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Congratulations to the 2012-13 Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to the 2012-13 Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarship Recipients

The UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012-13 Alice Belkin Memorial Scholarship.

These scholarships are intended to reward outstanding minority UCLA graduate students in the field of International Relations who need financial assistance.




Irene Vega

IRENE VEGA, PhD Candidate, UCLA Department of Sociology

Irene I. Vega is a doctoral student in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests are in international migration, political sociology, and racial/ethnic boundaries. She is particularly interested in whether and how internal immigration politics impact the United States’ foreign policy toward immigrant-sending countries, especially Latin America. She recently completed a study of the ethnic boundary making strategies of politically conservative Latinos who organize against unauthorized immigration in Arizona and California. Her dissertation will build on this study by mapping the temporal and political indicators of Latinos’ immigration attitudes and documenting how they relate to immigrants with whom they share an ethnic background and racial categorization within the U.S. hierarchy, but not a national experience. Her research has implications for U.S. immigration policy because Latinos represent a formidable force in the American electorate, especially through a powerful ethnic advocacy machine. In the future, she aims to conduct comparative research on international migration and political sociology, especially in countries that do not have a long history of immigration. Upon completion of the Ph.D., Irene will pursue an academic job at a research university with a lively program on international relations, specifically as it relates to immigration and politics.


Kristen Kao

KRISTEN KAO, PhD Candidate, UCLA Department of Political Science

Kristen Kao is a PhD Candidate in the Political Science Department at UCLA. She first traveled to the Middle East on a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Egypt in 2006. Since then, she has spent a good portion of each year living in the region, culminating in the dissertation fieldwork she is currently conducting in Jordan and Kuwait. Her research seeks to understand the effects of different types of electoral institutions on voting behavior and democratic representation in ethnically divided societies. Specifically, she collects data on electoral outcomes and the formation of voting coalitions on the basis of tribal or religious affiliation to examine voting patterns throughout history. More broadly, she studies ethnic and religious politics, comparative electoral systems, collective action, democratic theory, and politics of the Middle East. She hopes to become a professor and teach at a four-year university.


Siyu Cai

SIYU CAI, PhD Candidate, UCLA Department of Geography

Siyu was born in China, and he grew up in the U.S.'s most diverse zip code—Seattle's 98118 postal code. This upbringing has led him to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Geography at UCLA. His research interest is geographical political economy with a regional focus on China. He has done research on China's regional development, household registration system, and internal migration. Upon graduation, Siyu plans to apply his research agenda, as well as his interest in teaching, in an academic institution. In addition to his passion for the social sciences, Siyu loves the game of basketball.


To learn more about the scholarship program click here.

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