Higher Education Festival 2021


The Futures of Higher Education Festival will take place from Monday, October 11 through Friday, October 15, 2021.

This week-long festival celebrates UCI’s return to campus, invites us to reflect on what we’ve learned about higher education during the pandemic, and encourages us to discuss the lessons we will take into the post-pandemic future. Centering on the voices of students, the festival will host a week-long series of panels, roundtables, workshops, and other events that showcase the major innovations and conversations emerging in the higher education space. Festival events will be hosted by UCI students, staff, faculty, and community partners and will cover an array of topics, including: experiments in delivering course content, creating different forms of community at a distance, restructuring learning environments, fostering connection and relationship-building, enlivening learning opportunities, and much more.

Check out the full schedule of events below.

MONDAY 10/11

"Artistic Academic Integrity”: To be witty is to maintain integrity!

  • Person(s): Monjima Ghosh, Serenity Taylor, Brina White, Shreshta Kumar, Jazmin Romero, Nina Nguyen, Jessica Liu, Rosabel Kamali 
  • Description: The aim of this workshop is to promote the importance of academic integrity and demonstrate how it can have an effect on future success. This theme will be expressed through the beauty of words and pictures. The workshop will also feature engaging activities for attendees to participate in.
  • Time/Location : Monday, October 11, 2021 from 7:00- 9:00pm / Zoom link HERE
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


Peter Pop-Ups: Walk and Talk: Female Athletes

  • Person(s): Joshua Thomas Ma
  • Description: In collaboration with Paula Smith, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, this event will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX coming up June 23, 2022. The event will feature female UCI athletes from past and present as guest speakers to create a space and time where students can learn about Title IX and its impact on the female sports program at UCI. Event attendees who complete a 10-question survey will receive a free-tshirt voucher.
  • Time/Location:Tuesday, October 12, 2021 from 11:30-1:30pm / STUDENT TERRACE of the STUDENT CENTER
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 

A Scholarship Odyssey

  • Person(s): Aline Pham, Isha Sharma Yousif Alshalah, Jolin Huang, Jun Huang
  • Description: Hey Anteaters! We, the student staff at the Scholarship Opportunities Program, hope that you are enjoying a smooth transition back to campus. If you’re in search of scholarships then you've found the perfect opportunity! As part of the Futures of Higher Education Festival, SOP presents to you… A Scholarship Odyssey! Explore the 21 prestigious scholarships our office supports for undergraduate and graduate awards and enjoy some snacks too! Come familiarize yourself with our programs and staff in a casual setting. There may be prizes at the finish line, so don’t miss out!We hope to get to know our students better to demystify the daunting scholarship process. SOP’s commitment to diversity reflects our vision for higher education: students from all walks of life coming together to advance knowledge and improve community.
  • Time/Location: Tuesday, October 12, 2021 from 1:00- 3:00pm / SOP Office on the 5th floor of the Science Library
  •  Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


Navigating the “New World” as a First-Generation Student

  • Person(s): Kevin Si, Jenny Sierra, Josue Ruedas, Kiarah Hernandez
  • Description: As the first in your family to go to college, stepping onto a college campus may seem like entering a new country. Join our First-Generation First Quarter Challenge (FGFQ) mentors to discuss the impact of being a “first-generation college student” in the 21st century as we navigate the “New (post-pandemic) World” this academic year. After we reflect on the challenges students faced this past year, we will conclude with a group discussion with our FGFQ mentors to share academic and personal experiences during the pandemic, considerations for the future of higher education, and ways to support you as a first-generation student.
  • Time/Location: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 from 2:00-2:50pm / Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Room 1321
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


Changing the Frame of Higher Education: Examples in Music

  • Person(s): Matthew Nelson
  • Description: The framework through which higher education is taught often prevents students from being able to learn and grow without having to assimilate to a prescribed university culture. In this event, Nelson will explain how the parameters used to judge an object’s or subject’s value in a university setting are often too rigid to allow for differences to be celebrated. Using examples in music, Nelson will show how a shift in frame, or perspective, can allow for students with unique backgrounds to be welcomed and included into academia without feeling like they have to lose a part of themselves in the process.
  • Time/Location: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 3:30pm / Motion Capture Studio- Music & Media Building, Room 218
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


