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Experiences

Former UCLA students who have worked in the community through the CBL Program share their experiences.

"Wonderful time mentoring kids and helping them with their homework"-J.K.

Dana

Dana, happened upon CBL by chance, but pursued an opportunity to work for the program because of prior interest in community work. Dana transferred to UCLA as a junior and began working for CBL her first year, and shares that: “As an African American woman, I wanted to connect with the Los Angeles community as well as with black youth.”

She grew up in Walnut, and had not experienced many of the challenges facing the youth she encountered in her work. Initially, Dana was concerned the youth in the TeenWorks program at Imperial Courts and the Nickerson Gardens housing projects would not identify or connect with her. She was also concerned that this barrier may interfere with her ability to effectively serve these youth. However, she soon found that she was able to work through this barrier, and the experience of working through a challenge influenced the way in which she viewed other perceived “barriers” in her personal and professional life.

Working for CBL in the housing projects of Los Angeles presented another, more personal challenge for Dana. Her family was deeply concerned for her safety, which led to conversations amongst family members about poverty, violence, hunger, and responsibility to the community. After graduation, Dana began working for CBL as a full-time employee. She sees working at CBL as more than just a job. “It has grounded me personally. Professionally I’ve learned the culture of housing projects, implemented projects, and worked with others for the collective good. I feel the skills I’ve gained working with youth and adults are transferable to whatever I decide to do. CBL is a great opportunity for students to learn about surrounding communities, glimpse someone else’s life, and strive to do something about poverty.”

Sandra

Sandra, also a former UCLA student employee and current full-time CBL employee, majored in Sociology and minored in Social Welfare and Public Policy. While a student employee, Sandra worked as a case manager in South LA. According to Sandra, “CBL provided me with a field perspective that many of my fellow students were lacking, and it provided me with a real world experience to relate to my academic work. After working here, I know I want to continue on this path, but I need to further my education.”

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