Esteemed celebrity photographer KWAKU ALSTON captured the student creations emerging from UCLA’s David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design for a glamorous photo essay (“Fandom of the Opera”). “I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the remarkable craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail exhibited in the costumes,” Alston says. His recent assignments have included Disney’s Haunted Mansion, collaborations with Kevin Hart and Stephen Curry for Chase Bank, and a feature with Bill Hader for The New Yorker. An exhibition of Alston’s work is set for early 2024 at the Leica Gallery Los Angeles.


REBECCA CABAGE is passionate about using generative artificial intelligence programs “to create new and innovative forms of art.” She used Midjourney to summon the images that appear in our story on UCLA’s long-lasting love affair with space travel and technology (“UCLA: A Space Odyssey”). Cabage says she is “honored to work with a university that is so committed to innovation and the exploration of new technologies.” She is a senior photo editor, in-house photographer and member of the AI task force at The Refinery Creative.



As the Promise Institute Distinguished Professor of Comparative and International Law at UCLA School of Law, KAL RAUSTIALA knows a thing or two about impressive credentials. So perhaps it was only natural that he would be drawn to the exemplary life of Ralph Bunche ’27, the legendary statesman and subject of his recent biography, The Absolutely Indispensable Man: Ralph Bunche, the United Nations, and the Fight to End Empire. For this issue, Raustiala writes about Bunche’s legacy (“The Meaning of Ralph Bunche”) alongside an excerpt from his book (“Mr. Bunche Goes to Washington”). “Bunche, asked the secret of his success, once said, ‘Keep on pitching, then pitch some more,’” Raustiala says of his subject. “He once called himself a ‘professional optimist.’” Raustiala’s writing has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Le Monde.

Once a radio DJ and fine arts student at UCLA, KELSEE THOMAS drew inspiration from the pop culture magazine quizzes of the ’90s and ’00s to illustrate our “How Bruin Are You?” questionnaire. She dove into the details of her alma mater, “a pretty interesting place” that has functioned as the backdrop for blockbuster movies, been the site of Olympic competition and served as the home of Nobel Prize winners. Her work, informed by pop culture and drenched in rich hues, has appeared in the Los Angeles Times; on the cover of House Party, a recent work of young adult fiction; and in the pages of many Rebel Girls children’s books.


Veteran fashion and lifestyle writer SADIE VAN GELDER was blown away by the creativity of student designers past and present whose Opera UCLA costumes are celebrated in this issue’s stunning portfolio (“Fandom of the Opera”). “As the parent of a current Bruin, I know UCLA has a reputation for balancing academic rigor with a sense of enjoyment,” she says. “These students reinforced that impression. As they referred to the hard work they had tackled, they often mentioned the word ‘fun.’” Van Gelder spent more than a decade as an editor at Allure and has also contributed to Seventeen, Real Simple, Us Weekly and Premiere, among other publications.


Years ago, SUSAN HUNT YULE — who has spent the last half-century illustrating for books, magazines and ads, along with her fair share of maps — was commissioned to create an illustrated map of the UCLA campus. For this issue, she was tasked with drawing the secrets hiding within the walls of the university’s most storied edifices (“The Secret Lives of Campus Buildings”). Despite her intimate and growing knowledge of UCLA’s physical space — “You really do get familiar with a place you map!” — Yule has never once set foot on the campus herself. “What appealed to me most about this article,” she says, “was the image of Ray Bradbury toiling away in Powell Library on the pre–Fahrenheit 451 story.”

Read more from UCLA Magazine’s Fall 2023 issue.