UCR Magazine The Magazine of UC Riverside

Winter 2016

Past Issues

Highlanders in High Office

California Map

wood taylor cook hernandez steinorth takano Mitchell rendon medina Garcia huerta

California Map

wood taylor cook hernandez steinorth takano Mitchell rendon medina Garcia huerta

If you attended UC Riverside, you could well have rubbed elbows with at least a dozen state and federal officials who once walked the Highlander halls as students, including two of the most influential policymakers in California — Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who got his Ph.D. in political science at UCR in 2000, and 1976 political science graduate Mac Taylor, the legislative analyst who acts as the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal adviser, providing balanced information about the financial impacts of ballot initiatives and propositions.

The list also includes five other state Assembly members, a state senator, three congressmen and even the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. Many of them have spoken at UCR’s new School of Public Policy.

Check out our graphic, follow the connections and see if there’s anyone you recognize. It just might be that your representative once sat beside you
in English or biology!

Michael Huerta

ADMINISTRATOR MICHAEL HUERTA

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
’78 (Political Science)

Huerta on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
The campus was small and it was easy to get involved in a lot of different things. Whether it was writing for The Highlander, being active in Model United Nations, or taking a few theater classes, I never felt that anything was off limits or out of reach.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Professor Ron Loveridge was a wonderful mentor. He helped me understand that public service is all about making life better for everyday Americans. And he practiced what he preached during his very successful tenure as mayor of Riverside.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
As California goes, so goes the nation a lot of the time. Whether it is vehicle emissions, air quality or unmanned aircraft, California is an innovator and UCR is right in the middle of all of that.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
There is a big difference between politics and public service. While one is a means to the other, too often politics is all about the game. Public service is all about the results.

What’s the best part of your job?
The FAA has a wonderful team of dedicated professionals who all share a passion for aviation. The history of aviation is in many respects the history of the U.S. It is an industry that is all about maintaining the highest levels of safety and harnessing new technology for the benefit of society.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Don’t obsess over having the perfect career plan once you leave college. Your first job is just that – a first job. Be open to trying different things. You may discover that you are passionate about something you had not considered.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
I am on the Board of Advisors of the School of Public Policy and was previously on the Board of Advisors of CE-CERT. I really enjoy talking with students and faculty about the great work going on at UCR to address very big issues in California and the U.S. as a whole. And the Sub Station still serves great sandwiches.

Paul Cook

REP. PAUL COOK

8TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
M.A. ’00 (Political Science)

Cook on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
I fondly recall being the oldest student in most of my classes, because I went back to school after 26 years of service in the Marine Corps.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Shaun Bowler. He always challenged us to think for ourselves and draw our own conclusions from the material.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
Without a doubt, my time at UCR opened my eyes to the profession of teaching, which I did for several years before entering politics.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
My studies at UCR helped hone my knowledge of world politics, and I use that knowledge extensively on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

What’s the best part of your job?
It sounds cliché, but I have an opportunity to make a difference at the local, national, and global stages on a daily basis.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Never underestimate yourself. If someone had told me as a college freshman that I’d make it to Congress, I wouldn’t have believed it.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
See if they need a guest lecturer! I’m honored to be in Congress, but the classroom experience is something special to me.

Mark Takano

REP. MARK TAKANO

41ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
T.C. ’88, M.F.A. ’10 (Creative Writing)

Takano on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
I loved the experience of earning my M.F.A. in Palm Desert and the fellowship with teachers and students.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera taught me to tell a story in 16 pages, at two sentences per page. (It was a children’s book workshop.)

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
When I realized that human beings understand the world through stories they tell, know and believe.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
Storytelling. Telling the stories of poor people, of veterans, of single moms, of dreamers, of people who struggle to be heard.

What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing a wrong and being able to right it. Seeing a need and being able to fill it.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Never doubt the value of the gift you have been given. Take your knowledge and skills and serve.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
Hear what is on the minds of students and faculty: dreams, aspirations, breakthrough research and discoveries.

Jim Wood

ASSEMBLYMAN JIM WOOD

2ND ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
’82 (Biology)

Wood on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
The camaraderie of the people who lived on my floor at Lothian.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Louis Ratliff, my calculus professor, was patient, passionate and eager to help his students. I will never forget him.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
The realization that courses outside my major really mattered and rounded me out in ways I didn’t expect.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
Never give up. There is a solution to every problem if you work hard enough to find it. Tenacity and persistence do pay off.

