This academic year has been a roller coaster, to say the least. From advocating for students to receive accommodations amidst transitioning to in-person classes, to providing scholarships for textbooks through Books for Bruins, all the while directors faced their own personal challenges.
As we wrap up our time within AAC, our directors reflected on some of their favorite moments in AAC from working with co-directors, senior staff, and collaborating in executive meetings. We have therefore asked some of the student leaders in AAC to share some of these experiences with us, including:
Adriana Bernal (Internship Co-director, Public Affairs, 4th year)
Jayda Jackson (Accountability and Transparency Co-Director, Political Science, 2nd year)
Vera Arenas (Graphics Co-director, MCDB major, 3rd year)
Subin Lee (Community Liaison Director, History, 3rd Year)
Simran Kaur (Director of Web Design, Political Science, 3rd Year)
Daniela Cortez (Assistant Commissioner, Pre-Public Affairs and Pre-Education, 2nd year)
Naomi Cherone (Chief of Staff of Directors, Sociology, 4th year)
What are some of your favorite memories from AAC?
Being able to support the DSU strike and finding ways to support students throughout the pandemic. -Adriana Bernal
Other than the exciting meetings, I loved being a part of a space that promotes accessibility and positivity. - Jayda Jackson
Weekly meetings, meeting new people, check-ins with Naomi ++ the work we do!!! - Vera Arenas
My favorite memories from AAC are getting a chance to meet with amazing people and hearing their ideas and the work they are doing within AAC. -Simran Kaur
One of my favorite memories from AAC is our Winter retreat, that I was able to co-host with Naomi, our Chief of Staff! This was a perfect wrap-up to our weekly meetings, which also made some of my favorite memories in AAC because we were able to hold space and be in community. -Daniela Cortez
Being able to share space with such brilliant, innovative, passionate and inspiring folks! I know all of them are going to do amazing things, and be world-changers, so being able to grow alongside them, in and of itself, has been the most rewarding memory and privilege of being in AAC! -Naomi Cherone
What is one takeaway you have been able to pick up from AAC?
Building community is so important to the work we do, and helps us better support UCLA students. -Adriana Bernal
AAC truly cares about students well-being: whether that be financial, emotional, or academic, AAC cares. -Jayda Jackson
How to stay organized/on top of everything -Vera Arenas One takeaway that I have been able to pick up from AAC is the importance of community building to bring a change on campus and to support students. -Simran Kaur
One of the main takeaways from AAC these past few years, it was definitely the ability to grow as a collective and centering student voices - especially our most marginalized. I see being in AAC as an act of active resistance through the power of every student and how they are able to use that power for institutional change. It reaffirms every week our community cultural wealth! -Daniela Coetez
Building community is the first step to bringing change on campus, and even in other social justice initiatives! -Naomi Cherone
What was your favorite thing about our AAC exec meetings?
Naomi and Dani being so sweet and uplifting during meetings, I appreciate them so much! -Adriana Bernal
The check-ins!! -Jayda Jackson
Music at the beginning and Naomi's bubbly presence! It always made my Sundays better. -Vera Arenas
Being inspired by other directors and their initiatives promoting academic equity. Knowing that I wasn't going through academic difficulties alone. Naomi's enthusiasm! -Subin Lee
My favorite thing about our AAC exec meetings was the encouragement from other peers to do the work. Hearing updates and ideas during the meeting inspired me to do more. -Simran Kaur
I love our check-ins and being able to learn more about what is going on in everyone's lives on top of our AAC's responsibilities. We are students and human-beings first, so I think that this serves as a nice weekly reminder that allows everyone to slow down for a minute. Also, I love hearing everyone's updates because everyone is always doing so much. -Daniela Cortez
Hearing everyone’s fun answers to the check-in questions! We have folks who wish they were squirrels, and others who can speak French; all things I would’ve never learned about them, if it weren’t for the quirky check-in questions! -Naomi Cherone
If you had a co-director(s), what was your favorite thing about working with them?
I loved working with Heidy and having her as someone to lean on when planning internship meetings. I appreciate all the times I was able to rely on her. -Adriana Bernal
If you could give one advice to the next AAC director, what would it be?
Bring your passion and personality, it will make the AAC space better :) -Adriana Bernal
Stay on top of your work, go to meetings, and be clear about capacity/when you need help! -Vera Arenas
Prioritize your own and your staffers’ wellbeing. Advocacy begins with self advocacy!! - Subin Lee
Stay true to who you are, and exemplify that through your leadership style! Who you are, as a leader, doesn’t have to be distinct from who you are on the day-to-day, outside of the director title. Enjoy the time you spend with your fellow AAC directors, too, as you’ll reflect back and realize how much you were able to grow and share in community alongside them. - Naomi Cherone
So with these memories, we hope to let the future members of AAC know that not only will they work to make transformative change on campus, but they will also build connections and friendships among the commission–it is the memories they are going to share, in community, that not only create an impact on campus, but also create a strong network among each other. A network they will carry for the rest of their time at UCLA, and beyond.
Thank you to all of the directors, interns, and general staff in AAC for all that you all have contributed to making the space what it is!
“A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can be much of a leader if all she sees is herself” -Maya Angelou