Three UCLA undergraduates have been recognized for their exceptional commitment to public service with the 2016 Charles E. Young Humanitarian Award.
The award recipients each received $1,000 at a ceremony and reception held May 31 at the Pavilion Club in Pauley Pavilion. Seven additional awards of $100 were given to other student finalists.
All proceeds will be directed to a public service project of the students' choice.
The Young Humanitarian Award, established by UCLA in 1986 as an annual tribute to recognize and encourage projects that address communities' social needs, is one of the most prestigious honors given to UCLA students.
Ethan Haik, a second-year neuroscience student and vice president and co-founder of the Bruin Experiment, was honored for his role in creating the Bruin Science Fair, an outreach program that helps foster a love of science in students at two under-resourced middle schools in Los Angeles. Based on the classic science fair model, the project provides weekly mentorship to students and culminates in a science fair judged by UCLA professors. The most recent science fair, held last April, had a panel of eight judges and attracted 300 visitors. The project has inspired similar programs at UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego.
Haik will use the proceeds of his award to purchase science fair supplies for students and possibly to expand his program to at least one other middle school.
Minali Mohindra, a fourth-year neuroscience student, was recognized for her work with the Pediatric AIDS Coalition (PAC), an organization she has volunteered with since fall 2012 and now heads as president. Best known for its annual fundraising and awareness event, the popular Dance Marathon at UCLA, PAC has raised almost $5 million over the last 15 years to support the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Camp Kindle and the UCLA AIDS Institute. In addition, PAC runs year-round programs to educate UCLA students and community members about HIV/AIDS, quarterly mentorship events for children affected by HIV/AIDS and a weekend retreat to help HIV-positive adolescents with résumé writing, healthy eating on a budget and college applications.
Mohindra will use her award to provide additional transportation for children to attend PAC events.
Jimmy Zheng, a fourth-year biology student, was recognized for creating Street Outreach, an extension of UCLA’s Mobile Clinic Project that has operated weekly in the area of Sycamore Avenue and Romaine Street in West Hollywood for the past 16 years. For Street Outreach, Zheng recruited student volunteers to offer an empathetic ear to homeless individuals who are not aware of the services provided by the Mobile Clinic Project. The students then connect the homeless with local clinics, employment agencies and addiction treatment centers.
To help these individuals become more mobile, Zheng intends to use his award to purchase low-weight backpacks and braces for knees and lumbar back support. He also intends to buy blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, vitamins and prescription glasses to help alleviate chronic illness and vision problems.
Other award finalists were Rahul Chandrupatla (Project RISHI); Kyle Low (Inglewood Clinic Group); Edber Macedo (Planners of Color for Social Equity); Elizabeth Matusov (Message in a Melody); Cynthia Ochoa (Proyecto de Jornaleros at UCLA); Ayesha Patil (GlobeMed at UCLA); and Ernesto Rocha (Coalition to End Wage Theft in Long Beach).