By Danna Creager, Eric Witiw, Sabrina Theo, Alison Chi, Jocelyn Garcia, and Destiny Johnson

Eric: “Senior year has definitely been my busiest one yet, but SAR was surely one of the highlights. The project I was assigned to be a team leader for was working to fight food waste and this is an issue that I want to continue to pursue as a career after I finish school. SAR gave me the avenue to be creative with my approaches in trying to understand and reduce food waste as well as the opportunity to do hands on work and meet people who were interested in similar sustainability-related goals. The whole SAR community is great and I am super happy that I came back for a second year in the program.” 

Danna: “This is my third year in this program and every year has taught me an entirely new set of skills and lessons. I decided to switch from Recreation team the past two years to Food Waste team this year for something new and exciting. Fall Quarter I had taken a class on Soil and Water Conservation, which dealt a lot with the impacts of agriculture. I then began doing research winter quarter on food waste in the dining halls while at the same time taking a class on Food and the Environment. I realized that food sustainability may be the field I am most intrigued by and passionate about. This team and program has helped me come to this conclusion all while providing an excellent support system of passionate students, faculty, and professors. Each year my appreciation for this program has grown, and this year has been no exception.”

Destiny: “When starting SAR back in January, I felt a wide variety of emotions. On one hand, I was excited to have the opportunity to work with like-minded people who cared about issues that I was just as passionate about. However, I was also nervous as it was my first time undergoing an experience of collaborative research – or just research in general. As I reach the final few weeks of the program and look back on the past two quarters, I can, without a doubt, say that SAR has taught me so much and given me opportunities that I did not expect to receive. From conducting surveys to aggregating and analyzing data to public speaking and much more, my time has been continuously filled with given exposure to things I was not previously familiar with or improvement on skills that I wished to become better at. I will be forever grateful to my team and the overall program for providing me with an unforgettable experience.” 

Alison: “I really didn’t know what to expect when I first got into this program but after these two quarters, SAR is everything I needed as a second year at UCLA. For these past couple of months, I found myself much more engaged in the UCLA community, getting to know my fellow peers who have similar environmental and sustainable interests as I do, meeting students from different backgrounds and experiences and meeting staff and faculty from all aspects of UCLA. It’s been an amazing way to get to know people around me that I might not otherwise have noticed. I loved the hands-on experience of being presented with a challenge and working with a team to solve and address various aspects of the challenge. It was refreshing to see faculty and staff so supportive of students’ works and the enthusiasm and interest from peers in supporting each other’s’ projects was invigorating. I’m super excited to continue with SAR in the next two years of my life at UCLA.” 

Jocelyn: “This program has definitely reinforced my passion for sustainability and food waste reduction. This class allowed me to use the knowledge acquired from my classes and use it to tackle a real and tangible goal. I really enjoy the hands on approach that SAR allows students to take on their project because our classes are great at informing and teaching theoretical concepts but SAR really helps us delve into the topic and find innovative solutions, given that not all theoretical solutions work in some situations. Engaging in conversations with students about food waste and figuring out the best way to get the food waste issue across was very enlightening. I really appreciated the support I received from our stakeholder, Emma Sorrell, and the Associate Director of Dining Services, Charles Wilcots, as well as my teammates. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting updates on other students’ projects. It made me feel a part of their project even if I wasn’t actively participating and I appreciated the collaborative feel of these meetings. This program has definitely helped me grow and I am excited for the new projects next year’s’ teams will tackle.” 

Sabrina: “SAR is great! Over the past two months, I’ve learned a lot about how to communicate ideas to the public, get feedback and incorporate that feedback into an impactful message. Communicating with the public like this is something that I hadn’t done before; it was a really fun experience to combine our team’s ideas with that of the audience we were trying to reach. This is just one of the many things I’ve learned throughout SAR. It was a challenging yet fun experience and I really think the work we did will have an impact in reducing food waste for future generations of UCLA students.”