Fighting the Facts: Misinformation In the Public Arena

  • Person(s): Dylan Greco, Vatsal Ananthula, Gregory Saldanha
  • Description: Universities are institutions of knowledge that hold substantial credibility within the academic sphere; however, this credibility does not always extend to the public sphere. Academia’s mission to help the public through empirically sourced data is at odds with the threat of widespread misinformation. How does breakthrough research (eg. climate change and vaccines) become mainstream knowledge? How do we protect these ideas as they flow through the public sphere? We propose an on-the-ground, interpersonal approach to combating misinformation where students will be equipped with the insights and tools they need to deal with misinformation and communicate their ideas effectively to others. In the first half of the event, we will be giving three interactive presentations on contemporary misinformation, cognitive biases, and effective science communication. In the second half of the event, we will be hosting a panel of experts to discuss their experiences and knowledge from their fields in dealing with these difficult subjects. 
  • Time/Location: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 from 4:30-6:30pm / ALP 2600
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 

Pursuing Equity in Healthcare

  • Person(s): Veena Naveen, Lailie Kahsai, Amina Syed, Mehr Bawa, Jocelyn Sagahon.
  • Description:The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified many issues relating to healthcare disparity. We believe that these issues will influence our approach to healthcare and medical education in the future, and we would like to bring this discussion to the UCI community. We represent Friends of MSF, the student support network of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organization that works to remove disparities in access to healthcare. This event is a panel discussion on the intersection of educational inequity and disparities in healthcare. This was organized in collaboration with Teach for America (TFA), a national non-governmental organization aimed at strengthening educational equity. The panel will consist of a surgical oncologist, a medical student, and an occupational therapist, all of whom have previously worked with TFA. We will discuss how medicine, medical education, and higher education in general will be reformed as a result of lessons learned during the pandemic. The panelists will speak about their own experiences with medical and educational disparities, and how these disparities can be addressed as we move into a post-pandemic world.
  • Time/Location:Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 6:00 pm/ Zoom
  • Registration: Zoom registration HERE


Mental Health in Entrepreneurship Panel 

  • Person(s): Julieta Alvarado, Caitlyn Yang, Daniel Vega, Austin Ocampo (Next Generation of Ingenuity @ UCI)
  • Description: Pursuing your passion is never easy. Hear from a diverse set of UCI Student Innovators & Entrepreneurs for the first time on how they deal with the reality of stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and failures in the world of Entrepreneurship. Our panel is moderated by Kalley Hartman from the Acacia Wellness Center and consists of innovative student founders Julieta Alvarado and Daniel Vega, featuring other on-campus Mental Health professionals. Our panel approaches one of the most difficult & taboo topics through sharing personal stories, discussing strategies, and identifying actionable steps towards bridging the gap between entrepreneurship and mental health awareness together. 
  • Time/Location: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 6:00pm / UCI ANTrepreneur Center, 233 Pereira Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


