This is all the honors experiences I've completed. They have shaped my education, career and personal life greatly.
Along with other members of the UC Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) chapter, I helped organize a non-stop, 24-hour campus hackathon on the weekend on February 22-23, 2020. The event, which many students and sponsors attend, encourages innovation through friendly competition, mentoring resources, seminars, free food and swag. As organizers, we were responsible for making sure everything ran smoothly and all our attendees had a great experience. In order to achieve this goal, we used our planning and communication skills to ensure that we had all of our resources accounted for, could respond to any situation, and promote an inclusive and awesome environment. With nearly 300 hackers and many sponsors, including several major ones such as Fifth Third and Kroger, we had to ensure that our event’s amenities and atmosphere was top-notch. Our partnership with Major League Hacking (MLH) helped us ensure that we could provide the best hackathon for all participants. While it was quite a challenge to prepare for and run the event, especially as a first time organizer, it was great and I continued to help organize the hackathon for the nest two years, last time as ACM Treasurer. If you are interested, and want to come next time or become a sponsor, see our website at https://revolutionuc.com/ for more details.
Study Abroad - Germany
While I am comparatively lucky compared to many other people, it was still quite disappointing for me when the trip was cancelled. Honestly, having to leave my dorm and go back home only added to my worries. But that didn’t mean my experience would abruptly end there. After a tense move home, we were assigned a new project. In collaboration with students in ENSEM, a university in Lorraine, France, we formed teams and worked on a new project about the COVID-19 pandemic. I worked with two UC and two ENSEM students to predict a model for Italy’s COVID-19 numbers using engineering and basic epidemiological principles. Through our times together, we learned more about each other’s culture and perspectives, with discussion of current events, politics, linguistic and educational differences occurring on a regular basis. I choose this image to show the results of our alternative project and teamwork. Although I had missed an opportunity to see another part of the world, I got the chance to analyze and help solve one of our greatest global issues and cooperate with members of and learn more about another culture. I think that makes this experience even greater for my development as a global citizen scholar.
Domestic Study Tour - Washington, DC
After my spring was interrupted by the coronavirus, I hoped that everything would be alleviated by a couple months, but unfortunately a global pandemic is not so easy to stop. Instead of going to Washington, DC to visit several government agencies and private firms involved in cybersecurity and intelligence gathering, we did a variety of activities from home to explore those organizations and career fields. This included attending the Intelligence Virtual Career Fair to learn more about federal involvement in intelligence and talk to the representatives of several national intelligence agencies, exploring the impact of organizational culture and diversity in the workplace, and researching the DC metropolitan area. I have included an image from a project I did on the last subject, where I looked at jobs and the cost of living in the region. I think that, overall, it was a great experience. A lot of the duties and procedures of working for the national government and in intelligence were demystified for me, and I got to see, well, how ordinary it all is. I also got to learn about interesting sectors I had not heard of before, such as geographical intelligence. I hope to visit the DC area soon and learn more about these paths.
Honors Seminar - War and Peace in Asia
One of the first classes of my Asian Studies minor, "War and Peace in Asia" was an overview of various conflicts and issues affecting parts of Asia, with each segment covering a different area, such as the war in Afghanistan and the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. of Although the course had a broad scope and was quite open-ended, we were given the resources necessary to dive deeper into each unit and our instructor encouraged us to look at all aspects of the situation. Through a series of in-class discussion, we were given the opportunity to truly talk about and debate our research, ideas and possible solutions with minimal instructor intervention - a format that I really liked and I think helped me develop better knowledge of each situation and exposed me to more solutions. My final paper, which focused on the dispute between the Philippines and China in particular, benefited from these discussions as well as a rigorous in-class process of refinement through drafts and a presentation to other students summarizing the paper in which they could provide their feedback and raise points that might have been missed or ignored. Because of all this, I was able to write a comprehensive overview of the conflict and assess various possible paths including some rather unorthodox solutions.
