By Valeria Jaramillo
Written for the 2022 edition of the UCLA EPSS Department Newsletter, found here: https://epss.ucla.edu/about/newsletters/
When we entered the extended pandemic-related campus shutdown, everyone was deprived of the ability to collaborate, interact, and learn with one another in ways EPSS was accustomed to, presenting significant additional challenges for students. Those starting new undergraduate and graduate programs in Fall 2020 faced a previously unknown, remote learning environment that made connecting with classmates particularly difficult. For incoming transfer students who wanted to discuss which classes they should take, seniors trying to find out about graduate programs, or new graduate students struggling to balance course requirements, teaching, and research, clearly there existed a great need for enhanced interaction and collaboration.
Enter the EPSS Family Mentorship Program (EFMP)! The idea behind EFMP was to build a mutually supportive platform for students at all stages of undergraduate and graduate study. A pilot program was launched in Spring 2021, creating six families with 36 students, ranging from undergraduate freshmen to senior graduate students. Through EFMP, students could connect, share, and learn from each other in areas such as personal wellbeing, academic success, and professional development, while also maintaining a socially cohesive and inclusive community within the department. The program successfully provided networking, learning resources, job and research opportunities, and created many positive memories. As a testament to the popularity of the program, the number of members nearly doubled in Fall 2021, and the inaugural dinner celebration brought a renewed spirit to the department.
We are so proud of everyone’s commitment to meet with their families, join academic and social events, and foster a collaborative and welcoming atmosphere among the EPSS student body. We are grateful for the continued support from our department chair, faculty, staff, and postdocs that have helped us along the way, and we are eager to see the program continue to grow!