocks I encountered this year.

“An example of Pam’s outstanding commitment to this program was that she organized a private tour of JPL after I mentioned that I am interested in interning there. Touring JPL was one of the highlights of my freshman year, and I am thankful that Pam gave me an opportunity to explore a potential future workplace.”

2018 Outstanding Student Mentee Awards

Diondraya Taylor

Diondraya Taylor

Third year, psychobiology major

Alumni mentor Susana Rinderle ’92 shared, “Draya has been an absolute delight, and our calls have been the highlight of that day, and sometimes of that week! If only my clients brought the same level of intelligence, energy, commitment and curiosity to our work together.

“Draya has been punctual for our calls, prepared and engaged, and she follows through on her commitments. She asks surprisingly thoughtful questions. […]

She possesses a striking combination of a healthy sense of self and the ability to seek and take in feedback that will serve her well in life. I am in awe of her vision and drive, and completely honored to have contributed at all to her success and happiness.

“Anyone who thinks younger people are all lazy and entitled needs to meet Diondraya Taylor and others like her! Her combination of brilliance, courage, and heart give me hope for the world, and inspire me. I’m deeply proud to be her mentor, and fellow Bruin.”

Denise Marquez

Denise Marquez

Third year, Chicana and Chicano studies major

Alumni mentor Juana Hernandez ’09 shared, “As a first-generation college student and entering transfer student, Denise has displayed the initiative and drive that sets her apart from the many undergraduates with whom I interact. I have been very impressed by her tenacity, fierce optimism, and resolve to make the most of her time at UCLA in order to lay the foundation for her future. Since we were matched through the UCLA Alumni Mentor Program in the fall quarter, I have had the privilege of seeing Denise grow as a scholar and as a leader on the UCLA campus. […]

“She proactively seeks out mentorship, new experiences and opportunities to learn and stretch beyond her comfort zone. She is very engaged, and together we have identified activities and resources to aid her in updating her resume, leveraging UCLA Career Center services, connecting with current graduate students to learn about doctoral programs and identifying enrichment activities, such as attending events through the UCLA Academic Advancement Program (including the Winston C. Doby Lecture with civil rights icon Dolores Huerta), UCLA Alumni Affairs (including the launch of the First Generation Alumni Network) and more.

“Denise has also displayed great follow through, connecting with other professionals that I have introduced her to and applying for summer opportunities. As a student majoring in Chicano/a studies and minoring in public health, Denise has really excelled this year in developing her research skills and experience. By seeking out mentorship from faculty, alumni, practitioners and staff, Denise has clarified her own research and graduate school interests. I am truly pleased to see how much Denise has gotten into the rhythm of life at UCLA – she is a model for other undergraduates and a joy to work with as an alumni mentor!”