The Writing Festival: Writing Center Open House and Mini-Workshops

  • Person(s): Mary Nguyen, Jordyn O'Rourke, Ananya Devarajan
    • Description: Each workshop will last about 20-30 minutes (including time for questions); these are meant to be quick introductions to writing skills and concerns useful for university students, particularly 1st and 2nd year students. Between workshops, students are welcome to visit the Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication (Writing Center) to learn more about our services, meet some of our peer tutors and Writing Specialists, and get resources related to writing!
      • 10 am: How to Write Emails to Your Professors (and Other People, Too!)
        • Finding yourself unsure of how to write a quick and clear email to your professors? Not sure what you should say or how formal you should be? Join us at the Writing Center at 10 am on Thursday, October 14th for a brief introduction to writing appropriate and helpful emails to your professors and anyone else.
      • 12 pm: Developing Healthy College Writing Habits
        • We know that adjusting to college writing can be hard for a lot of students. That’s why this mini-workshop at 12 pm on Thursday, October 14th equips you with some basic habits to make you a more effective and efficient college writer. Everyone can benefit from this mini-workshop, but it will be especially useful to students new to academic writing at the university level.
      • 2 pm: Getting Started with Personal Statements/Statements of Purpose
        • Planning to apply for scholarships, professional school, and/or grad school? Not sure where to get started on your personal statements and statements of purpose? Drop by the Writing Center at 2 pm on Thursday, October 14th to get the basic tips you’ll need to start drafting your personal statement/statement of purpose and skip the anxiety that often accompanies beginning such documents. While everyone will benefit from this mini-workshop in some way, it is targeted toward students intending to apply for scholarships, fellowships, graduate school, or professional school during the 2021-22 academic year. 
      • 4 pm: HumCore Writing Club
        • Come join our Writing Specialist and HumCore Liaison, Dr. Jung-Hsien Lin, for a writing club to discuss and support the writing that you’re doing in your HumCore classes! The HumCore Writing Club provides a space for you to think about and discuss your questions and concerns related to HumCore essays and projects. Each week is also themed around targeting support for a particular learning objective and you’ll have the opportunity to meet and chat with peer tutors who have taken HumCore themselves! On October 14th, we’ll discuss how to draft a working thesis and outline to strengthen your argumentation. HumCore Writing Club meets each week in Weeks 2-9; reach out to us at writing-center@uci.edu for more details and a schedule of the meetings.
  • Time /Location: Thursday, October 14, 2021 ALL DAY! / UCI Writing Center
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome!


Fall Festival Keynote and Reception with Dr. Willie Banks

  • Person(s): Dr. Willie Banks, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Description: Dr. Willie Banks, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, will share his vision for the future of higher education. Following his remarks, attendees will enjoy a reception with all the presenters from the Fall Festival!

    Willie L. Banks, Jr., Ph.D. currently serves as the Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs at the University of California, Irvine, a position he has held since July 15, 2019. In his position, Dr. Banks is charged with providing oversight and direction to the Division of Student Affairs, which is comprised of clusters addressing the whole development of UCI students. These clusters include Auxiliary Services, Student Life & Leadership, and Wellness, Health & Counseling Services. The division employs over 900 full time staff and 2,000 student employees. The division is dedicated to transforming the lives of the more than 36,000 students attending UCI. Dr. Banks previously worked at Indiana State University, Cleveland State University, and the University of Georgia in a variety of Student Affairs positions. Dr. Banks received his undergraduate degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia and his Master’s and Ph.D. in College Student Affairs Administration from the University of Georgia.
  • Time/Location: Thursday, October 14, 2021 from 1:00-2:30 pm / ALP 1600
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 

Going Beyond DEI: Reigniting Radical Traditions in Education

  • Person(s): Anika Tasnim, Alyssa Romea, Angelene Obedoza, Jade Nettrour, Thao Pham, Obeydah Darwish, Jasper Dwyer
  • Description: As we grapple with a heightened desire to engage with society, students struggle finding solace in our shared experiences of conflict and injustice. Decontextualized reactions prevent the genuine action needed to achieve academic spaces that promote equity. Only by a significant transformation can these spaces support the pluralistic, communal movements of action that meet today’s challenges. While SASI recognizes the inherently political process of diminishing knowledge hierarchies within the process of educational transformation, we believe it can be done through a pedagogy that builds critical knowledge, influenced by traditional radical theories, of reality, beginning with students to generate community-wide change.
  • Date/Time/Place: Thursday, October 14, 202 from  3:00-4:00pm / ALP 1600
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


International Students’ Needs, Wants, and Expectations: What Does the Ideal Future of International Higher Education Need to Look Like?

