Student Researcher Q&A: Mina Anochie and the 2021-2022 Astin Community Scholars Program

The Community Scholars Program is a collaboration between the UCLA Labor Center, the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment (IRLE), Labor Studies Interdepartmental Program, and the Department of African American Studies, Million Dollar Hoods Program that brings together UCLA students and community-based change agents to address a live public policy matter.

Students in the 2021-2022 Community Scholars Program explore the scope of employment and the nature of jobs that are attached to the current system of mass incarceration in Los Angeles County with the goal to support policy efforts aimed at decarceration by elevating solutions that speak to the workforce, informed by people who have been employed in or incarcerated in the existing regime.

Mina Anochie, third-year public affairs major and labor studies and education minors, shares her experience with the 2021-2022 Community Scholars Program below.

1. How did you hear about the Community Scholars Program and what led you to apply?

I saw a post about the Community Scholars Program on the Labor Studies Instagram page. I applied because I wanted to continue doing research at UCLA, but I wanted to engage in research from a community-oriented approach to learn new research skills that would have the community work alongside me.

2. Community Scholars partners UCLA undergraduate students with graduate students and community-based advocates to conduct collaborative participatory action research. Describe your experience in this learning environment. 

So far it has been a new and eye-opening experience for me. It is nice hearing and learning from people who have different perspectives to bring to the table.

3. What advice would you give students who are considering applying to the Community Scholars Program?

Figure out your “why” for engaging in community-engaged research and ask yourself what role would you like to play in this research experience. Also, continue to find ways to build upon your passions.

4. What skills or knowledge have you learned from this research experience?

Throughout this research experience, I am always learning about the importance of decolonizing research methodologies that are often linked to European imperialism and colonialism. I have also learned important skills such as inclusive language, ethical commitments and much more.

5. What has been the most fulfilling part of your time with Community Scholars Program so far?

Meeting in person for the first time at the UCLA James Lawson Jr. Worker Justice Center and sharing a dinner together.

Interested in participating in the 2022-2023 Community Scholars Program? Applications now OPEN.

Those chosen to participate will receive a research scholarship during the 2022-23 academic year. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the major and have junior or senior standing in the fall of 2022. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 15th, 2022. Students selected for an interview will be contacted via email. Questions about the program can be sent to Dr. Douglas Barrera at

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