100 Ways: Public Service


Published May 15, 2019 10:24 AM

A World of Good

Volunteer Day

September 29, 2018, 10th annual Volunteer Day, became a global day of service with far-reaching results as Bruins tackled projects around the world.

Already one of the world’s largest university-related service days, the most recent UCLA Volunteer Day invited employees, alumni and other off-campus Bruins to organize events anywhere in the world. They put together community service projects that spanned the globe.

While the event still primarily affords freshmen and new transfer students the chance to make volunteering one of their first UCLA activities, “expanding the event to a global day of service [made] an impact around the world,” says Karen McClain ’85, the lead organizer of the event and senior director of athletic partnership and strategic initiatives for Alumni Affairs. “It also spread one of our True Bruin values: a commitment to service.”

Bruins completed projects at 70 locations that included schools, homeless shelters, veteran sites and food banks. In the Namibian village of Kasote, for example, Eunice Lee ’17, an English teacher in the Peace Corps, led volunteers in a trash clean-up project. In Hong Kong, volunteers conducted a blood drive; in Taipei, they cared for shelter dogs. Bruins in Minnesota restored a monarch butterfly habitat, while volunteers in Pennsylvania organized food donations at a pantry.

In Los Angeles, volunteers advanced an ongoing project to transform a rundown garden at the Veterans Administration. “It’s more than picking up trash,” says Matthew Proctor, a Marine Corps veteran, UCLA senior and president of UCLA’s Student Veterans of America chapter. “We’re planting a garden and building a place to have a community. It’s really nice to have people who aren’t militarily connected help us.”

Additional projects included organizing supplies at a homeless youth shelter in Hollywood and sorting food donations at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Bruins have worked approximately 330,000 hours on more than 400 projects. Their efforts represent an estimated $8.5-million value to the community, but the rewards are priceless.

Flipping the Script

The Hollywood Diversity Report

The first UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, in 2014, showed the percentages of minority or female actors, directors, writers and executives in entertainment to be dismal, far less than their percentage of the U.S. population. But the research also provided proof of a trend that would help change inclusion in show business.

was a movie featured in the diversity report because of its diverse leads and crew.

“Every year, the data have shown that film and television content that features diverse casts typically makes more money and enjoys higher ratings and audience engagement,” says Darnell Hunt M.A. ’91, Ph.D. ’94, the report’s co-lead author and dean of the UCLA College’s Division of Social Sciences.

Today, after moviegoers and viewers of broadcast, cable and streaming television made hits of shows that featured multicultural casts and storylines, the trend has become industry truth. But the percentage of minorities and women in Hollywood still falls far below that of the total U.S. population.

Forty percent of all Americans are people of color, and more than half are female. Yet the 2019 study, focused on 2017, shows that minorities made up just 19.8% of film leads, 21.5% of broadcast scripted leads, 21.3% of cable scripted leads and 21.3% of digital scripted leads. Women represented 32.9% of film leads, 39.7% of broadcast scripted leads, 43.1% of cable scripted leads and 42.8% of digital scripted leads.

Future reports will focus on practices that are proven to increase diverse inclusion. As Hunt has observed, “There can be no reform without a reckoning.”

Reasons to Smile

UCLA School of Dentistry

The research conducted by UCLA’s School of Dentistry is out of this world, literally. The school has become a trailblazer in research, sending 40 mice into space in 2017 to test a bone-building drug that the school helped develop, based on the NELL-1 protein discovered by a dental school researcher. A collaboration with NASA, the research could help combat the effects of osteoporosis.

Researchers at the school are also pioneering a new way to detect lung and pancreatic cancer — diseases that often require an invasive biopsy. The salivary diagnostic technology called EFIRM (electric field-induced release and measurement) provides the most sensitive and accurate detection of cancer fingerprints in saliva. This promising research may take us one step closer to using saliva to detect cancer mutations.

In addition, wiping out tooth decay may soon be as simple as rinsing once with a mouthwash, thanks to a targeted antimicrobial technology pioneered by the school’s researchers. The school’s research has impact that goes well beyond the oral health profession.

The school is also dedicated to serving others. Starting in the second year, dental students provide vital care at local clinics through the school’s community- based clinical education program. The school is a regional destination for advanced treatment for patients who are developmentally disabled. And in 2017-18 alone, students, residents and faculty provided care during 150,000 patient visits.

This year, the school’s Wilson-Jennings-Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center celebrates 50 years of serving populations who otherwise could not afford dental care, among them the elderly, homeless, minorities and children.