Volunteer Center Fellows ’16-’17

Nikhilesh Bhatt

Nikhilesh is a fourth-year Psychobiology major. He is proud to be the finance executive for Special Olympics at UCLA, an organization that prides itself on cultivating values of inclusiveness and promoting personal growth for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, Nikhilesh performs research in the UCLA Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory, where he investigates the development of novel therapies to treat various forms of brain tumors. Nikhilesh is excited to serve as an Operation Gratitude ambassador and as one of the chairs of Three Pillars, One University, and to spread the spirit of volunteerism to the UCLA and Greater Los Angeles communities.

Zack Dameron

Zack is a fourth-year Economics and Political Science double major. He is the current Co-President of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at UCLA, which provides free tax services to low income communities within the Los Angeles area. Additionally, he serves as the Commissioner for the Community Service Commission (CSC), one of the fourteen undergraduate student government offices that currently stands as the largest student-run, student-initiated service organization in the nation. Zack is also a Resident Assistant on the hill and loves working with first-year students. Outside of the chaotic world of school, Zack can most likely be found indulging in a drink at a new coffee shop in the LA area.

Ipsita Dey

NichIpsita is a fourth-year Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics major pursuing a minor in Anthropology. Ipsita is currently working on her senior thesis, for which she is studying domestic violence in South Asian immigrant communities. She spent the summer of 2016 volunteering and completing ethnographic research at Saheli Asian Women’s Refuge in Manchester, UK. Her work focuses on the post-traumatic reconstruction of transnational identities and narratives. Ipsita also volunteers as a student research assistant and study director for several clinical studies at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and as research associate for the Fellowship for International Service in Health. She recently co-developed a health based phone app, “Silver Linings,” which functions as a self assessment tool for mental health patients. Ipsita is fiercely passionate about sustainable local and global development, and, in the future, hopes to use her unique interdisciplinary education to study promising community-based social interventions. As a Fellow, Ipsita is serving on the Nonprofit Networking Night planning committee and as an intern in the Social Media Marketing Internship Program.

Savannah Gardner

Savannah is a third-year student, double-majoring in Environmental Science and Political Science. This year, she is a Global Food Initiative Fellow under the UC Office of the President to fight food insecurity on UCLA’s campus. She also serves on the staff of the Community Service Commission as Assistant Advocacy Director and on the Alternative Spring Breaks leadership team. Savannah is President of Swipe Out Hunger, where she helps get fresh food to the CPO Food Closet, and she is on the student advisory board for the Center for Community Learning to ensure that student voices are heard. This year, Savannah is leading the committees for Fall Harvest Feast, a communal fall celebration before Thanksgiving Break, and the Mongelli Award. In her free time, Savannah loves to go to the beach and pet fish at the aquariums!

Elizabeth Lizardo

Elizabeth is a fourth-year Anthropology Major who serves as the Community Programs Office representative for the Volunteer Center Fellows. She is currently the External Chairperson of the Community Programs Office Student Association, which oversees 28 community service projects specializing in education, social justice, and health. In addition, she is the Chairperson for the Student Risk Education Committee, which focuses on risk management and safety for student groups at UCLA. She is a member of the Community Activities Committee, which is the main funding source for many community service projects that target social, educational, and health inequities. Lizzy is a research assistant at the David Geffen School of Medicine’s Neurology Department where she studies Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. In the past, she was the Risk and Research Director for the Latino Student Health Project, which provides free primary care access to underserved communities in Los Angeles and Tecate, Mexico. Lizzy is currently working hard in hopes of becoming an emergency medicine doctor in the future!

Corey Ly

Corey is a second-year Environmental Science major. Dedicated to helping others, he is a Financial Wellness Peer in the office of the Dean of Students. The team is devoted to educating students on subjects such as how to prevent financial crises from arising or how to buy your first car. Additionally, he provides others with internship resources as an Internship Peer Advocate at the UCLA Career Center. Corey is a proud brother of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. Outside of service, he is involved with the Facilities Commission as one of its marketing directors, as well as a member of the Student Wellness Commission’s EARTH. Both organizations are committed to sustainability and student safety/resources. In his free time, he loves rearranging the decorations on his wall and looking through old pictures.

Maya Ram

Maya is a third-year World Arts and Cultures major and Public Health minor. She enjoys baking large amounts of chocolate chip cookies and drinking green tea. Maya has truly enjoyed her service experiences at UCLA, especially her involvement with Alternative Breaks. Through the program, she has spent her last two spring breaks in San Francisco expanding her perspective on the social determinants of health and healthcare access in under-resourced communities. She has applied her knowledge from Alternative Breaks to a reproductive justice program with LAUSD called Sex Squad, which engages high school students in art-making and storytelling surrounding the topic of sexual health. Maya also serves as a GRIT Peer Coach through the Bruin Resource Center, which has fostered her passion for promoting self-care, mindful living, and wellbeing within the UCLA community. In the future, Maya hopes to continue learning from personal narratives and to share those stories to create social change.

Mathew Santiago

Mathew is a second-year Political Science major and Public Policy minor. He is currently a Resident Assistant in Saxon Suites and is the Residential Life Representative for the Volunteer Center Fellows. As he hopes to go into politics in the future, Mathew is a member of UCLA Pre-Law Society and was an intern for UCLA Community and Government Relations through the Social Media and Marketing Internship Program. Mathew also currently works for Akyumen, a technology company which strives to bring innovative new devices to the public. As a Fellow, he is a Campus Ambassador for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that serves members of the armed forces at home and overseas through care packages and letters. Outside of school and work, Mathew enjoys traveling, going on adventures, and hanging out with family and friends.

Eric Tran

Eric is a fourth-year Physiological Sciences major. He currently serves as the Co-Programs Director of Asian Pacific Health Corps at UCLA (APHC), a service organization that aims to mitigate healthcare disparities in disadvantaged Asian Pacific Islander communities around Los Angeles by hosting free health fairs and offering educational workshops to promote healthy living. In addition, Eric volunteers at the UCLA Medical Center under the THINQ program, which utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to study and improve various aspects of patient care and quality, and is Co-Director of the Journal Club. Eric is also studying the recovery of forelimb function following spinal cord injury under Dr. Edgerton of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, exploring new places, and watching videos of animals.

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