What’s in a Name?

As I was typing my name at the bottom of an email to my PI (principal investigator AKA research professor), I did what I (sadly) often do.

I misspelled it. (Of course, I corrected it after I realized what I did).

Arlene Ho. 8 letters, yet even for the person who goes by it (me), it’s all too easy to make a mistake with such a core part of yourself. Most people do identify themselves with their names, so it got me thinking: if it’s that easy for me to misspell my name, which should be pretty set in stone since that’s what is on my birth certificate, how easy would it be to “misspell” what I wanted in the future, or even right now? In other words, how do I really know that one day, I didn’t just accidentally jumble the letters or thoughts in my brain to accidentally spell “doctor” as my career choice, or “philanthropist” or “humanitarian” as the type of person I wanted to be?

I suddenly had a flashback back to when I was a kid, when I really just wanted a nickname. My friends would have nicknames because there would be some kind of shortened version of their names that we could call them by: Nance (Nancy), Debs (Debbie), Jenn (Jennifer), etc. “Arlene” is a pretty hard name to shorten, so I had all but given up.

Then, in high school, I acquired a nickname from my tennis coach: A. Ho. Yes, he really called me A. Ho for 4 years whenever he had the chance. This was because in the score books, you would write the first initial of your first name and then your entire last name. Anyway, because of that, my tennis coach would always misspell my actual name. I also still get called A. Ho to this day because of him (thanks, Coach Lou).

But you know what? Regardless of what name I was called by, and regardless of how it was spelled, it never changed the way I felt about myself. No matter what you’re called, you’re still going to retain your core, your sense of “self.” No matter what you think you’re going to become career-wise, you’re still going to have something in the “future.” I think the biggest fear that people have, especially coming into their first quarter/year of college, is that you’ll have to decide your entire life path as soon as you get here. This isn’t even close to being true, since something like 70% (rough statistic) of people change their majors during the course of their college careers. Beyond that, a lot of people don’t even pursue careers that are directly related to their college major.

So the next time you get angry that the barista at Starbucks misspelled your name, just remember that it’s not his or her fault that your “core” isn’t evident to them. More often than not, it’ll take people a few tries to really get rid of those pesky red underlines that make people uncertain if they really understand what you’re all about (or how you’re really spelled).

If I haven’t beaten enough out of this spelling metaphor or gone on enough tangents, come to my office hours and we can discuss all the possible ways to spell Arlene (Arleen? Arlean? Arelene???). Also, please never misspell your professor’s name in an e-mail.

Happy studying and good luck on the first round of midterms in the upcoming weeks!

- Arlene Ho(:

Welcome, Class of 2018! … and of course everyone else too!

PAA all u 2014 As the CHP PAAs for 2014-2015, we are excited to welcome everyone back to UCI and to the Campuswide Honors Program this year! To kick off our blog posts, here are some words from all four of us:


Alex: Hello everyone! For those of you who have not yet met me, my name is Alex Block, and I am one of your CHP PAAs for 2014-2015!! I enjoy talking to anyone about most anything, and I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you as best I can in the coming months. Some things about me: I am a fourth year double major in Mathematics and Information & Computer Science, I hail from the San Fernando Valley (specifically Woodland Hills), California, I love playing video games as a way to relax and spend time with friends and other people, and I am a huge Childish Gambino fan. There’s a lot more to me than just these, so come to my office hours and chat! Take it easy, CHP!

Arlene: CHPeople! Please read our blog! It’ll be awesome, I promise. If you want to know more about me, please read my bio in the links above (because I don’t want to bore you with the facts about myself in this little snippet). Otherwise, I really do look forward to meeting and getting to know as many of you as I can, whether it is through an event, through office hours, or even just through running into me in a class or on campus. Have a great one, y’all!

Bo: Hello everyone!  I just want to welcome each and every one of you to a brand new school year!  I’m sure all of you have exciting new goals and challenges to see through and I sincerely hope that we can be a part of making that happen.  Even if we aren’t, I hope you will come tell us about all the awesome things you all are doing.  Anywho, you’ll be hearing from me in the near future, so stay tuned for more!

Marissa: Throughout the year, we hope to bring you quality blog posts about academics, life, or whatever is on your or our mind(s)! Let us know what you want us to write about and we’ll do our best to deliver! We’re aiming to have a blog post every week, so make sure to visit frequently!

