Summit Highlights: UCLA

Fun, sun, and Summit learning await students at UCLA!

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Founded in 1919, the University of California, Los Angeles is the “youngest” of all the campuses to host Ambassador Leaders’ Summits. Despite its relatively brief history, UCLA has an impressive pedigree and is considered of one of the "Public Ivies,” a term coined by Richard Moll, an admissions officer from Yale University. Moll considered UCLA on par with Ivy League schools in its ability to attract both exceptional students and faculty. Given that UCLA boasts 7 Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and is the most applied-to university in the country, we tend to agree!

Imagine, if you will, a warm, sunny day spent on the sprawling 419-acre UCLA campus situated in the Westwood hills at the base of the Santa Monica mountains. On your way to or from the many activities you participate in during the Summit, you may pass Royce Hall (pictured above), one of the campus’ most iconic buildings. The hall hosts concerts performed by everyone from classical composers to contemporary artists like Coldplay. It’s also the forum for guest speakers on campus. In the past, influential figures like Albert Einstein and former President Bill Clinton have both spoken publicly at Royce Hall.

Just down the walkway, you’ll find Bruin Plaza. You may hear people on campus say to “meet at The Bruin.” They’re referencing the bronze bear statue in the middle of the plaza. It’s the university’s mascot! Located near the center of campus, The Bruin is an iconic spot to grab a photo with your group.

Westwood Village is UCLA’s college town and sits just outside of the campus. Between all the excitement of the Summit, this is the place to visit if you have a little downtime. Diddy Riese Cookies and Ice Cream is a local favorite that’s been serving UCLA students and guests fresh-baked ice cream sandwiches for more than 35 years. The UCLA Campus Store is also in the Westwood Village. There you can pick up hats, t-shirts, and many other souvenirs to share with your friends and family.

Given its proximity to Hollywood, it’s no surprise that UCLA has many alumni who have succeeded in the entertainment and sports industries. One such alumni is Ambassador Leaders’ keynote speaker Christine Simmons. In case you missed it, Christine sat down with us for an extended interview last year. You can check out the whole series here. Christine has served as the board president of the UCLA Alumni Association, as the President & COO of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, and is the newly announced COO of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (as in, the Oscars)! In her keynote speech to our students, she shares her experience and knowledge about stepping into leadership from a young age. Christine’s talk was a student favorite at our Leadership in Action Summit in 2018, and is sure to be again this summer!

Ambassador Leaders will also visit the Museum of Tolerance, an immersive museum experience designed to “challenge people of all backgrounds to confront their most closely-held assumptions and assume responsibility for change.” One of the Big Goals of each Ambassador Leaders Summit is to help students develop their CQ, or cultural intelligence. By viewing and interacting with the museum’s exhibits on both historical and contemporary injustices, students will join the museum’s quarter of a million annual visitors who strive not just to understand but celebrate individual differences.

To cap off a week of hard work on the Lead2Feed community action plan, students will celebrate their unforgettable Summit experiences at another of Los Angeles’ landmarks, the Santa Monica Pier. For more than 100 years, the Santa Monica Pier has been an image synonymous with Los Angeles. Like the Hollywood sign, the pier is frequently featured in movies and TV shows as a visual cue that they take place in LA. Students will get to see it for themselves as they dine and explore the shops, arcades, and Ferris wheel that make the pier famous.

So much personal growth, learning, and fun await students attending our Leadership in Action Summit at UCLA! Check back in for our next Summit Highlights: UCLA post as we take a look at the leadership workshop students complete during their Summit. Where does the workshop take place, you ask? Only at the Happiest Place on Earth — Disneyland! Stay tuned, readers. We have more fun in store!


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By Corie Bales

Corie is the Academic Affairs Manager of Ambassador Leaders. As a lifelong educator and avid traveler, she believes in empowering students and teachers to learn and lead through experiential education.