Naomi Hammonds has accomplished more in her four years at UCLA than some people achieve in a decade but no matter what she’s done, one thing stands out: Her desire to bring resources and support to the students who need them the most.

During her four years of involvement in student government, she has helped pass many initiatives to preserve, renew or create programs that help students. As a USAC representative, for instance, she introduced a parking permit grant for commuter students that will continue until spring 2025.

Now, as USAC president, she helps oversee the allocation of funds that help student organizations and activities thrive. She recently helped secure $10,000 to support several student resource centers across campus — including the Black Bruin Resource Center, Bruin Resource Center, LGBTQ Campus Resource Center, Transfer Student Center and Veteran Resource Center — and restarted a program that allows students to receive free blue books and Scantrons at the UCLA store.

Hammonds has not only gotten to know campus as a student, she’s also had a say in how it operates. As USAC president, she’s been on committees to help plan UCLA’s South Bay campus and the downtown Los Angeles building, and select a successor to Chancellor Block.

“Having that student voice at every table was so important,” said Hammonds, a psychobiology major with a triple minor in cognitive science, entrepreneurship and African American studies, who will graduate this month.

Some of her contributions are less visible but no less important. Hammonds has worked as a teaching assistant for several life sciences core curriculum classes and for a summer program in which the majority of students are from first-generation, low income and from historically underrepresented backgrounds. She is one of only a few undergraduates to hold this position.

“These are classes incoming students take during the summer before their freshman year,” she said. “Hearing their concerns and what they were afraid of in coming to UCLA, and dispelling the imposter phenomenon many of them were facing by giving them the tips and tricks that I experienced coming into UCLA as a Black woman was so rewarding.”

Hammonds has also been instrumental in helping the division of life sciences develop practices to set up for success students who have historically been excluded science, technology, engineering and math. She’s been working with faculty to figure out how to retain more Black students in STEM.

College Corps, one of the many programs she volunteered for, pairs Bruins with students from local underserved K–12 schools for math tutoring and a fun afternoon activity, such as taking the kids to campus events and eateries. They also help students narrow down lists of colleges, identify financial aid sources and coach them through the application process.

Hammonds can relate to those kids because she came from a low-performing district in Las Vegas, where most of the students never imagined they’d ever be able to go to college or be eligible to apply to top schools like UCLA.

“Being a life science major, there were so many times I would look around the room and I’d be one of maybe two to four Black people in classes of 100 or 200 people,” she said. But with College Corps “most of the students we worked with did look like me, and we were hoping to encourage them that college is a space for them and to apply to UCLA.”

Her efforts to connect with and improve academic life for other Black students inspired Hammonds to add an African American studies minor, which led her to the Bunche Fellows Program. The fellows work with faculty mentors to conduct research on the conditions of Black life.

For her honors thesis, Hammonds compared how Black students feel in interactions they have with their professors, teaching assistants and other students in STEM and non-STEM spaces. She wondered how connections with peers — including other Black students — affect their sense of belonging and furthers their retention in the major and STEM as a whole.

She also participated in the McNair Scholars Program, a two-year course of seminars and research under a faculty mentor’s guidance that culminates with applications to graduate school and an oral presentation at the McNair Conference. Her topic was: “Where do I fit in? An examination of sense of belonging in Black undergraduates.”

After graduating from UCLA, Hammonds isn’t going far. The Bruin will return this fall to start working toward a master’s of public health in community health sciences and eventually plans to attend medical school, specializing in emergency services for underserved communities.