The Astin Scholars Program supports the work of a select group of students who will conduct research on civic engagement for an entire academic year.

Over the course of a full academic year, students integrate experience gained from an internship at a community organization with academic requirements, under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Each scholar will produce a comprehensive research thesis.

The program is named for visionary UCLA higher education scholars Helen (“Lena”) and Alexander (“Sandy”) Astin to honor their nationally recognized body of research in the area of civic engagement.

Administered by the UCLA Center for Community Learning with inaugural funding from the UCLA Foundation, the Astin Scholars Program celebrates the work of community-based undergraduate researchers committed to civic engagement.


The UCLA Center for Community Learning welcomes applications for the Astin Civic Engagement Fellows program. Students selected will intern with Big Citizen Hub throughout winter and spring quarters, and will enroll in a 4-unit upper division independent study course each quarter.

Students selected to be Astin Fellows will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Fellowship “TEAM LEADER” Duties

  • Lead and learn from a dynamic team of middle or high school students through 7 months of service
  • Develop curriculum and workshops for youth
  • Learn the latest in youth development practices
  • Become an integral part of a young person’s life

Eligibility Requirements

  • Have sophomore, junior, or senior standing.
  • Open to all majors
  • Have at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Ability to enroll in the required course: Civic Engagement 195CE in winter and spring quarters
  • Ability to attend required professional development training (11/17, 12/1, and 12/8)
  • Ability to work with their teams 3 Saturdays a month from January to July

More About Big Citizen HUB

The mission of Big Citizen HUB is to build a community of Big Citizens, expanding the social capital of youth through curiosity, gratitude, team, and adventure.

Big Citizen HUB is a little league for civic action; a space for young people to transform into Big Citizens and practice changing the world with peers in their middle school and high school groups. Youth will increase their civic knowledge, personal agency and understanding of the city around them.

How to Apply

All interested students should complete the online application before the deadline: October 19, 2018. 


Helen (Lena) AstinThe Center for Community Learning joins the greater UCLA and higher education communities in honoring the life Helen S. (Lena) Astin. Lena was a pioneer in the research of student experiences while in college, specifically on issues related to women, equity, spirituality, and civic engagement. She was a prolific writer, having authored 14 books among her vast accomplishments in a career that spanned over 50 years. But to the students who have been chosen as Astin Civic Engagement Scholars over the last 7 years, Lena personified what an educator should be: someone who deeply cared about students. Her insight, encouragement, and warmth were tremendously meaningful for these young scholars learning how to incorporate their passions into rigorous inquiry. And the feeling was mutual — Lena always had a big smile on her face while listening to the students talk about their research. All of us who knew and worked with Lena have been honored by her company. She will be so greatly missed. Our thoughts go out to Sandy, their children, and their grandchildren.

To learn more about Lena’s life and career, and to share your own memories of her, please visit the Higher Education Research Institute’s Tribute  to Lena.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in Lena’s memory be made to UCLA’s Astin Civic Engagement Scholars Program .


Dear Colleagues:

As you know, civic engagement is one of UCLA’s high priorities. So I am pleased to announce an innovative new program that provides scholarships for undergraduate students who participate in civic engagement research with a community partner and a faculty mentor.

With funding from the UCLA Foundation, we have created a Civic Engagement Scholars Program, which builds on UCLA’s success in providing an academic context to develop students’ passions, interest in public service and leadership skills. The program will be administered by the UCLA Center for Community Learning and is named for emeriti faculty Helen S. and Alexander W. Astin. The Astins are visionary scholars with deep UCLA roots and are widely recognized for their seminal research on how civic engagement experiences enhance undergraduate education.

Please inform students about this scholarship opportunity.


Gene D. Block


Students who will have upper division standing in 2017-18 are eligible to apply to the Astin Civic Engagement Research Scholars Program. Scholars selected to the program will participate in an internship with a community partner organization and enroll in a 4-unit academic course during both fall and winter quarters, and will then enroll in a 4-unit independent research course with their faculty mentor during spring of their senior year. Students may be asked to enroll in a course in Summer Session C in 2017, so please indicate your availability to do so on your application. (Fees for this Summer Session course would be covered by the Astin Scholars program.)

Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25.


