In this newest installment of the First Things First mentorship series, Professor Anita Casavantes Bradford and Professor Pavan Kadandale respond to the prompt: “All new students admitted for the 2020/21 year have only had experience with the virtual environment. What are some of the ways you plan to support these students as they transition to in-person learning and campus life?”

Professor Casavantes Bradford explains that she will support UCI’s sophomore class the same way she supports new freshmen on campus. This includes encouraging students to attend office hours, go to events, sign up for clubs and organizations, and make use of on-campus resources and services. She also reminds that returning to campus will be an adjustment for both students and faculty, and urges instructors to remain open-minded and flexible towards their students. Responding to Professor Casavantes Bradford, Gretta Ozuna expresses her gratitude and explains that it is mentors like Professor Casavnates Bradford that make a real difference in the lives and experiences of first-gen students.

In his response, Professor Kadandale also stresses the need for student engagement on campus, and he discusses some of the ways he will encourage student interaction both in and outside of his courses. In her video reply, Leon Masuda thanks Professor Kadandale for his thoughtful comments and also shares how her mindset and thought process is changing as she prepares to attend classes on campus for the first time.

Professor Anita Casavantes Bradford

With UCI transitioning back to in-person instruction next Fall, Professor Anita Casavantes Bradford discusses what she plans to do to help students adjust to campus life. She explains that she will offer the same support for students admitted during the pandemic as she does for all new first-gen students. This includes encouraging them to attend office hours, go to on-campus events, and make use of resources like the Writing Center and the Cross Cultural Center. She also acknowledges that being back in-person will be an adjustment for instructors and that it will be important for them to remain flexible and understanding of each individual student’s circumstances and needs.

Gretta Ozuna Responds to Professor Casavantes Bradford

In this video, Gretta thanks Professor Casavantes Bradford for being so understanding and caring. Gretta expresses that it is mentors like her that really made a difference—not only in the lives of first-gen students, but all students.


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Professor Pavan Kadandale

With students returning to in-person instruction this Fall, Professor Pavan Kadandale explains that he will focus on helping students build and engage with UCI campus communities. He says that he will be very intentional about offering students opportunities to interact both in and out of the classroom. Ultimately, Professor Kadandale reiterates how important it is for students to really get a sense of what it’s like to be on campus and experience in-person human interactions.

Leon Masuda Responds to Professor Kadandale

Responding to Professor Kadandale, Leon shares her appreciation for everything he’s planning to do when students return to campus. Leon also explains that now that she is preparing to attend in-person classes, she has to worry about things like the distances between her classes and making her schedule more balanced. While Leon is a bit apprehensive about her larger classes, she expresses her overall excitement to finally get the real UCI experience.


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The First Things First project is an evolution of UCI’s First-Generation Faculty Initiative, designed to help first-gen students overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic. This new “virtual” mentorship program pairs two incoming UCI first-gen students with first-gen faculty members for a year-long, social-media-distributed conversation about the transition to university life. The goal of First Things First is to help UCI’s entire first-gen population, as well as first-gen students throughout higher education, build a sense of community—even in this remote college environment. To further this project, we invite you to share this article on your social media channels and with your network.