Finals and Silliness

“Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind.”
C.S. Lewis

It is that wonderful yet dreaded part of the year again. Finals week. *imagine dramatic music here* I say wonderful because it’s that last week before three wonderful and well deserved weeks of break for all of us! It’s a time to buckle down and study but at the same time it’s also a time to be silly.

Too often when it gets time to this time of the quarter, everyone disappears into what I call the Final Vortex of No Sleep. Number one everyone should sleep! While you may think cramming one more tiny piece of information into your brain will help you do well on the final, it would probably be good if you were awake enough to recall any information.

So the quote above. I’m going to digress for a little bit but please bear with me. Do you remember when you were kids and learning something new was one of the most exciting things that could happen during a day. As a kid, I remember that adults always found it so adorable that I found it so fascinating that the moon had different phases. That kind of excitement and that kind of silliness is what we should try to get back as young adults. I see people in study rooms with their heads in their hands trying to physically take the information from their textbooks and stuff it in their brains. Learning does not have to be that painful! Adults can be silly, and we can find that silliness and apply during finals week studying. I know for me drawing out a particular concept or making up a song to memorize something leads to a lot of fun and silly moments. Working hard doesn’t have to be painful, it can be fun and silly! Let’s make learning creative this finals week.

Also on another note, take time to be a little silly while studying. Watch a silly video as a break, here’s my favorite one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE-1RPDqJAY . If you’re one of that person who gets stuck on the internet for four hours after watching one video then go outside and run around in a circle. People may stare at you but getting fresh air and moving around a little does wonders. Your brain is going to be working in overtime so don’t forget to work out other parts of your body as well! Also if you’re too scared to go outside and run around in a circle, take some friends and make them do it with you. I know for me most of my strength during finals weeks comes from the support of my friends and it really helps to have someone to be silly with.

Good luck on finals everyone! I know you’re all going to do splendidly.  If you need more ideas/have any more ideas on how to incorporate silliness and fun into studying come see me in office hours!

Happy Studying and Merry Finals

Finals week is creeping up, which means time to find sleeping bags at Starbucks, study rooms in the libraries turned into kitchens, and students around every bend of the Student Center.  But in the midst of it all, don’t forget to make time for these small things!

  1. Health. All-nighters…are they REALLY worth it? The Associated Professional Sleep Societies says otherwise; you’re four times more likely to suffer a stroke, even if you eat healthy and exercise regularly. And it makes you look old, fat, and dumb. No one wants that.
  2. Exercise. I know there’s no time to even get up to use the restroom because you are just so overwhelmed with work. But I guarantee that if you take a 10-15 minute stroll or run outside, you will retain much more information when you get back.
  3. Shower….please…. we notice when you don’t.
  4. Encourage others. Whether its a cup of coffee or an encouraging note, little things make a huge difference when your friends are clinging onto their sanity by a thread.

Remember that you’re part of the 6.7% of the world that has a college education. There are millions of people who would do anything to be able to pursue a higher education—but never get the opportunity to. Take advantage of what you have!

Happy studying and good luck on finals!

Home for the Holidays

So what’s up with the weather, AMIRITE?


Really, though. Southern California weather completely blows my mind. I don’t understand how everyone thinks the weather here is perfect all the time. It’s December and it’s still 70 degrees. Not only is this the opposite of the weather that I prefer – no, it’s much worse than that – I can’t even tell what the weather is going to be like in two hours. If I wake up and it’s cold and raining, I’m going to wear a rain jacket and knee high socks. But by noon, who knows? It could be 85 degrees and then I look like a complete idiot for even wearing actual pants.

Especially when you consider how much walking I do every day and how much time I spend away from home. I’m on campus for at least 8 hours a day, and I’m certainly never sitting in the same place for much longer than an hour at a time. So not only do I have to be outside in 85 degree weather wearing boots and a scarf, but I have to walk around and around and around and suffer my ignorant consequences repeatedly and extensively for the majority of my day. For a good old-fashioned NorCal girl, this is an absolute nightmare.

I like walking around in the rain. I like drinking hot chocolate, bundled up in a blanket on the couch, watching movies during a thunderstorm. I like not being able to see the sky for several days in a row. I like being able to see my breath in the air. And I absolutely love seeing “Hi: 52” on the weather forecast. Why did I move to Irvine? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain that to anyone. But it certainly wasn’t for the weather.

Don’t get me wrong. The weather isn’t perfect in Northern California, either. Sometimes it rains so furiously that I can’t even see where I’m driving on the freeway. Not exactly ideal when you have to drive for half an hour to get to school every morning. But at least where I’m from, the outfit that I pick in the morning still makes sense by the afternoon.

