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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
From Murphy Hall
Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
What's at Stake
The Importance of Being Elma
House of Cards
The Quest
Through Women's Eyes
Dynamic Duo
Bruin Walk

University Communications

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Spring 2005
The Importance of Being Elma

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One of those making it is Tara Gomez, a senior who is majoring in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Every few weeks for the past two years, she has met with González, her MARC adviser, for guidance in research and to prepare for graduate school. Gomez wants to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom, partly because it takes less time to earn a Ph.D. there than it does in the United States. Though some people have suggested to Gomez that earning a doctorate in the U.K. is not as prestigious as receiving one from here, González has been encouraging, tailoring her counsel to fit the needs of the student. “She knows that is what I want to do and that I will be happiest in the U.K.,” Gomez says.

It’s the kind of advice a mother would give, and González is in fact known for her motherly counsel. And although she’s admirably accessible, she’s no pushover. “Those who are laggards, I kick,” she says. “Those who are good, I praise. What helps students succeed is that somebody cares and has high expectations for them.”

González knows that encouraging students to succeed is sometimes easier said than done, and that what’s important is to inspire them by identifying with them, especially if they happen to be female. “She herself faced some of the same struggles many of them face, so she understands the starting points,” says Smith. “And she sets high standards for them to achieve, the standards she set for herself.”

Sometimes, though, high standards are about less work, not more, as González advised Brianna Burden, a MARC scholar majoring in biochemistry. Burden is what González calls an “overachiever” — someone who takes on too many course units and wants to get through them in a hurry. “I told her it’s not how much you do that counts, but how much time you invest in a task and how well you do it,” says González. Burden took the advice and is much happier now with her course load and laboratory work.

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