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ucla alumni young4stem


attended: UCLA, Los Angeles, USA

majored in: Economics and Pre-med

"Do have a great time – but don’t lose sight of two things – your goals – and wanting to learn more about things you will never have a chance to learn about "

How and why did you choose your university?

FPQ. I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and left for France for my last two years of high school.

So when it came time to coming back, I had a choice between the east coast – Brown – and the west coast, UCLA and missing the warm weather, opted for the latter.  I was also still considering medical school and, at the time, UCLA had one of the better pre-med programs.


What did you major in, and what did you think of the program?

FPQ. I majored in Economics with a pre-med curriculum which consisted of taking enough science classes to be able to do well on the MCAT and gain admission to medical school.


How did you find your career path?

FPQ. Although I was interested in medicine, finance was a fairly trendy career at the time – think of the movie “Wall Street” and, as I was pretty good at maths, decided to do summer internships in finance firms and found it exciting. Thus, my last year of college I decided to try to apply for finance jobs – which took me to London.


What was your favorite class?

FPQ. I actually have fond memories of two classes – Transport Economics and Genetics!! Both driven by how good the professors were and how they explained topics that were so commonplace yet whose understanding we took for granted.


Was it easy to build a relationship with your professors, or they weren’t approachable?

FPQ. To be fair, I didn’t take full advantage of my professors’ office hours nor their willingness to simply engage with students.  I think – like most colleges – it’s really individual/department specific but if my recollections are accurate, they were in the most part very helpful.



How did you get involved on campus?

FPQ. I was involved in various clubs and played as much tennis as I could. My on campus job was in the main bookstore so it led me to meet a lot of students I would have never met and also discover the fact that UCLA had an annex campus for adult students in downtown Los Angeles.


What is your favorite memory of college?

FPQ. I would say that living on my own, surrounded by friends, in a vibrant city – Westwood – ten min drive from the beach! 

Academically, my smaller seminar classes were the highlight of my 4 years there where there was a real sense of interaction.


What was the worst thing about your college experience?

FPQ. I really cannot remember anything bad about it – which is probably a good sign – with the exception of the size being initially fairly daunting.

Did you enjoy the dorm life?

It was great. It my first introduction to college life surrounded by similar students from all over the country.  My future roommates came from the pool of students I met my first week in the dorms.


What was the greatest challenge you faced in college?

FPQ. UCLA is a very large school, set within a very vibrant part of an amazing city.  There are so many things to do and sometimes you do feel like you need to see, try and do everything. Deciding on what activities to do, how to spend your free time and how to organise yourself is probably one of the greater challenge of coming here. This is probably why most students find their microcosm of life – whether it be Greek life, athletics etc.


What advice do you have for someone attending this university?

FPQ. Do have a great time – but don’t lose sight of two things – your goals – and wanting to learn more about things you will never have a chance to learn about – at least not for another 20 years.  

When will you find yourself on a campus with top notch professors – including one of the world’s best mathematician – Terence Tao and similar minded students with no other pressures but to study and learn?

Following on from my reply about the greatest challenge, venture away from your comfort zone once in a while.


What would you say is the most significant difference between college and the “real world”?

FPQ. Again, as UCLA was fairly large, it was a good proxy for real life.


What advice would you give to current college students?

Enjoy your time and do think about your grades but find the time to explore all your university has to offer and use the university to further your own ambitions.

Is there something you would like to change about this school to improve the experience of future students?

It is hard for me to give a relevant answer as over 30 years have gone by but from what I hear, it has become an even more cosmopolitan campus that tries hard to give students a sense of belonging – not easy for a campus of over 40,000 students. 

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