What’s the best part of your job?
The breadth of the subjects we work on insures that there is no such thing as a boring day.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Never be afraid to explore. Your passion and your future may change; embrace the chances and the change.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
Stand at the bell tower to marvel and appreciate the changes of campus and what has remained the same.

Mac Tylor

MAC TAYLOR

LEGISLATIVE ANALYST’S OFFICE
’76 (Political Science)

Taylor on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
I think I better say meeting my (then) wife-to-be Sherry, who was also a political science major at UCR. We’ve been married for 36 years and have raised three children together.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Ron Loveridge had a great influence on my career. My interest in public policy blossomed as a result of participating in his internship programs, attending various Saturday seminars he put on with prominent policy folks, and attending his classes. He also was a great help in my graduate study pursuits.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
I can’t think of any grand epiphanies, but I do recall several instances — like late-night pick-up games on the A&I basketball courts — thinking that college has to be best time of one’s life.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
I learned a lot at UCR about California history and the state’s governance structure that have been of enormous help in my job (doing budget and policy analysis of state issues).

What’s the best part of your job?
Without question, it’s getting to work with very nice, very talented people on stimulating and challenging issues. (One of the most important aspects of job satisfaction is liking and respecting the people with whom you work.)

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Of course you should explore classes in a variety of disciplines. But make sure you graduate with strong quantitative skills (math, stats, economics) and communication (written and oral) skills. These will give you a leg up no matter what field you eventually pursue.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?

I want to visit the KUCR studios. I have great memories of my time at the station doing news, music programs and Highlander basketball play-by-play.

Roger Hernandez

ASSEMBLYMAN ROGER HERNÁNDEZ

48th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
’02 (Political Science)

Hernandez on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
The mutual camaraderie and student accessibility with the instructors allowed us to address our professors by first name. This solidified our working relationship and established greater mentorship opportunities.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Professor Eric D. Lawrence who taught U.S. Congress made a lasting impression on me. His approach to civic leadership strengthened my enthusiasm for public service.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
My “aha” moment came while taking my first anthropology course at UCR. As a young public servant, I was able to apply what I was learning to the practical world. Socialization, culture and human behaviors, I learned, are not absent from the world of politics or policy.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
I learned that the number one job of any public official is to serve the people who elected you. To do this effectively, one needs to solicit input, be communicative, transparent and made accountable. This civic involvement empowers the electorate, leading to better decisions and a greater confidence in public officials.

What’s the best part of your job?
Giving a voice to the voiceless is one of the many highlights of my job. As your representative, I remain loyal to the fundamental truth of the social contract: to protect our citizenry and ensure that their rights are not infringed upon. That belief has paved the way for many of my critical bills that today have protected the most vulnerable in California.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Pursue something that you are truly passionate about and stay committed to it. Allow your goals to drive you rather than money.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
A great interest of mine is to return to my alma mater and speak to students interested in public service, and to receive feedback on issues affecting their generation.

Holly Mitchell

SEN. HOLLY MITCHELL

30th SENATE DISTRICT
1982 to 1986 (Political Science)

Mitchell on her Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
As Black Student Union president, working in partnership with Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) to lobby the Academic Senate about the lack of tenured professors of color on campus.
[Also,] working with then-Chancellor Tomás Rivera. He was a nurturing leader who invested his personal time and interest in grooming our budding leadership. Dean of Student Affairs Lou Leo was another sound mentor who provided us the necessary resources to organize.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Professor Francis Carney was a fascinating, cool cat. His love of California history and politics was palpable. As a freshman, he was my first exposure to the difference between a high school world history teacher and a college professor! We could spend a class period discussing current events, the outcome of local and state races, and he would ask us our opinion. Wow! I knew I wasn’t in high school anymore! He expanded political theory into political action.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
We were protesting at the bell tower regarding UC divestment from the apartheid-ruled government in South Africa. We’d painted our signs in my mother’s garage the night before so she knew our plans. I had called for a class boycott. During the protest my mother showed up and tapped me on the shoulder. She pointed out the fact that the Riverside Police Department were on campus and had officers positioned on the roof top of a building, observing our actions. She asked me if I was prepared to lead my classmates into what could potentially become a violent situation (our chants and signage were quite inflammatory … that’s what a protest is all about, right?) What was our end game? If the Academic Senate meeting didn’t go as we wanted, what would be our next move? Were we ALL prepared to go to jail for our beliefs? If not, what would be the outcome? My “aha” moment was recognizing the awesome responsibility of leadership. And that social change comes about as a result of thoughtful planning and execution, not mere random acts. We stood our ground that day, for at least one class period. And the next time, we had a plan!