Man, I can’t wait to go home for the holidays.

♥ Julia

My Thoughts about Thoughts and DNA (and Legos)

There’s a little bit of science here, but have no fear, I’ll keep it simple!

As you all hopefully remember from any Biology classes you’ve taken, the information for a gene is stored in DNA, and this information is then translated into a protein that will have some kind of effect in the organism. In more complicated organisms like ourselves however, the parts of the DNA that end up of getting translated are spaced apart and separated into unique segments

What this means is that when the DNA is translated into protein, the protein is a combination of a bunch of smaller parts.  Part A might let the protein bind to other proteins, Part B might let it catalyze some reactions, and Part C might do something entirely different. And the parts usually won’t have an effect on how any of the other parts work.

You can think of it kind of like building legos. You’ll have long and fat pieces, short and thin pieces, decorative pieces, and maybe some wheel pieces. You can combine all the necessary legos to make a car or a cube or anything you can imagine.

A cool current theory is that one of the ways that new genes are made through evolution is by taking these parts and recombining them at random.  Part of Protein A shoots lasers and part of Protein B is a vegetarian. Putting these parts of the genes together will make a laser-shooting vegetarian protein! Of course it would take millions of years for this random recombining to make a protein that’s useful and helps the organism survive.

This process, the random assortment of functional segments to create something new, is kind of similar to the way people think. When I think about my thinking, I realize that a lot of my new thoughts are just composites of some of my old thoughts.  A story that I’ll come up will maybe have a character whose very similar to another character from a story I’ve read, or contain a plot element from a movie I saw recently.

This process is also the basis for creative thinking. How many fantasy novels, movies, or videogames have orcs or elves in them? Most of these creative authors  got these ideas either directly or indirectly from Tolkien, but they use these basic ideas in different ways by combining them with ideas from other sources or with ideas of their own. They create something new with an old idea. Heck, even Tolkein himself was influenced by the writings and culture of the Anglo-Saxons centuries ago.

I don’t really have a point to all of this, but its just something interesting I’ve been pondering lately and I thought I’d share :)

PS: I have my office hours right now, so come on by!

Patrick Brennock.

The Fiction of Memory

Two years ago, the summer reading for incoming freshmen was an article titled The Memory Doctor – all about UCI’s own distinguished professor, Elizabeth Loftus, and her work with eyewitness testimony. Unlike several of my unnamed classmates, I actually read this article. I read it, and I LOVED it. I found her work fascinating, and I still do. So much so that I want to share it again, with the entire CHP community.

But I’m not going to make you read a 25 page article. Luckily for you, Loftus recently gave a TED talk in Scotland. So I’m just going to ask that you spend the next 17 minutes and 37 seconds listening to an extremely intelligent woman with a fascinating story.

YouTube Preview Image

I sincerely hope that you enjoy this video as much as I did. Come visit me in office hours so we can talk about it :)

♥ Julia

P.S. Here is the original article I mentioned, if you’d like to read that as well.

The Raisin Meditation

Okay. So just a disclaimer. I don’t even like raisins.

But college (at least for me) is all about trying new things and using these experiences toward your benefit. A couple weeks ago, I attended a leadership conference with a couple of the other lovely PAA’s. In all honesty, I really didn’t want to go at first because it was early and I had the stereotypical image of a conference full of long speakers and boring icebreakers. But it was awesome. If you ever have the chance to attend the UCI All-U Conference, you should definitely go because it definitely broke down all my preconceptions about what a conference should be like. But I’m getting off topic (which I like to do).


The point is, at this conference I learned how simple acts can really change how I perceive a given moment. If you want to hear the details about how the workshop went and how exactly they taught us to relax you should definitely come to my office hours because I would be totally okay with hanging out with any of you and playing with some raisins. But I think the main point is, you have to focus on small things in your life such as a raisin. All of us have so many things going on all the time with classes, research, extracurriculars, and the billions of other things that CHPers are a part of. Looking at the big picture is always good, but I find that a lot of people I talk to are always talking about the future. Sometimes you need to look at the present and focus on something small, like a raisin. Start by sitting in a quiet room, or out in the park since it is super pretty right now! Take a raisin or a Cheerio or some other small food item. Resist the urge to eat it, I know it’s hard. Let go of everything you’re thinking about: relationships, school, work, or how hungry you are because there is a raisin in your hand. Focus on how the raisin feels in your hand and just focus on that for at least 5 minutes. Ideally, you should close your eyes but if you’re worried about someone taking your stuff while you’re sitting there with a raisin I understand. At least look up at the sky or a tree, focus on the moment you are in right now and don’t let the hundreds of chaotic thoughts race back into your hand. At least for now. During these five minutes, focus on your heartbeat and the way the world feels around you because honestly five minutes is not going to make or break how much work you get done today. When you’re done with the five minutes or however much time you can spend focusing on the moment, open your eyes and just sit for one minute more. Absorb your present surroundings, I can’t promise that this method is a cure for stress but I can promise that at least those five minutes will have been focused on you.

