What is BEST?
The Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST) supports student efforts to address campus climate-issues at UCLA. To this end, BEST aspires to provide transformative experiences for emerging organizers, activist, and activist-scholars. We support young leaders by providing funding, femtorship, activist trainings, networking, and coordination.
BEST is a student-led initiative receiving funding from UCLA's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to develop and support student projects that promote an equal learning environment at UCLA. BEST also receives generous support from Gold Shield, Alumnae of UCLA.
A message from Vice Chancellor Jerry Kang:
“As Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, I chose to fund the BEST Grant Program because we cannot build equity for all -- my Office’s mission -- without investing in “bottoms-up” initiatives that leverage the experiences, perspectives, and talents of UCLA’s diverse student body. BEST offers a prime example of grassroots action that complements the “top down” strategies born in Murphy Hall. A student-led initiative dedicated to promoting a positive campus climate for all UCLA students, BEST directly furthers UCLA’s core commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of BEST and its Leadership Team and do not necessarily reflect the positions or opinions of the University or the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
Who is BEST?
Dr. Sayil Camacho is a doctoral graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. As a graduate student, Dr. Camacho co-conceptualized and co-founded the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST). Dr. Camacho's academic research expands upon her campus climate work, exploring the intersections of workplace climate, immigrant populations, and academic productivity among academic migrants and students. Her published article in The Journal of Higher Education was the first study to explore the recent unionization phenomena of the postdoctoral workforce, and the findings were framed within the broader contexts of globalization, institutional power structures, and racial and social hierarchies. Dr. Camacho's dissertation study, Postdoctoral Scholars at the University of California: Constructing a Migrant Identity Within the Workplace, develops the aforementioned constructs and offers a new framework to understand relationships between migrant identity formation and labor experiences. Dr. Camacho's past organizing experience includes being a union organizer for university service workers and academic workers, as well as serving within various capacities as a student affairs professional.
Manpreet Dhillon Brar
Manpreet Dhillon Brar has facilitated classes on race, class, gender, and other social identities at UCLA and at California State University at Northridge. She has completed training for intergroup dialogue facilitation at the University of Michigan and at UCLA. Manpreet has also worked as a diversity trainer with various organizations for over five years. Her work to promote inclusion and acceptance has included two-years of programming and inclusive education for dependent adults with learning and developmental disabilities through UCLA Extension’s Pathway Program. Manpreet is now a third-year doctoral student in Human Development and Psychology within the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. During these past three year, Manpreet has served as a student leader and community activist in many spaces within and outside of the higher education space. Aside from her work with BEST as a co-founder and Program Coordinator, Manpreet has led critical dialogue workshops around the campus and has also created sustainability within the Graduate Undergraduate Mentorship Program at UCLA. Her research focuses on intergroup relations through taking a particular focus on the intersectionality of social identities and discrimination, prejudice, and oppression faced by adolescents from diverse backgrounds. In her "free" time, Manpreet enjoys movies (more as a critic), travelling, spending time with loved ones, cooking creative foods and trying new adventures. The photo here is from her traditional Sikh wedding just over a year ago.
Kareem Elzein is a PhD student in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. As one of the founding members of the Bruin Excellence & Student Transformation Grant Program (BEST), he has served as a mentor to the Beautiful Mind Project, Cross-Cultural Center pilot program, and Social Justice Advocates. Kareem’s mentorship draws on nearly a decade of organizing experience, including work with the Western Service Workers Association (WSWA) in Santa Cruz County, Ma’an Youth Group and Al-Nakab Center for Youth Activities in Beirut, Lebanon, and White People for Black Lives in Los Angeles. As an organizer, Kareem works to resolve the contradictions between his class, race, and gender privilege and the social justice work that he is dedicated to. He most often finds himself in roles of allyship. As such, he strives to use his amassed privileges to support the leadership of other communities more directly impacted by oppression. Still, as a white man, he believe that he must balance traditional solidarity with direct action within white communities and among men, as an accomplice to PoC-led movements and organizers.
Hailing from a working-class Midwestern community, Kristen Brock-Petroshius is a long-time racial justice organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). She is a budding movement-scholar (aka PhD Student) in UCLA's Social Welfare department helping to build and research organizing methods that move dominant U.S. publics’ material, ideological, and emotional investments in white supremacy toward liberation. In translation, her work is about transforming white supremacy through organizing. She is queer and the proud parent of two kiddos.