What’s the best part of your job?
Walking in the front door of the state’s Capitol every morning and recognizing all the possibilities… .

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Find your passion. Trust your instincts. Opportunity typically only knocks once so be prepared.

What is the one place that you most want to go to when you come back to campus?
Bell tower!

Anthony Rendon

SPEAKER ANTHONY RENDON

Ph.D. ’00 (Political Science)

Rendon on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
Completing the oral defense of my dissertation. After years of thought and work, it was a huge burden off my shoulders!

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Chris Laursen and Shaun Bowler – both introduced me to new forms of philosophy, art and theory that broadened my intellectual horizons.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
When I put together two different ideas for two different papers into a single document – it turned out to be my dissertation!

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?

Study what you’re passionate about, not what will earn the biggest salary. Even a political theorist like me managed to make it!

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
I never miss a chance to visit the Barn. Brings back memories of the food, drink, music and great conversation.

Marc Steinorth

ASSEMBLYMAN MARC STEINORTH

40th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
’92 (Political Science)

Steinorth on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
Professor Loveridge’s California Politics class, where we learned about the California state budget. It was when I realized the challenges of balancing accountability to the taxpayers and providing the services required by government.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Professors Shaun Bowler and Ron Loveridge made the biggest impression on me because both of their classes encouraged critical thinking and healthy debate.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
There was a time during my junior year that I realized I wanted to start my own business and be my own boss.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
I learned that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in public service and listening to the unique needs of individuals is the best way to truly represent the needs of your constituency.

What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of serving in the State Assembly are the opportunities I have to meet people and hear how my office was able to help them.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
Take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Do something that matters.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
I would like the opportunity to share my experiences with students and encourage them to do big things.

Jose Medina

ASSEMBLYMAN JOSE MEDINA

61ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
’74 (Latin American Studies), M.A. ’84 (History)

Medina on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
I have fond memories of time spent in the classroom with great, caring, challenging and stimulating professors.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
It’s hard to pick one professor, but Professor Carlos Cortés made history come alive. He connected with his students and made learning exciting.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
During my education classes I took for my teaching credential, I realized I could be a teacher that would have an impact on students.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
At UC Riverside, I learned we can make a change. The educational foundation you receive as a college student helps you to be a strong leader.

What’s the best part of your job?
As an assemblymember, I continue my passion for education, which I devoted my career to. I’m also able to impact state public policy.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?
I encourage UCR students to become involved outside of the classroom and in the community. Volunteer in a political campaign and gain experience.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
I like to visit the bookstore and view the new books being offered for history classes on campus.

Eduardo Garcia

ASSEMBLYMAN EDUARDO GARCIA

56th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
’03 (Political Science)

Garcia on his Time at UCR

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCR?
Receiving my first “A” in my college career — which was certainly not the last.

Which professor made the deepest impression on you?
Native American studies professor Robert Perez. His knowledge and understanding of the California history of native cultures never ceased to amaze me. Professor Perez was the first person to talk to me about tribal sovereignity and the unique structure in which tribal nations exist. On a more personal level, he was able to educate me about native cultures from both the Coachella Valley, the region where my parents lived.

Describe an “aha” moment that you had during your time at UCR.
In 2001-2002 I had the opportunity to attend the Tomás Rivera Chicano Youth Conference. At that conference, late Rep. Marco Firebaugh was the keynote speaker. He promoted student engagement and the importance of being involved in the Chicano youth programs on campus and civil engagement in general. That day, Rep. Firebaugh spoke about the importance of education for all and talked about the specific needs and issues facing undocumented students — issues that are still relevant today.

What did you learn at UCR that you apply to public service?
Some of the most important things I learned at UCR were collaboration, honing in on my analytical skills, navigating situations that forced me out of my comfort zone, and maintaining a positive outlook on life.

What’s the best part of your job?
People and interacting with my constituents. I am in a position to really make a positive impact on the people that I represent. I also find it rewarding to be able to work alongside my fellow legislators to continue to move the state forward in a variety of different sectors.

What advice would you give current UCR students or young graduates?

I would stress that work experience and internships are key. They provide individuals with real world knowledge of the profession in which they choose. One-the-job training teaches us not to be afraid to fail.

What is the one thing that you most want to do when you come back to campus?
I take great pride in being an UCR alumnus. When on campus I make it a point to visit Estella Acuña, director of Chicano Student Programs. I want to be a role model for students who wish to serve their community with the intention of giving back.