While hanging out in the Student Center at UC Irvine on a Sunday afternoon, friends Andrew Luu, Kathleen Arada and Roya Tabrizi went over the activities they planned to do with their friends this quarter.
They had already gone ice skating, bowling and even to some leadership workshops on campus and now it was time for movie night.
“We’re [seeing] Milk,” Tabrizi said, but told his friends that the movie doesn’t play at UC Irvine until March 4, so they don’t have to plan anything just yet.
“This Thursday is Passport to Leadership, [and] we have volleyball on Friday,” Tabrizi added.
Luu, Arada and Tabrizi head a group of 250 UCI students from every class rank and major who make up the Anteater Mentorship Program (AMP), an organization the three co-founded.
According to Luu, a fourth-year economics and biology double-major, the program is a fairly new organization at UCI.
“[It] pairs second-years up with transfer students, international students and commuter students to increase retention rates,” Luu said.
The program also targets for incoming freshmen and provides academic and social events for mentors and mentees to attend and network with others. He, along with Arada, a fourth-year sociology and English double major and Tabrizi, a fourth-year sociology and international studies double major, have worked to create this vision.
Now in its second year of existence, AMP has 250 active members from every area on campus, seeking to positively impact the lives of UCI students. Being the directors of such a large program has been a huge task for Arada, Tabrizi and Luu, and now that the latter two are graduating, they must find successors to shift their powers.
While this is only AMP’s second year of production, the program itself has been in motion since 2005, when Luu and Arada were both freshmen living in Mesa Court. They first connected at the Mesa Court Leadership Institute (MCLI), and came up with the idea of AMP as part of an assignment.
Although Luu and Arada’s idea was successful and graduation-worthy, they wanted to do more.
“Kathleen and I were talking about it with our advisor Leigh Poirier [Ball],” said Luu, “and we were like, ‘What’s the point of a good idea if nothing gets done?'”
Luu and Arada started AMP that year in the resident halls and after a few hurdles, it took off.
The jump from AMP’s conception in 2005 to now in 2009 was not so effortless; it has taken four years for the program to get in its groove, with the help and support of advisors and administrators on campus.
Arada recalls that while they tried to implement AMP into the freshmen resident halls in 2005, it initially did not gain much momentum.
Luu and Arada knew they still wanted to do the mentorship program, but went their separate ways until reuniting at the end of their sophomore year.
“I think we reconnected in like May or June of 2006, and we just started talking to different people like Leigh Poirier [Ball], Jill Halvaks, Sherwynn Umali, Fred Lipscomb … We just tried to get ideas of what we should do to make [the program] school-wide.”
Luu and Arada spent the 2006- ’07 school year connecting with more people, as well as looking for a “home” at UCI to fund them. They did this because they wanted AMP to be a program, not a club like many other student-run groups on campus. With the help of Eric Williams and Lindsay Hopkins in ASUCI, the program was implemented through Administrative Affairs in 2007 and started that fall.
While Luu and Arada both had their apprehensions about AMP becoming what they envisioned, Arada recalled that it was difficult in the beginning because they didn’t know the mentors and mentees very well and wanted the program to be something people would really enjoy. With the program being brand new, there were a lot of kinks to work out, which required the help of the program’s new members.
One of these new members was Tabrizi, who applied for the program like all the other mentors, and now is AMP’s newest co-director.
“I started out as an event coordinator … I knew it was a lot of work but I realized that the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it,” said Tabrizi. As a co-director, she has contributed to AMP as much as Luu and Arada.
Now that AMP is in its second year, Luu, Arada and Tabrizi all agree that the program has improved since last year and can only get better.
According to Luu, one trait that sets AMP apart from many other groups on campus is that it is completely student-run, which might change drastically with the departure of Luu and Tabrizi, who will graduate this year.
After they graduate, Arada will still serve as a co-founder, but the rest of the team will be new and hopefully continue this new groove of service that Luu and Arada have spent four years creating.