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Interview with Alexis: Learning more about the Public Affairs Major and Minor

Happy Week 2 Bruins! Today we bring to you an interview script with our very own Alexis Oberlander, who is the Director of Student Services for the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program! Below is some information regarding the Public Affairs Major and Minor, and a little more information about the application process!

If you have any further questions, please contact Alexis through the message center! We hope this was helpful in any way, and we wish you all an amazing rest of your week!


1. What is your preferred name and pronouns?

Alexis Oberlander

she/her/hers


2. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been an advisor at UCLA for 12 years but my career started in the entertainment industry (my undergraduate degree is in Video Production and Still Photography).

I’m originally from South New Jersey, moved to Los Angeles in 2006.

I met my husband while he was singing Piano Man at karaoke.

I’m a new mother to a six-month-old son, Alden.

I love food puns!


3. What is your role in Luskin/Public Affairs?

Director of Student Services for the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program


4. How would you describe the Public Affairs Major? How would you describe the minor?

The Public Affairs major is an interdisciplinary leadership degree. We strive to teach students how to assess the issues our communities face by analyzing information and using evidence for decision making. This major prepares future leaders to immediately and effectively bring about social change.

The Public Affairs minor is similar to the major but it is intended to be more complementary to other majors. The minor allows students to see the connection between their major and the Public Affairs leadership skills. More specifically, it teaches students the skills of policy analysis and exposes them to many of the local, state, national, and international issues facing today’s policymakers and opinion leaders.


Here is some information on the other two minors as well!

The Minor in Urban and Regional Studies offers students a means to address some of the most pressing issues faced by our cities and communities at the urban and regional level. The Minor in Gerontology provides students with a foundational understanding of the current state of science related to human aging and enables them to contribute, personally and professionally, to a diverse aging society.


5. What do you think makes Public Affairs such a unique major?

Very few majors focus on applied skills in the same way as the Public Affairs major. Not only do we want students to understand critical thinking, theory, and methodology, but we want them to understand how all of those elements translate to hands-on

, public service work. All of the Public Affairs courses, even in the lower division classes, include an aspect of applied learning. The most unique feature of our program though, is the experiential learning capstone series. In the last year of the degree, students participate in an internship which allows them to apply what they have learned in their coursework to their community or public engagement opportunity, and analyze how the engagement experience is consistent with or differs from what they learned in their courses.


6. What is your favorite thing about Public Affairs?

The people!!! From the students, to the staff, to the faculty. I have worked in several departments on campus and have never found a more dedicated and inspiring group of people in one place. The Luskin School of Public Affairs community is truly dedicated to social change.


7. What is the process of applying to the major?

I encourage anyone interested in joining the Public Affairs pre-major, or applying to the major, to review the website for the latest information.

Adding the Pre-Major

Applying to the Major

Students should start by taking the eight lower-division pre-major courses during the first two years at UCLA. This will keep them on track for the major. Prospective transfer students should review the UCLA Transfer Admission Guide!


8. What is the process of switching majors to Public Affairs?

The first step is to complete the Pre-Major Form (return it to the Undergraduate Student Services Office via MyUCLA Message Center). Students officially declared as Pre-Majors are given first pass enrollment privileges in the lower division courses. The next steps are to review the major admission requirements, take the appropriate courses, and apply to major by the end of winter quarter of the 2nd year.


9. What other resources and academic support are provided to Public Affairs students?

The Public Affairs Student Services Office tries to stay connected to all campus resources so PA students have a one-stop shop for all their needs. Whether a pre-major or a major, the Student Services staff is available to help students personalize, and get the most out of, their UCLA journey. Additionally, Public Affairs students have access to scholarships, research opportunities, an honors program, all of the Luskin research centers and faculty.


10. What type of academic counseling services are available for students?

As mentioned above the Public Affairs Undergraduate Program has a Student Services Office which is dedicated to academic counseling for students in the pre-major, major, or minors. There are four full-time staff that students can meet with. Pre-majors typically meet with Justin or April. Majors typically meet with Kevin, April, or myself. Minors typically meet with Justin or April.


11. How can a student set up an appointment with an academic counselor?

The best way to schedule an appointment is through MyUCLA Message Center. One of the advisors will get back to you to set a time. During Fall 2020 we are, of course, remote so all appointments will be over the phone or through zoom. Once we’re back on campus we schedule in-person appointments where appropriate. Our office is located in the Luskin School of Public Affairs building, 3rd floor, suite 3343.


12. Where can students sign up for the Public Affairs Newsletter?

When students declare the pre-major, major, Public Affairs minor, Urban and Regional Studies minor, or Gerontology minor they are automatically added to the newsletter distribution list!


13. Where can students find more information regarding the UC Sacramento UC/DC Program?

It’s always a good idea to visit the UC Sacramento or UCDC (aka CAPPP) websites but if students want to understand how these programs can satisfy part of the experiential learning capstone requirement, they should schedule an appointment with our Capstone Advisor and Coordinator, Kevin Medina. Kevin can be reached via MyUCLA Message Center.


14. If students have more questions or concerns, where should they go?

Hopefully I don’t sound like a broken record but, MyUCLA Message Center. It’s the best way to get in touch with an advisor. We can either answer your question over the Message Center system or schedule a time to talk one-on-one.


15. Do you have any extra comments/advice for incoming or current students interested in Public Affairs?

The Public Affairs Student Services Office values collaboration and communication. We encourage students to share their feedback and ideas, which will help shape the future of this major and program!







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