Ucla Parents’ Council member and mother of two Bruins, Barbara Donahue, shares why she continues to stay involved at UCLA and how it can positively impact your student.

By: Barbara Donahue
Parent ’10 & ’14

As an inaugural member of the UCLA Parents’ Council, I wasn’t 100% certain what I was signing up to do, but I thought my (eldest) son is here –who graduated in ’10– and if by volunteering I can in some way say “thank you” to UCLA, I’m in!  I remember vividly the ceremony for senior parents in 2010 and what I thought would be my last Parents’ Council meeting.  There were hugs and tears and joy at our young adults’ successes, but sadness in the thought that we would be leaving our UCLA “family” of awesome volunteers.

To my profound joy, my youngest was also accepted to UCLA, giving me another opportunity to serve…an opportunity I embraced!  One of our past co-chairs , used to say, “I found my people,” well the UCLA Parents’ Council is definitely a group of “my” people.  They are the hardest working, most caring and completely inclusive volunteer group I have ever worked with and believe me, I have been volunteering in various organizations for my entire life. Every parent feels tremendous gratitude for the fact that their son or daughter was accepted at this remarkable university, and every parent just wants to give back.

Both of my sons were and are hugely involved in activities at UCLA, from their Political Science Department, to ROTC, to fraternities, to working at Ronald Reagan in an Emergency Medical Research Associates’ position, to being a full-time member of the elite UCLA EMS squad, (although I must admit, on one of my many trips through Westwood when I saw my youngest driving the UCLA ambulance, I did consider, at least momentarily, getting off the road!).

And that really is a key to your students’ success.  Encourage them to get involved.  Because of UCLA’s size, there is virtually no organization, interest or predilection, that is not represented.  There are numerous opportunities to volunteer, numerous clubs to join, and even more activities in which to participate.  In other words, there truly is something for everyone.

Come to campus, if you can, and if your student will allow, for coffee, a basketball game or to volunteer.  In the past year, I have brought lunches to the ROTC lounge, donated to the Food Closet, dropped off hundreds of videos to the Department of Theater and Film, and UCLA’s Tiverton House, etc., and of course, had many cups of coffee with my son. It doesn’t even begin to compare, however, with what UCLA has done for my sons.

My youngest will graduate this year, and like his brother, with UCLA at the top of their list of credentials will, I’m sure, go on to great success.  My oldest, a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, 82nd Airborne Division, is nearing his Captain-promotable status, (18 months early). He delights in his UCLA desk penholder, wearing his UCLA gear in North Carolina and attending Army meetings with his UCLA Nalgene and coffee mug, (he says the West Point “guys” are extremely jealous).  My youngest has the world at his fingertips, thanks to UCLA, and many important decisions to make in the next year, MBA, medical school, etc., and the two of them together, have started their own company, with the guidance and support of their UCLA professors.

So, as I sit here, I will try very hard not to think about what will truly be my last UCLA Parents’ Council meeting with my dear friends.  Instead, I will concentrate on what I can do for UCLA in this next year.

Ah yes and that sound you hear in the background…that’s the 8 clap… U…C…L…A….UCLA, fight, fight, fight.  Go Bruins!


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