(Image below from VOA)
Honors Course - English 2089
Previously, I had not looked at English courses with much enthusiasm. This class totally turned my perception around! This course allowed to to make exciting dives and analyses into the communication habits and characteristics exhibited in groups and communities. For example, we looked the impact of the Internet on language usage and how contemporary commentators have reacted to new streams of communication and linguistic aspects. Other analyses included exploring the role of appropriation and social media in inter-community engagement and the unique characteristics of the communication of online groups such as fandoms. The relative freedom that I was offered through being able to cover topics of my choice made me feel like this was the first English class where I could look at media and communities relevant to my life, experiences and cultural sphere as opposed to upholding "traditional" institutions that have already been discussed to death. Personally, I ended up looking a lot at linguistics and how online spaces focused on the field communicated and set expectations. (Pictured: My work comparing two Telugu dictionary websites by seeing how their content and designs reflected different values and audiences.)
Extracurricular Activity - Student Leader Discussion Group
A group for student leaders to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and general matters regarding extracurricular organizations. I hope that I can use this opportunity to gain more insight into operating and running student organizations, enhance my leadership skills, and look outside my bubble and meet other leaders and organizations from diverse backgrounds.
First meeting: Introductions
Second meeting: Meeting formats
Good discussions on the unique challenges that are faced with hybrid and online meetings. It was really interesting to compare the differences between clubs and their members with how well inline formats worked for them. I think a general conclusion made is that more engaged meetings are better in person and that hybrid can cause issues as opposed to full online or in person as everyone isn't in the same place and disparities can result. We also shared ways to better serve and accommodate online attendees as well as raise engagement as leaders.
Third meeting: Recruitment
Exploring similarities and differences between organizations on how and who we recruit to participate. Although many of our organizations had different specializations and did look for students interested in different topics, a common thread was trying to have a wide appeal and finding members outside "expected" majors and backgrounds. We also discussed our usage of social media and how it affected the ways we reach out to students, as well as ways to better promote our organizations and showcase their value. At the end of the presentation, we played a game of pitching various places near campus. Although it was mostly lighthearted, I saw some serious lessons on what matters for an organizations and how to communicate its strengths.
Fourth meeting: Exec transitions
For this meeting, Anwesa Basa and I collaborated on a presentation about the characteristics, issues and changes that have impacted transitions between old and new executive boards. Although there were some issues with the presentation slides themselves, I think we did a great job talking about and exploring the process as well as fostering discussion about it. For instance, we explored how the shift to online meetings has had permanent impacts on executive elections and transitions, and had a conversation about how to ensure members are adequately or motivated to become increasingly involved with organization governance and ensure that executives are elected based on their policies rather than simply their popularity. Other topics included how to streamline exec transitions and better include first- and second-years in organizational leadership and administration structures.
Fifth meeting: Inter-org collaboration
In this discussion, we explored how organizations can better collaborate and cooperate with each other and the benefits such activities bring to members. We looked at the different ways organizations choose to work together, seeing how some choose others to link up with based on similar "topics" while others focus on shared administrative values and certain events. It was interesting to look at the pros and cons of diversifying organization associations and seeing how to make such combined efforts easier.
Sixth meeting: UFB funding
Great discussion of the process and particular details of gaining and using funds from the University Funding Board. Applying for UFB funds is a complex endeavor, so I was quite grateful to see it explained in a comprehensive but simple manner. It was also interesting to see our varied experiences with gaining funds and interacting with the UFB. One aspect that we looked at is the requirement to be open for everyone, which created issues for certain specialist groups and is currently being reconsidered. We also looked at a number of alternative ways to raise money, such as selling food (either by ourselves or with a local restaurant) and donation drives.
I gained a lot of insight from this course, as I was able to discover more sides to student organization leadership, met fellow leaders that I would not have gotten to before, and engaged in stimulating discussions about the future of student organizations and their leadership. My personal goals are to get more newcomers interested in organizational leadership and increasing transparency and student participation in organization governance. This will increase accountability and promote good leadership, and build the next generation of student org execs, which is even more important given the disruption of the past two years. If I face any challenges, then I think my best resources would be the network of execs and mentors that I've formed through the years as well as the student board and government in general. I think I will see the impact that I will make in my orgs by how many students will participated in organization governance this and next year.