Assemblymember Tom Lackey took a moment to enjoy the Special Olympics during a campus visit in 2015.
“I’m probably the most plain guy you could ever imagine — coming from a small mining town of 3,000,” said 36th District Assemblymember Tom Lackey, reflecting on his own biography that has been anything but.
Growing up in Boron, CA, he was known around town as “Little Tommy Lackey”. His father was a dentist. It was a positive environment for a child, Lackey said, and he was the beneficiary of good influences, something he thinks might be missing in America these days.
Senator Ben Allen shows off a piece of his UCLA memorabilia at his district office. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)
For having never actually attended UCLA, California District 26 Senator Ben Allen sure has a lot of deep ties to the institution — something that goes a long way to explaining his desire to be a champion of the campus and higher education as a whole.
“The reason I am a Californian is UCLA,” he said with a chuckle.
His father accepted a job at UCLA sight unseen. He had met Allen’s mother during graduate school at the University of Michigan. Neither had ever been west of the Mississippi River, and they decided it was time for an adventure. A couple years later, the two were married and settled down in Santa Monica. Allen’s birth followed shortly thereafter.
Just outside of the 8th Council District office, 2015 UCLA alumnus Breana Weaver poses with two historical downtown lanterns, installed under the leadership of Mayor Meredith Snyder on Jan. 17, 1920.
Seven months into her professional career as a field deputy for 8th District Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Breana Weaver couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as she, colleagues and the councilman strapped on gloves and passed out full Thanksgiving turkeys to 1,000 families in need.
The day was a culmination of hard work, and in the weeks before, Weaver had helped to identify those families through school districts, churches and nonprofit organizations.
“We wanted to purposely make sure they were families in need,” she said. “The logistics it takes to execute that — it was a lot of work and stress going into it. But once we got to the day, we had the council member and we were out there with gloves on, giving out the turkeys. Just the gratification you get when you know someone is genuinely appreciative of what you are doing, something as simple as a turkey goes a long way.”
LA Trade Tech President Larry Frank speaks during the MOU signing for the SLATE-Z Promise Zone. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)
There will be a little bit of serendipity when Los Angeles Trade Tech President Larry Frank accepts the UCLA Tom Bradley Local Leader of the Year award.
Frank himself admitted, “I always run a million miles away from awards.” But this one will have some personal meaning for him. The trailblazing mayor is actually partially responsible for Frank’s ties with UCLA.
“He wrote me a beautiful letter to get me into UCLA law school, so it is really profound to be receiving an award named after Tom Bradley and through UCLA,” he said.
UCLA advocate and alumnus Xiutleth Santibanez finds refuge in his favorite place on campus: the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)
Tucked deep within the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, Xiutleth Santibanez is home, wrapped in his UCLA oasis, a place that made him comfortable to reach achievements he dreamed about for years, and instill a confidence in life he wishes to pass forward to the next generation.
“It hasn’t changed,” he said as he walked the winding pathways within the garden. “You can still see all the etchings on the trees students made. If anything describes me, it’s the chaos of this garden, but with so much beauty. People will say, ‘There’s just leaves and dead trees.’ But those trees are dormant, and there is something alive here.”
Santibanez always wanted to go to this university. And since graduating from UCLA, he has become an active voice for the university and higher education, traveling as far as Washington D.C. to have his voice heard.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl has plenty of awards and memorabilia in her office, including a piece from UCLA. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)
When Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl left Hollywood behind and moved forward toward a new life of public service, she only had one institution in mind for a reboot: UCLA.
No matter what has happened in her life since being accepted to the university in the late 1950s, she has never strayed too far from connecting to the Bruins.
“I only wanted to go to UCLA,” she said. “When I was a child actor, nobody in my family had gone to college. I actually only applied to UCLA, I didn’t apply anywhere else. I was accepted with honors. And for $58 a semester, I got a full four-year, or actually as it turned out, five-year education.”