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Alumni Profile: Jennifer L. Tse '01
Year Graduated from UCLA:
2001
Current Occupation/Field of Work:

Currently: U Visa Coordinator, Western Region for the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division in San Francisco. I specialize in immigration law, labor and human trafficking, workers rights, and I make recommendations to certify immigrant victims of crime on behalf of the federal government.
Previously: Non-profit attorney specializing in immigrants rights, civil rights, workers rights.

Work Experience:

*Attorney, Immigrant Justice Project, Southern Poverty Law Center - Atlanta, Georgia
*Law Clerk, Executive Office for Immigration Review, San Francisco Immigration Court - San Francisco, California
*Legal Intern, Anti-Trafficking Initiative, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund - New York, New York
*Refugee Caseworker, Amnesty International - Sydney, Australia
*Law Student Immigration Clinician, Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center - San Jose, California
*Feature Literary Agent Trainee, The Gersh Agency - Beverly Hills, California

Why did you choose Comm Studies as your major?

Originally, with a love for film and television, I was determined to get accepted into the Communication Studies major so that I could eventually produce and make films after graduation. I broke into Hollywood as an agent trainee at The Gersh Agency, working my way up through the mailroom to being an assistant for a feature literary agent. I had genuinely considered becoming an agent and was about to be promoted to be a junior agent, when my true passion called loudly—to do civil rights work and work for the public interest.

Favorite UCLA memory and/or professor:

My absolute favorite UCLA professor was and still is Professor Paul Von Blum. I took two courses with Prof. Von Blum, one of which was an upper division communications course on communication and social justice. It was in his course that I truly found my passion for the Civil Rights Movement, and where I genuinely learned about civil disobedience, the struggle for civil rights, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Gandhi, and Morris Dees... the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization that would eventually employ me as a lawyer almost 10 years after this course.

My absolute favorite UCLA professor was and still is Professor Paul Von Blum. I took two courses with Prof. Von Blum, one of which was an upper division communications course on communication and social justice. It was in his course that I truly found my passion for the Civil Rights Movement, and where I genuinely learned about civil disobedience, the struggle for civil rights, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Gandhi, and Morris Dees... the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization that would eventually employ me as a lawyer almost 10 years after this course.
When I had been applying to law schools, I went to Prof. Von Blum's office asking for a letter of recommendation - almost 4 years after taking his course. I explained my passion for social justice and hoping to do public interest work, which were the reasons I gave for wanting to go to law school. A skeptical Prof. Von Blum agreed to write my letter, but warned me of the number of his former students who also promised a similar commitment to civil rights law, only to not fulfill their pledge. Feeling a sense of accountability, I emailed Prof. Von Blum after every semester in law school to check in and to report that I was still committed to social justice. When I graduated from law school, I got a dream job as an immigration attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Atlanta, and I was so pleased to tell the good news to Prof. Von Blum. About one year into my practice, founder Morris Dees was speaking at Royce Hall, and as a UCLA alum, I was privileged to attend and accompany him. I invited Prof. Von Blum to the event, and he was able to meet Mr. Dees--the man whose very name I learned nearly a decade earlier in Prof. Von Blum's class.

How has Comm Studies empowered you in your professional and personal life?

Communication Studies equipped me with the skills to navigate the treacherous land of Hollywood, which ultimately prepared for law school and utilizing similar tools in becoming a lawyer. I learned quickly about surviving in a fast-paced and demanding industry while utilizing interpersonal skills and working with integrity. After a few years, I left The Industry to go law school, which was equally as grueling as Hollywood was for me, but I felt armed and equipped with my previous experience to tackle the law. My previous experience in Hollywood and my ability to communicate with people from all walks of life have been essential in being an effective attorney and advocate. Most importantly, in Hollywood and the legal profession, I made great and lasting friendships, which have held me tightly through some of my most difficult times personally and professionally. I am ever grateful for these experiences and for my UCLA education setting a profound foundation for where I am and who I have become today.

What advice would you give to a current Comm Studies student?

If feasible, choose to live and work a passion-fueled life rather than a life in the pursuit of wealth or what is expected of you. You'll be much happier and live more fulfilled having made that choice, and the good stuff will come.

Fun facts, interests, hobbies:

Enthusiastic eater, passionate food lover, semi-dedicated runner, hiker, advanced SCUBA diver, avid admirer of film and television.