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Alumni Mentor Program – 2019 Awards

2019 Distinguished Alumni Mentor Awards

Jason Scapa ’11, M.D. ’15

Jason Scapa ’11, M.D. ’15

Bachelor of Science in molecular, cell, and developmental biology
Fellow Physician, Stanford University School of Medicine

Student mentee Holly Huang, fourth year molecular, cell, and developmental biology major, shared, “The amount of time and effort Jason dedicated to me and the others he mentored were well beyond expectations, especially considering his busy life as a resident physician. Throughout this year, Jason has provided me valuable advice that I have taken to heart. He hosted pathology nights for me and my program colleagues during which he showed us what he does as a pathologist. […]

He edited my medical school personal statement drafts and work and activities drafts promptly and thoroughly. We had regular dorm dinner meetings, to which he would bring his physician colleagues, who gave us a glimpse of life as a specialist in their chosen field. He solidified my passion for medicine, and provided me tools and guidance to pursue that passion. I am thankful for Jason and this program.”


Ayleen Peterson, D.D.S. ’12

Ayleen Peterson, D.D.S. ’12

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Student mentee Jaeok Kim, doctoral candidate at the School of Dentistry, shared, “Dr. Peterson has gone above and beyond to make herself available for advice through messages, phone calls, and personal meetings even during her busy work hours as an oromaxillofacial surgeon. I did not quite fit the description of the type of a mentee she was looking for in the first place, but she gladly accepted me as her mentee. She has been always responsive to any types of questions. […]

One time, I was on the phone with her for an entire hour asking questions and for advice. She has encouraged me to pursue my dream and shares useful resources and information that helped me know more about the profession. She has introduced me to her colleagues in the field as well. She has also offered me to shadow her in person so that I get a better, more close hands-on experience. I will be shadowing her from time-to-time for the next three years. It is phenomenal to have a mentor like Dr. Peterson, knowing how busy oromaxillofacial surgeons are.”

Richard Cohen ’72

Richard Cohen ’72

Bachelor of Arts in political science
Senior Vice President & Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley

Student mentee Carolina Rubini, fourth year economics major, shared, “Richard was a true mentor. He always made himself available and never ever forgot to check on me and what was going on. He helped me in every interview step, understanding different industries, how to think about specific answers, and how to stand up after being rejected in an interview. Right now, I’m going to NYC to start my full-time job and it was my dream to go to NYC to work – it’s because of Richard.” […]

Student mentee Shaochen Han, third year economics major, shared, “Richard is the first career mentor I had and the help he gave me was invaluable. Richard is extremely humble and down-to-earth, even with his very accomplished background. Since I am pursuing a career in financial services, he invited me to his office at Morgan Stanley just a few days after the mentorship kick-off program. During this visit, I had a pleasant and meaningful face-to-face conversation with him. He also showed me around the office and introduced me to his coworkers before I left. As a college student who has very limited professional experience, I found this visit an extremely valuable opportunity to experience the banking culture and its work environment.

He also played an important role during my search for a summer internship. In the beginning, I received no replies on any applied internship positions and I became very discouraged. After learning this, Richard immediately offered me help. He reviewed my resume and cover letter and gave me objective and helpful critiques. Under his guidance, I eventually received an interview invitation from Ernst & Young. Besides cheering for me, he gave me tips on how to prepare for this interview by explaining his similar experience with Big Four. Those tips were so comprehensive that they even included details like shining shoes and getting a haircut. After taking his advice, I performed with great confidence in the interview and later received an offer for my desired position. Without him, I would have stopped looking for an internship a long time ago because of discouragement. It’s his enormous support and patience that kept me trying harder every time and made me eventually achieve my goal for this summer.

Richard is also one of the most responsive people I have known. As a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, Richard surely is very busy at work. However, he managed to respond to my emails within just one or two hours whenever I reached out for help. He is so dedicated to his mentorship that he makes it a priority over his work and free time. He always gives me peace of mind that he is there to help whenever I have a problem.

In a word, Richard is the best mentor I could ask for.”

Richard Cohen with Mentee

2019 Outstanding Student Mentee Awards

Vanessa Ho

Vanessa Ho

First year, biology major

Alumni mentor Roland Azurin ’14 shared, “Vanessa Ho is an exemplary student with a passion for learning and service to others. In my many interactions with Vanessa, I have been able to learn not only about her goals and ambitions, I have been able to learn about myself and reflect on my own aspirations. Her enthusiasm creates an atmosphere in which we are both eager to continue serving others. […]

“Vanessa is a uniquely ambitious and humble student. She listens to my input and finds a constructive way to incorporate it into her own goals. For instance, she listened to my personal experience at UCLA and took anything I stated as an opportunity for her personal growth. The most unique aspect of her role as a student mentee is her fervor to serve others, which was apparent in all of our interactions. Vanessa is constantly finding ways to improve the college experience and general wellbeing of others. For example, she is heavily involved with the Red Cross Disaster Response Team, and she is currently using her art as a means to describe her pre-med experience for others seeking tips and advice.

“My time being her mentor has reinvigorated my own passions, and I believe that her humility sets her apart as a student mentee. I am extremely fortunate to have had Vanessa as my student mentee, and I know that her continued attendance at UCLA will inspire others in the same way that she has inspired me. I have utmost confidence that she represents the epitome of what a student mentee should be.”

Vanessa Ho with mentor

Alex Walsh

Alexandre Walsh

First year, computer science major

Alumni Mentor Jason Karuza ’04, M.S. ’05, shared, “Alex has shown great interest in shaping his success at UCLA. He has regularly reached out to me to schedule checkpoints, asked great questions about curriculum suggestions, inquired about professors and general guidance, as well as taken a large interest in ensuring that he is well-geared for excellence as he continues his studies and prepares for internships and his first professional position. […]

“Alex even asked me to do a lesson on full stack web development (he’s a computer science major) so that he could ask questions and get a better understanding for the content in order to allow him to start doing some of his own web development. He is a great kid with a great maturity for only being in his first year of UCLA. It’s been a pleasure mentoring him.”

Alexandre Walsh with mentor

Jasmine Cardenas

Jasmine Cárdenas-González

Third year, Chicana and Chicano studies major

Alumni mentor Helen Ellis ’98, M.A. ’09, Ph.D. ’15 shared, “Jasmine sought a mentor because she was starting to feel discouraged at UCLA. While she knew she could – and wanted to – attain more, she did not know what to do. We met at the start and talked about what was and was not working. We set out a specific plan to implement. At the start of this process I knew that Jasmine has what it takes to actually ‘knock it out of the park.’ […]

“She exceeded all expectations though. Here are some examples of what she did:

“She began a writing group (I was the mentor) and met every week – Jasmine took the initiative (no one asked her to do this) to send out a reminder email to the group to attend our writing sessions. She applied for fellowships (she is going to Argentina this summer!). One of the things that Jasmine did this quarter that blew me away is that she never missed a single writing group session and always showed up on time and ready with a draft or outline of a project to edit! Jasmine is now able to feel proud of her work and herself as a person.

“She began seeing setbacks and mistakes as an opportunity (see them as little gifts, I tell her) to learn important lessons and propel herself forward. Use any negative energy to work harder, I said, and she did! Jasmine has reported that she is managing her time more wisely. She has sought resources at UCLA and she and I focus on her writing, which has improved dramatically. I’m proud of all that Jasmine has learned this quarter, what she has achieved so far, and above all, I’m in awe of her fighting spirit because she is truly inspirational. I am so happy to have witnessed part of her growth this quarter.”

Previous Years: 2018