What Matters to Me and Why: Alumni Series

This series explores the dynamics of learning relationships and how the encouragement and support of mentors has profoundly impacted the student experiences, career paths and life journeys of some of UCI’s many distinguished alumni.

Recording approx. 68 min.

Sasha Strauss ’99
Managing Director, Innovation Protocol

Sasha Strauss is the managing director at Innovation Protocol, a brand strategy consulting firm he founded in 2006. Strauss currently leads a team of 25 in LA, SF, and NYC, and their clients include organizations like Google, Disney, Amgen, ADP, the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish Federation and Homeboy Industries.

Strauss has served as graduate school faculty for 11 years, teaching brand strategy at USC’s Marshall School of Business, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and at UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business concurrently. Strauss has given keynote speeches alongside notable speakers such as Magic Johnson, Tony Hsieh, Frank Gehry, Biz Stone and Simon Sinek.

In addition to earning his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCI, Strauss also holds a master’s degree in strategic corporate communication management from USC, and an executive management certificate from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Event Details: Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 6 p.m., Newkirk Alumni Center

Recording approx. 50 min.

Jermaine Griggs '05
Founder & CEO, Hear and Play Music

Jermaine Griggs is a minister, musician, entrepreneur, mentor, and public speaker. Born and raised in Long Beach, CA with humble beginnings, Jermaine always envisioned making an impact in the world.

At the tender age of 16, he started Hear and Play Music, an instructional music company specializing in teaching piano by ear. With only $70 and a vision, he bought the name HearandPlay.com and launched the company that would not only change his life but hundreds of thousands of musicians around the world through his software, books, DVDs, and online training programs. 14 years later, over 2 million aspiring musicians download his free online lessons every year and over 300,000 loyal students receive his regular newsletters and correspondence.

His success has allowed him to give back to his community, family, friends, charities and causes. He supports Operation Jumpstart of Long Beach, where he gives his resources and time as a mentor and donor. He also supports Mentors International, Rady Children’s Hospital, The Brain Observatory at UCSD, Boys Scouts of America, The Boys and Girls Club, The Haitian Project, Save Darfur, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and others. As a result of his success at a young age, he's been featured on MSN’s “Top 10 Superstars Under 30” alongside Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo, Kiplinger, Dun & Bradstreet’s “Top Young Entrepreneurs,” Aetna's “African American” Innovators, MSNBC, HGTV, and more.

Event Details: Tuesday, January 24, 2017, at 6 p.m., Newkirk Alumni Center

Recording approx. 62 min.

Dale Mayeda '91
Animation Effects Lead, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Jill Halvaks '80
UCI Retiree, 33-year UCI career

Dale Mayeda is head of effects animation at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Currently Dale is responsible for creating and managing all of the effects in the upcoming feature film “Moana.” His team supports the character performances and art direction of effects ranging from oceans, shorelines, storms, magic and lava. Dale joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1999. His credits as effects animation head include “Chicken Little,” “Bolt” and the Academy Award-winning “Frozen.” He also served as effects animator on “Tangled,” “Paperman” and “Big Hero 6.” Prior to joining Disney, Dale got his start in the live action visual effects facilities The Post Group and Ranimaker Digital Pictures. Dale earned his bachelor’s in information & computer sciences with a minor in management from UCI in 1991. During his time at UCI, Dale was influenced by and involved in SPOP, as well as many other campus organizations.

Born and raised in Northern California, Jill Halvaks became a Southern California transplant when she started her undergraduate life at UCI in 1976. After she graduated with a degree in humanities, a two-year job offer turned into a career at UCI. Beginning with the start of New Student Services in the Student Affairs division, Jill worked for the next 33 years in Student Life & Leadership (formerly Office of the Dean of Students) coordinating New Student Programs and Summer Orientation. For the last 18 months of employment (before an early retirement in 2013), Jill was the interim associate dean of students, overseeing New Student Programs, Greek Life, Veteran Services, the LGBT Resource Center, and Clubs & Organizations. Jill and her husband, Rob, live in Irvine. She has two sons, Brett (26) and Ryan (22). In retirement, Jill volunteers with Friends of the Library Heritage Park, UCI Retiree Association and Families Forward.

Event Details: Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at 6 p.m., Newkirk Alumni Center

Recording approx. 58 min.

Erin Gruwell '91
Founder, Freedom Writers Foundation

Julia Lupton
Professor, UC Irvine

In 1994, Erin Gruwell began teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Like many first year teachers, Erin was assigned the unmotivated, unnoticed and “unteachable” students. Erin strongly believed that education could overcome even the worst kinds of adversity and was determined that her 150 “at-risk” students should receive the same opportunities as everyone else. Four years later all 150 students, dubbed the Freedom Writers, graduated from high school. Her story inspired the film, The Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey. Gruwell earned her bachelor's degree from UCI in 1991 and was honored with a UCI Alumni Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 for her inspiring, educational activism.

