This week, OTH is featuring Brian MacDonald, the Director of Residential Education at Residential Life. We sat down with him and got the details on his life pre-UCLA, Comic Con excursions, and his favorite college experiences. Read all about it here!
So Brian, tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from originally? And where were you before you came to UCLA?
I was born in Boston, MA and grew up about 20 minutes south of Boston. After finishing college, I moved to Vermont for graduate school, after which I decided to do something totally different and move to California, where I totally fell in love with this state. I spent time working at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and at Rutgers University in New Jersey before deciding it was time to come back to California.
How does Rutgers compare to UCLA?
UCLA is about to begin celebrating its 100th anniversary, which happens in 2019. Rutgers was already 150 years old in 1919, about to celebrate its 250th anniversary. It’s a place with a ton of history, but with many new initiatives. Both universities have passionate students, great sports programs, and are located next to two of the most influential cities in the world, respectively. Personally, I just connect with California on a molecular level, which keeps me passionate about helping its people.
To finally settle this argument, which coast is the best coast? (Hint: it rhymes with “best”).
I will always be a Boston sports fan, but I will happily cheer them on from the West Coast.
Do you have any favorite memories from living on campus during your college years?
The friendships, for sure. I made the best friends of my entire life in college, and they allowed me to mess up, make mistakes, and helped me begin to truly know myself. I’ll never forget them.
What is something most students don’t know about you?
I’ll do this “two truths and a lie” style.* Anyone who reads this will have to dig for the answer. 1) I’ve played in several bands 2) I had a brief mixed martial arts career 3) I ran for mayor of my town when I was 18
We hear that you are a major Comic Con fanatic (and have even been on some panels!). What has been your favorite Comic Con experience?
Aside from the first time I went and was just overwhelmed by being in such a large community of awesome people, I would have to say the screening of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World.
What is the best costume you have ever seen at Comic Con? What is the craziest thing you have dressed up as?
I’m a little tall for a storm trooper. The best costume I have ever seen is a tough one, but this past year Marvel announced they were handing Thor’s hammer to a woman for the first time, and so there were a ton of women and girls dressed as Thor. It was amazing to see so many women empowered by this, and challenged a lot of people’s idea of who gets to be the hero in the story.
So getting to the serious stuff, what do you do in Res Life as the Residential Education Director?
College can be the time where someone discovers what they are most passionate about, identifies a way to earn a living engaging in that passion, and prepares them to contribute to a better world. Regardless of what my positions have been, I have always seen that as my job. I this context, its doing it directly where people live, so I have the added responsibility of ensuring that people don’t blow themselves up while discovering that passion. I hope to do everything I can to make sure our residents have every opportunity to discover, feel inspired, and to find value in helping others along their journey.
What do you hope to accomplish for the Hill this year?
This year my main goal is to learn from others, especially the students, about what UCLA means to them. I have been meeting with as many faculty and staff across campus as possible trying to understand their story, as well. I’m also fascinated by UCLA’s rich history and incredible list of alumni.
Do you have any advice for new students On The Hill this year?
Its easy to get caught up in the information overload we experience every day, and with our ambitions goals for the future, and forget to connect with the present. Sometimes we’re so buried in our phones, our to-do lists, or our own heads, that a great potential friend or opportunity passes right by. Stay in the present. Great things happen there.
Thanks for sitting in with us!
*The lie is that Brian never ran for mayor!