UCLA International Institute, November 15, 2016 — On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, UCLA Europe hosted a special Global Forum Dinner with alumnus and Nobel laureate, Professor Randy Schekman (UCLA 1971) in Edinburgh, Scotland. Over twenty alumni, students and friends from the University of California (UC) attended the dinner, which served to kick-off UCLA’s International Education Week.
Currently a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Berkeley, Professor Schekman and fellow scholars James Rothman and Thomas C Südhof received the Nobel Prize in 2013 for their work on cell membrane vesicle trafficking. Schekman's ground-breaking work has created high demand for him to speak at engagements around the world. UCLA Europe was thus grateful that he agreed to speak at its Global Forum in Edinburgh.
Schekman opened his talk by reflecting on his earliest scholarly endeavors. He described how he acquired his first student professional microscope around the age of 13. This story, which is fully chronicled on the Nobel Prize website, illustrated that an achievement such as the Nobel Prize is the result of a lifelong passion and commitment to science. Schekman’s first microscope is now on display at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.
During the dinner, UCLA Europe staff congratulated Professor Schekman on the honorary degree he would be accepting from the University of Edinburgh the following day. Senior Director of Alumni Outreach and Development, Europe, Jodi L. Anderson (UCLA Ph.D. 2006), pointed out that Schekman was a former UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) participant who studied at the University of Edinburgh over 40 years ago, making it indeed apropos that his talk kicked off UCLA’s International Education Week (IEW).
IEW promotes student participation in study abroad programs and emphasizes the need to foster the development of global leaders. In Professor Schekman’s case, his time at the University of Edinburgh provided valuable research opportunities that helped further his academic career. Yet for future generations of Bruins, the number one obstacle to a study abroad experience is financial need. Anderson noted that UCLA Centennial Campaign efforts in Europe are placing special emphasis on supporting study abroad scholarships in order to enable all students, regardless of financial means, to participate.
To emphasize the impact of scholarships, current EAP student Deanna Woodman also spoke at the dinner. Woodman, one of five UCLA UK Study Abroad Scholarship recipients selected from a pool of over 100 applicants, spoke about her time at the University of Edinburgh, including her experience of interning for the UN on a project related to Syrian refugees. She said that her experience studying abroad was helping her become a more open and globally minded citizen.
My work with the UN, said Woodman, is also furthering my desire to do my part to make the world a better place. She expressed her sincere thanks to all those people who have supported the scholarships, noting that she would have been unable to participate in the EAP Edinburgh internship program without support.
In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the evening provided a valuable opportunity for UC alumni and friends to gather in the United Kingdom and celebrate the importance of international education and scientific exploration. As Professor Schekman found when looking through his microscope at a young age, this world is much bigger and incredibly more complex than we often realize. The evening with the Nobel laureate and UCLA alumnus reinforced attendees' conviction that the experience of studying abroad continues to serve a crucial role in higher education: helping us better understand the world around us and enhancing our ability to be agents of positive change.
For more information on supporting study abroad scholarships at UCLA and taking advantage of the current Centennial Scholarship Matching Challenge, please contact:
Karin Shaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the United States
Jodi Anderson (email@example.com) in Europe
Stephen Tan (firstname.lastname@example.org ) in Asia