Benefits to Being an Involved UCLA Parent
Fred Case and Arthur Nordon are former undergraduate parents and Parents’ Council Emeriti. Read their analysis of how being involved has created a positive impact not only on their student’s college experience but their own parent experience as well. If you are looking to get involved, consider APPLYING to the 2015-2016 Parents’ Council!
Benefits to Being an Involved UCLA Parent: Two Fathers Make the Case
When students enter college, most parents end their involvement in the PTA or booster clubs. Most parents begin supporting their students in other ways: sending care packages, reminders or encouraging text messages or attending Parents’ Weekend. Parents try to navigate the line of over involvement and little to no involvement in their student’s college years. There are a number of UCLA parents who have found the appropriate balance for their families by becoming a member of the Parents’ Council. Bruinlink asked two fathers to share how their involvement as Parents’ Council members has enriched their experiences as a Bruin family.
A Little Bit About Us …
Art Nordon: In 1979, both my wife and I graduated from UCLA. We still look back at the four years we spent there as some of the best years of our lives. We have remained proud Bruins throughout the years, often reminiscing about our college experiences. The education we received at UCLA laid the groundwork for the lives we have today. Unfortunately, our direct involvement with the university was limited in the years following our graduation. This all changed in the fall of 2010, when our son started his freshman year at UCLA.
How I Got Involved …
FC: College is different than serving in your student’s kindergarten classroom. Historically, it’s where the “cord” gets cut, the fledgling learns to fly and their independence is tested. Parents are out of the loop. Students are supposed to be on their own.
However, I discovered this isn’t always the case when I discovered UCLA’s Parents’ Council during Cassidy’s New Student Orientation session. It didn’t take me long to realize that the Parents’ Council could be the key to a stronger college experience for my daughter. Not a hovering, helicopter thing but a real contribution that respected the increasing maturity and responsibilities she had and provided a useful resource to her. I was right. My involvement in the Parents’ Council has benefited her in many ways.
AN: Since our son was very young, UCLA was the only college he wanted to attend. We were not only proud of the fact that he wanted to be a Bruin but also very proud of the hard work he put into achieving his goal. At that point, my wife and I decided that we would explore the opportunities to become more involved with the school. We had received e-mails about becoming part of the Parents’ Council and thought it would be a good place to start.
My Bruin is…
FC: First, [Cassidy] is aware of my interest in the success of her school experience and my commitment of time and money to UCLA. This makes her feel valued by me. It shows her that her college education is important to both of us.
She feels that she has a connection through me to a deeper part of the university, like a “friend on the inside.” During Move-In Weekend, she had a new acquaintance in a neighboring room who was missing the ladder to the top bunk. [Cassidy] asked me what to do. Nearby, I saw a member of the Parent & Family Programs office whom I knew from the Parents’ Council, and she immediately contacted the right person to install a ladder.
AN: Our son is currently in his junior year and could not be happier about his decision to attend UCLA. He has embraced the school academically as well as socially. He enjoys the classes he is taking and is stimulated by what he has learned. He has also made friendships that he feels will continue to endure long after he graduates. For all of this, we are very proud of him. We are also equally proud of his recent decision to become a student member of the Chancellor’s Society, an organization that commits its financial support to the university. In our opinion, it is the individuals who have given their time and financial support that make it possible for the next generation to attend UCLA. It is our hope that our son will continue in this spirit of giving and ensure that UCLA remains one of the best universities in the world.
The Benefits to Volunteering My Time Are …
FC: Cassidy has learned of a number of socially progressive aspects of UCLA through me, such as the Bruin Guardian Scholars, the Food Closet, the Academic Advancement Program (AAP) and the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), all of which she has enthusiastically advocated for among her friends. From this experience we both recognize that as difficult as it is to be accepted into UCLA, it is easier to remain and succeed because of all the dedicated support offices and people.
From me she learned the truth of the shameful defunding of public education by the state and the cost-effective efforts UCLA is making to be the most efficient provider of world-class education that it could. These are facts I learned from Parents’ Council briefings as well as the “Day in the District” political advocacy visits and the Chancellor’s Associates finance seminar, I was invited to both events through my Parents’ Council involvement.
AN: One of the groups the Parents’ Council supports is the Bruin Guardian Scholars Program. The Guardian Scholars are UCLA students who have grown up in the foster system. For the past two years, my wife and I have attended their Thanksgiving Dinner and their year-end award ceremony. The students we have met during these events are not only amazing but inspirational as well. We are not only proud to see what these students have achieved but also proud of the school that makes such a program possible.
As part of the Parents’ Council, we have also become involved in orientation events for new students as well as outreach to parents of incoming freshmen. While most of the parents we speak with have experiences that are overwhelmingly positive, we have also spoken to parents who have encountered problems they are not sure how to solve. The resource that has over and over again proved invaluable to these parents and students has been the UCLA Parent and Family Programs. During our two years on Parents’ Council, we spoke to many parents and students who just needed a bit of a helping hand in adapting to the college experience. We have talked to parents where their freshman is the first child in their family to attend college. They very much want to know what it is like for their freshman student but also do not want it to seem like they are hovering over them. We have talked to other parents with a freshman who is actually experiencing a problem, but the parents are not sure how to help. We have also spoken directly with new students who have come from small high schools and are experiencing difficulty navigating in a school the size of UCLA. After trying to provide these parents and students with our insights, we always refer them to Parent and Family Programs. When following up with the parents, we’ve found that they referred they have always had a positive experience with the staff.
I am glad I Joined Parents’ Council because …
Fred Case: Cassidy has been able to attend Parents’ Council events with me, having the opportunity to make connections both academically and socially. For instance she has met a fellow Council parent whose student was a recent graduate in the same academic field, realized that some of her friend’s parents are also a part of Parents’ Council, and connected with a Parents’ Council member who is a professor in her chosen field. She has also been able to expand her sense of community by attending numerous Parents’ Council events with me. At several Family Orientation lunches, she soothed nervous parents with calming advice. At the LGBT campus office reception, she made a broad spectrum of new friends. At Parents’ Weekend, she tagged along with me as we mingled easily with all sorts of families and students. She shared stories about what made UCLA special for her. Through the Parents’ Council, both my daughter and I have come to view UCLA as a cluster of small communities, not a big, intimidating institution. In short, my involvement in the Parents’ Council has given my daughter and me a new common language and experience that has deepened our relationship and solidified her success at UCLA.
Art Nordon: One of the most positive aspects of our involvement in the Parents’ Council has been the friendships we have made over the past two years. From the first meeting we attended, we had other Council members act as mentors to us, making sure our integration into the Council was as seamless as possible. We were also impressed by was that exactly how much we wanted to be involved was always up to us. We never felt pressured to join committees or lend our financial support. We were always made to feel that any level of involvement was greatly appreciated. If I could make any recommendations to a new UCLA parent, it would be to join the Parents’ Council or begin by just volunteering for a few events without the commitment of being on Parents’ Council. It has been very gratifying to us to reconnect with UCLA as volunteers, giving back to a school that has given so much to us.