Julia Lupton is professor of English and an award-winning teacher who has taught at UCI since 1989. She is the faculty director of Illuminations, the Chancellor’s Arts & Culture Initiative. In 2013-14, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her book project, Shakespeare Dwelling: Habitation, Hospitality, Design. She is a dramaturg for the New Swan Shakespeare Festival and an avid supporter of arts across the curriculum. She is the founding director of Humanities Out There, which promotes service learning for humanities majors. She writes about DIY design with her twin sister, Ellen.

Event Details: Tuesday, January 12, 2016, at 6 p.m., Newkirk Alumni Center

Free Career Advancement Services

UC Irvine Career Breakthrough Seminar Series: A President's Story

In partnership with University Extension and the UCI Career Center, the UCI Alumni Association presents a recorded series of career advancement webinars. They are free of charge and available to all alumni across the globe.

UC Irvine Career Breakthrough Seminar Series: A President's Story

Prior to being president of Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas, Tomo Mizutani served as President of NItto Tire USA, based in Cypress. He shared his inspiring story, business perspective, advice from the executive suite, and outlook on marketing and the global supply chain.

Presented by: Tomo Mizutani, President of Toyo Tires 
Moderated by: Jeff Minhas, Interim Associate Director, UCI Alumni Association
April 1, 2014; Recording approx. 60 min.

UC Irvine Career Breakthrough Seminar Series: Social Branding and Career Advancement

Whether you’re starting your first job or trying to advance in your career, this seminar will give you strategies you can use to make the most of your career. Join UC Irvine Alumni, the UC Irvine Career Center and UC Irvine Extension for a unique simulcast seminar and webinar. Gain social branding strategies you can use to make the most of your career advancement and business. Listen to expert advice and gain a competitive advantage in career and business advancement.

Presented by:
Tim Callen, Managing Partner, RBT Agency
Debbie Miller, founder, SocialHospitality.com
Jonalyn Morris, Public Relations, Consultant

Moderated by:
Jeff Minhas, Executive Director, UCI Alumni Association
Oct. 22, 2013; Recording approx. 60 min

UC Irvine Career Breakthrough Seminar Series: Tips and Insight from HR Leaders

Alice White, Vice President Human Resources for Allergan Inc. and Jim Shaw, Talent Acquisition Specialist for Toshiba will share their perspectives, giving you insight into creating your unique competitive advantage in the workplace.

Presented by:
Alice White, Vice President Human Resources, Allergan Inc.
Jim Shaw, Talent Acquisition Consultant, Toshiba America Information Systems

Moderated by:
Christy Cates, Senior Executive Director, University Advancement Human Resources
May 7, 2013; Recording approx. 60 min.

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Salary Negotiation: How to Get What You are Worth

Negotiating can be a nerve racking activity that produces anxiety and more questions than answers. Do you take what is offered? Should you negotiate for more? What else can you ask for? As a mid-career professional, how do you negotiate a salary increase and move up in the organization? If you are changing careers, how can you leverage your past career to your best advantage in your new career? In this interactive workshop, you'll explore the rules of negotiation, learn how to navigate the negotiation process, as well as get answers to some common negotiation questions. You'll gain a better understanding of the types of questions you should be asking for during a salary negotiation, what factors you should consider during negotiation, and ways to negotiate effectively as a new employee or mid-career employee.

Presented by Christine Kelly, University Extension Instructor 
December 12, 2012; Recording approx. 60 min
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Boost Your Interviewing IQ: Interviewing Skills

Transform your interview performance and land your ideal job. This free lunchtime webinar will give you specific strategies to ace the interview process including: understanding competency and behavioral-based questions; mastering all types of interviews such as video interviews, phone screens, and face-to-face interviews; addressing salary discussions; dressing for success; presenting and selling yourself confidently; getting your body language right; and following-up after the interview. 

Presented by Holly Davis, Career Counselor 
December 4, 2012; Recording approx. 60 min

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Resume Writing: How to Get Your Resume Noticed

Having a good resume is the key to success in getting the job of your dream. In this lunchtime webinar, you'll discover how an effective resume can increase your marketability and enhance your job search. The webinar will cover the purpose of a resume, when you need it and when you don't, and ways to best structure your resume for maximum effectiveness.  Receive step-by-step instruction on how to build a compelling resume that grabs the reader's attention and succinctly defines your value to your potential employer. You'll also learn how to generate cover letters that get noticed. Discover the latest trends in hiring practices and what companies are looking for.

Presented by Julie LaCroix, Career Counselor 
November 27, 2012; Recording approx. 60 min.
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Career Building in a Tough Economy: Networking

Standing out in the job market is now more crucial than ever and professional networking is the key! This free lunchtime webinar will give you specific strategies to jumpstart your career search including: networking for connection, not just contact; appearing under or overqualified; creating and broadcasting your unique brand; addressing limited work history for recent grads; and staying on top of your game. 

Presented by Kirwan Rockefeller, Ph.D., Acting Director, Special Projects, University Extension 
Tuesday, August 7, 2012; Recording approx. 60 min.