  1. Download the application form , and complete the Word document. The completed application will include an essay that asks the following:
    • As the Executive Director of a poverty relief organization in Los Angeles, you have been given unlimited funds to address poverty in your community. Please describe how you would lead your organization in taking on the issue of poverty from a systemic perspective Please submit your answer in no more than 500 words.
  2. Email the completed form to Dr. Doug Barrera . Dr. Barrera is happy to meet with any prospective applicants to discuss their research ideas.
2017-18 SCHOLARS
Bryan Dean
Major: Political Science Minor: Public Policy
Project: The Charity of Political Empowerment: Rethinking Nonprofit Organizational Structure
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Samantha Feldman
Major: Psychology (Minor: Civic Engagement)
Project: Psychological Impacts of MEND's Diabetes Health Education Program
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Cinthia Padilla
Major: Political Science
Project: A Study of Empowerment: The Effects of ESL Beyond Language Acquisition
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Noah Shepardson-Brewster
Major: Philosophy
Project: Poverty Attitudes within a Poverty Relief Organization
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Tehya Baxter 
Major: World Arts & Cultures
Project: Effectiveness of dance movement to further the verbal development of English Language Learners
Faculty Sponsor: Barbara Drucker (School of the Arts & Architecture)
Community Partner: UCLA Community School
Gabrielle Bonder
Major: World Arts & Cultures
Project: Tolerance learning outcome from the MOT (what is MOT?)
Faculty Sponsor: Anne Gilliland (GSEIS)
Community Partner: Museum of Tolerance
Audrey Mei Yi Brown
Major: Geography (Minor: Literature and the Environment)
Project: Rewriting Food Justice Narratives: An Oral History Project
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Alexis Bruun
Major: World Arts & Cultures
Project: Benefits of arts programs with homeless adults
Faculty Sponsor: David Delgado Shorter (World Arts & Cultures)
Community Partner: Lamp Art Project
Christopher Butler
Major: History 
Project: To discover what motivates college students to volunteer their time to tutor and mentor incarcerated youth as well as what meaning they make of the experience
Faculty Sponsor: Mary Corey (History)
Cynthia Carvajal
Major: Political Science
Project: To explore the connection between the personal and political identity of undocumented students and their motivations to attend institutions of higher education
Faculty Sponsor: Robert Chao Romero (Chicana/o Studies)
Li-Tsung (Alyssa) Chen
Major: Political Science
Project: Comparison of self-help legal programs
Faculty Sponsor: Susanne Lohmann (Department of Political Science)
Community Partner: Inglewood Self Help Legal Access Center
Dana Christensen
Major: Anthropology 
Project: "I liked it!" A Culturally Relevant Curriculum
Community Partner: Read to a Child
Howard Chung 
Major: Study of Religion
Project: Analyzing ex-offenders' self-reported experiences of transitioning from prison to community life while participating in a faith-based offender rehabilitation program and receiving faith-based mentoring support
Faculty Sponsor: Robert Chao Romero (Chicano/a Studies & Asian American Studies)
Community Partner: Prison Fellowship
Cailin Crockett
Major: Pre-Political Science
Project: Outcomes of programs at shelters and transitional living centers
Faculty Sponsor: Patricia Gandara (Department of Education)
Community Partner: Working Wardrobes for a New Start
Sasha Davila
Major: Art History
Project: To understand the relationship between community cultural development and muralism in Los Angeles
Faculty Sponsor: Judith Baca (Chicana/o Studies)
Bryan Dean
Major: Political Science Minor: Public Policy
Project: The Charity of Political Empowerment: Rethinking Nonprofit Organizational Structure
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Samantha Feldman
Major: Psychology (Minor: Civic Engagement)
Project: Psychological Impacts of MEND's Diabetes Health Education Program
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Jesse Flores
Major: Geography
Project: Community Building with Care Farming at Wooden High School
Community Partner: Kindred Spirits Care Farm
Carissa Garcia
Major: World Arts & Culture
Project: To discover the ways an art-based, sex education effects dropout rates for high school students
Faculty Sponsor: David Gere (World Arts & Culture)
Andrea Avila Gordillo
Major: Latin American Studies 
Project: Researching the experiences of domestic workers in work centers, and exploring efforts to organize themselves to have their voices heard in service provision
Faculty Sponsor: Leisy Abrego (Chicano Studies Department)
Community Partner: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Haley Hood
Major: Anthropology (Minor: Education Studies)
Project: Creative Writing Community: Impacts of Creative Writing on Elementary School Students' Attitudes towards Literacy 
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Tyrone Howard (GSEIS)
