Students from mediation course, UCLA’s Community Programs Office, and Chicana/o Studies give tours to South LA mentoring program.
Isai Madrid, who works in UCLA’s Community Programs Office (CPO), joined his fellow students one Saturday last month, to give tours of the campus to members of OneWay Outreach, a nonprofit in South Los Angeles that provides mentorship to boys and youth in the South Los Angeles area. He addressed the group of boys and youth – who ranged from age eight to 17 – in front of Campbell Hall where in 1969 Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John J. Huggins Jr., two UCLA student activists and members of the Black Panther party, were fatally shot.
“By you guys being here, you’re proving everybody wrong,” said Madrid to the group, as he stood on the steps of a building that has become a symbol of the challenges faced by students of color.
The UCLA tour, which included tickets to a Bruins vs. Arizona Wildcats game donated by UCLA Athletics, was conducted by students who work on campus for the CPO and UCLA Ed minors in a course on conflict mediation. Bus transportation was provided by the Student Initiated Outreach Committee, which is a UCLA student-led committee that supports the efforts of creating a pipeline to college for under-resourced communities.
Darryl Miller, Sr., a OneWay mentor who is called “Coach D” by the young men in the program, said that the number of his mentees who expressed a desire to go to college doubled that afternoon after they were shown the campus, heard their tour guides’ perspectives on being first-generation, underrepresented students, and the wealth of personal, social, and financial resources available to students of color at UCLA.
“They said, ‘I can go here, Coach,” noted Miller as the group traversed the UCLA campus, enjoyed lunch in DeNeve Commons, and posed for photos with the Bruin mascot. Discussions between the OneWay youth and UCLA students also addressed the most pressing issues for underserved students, including the availability of information about college, fitting in on campus, paying for college, and making the grades to get in.
“One of the key things that are highlighted in the [education] minor are conversations of the equity and equality of educational attainment and the social influences on that institution,” said Michael Christopher Frew, who majors in sociology and minors in education at UCLA. “[Giving the tour] is always a reality check on how privileged and fortunate I am to have landed where I am and it spurs me on to continue to make the most of it.”
Emmanuel Bravo, a senior majoring in anthropology, said that his experience of minoring in education at UCLA has “definitely broadened my knowledge and perspective on the U.S. educational system.”
“There is an achievement gap in the educational system that drastically affects underserved communities,” he said. “Coming from an underserved community myself, the minor has taught me to understand and question how and why such students do not have access to educational resources that middle-income and high-income communities have.”
The students, who gave the UCLA People of Color tour for the youth from OneWay, highlighted icons of the UCLA campus, including the Janss Steps, which are believed to be part of a Native American burial site; Royce Quad, where protests against apartheid took place in the 1980s; and Haines Hall, where more Native American remains were found, but relocated to Kinsey Hall for study by UCLA anthropologists.
“The People of Color tour [provided] OneWay with the opportunity to relate to UCLA in a cultural way given its historical significance and impact on minorities,” said Bravo.
Emilio Hernandez, who serves as community services advisor for CPO, says that the Office’s programs are largely student-run, and inspired by CPO students from underserved communities who want to help students like themselves to succeed in college.
“The work that CPO students do is guided by our core tenants of honesty, integrity, and compassion,” he says. “We ultimately want our students to leave UCLA as better people, with the understanding that someone helped them to get here, so they have a responsibility to go out and help others.”
UCLA Education Professor Wellford “Buzz” Wilms and Avis Ridley-Thomas teach “Restoring Civility,” an undergraduate course in the Education Studies Minor program that many of the tour guides have taken. Wilms says that the opportunity for UCLA students to share their experiences with youth who come from backgrounds similar to theirs is a way for them to give back.
“Our students were talking about giving back to their communities long before it was popular,” says Wilms. “They are our future leaders and their sense of responsibility for others is a huge benefit to our society.”
Above: Darryl Miller, Sr., known to youth in OneWay Outreach as “Coach D” (at right), enjoys a tour of the UCLA campus with an aspiring young Bruin.