An Evening With Luis Alberto Urrea

In many respects the life and work of Luis Alberto Urrea represent the fulfillment of the fabled American Dream. Born in Tijuana to an American mother and Mexican father, Urrea was raised in the Barrio Logan and Clairemont neighborhoods of San Diego. Often confined indoors because of poor health, the young Luis developed an avid interest in reading that was encouraged by his parents, though it didn’t occur to him then that he could be a professional writer.

As an undergraduate Urrea attended UC San Diego, which, in his words, “opened the door to a whole new world,” a world of Latin-American literature populated by Fuentes, Garcia Marquez, Borges, Llosa, Neruda, and others. Spurred on by their example, and encouraged by his professors and by noted author Ursula K. LeGuin, Urrea embarked on a prolific career as a writer. Indeed, not merely a writer but a true man of letters: poet, novelist, essayist, columnist, journalist, scholar, and educator.

Though not strictly autobiographical, much of Urrea’s work is inspired by his own experiences and those of his family. In the spirit of “write what you know,” he has often based characters on his relatives and other people he has encountered. Urrea is perhaps best known for his writings about the US-Mexico border region, but he points out that his true subject is not that physical border but “the borders that run between us, all of us.” Whatever his subjects or their source, Urrea’s work is marked by his distinctive voice, combining keen observation, rigorous research, fine attention to detail, an ear for the vernacular, a strong sense of social justice, a wry sense of humor, and, above all, a love for the real persons and invented characters about whom he writes.

While recounting his personal journey in his “Dinner in the Library” appearance, Urrea stresses the vital importance of education in shaping his worldview and guiding his career development. He believes that his work as an educator, currently as Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, enables him to celebrate his social and literary legacy while hopefully serving as inspiration for new generations of aspiring writers. By encouraging his students to mine their own heritage for source material, Urrea honors those who supported him at key points in his life.

Watch An Evening with Luis Alberto Urrea – Dinner in the Library 2018

Engaging K-16 Students in Lifelong Learning

“Why does lifelong learning have to start at 25 when we can instill this at an earlier age?” asks Edward Abeyta, Associate Dean, Community Engagement and Pre-College Programs at UC San Diego Extension. Being engaged in learning no matter the educational or career path you choose is vital to obtaining the skills and mindset you need to succeed. Abeyta outlines the programs UC San Diego is driving to engage K-16 students in not only thinking about their futures but building a skillset that can take them there. Hear how communities, industries and universities are working together to pilot programs that prepare students for college and careers.

Watch Career Ready and College Ready: Helping K-16 Students Succeed with Ed Abeyta – Job Won

Building Bridges Across Nations

Have you ever wondered how Amazon knows what products might pair well with your most recent purchase? Or how Netflix knows what you should watch next? They use recommender systems. Two students from Mexican universities spent their summer learning all about these complex systems at UC San Diego.

The students were part of the new Summer Internships for Mexican Students program at the Computer Science and Engineering department. Department Chair Dean Tullsen says he started the program in part to create a pipeline that brings top students from Mexican universities to UC San Diego. In this installment of the Summer With CSE series, Tullsen explains why he felt it was important to create that connection with schools in San Diego’s backyard.

You will also meet four student researchers as they work on two separate projects. While one pair studied recommender systems, the other took on machine learning. They helped figure out ways to improve research on hyperdimensional computing, which is meant to mimic the way the human brain functions. While their work was varied, all four were inspired by the experience.

Watch Summer With CSE: SIMS -The Summer Internships for Mexican Students Program

The New World of Work

“It’s all about the talent,” says Mary Walshok, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of Extension at UC San Diego. “Regions that are developing people across the spectrum of employment opportunities – not just rocket scientists but welders – are regions that have much more competitiveness.” How does where you live stack up and how do you develop the skill set to succeed in the modern global job market? On this edition of Job Won, Walshok joins host Phil Blair to discuss the need for job seekers, as well as cities, to embrace adaptability, the impact of project-based learning, and how to effectively bundle your skills.

Watch The New World of Work: Regional Competition, Adaptability, and Modern Skill Sets with Mary Walshok – Job Won

The Future of Single-Payer Health Care in California

Health care is one of the hottest issues in California politics. Last year, state lawmakers shelved a controversial single-payer bill. So, what’s next? California State Assembly Member David Chiu sat down with Dr. Andrew Bindman at UCSF to discuss the complex realities of health care reform.

Chiu represents the 17th Assembly District, which covers eastern San Francisco. He’s also one of eight members of the Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage, formed in the wake of the failed single-payer bill. Chiu and his colleagues on the committee have proposed 16 bills aimed at increasing health care access for Californians. But, he says there is still a long way to go to achieve universal coverage.

Just over 93 percent of Californians currently have health insurance. Chiu says getting that number to 100 percent, would cost billions of dollars. Switching all Californians to a single-payer system, would cost an estimated $400 billion a year – $200 billion of that needed from new taxes. And, Chiu says the cost is just one major challenge. There are also legal hurdles, including the need for federal tax waivers, which he calls a non-starter under the current administration. But, that doesn’t mean single-payer is dead in California. Chiu talks about the impact the upcoming election could have, and who he thinks should really be leading the conversation.

Watch The Landscape for Health Care Reform in California