I totally understand not being able to do this every day, but at least once a week take 5 minutes for just you. Your health and sanity is the main thing getting you through all the hard times and sometimes you just need a break. So take a break for yourself and make sure you’re focusing on the present. I wish you all the best of luck with midterms and if you guys ever feel stressed or just want to talk in general come visit me!!! I know this is a stressful time but I believe in all of you!


P.S. Remember to take 5 minutes for yourself :)

Leading with Lollipops

When you have a few minutes to spare, watch this video. It’s good, I promise.YouTube Preview Image
Has anyone ever had a “lollipop effect” on you? Have you ever wondered if YOU had a lollipop effect on someone else? Food for thought! A few days ago, I was confronted with the question “Who inspires you and why?” One person popped into my head immediately–my latest and greatest Lollipop experience.

Just a few months ago I met who was about to become one of the greatest influences of my life. The accumulation of his actions has never failed to encourage me to be a better person, but a single simple act of support touched my heart and he doesn’t know the gravity of the impact he left behind. It was as simple as sacrificing a few hours of his day to be present at my White Coat Ceremony.  The fact that he drove to Irvine and sat through a speech that had no significant meaning to him just to watch a random lady help me into a coat, all within a span of 10 seconds, mattered to me.

Up until this point, I had never met anyone with a heart so ready and willing to serve others. As a nursing student, I have gained (more than) enough book knowledge from my professors. But through his everyday actions, he’s taught me the two most important skills in the nursing profession: compassion and selflessness. He has indirectly encouraged me to chase my dream of becoming a volunteer nurse in third world countries even though I would have virtually nothing financially.

Bottom line is the way you live your life matters. You’re contagious. My challenge to you is to consciously make an attempt to be more patient, generous, happy, or whatever it is that you think you need to work on. Be a Drew Dudley to others. The smallest things might have the greatest impact, just like it did for the girl in the TEDx video.

–Mindy Chin

p.s. Come to my office hours.

In Closing.

The year is over. And it’s funny, it didn’t really hit me until I watched everyone in Honors General Chemistry get up, turn in their final, and leave. Okay, yeah I still have to take my final exams, but for all intents and purposes, my year is done. My last shift as a PAA in the office was last Thursday, my last tutoring session as a peer tutor for Chem H2C was last Friday, and today was the last time I would see a lot of familiar faces for quite a long time. After investing so much time into the CHP and the Honors Chemistry students, honestly I want some closure. I just want to close this year out knowing that in the end, it was a good year. Not a perfect year, but a good year. Maybe that’s why I doubled back and looked for people to talk to after the Chem H2C final. Maybe that’s why I went back to the CHP office today just to sit there and talk to Sheila and Mary.

Looking back, I think about how teachers must feel, having invested an entire school year into their students, getting to know their names, their personalities, their habits and their quirks, only to have to let them go at the end of the school year. It’s hard. Because on the one hand, while I feel good about everything we have done this year through advising, programs, and hanging out, maybe it’s just that when looking back, I can see where I could have improved, how I could have been a better PAA, how I could have made an even greater impact on all of you guys in the CHP. And oh how I wish I had all my time back to fix it, to make it better, to get a do-over.

But then I remember the poem Desiderata, and in particular, the lines:

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Who am I comparing myself to? My imagined perfect self. But, “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

And so looking back on this year, I’m thankful for all you guys that we’ve gotten to meet, my co-workers turned friends, all the people who trusted us enough to give advice to them, and for your guys’ ever constant support. As for next year, we’ll still be around! If you ever run into us, don’t be shy, feel free to say hi. Even though we’re no longer your advisors, we hope you’ll still call us your peers, and your friends.

Good luck with the rest of your finals, have an amazing summer, and we’ll see you guys soon.

David Cao

2012-2013 PAAs