September 21, 2020

Welcome AAP Bruins!

As I write this welcome to our new and returning students, I just finished hearing the news about the City of Louisville settling a lawsuit with the Family of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was innocently and tragically gunned down in her home by the Louisville police during a no-knock search warrant. But this historic judicial decision remains only a partial reconciliation. It still hasn’t brought true justice to Breonna Taylor and her family.  As of this writing, no one has been arrested for her murder! When will true justice be served?

This has been an incredible year, starting with the arrival of COVID-19 pandemic in January, extensive global protests and uprisings over police killings of innocent Black and Brown people, the structural racism that has clearly exposed deep economic inequities leading to the direct loss of jobs for many of our students and members of their families, and the impending political crisis as we prepare for a critically important presidential election in less than 60 days.  I can’t leave out the wildfires that have displaced many families and even taken lives. Let’s all share our thoughts and prayers with all who have been impacted by these terrible happenings. Let’s be present and aware of the contradictions these events have illuminated.  It is in these profound experiences of loss, pain, outrage, and inequality that we can find the deepest meaning.

We are living in a virtual world and now have to depend on platforms like ZOOM, SKYPE and other on cyber digital tools as a way to communicate, deliver information, and engage with each other on two dimensional glass screens. Unfortunately, we are not going back to normal any time soon and will need to adapt to this new way of learning, teaching, and collaborating with each other. However, this is also a unique opportunity to be creative and use our innovative ideas and talents to operate in this new reality.

But you know what? We can do it because we know struggle and are survivors. Many of us come from families that have made tremendous sacrifices for many decades to help us reach our high goals. We in AAP will be here to continue to support you during these perplexing, confusing and challenging times. We will be offering many opportunities for you to connect to AAP staff and to your student colleagues throughout the academic year to hear your innovative ideas, suggestions and solutions. We want to create, engage and sustain a vibrant and supportive community as we get through this pandemic.

Finally, in the next two years we will see more changes than we have in the last 10. It will be a rollercoaster ride through every emotion imaginable. Even when we’re uncomfortable, even when we’re anxious, and even when we hit a low, we must keep communicating and moving forward. Together. That is why now is the perfect time to reach out and connect. With self-awareness, activism, and collaborating with each other, we can make progress toward who we want to be—rather than solely worrying about what we are going to be.

When we were young, we always wanted to be older. In sixth grade, we dreamed of being in high school. In high school, we couldn’t wait to get a driver’s license. We just couldn’t be in the moment—we wanted time to hurry up. We craved to get to the next level. To reach that future moment, though, now, we need to be fully present in this one—not drown in it. Or sleep through it. It is always darkest before the dawn—but we know that’s only a moment in time. In the next moment, we will see light.

I look forward to engaging you in our community and wish you the best as you pursue your education at the nation’s number one public institution….UCLA! Go Bruins!

Dr. A

AAP is committed to providing a safe environment for its community and students and is prepared to take necessary steps to that end. UCLA is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will continue to provide information on new developments.  Learn more here.


The Academic Advancement Program, known on the UCLA campus as AAP, is the nation’s largest university-based student diversity program. AAP has enjoyed a tradition of academic excellence at UCLA for over 40 years. As the director of AAP and associate vice provost for student diversity, I am privileged to provide leadership for the innovative programs available to more than 5,600 UCLA undergraduates from diverse populations whose academic profiles indicate they would benefit from the guidance and support available through AAP. AAP promotes academic achievement and excellence through academic advising, collaborative learning workshops, mentoring to prepare for graduate studies and professional schools, summer bridge programs for entering freshmen and transfer students, and scholarships for our students. Many students in AAP come from high-need families, are the first in their families to go to college, are recent immigrants, or come from populations that have been historically underrepresented at the university. I am excited and encouraged by the gifted and talented students in AAP. I look forward to working with you during your academic career at UCLA.

Dr. Charles J. Alexander
Associate Vice Provost for Student Diversity
Director, Academic Advancement Program