Community Partner: Nora Sterry Elementary School 
Demi Kim
Major: Psychology
Project: Labor Relations in Koreatown, Los Angeles: Narratives of Latino workers
Community Partner: Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA)
Radha Kumar
Major: Sociology
Project: Music and Self Esteem: Examining changes in students' self-esteem after participating in a guitar workshop
Faculty Sponsor: Jeffrey Prager (Sociology)
Community Partner: Create Now
Colleen Ma
Major: Geography/Environmental Studies
Project: To uncover the reasons behind the successes and failures of a community organizing group in Los Angeles by understanding the community responses to an affordable housing campaign
Faculty Sponsor: Michael Lens (Urban Planning)
Teresa Melendrez
Major: Women's Studies
Project: Effectiveness of sex education programs in high schools
Faculty Sponsor: Grace Hong (Department of Asian American Studies)
Community Partner: The Venice Family Clinic
Deborah Membreno
Major: International Development Studies
Project: Examining the Development of College Aspirations Among Underrepresented Students in an Educational Outreach Program
Faculty Sponsor: Leisy Abrego (Chicana/o Studies) 
Kimberly Mendoza
Major: International Development Studies
Project: Examination of the health needs of day laborers
Faculty Sponsor: Abel Valenzuela (Department of Chicana/o Studies)
Community Partner: Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA)
Andrea Murray
Major: English 
Project: Analyzing the Connection between Changes in Public Policy and the Effect on Nonprofit Organizational Strategy
Faculty Sponsor: Tony Tolbert (Law) 
Alma Nunez
Major: Sociology
Project: To explore the different methods and activities used to engage high school students in math education
Faculty Sponsor: Megan Franke (Education)
Lidia Orozco
Major: Spanish Community & Culture
Project: Cultivating Critical Consciousness in Urban Youth through Narrative Photography
Community Partner: Compton YouthBuild
Jocelyn Pacheco 
Major: Sociology
Project: Impact of mediation on middle school students
Faculty Sponsor: Wellford Wilms (Department of Education)
Community Partner: Mark Twain Middle School
Cinthia Padilla
Major: Political Science
Project: A Study of Empowerment: The Effects of ESL Beyond Language Acquisition
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Melissa Pampanin 
Major: Sociology
Project: Assessing the connection between participation in transition programs for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and the advancement of educational aspirations
Faculty Sponsor: Kathy O'Byrne (Center for Community Learning)
Community Partner: Pathway at UCLA Extension
Sandra Parra
Major: Dance
Project: The Latina-Ship: Exploring the Dance between Identity and Hip-Hop
Community Partner: Godinez Fundamental High School
Danielle Perez
Major: English
Project: Volunteer-Based Differentiation Techniques to Address Variant Student Needs
Community Partner: 826LA in Mar Vista
Linh Pham
Major: Psychobiology
Project: Exploring the Use of Bilingual Pedagogy in Preschool Classrooms
Faculty Sponsor: Alma Cortez (Psychology)
Tuanh Phan
Major: Psychobiology
Project: To explore the extent that teacher attitudes and preschooler participation in growing fruits and vegetables influence student intake of fruits and vegetables
Faculty Sponsor: Elisheva Gross (Psychology)
Tifanni Prater
Major: Political Science
Project: The Lost Ones: A Case Study of Continuation High Schools in Los Angeles 
Community Partner: United American Indian Involvement (UAII) and Central High School
Edgar Romo 
Major: Sociology
Project: Evaluation of conflict resolution program for high school students
Faculty Sponsor: Val Rust (Department of Education)
Community Partner: Hamilton High School
Elena Salazar
Major: World Arts & Cultures
Project: Feasability of municipal ID program in Los Angeles
Faculty Sponsor: Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda (Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies)
Community Partner: Alliance for Immigrant Rights
Judith Saunders
Major: Anthropology
Project: Grow Together: A food desert intervention program that gives families access to fruits and vegetables
Community Partner: Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) 
Noah Shepardson-Brewster
Major: Philosophy
Project: Poverty Attitudes within a Poverty Relief Organization
Community Partner: Meet Each Need With Dignity (MEND)
Juan Torres
Major: History 
Project: Building immigrant power through organized labor
Community Partner: The Immigrant Organizing Project with the American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Freddy Yusuf
Major: Psychobiology
Project: Benefits of Tai-Chi programs for older adults
Faculty Sponsor: Sarosh Motivala (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science)
Community Partner: Culver City Senior Center

For information and questions about the Astin Civic Engagement Scholars Program, or to apply to the program, students should contact:

Doug Barrera
UCLA Center for Community Learning
A265 Murphy Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1571
phone: (310) 825-7867
fax: (310) 206-2175