  • Person(s): Khanh (June) Nguyen
  • Description: In this speaker series, international student leaders and experts in the field of international education will share stereotypes and limitations that international students encounter while navigating academic and professional spaces and contexts. This session will be a mix of formal presentations and informal, in-depth discussions between presenters and attendees on the given topics.
  • Time/Location: Thursday, October 14, 2021 from 4:00-6:00 pm / ALP 2500
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 


  • Person(s): Giselle Ho, Xinlei Chen
  • Description: Looking to start off the year with free t-shirts, masks, AND food? Feeling like you’re missing out on research? Join us at UROCK where we’ll be featuring two diverse panels, one with current undergraduate and graduate researchers and another with established leaders in industry looking to share personal advice and network with students. These panels will serve as an interactive event for attendees to gain a better understanding of research/industry as well as get any of their questions answered by experienced individuals. With UCI’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program only serving ~ 5% of the student population, this event encourages and supports individuals of all backgrounds, with an emphasis on first-gen and underrepresented minorities, to provide opportunities for everyone to get involved and jumpstart their careers. Whether you’re interested in research or not, feel free to stop by for the free swag; we’re excited to meet you all!
  • Time/Location: Thursday, October 14, 2021 from 5:00-6:30 pm / Student Center Pacific Ballroom C
  • Registration: Click here

FRIDAY 10/15

The Shifting View of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Person(s): Carmen Ramirez-Alonso, Derek Tang 
  • Description: A panel of experienced Learning & Academic Resource Center (LARC) small-group tutorial leaders will discuss issues of DEI as UCI transitions from online coursework to in-person classes. Because LARC instruction is headed by full-time undergraduate students, LARC tutorial leaders sympathize with the concerns of students while adhering to the responsibilities of educators. The isolated, stay-at-home period of the pandemic continues to drastically change attitudes towards firmly-held doctrines and ideals of the pre-pandemic era. This panel will provide commentary on the shifting view of DEI brought about by the policies and habits established during the pandemic world. It will brainstorm strategies to address these new concerns and to incorporate best practices to supplement the return of students while continuously striving for academic excellence. Taking place after the start of the fall quarter and the new school year, this discussion will be a helpful and healthy gauge on the attitudes of students towards DEI as they attend in-person courses.
  • Time/Location: Friday October 15 at 12:00pm / ALP 3700
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome! 

“Dear Professor”- A Syllabus Competition + Student/Professor Open Discussion 

  • Person(s): Celine Crooks, Justin Lee, Jillian Villa
  • Description:  “Dear Professor” will allow students to share their ideal course with faculty members and fellow students. The goal of this event is to bridge the gap between student and professor expectations on course structure and to strengthen academic relations. The “Dear Professor” event will have two parts. The first section called “A Perfect Course” takes place before the actual in-person event. In this part, students will virtually create and submit their ideal course/syllabus (through this google form). ERI students will review the syllabi prior to the event and choose a winner. The second part of the event is an in-person panel discussion with professors and undergraduate and graduate students. This panel addresses common themes in the student-created syllabi and concerns for the future of education. A mediator will ask questions to create meaningful dialogue about what they think an ideal course would look like, what students' expectations of education in the 21st century are, how students believe they learn the best, and how students and faculty can adjust to current changes in education and how to improve teaching and learning. The winner of the event and audience member who wins the raffle will be announced after the panel discussion.
  • Time/Location:  Friday, October 15, 2021 from 1:50-3:00pm / EH 2430
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome!


The Return to Reinvigorated Learning

  • Person(s): Eeron D. Wilson II
  • Description: This TED Talk-inspired presentation will highlight how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed students' perspectives towards the importance of education and opportunities for greater scholarship. This project will also evaluate to what extent virtual instruction has affected the moral integrity and overall dedication in academic affairs for students, and will also investigate ways virtual instruction can be implemented to affect the future of secondary education as the world moves into an age of post-pandemic functionality. Finally, the presentation will also evaluate how virtual education has fallen short due to various factors such as one-dimensional instruction, fatigue from assignments, vision and attention impairment, and an increase in academic dishonesty amongst students.
  • Time/Location:  Friday, October 15, 2021 at 5:30pm  / ALP 2100
  • Registration: N/A- Drop-Ins Welcome!

Please contact Jonathan Alexander at jfalexan@uci.edu if you need a disability-related accommodation in order to participate in this event.