Updates from the social sciences Anteater community

Katrya Ly with students at OC United Way’s community service event
 Katrya Ly ’20 with students at OC United Way’s community service event, Rally for Change.

Katrya Ly ’20, social policy and public service
Orange County United Way
Katrya Ly is currently an education specialist with Orange County United Way, serving students all over Orange County. She is managing programs for college readiness, college access, and career preparation. Her favorite part of working at the OC United Way is meeting the resilient students who are making a change in their lives and communities.


Andre Ramirez ’07, economics
Founder, Flick Power
Andre Ramirez recently founded Flick Power to help households lower their bills and carbon impact. Using in-house developed and patented light switch technology, Flick notifies users when energy is most expensive by using color coded signals on the face of the switch. In so doing, Flick aims to make lowering energy bills and reducing daily environmental impact effortless and routine. Supported by angel investors including a UCI Trustee, one of Flick's first pilots is with UCI Student Housing where the technology is proving to help significantly reduce energy use during critical times of the day. Flick will soon be launching a Kickstarter to give early access to its switch, which will provide anyone in North America the ability to lower their bills and carbon footprint from daily energy use.


Erik Skaggs ’88, economics
Espire Services LLC
Erik Skaggs graduated with a bachelor’s in economics in 1988 and served as ASUCI president 1987-88 when he helped establish the current UCI shuttle bus system. Today, Skaggs is a U.S. Army combat veteran and the chief innovation officer at Espire Services, a defense contractor based in northern Virginia. He is the architect and intellectual property owner of a new audience segmentation methodology called BESM - Base Enabler Segmentation Methodology. BESM is operationalized through the GrayPlan.IO interactive analytic platform and is currently being used by US DOD Special Operations to identify, baseline, and influence networks of friendly and hostile entities. His work with Special Operations Forces has also helped pioneer new thinking in the use of indicator messaging techniques to build and manage audience perceptions. This approach is being beta tested today in the CENTCOM area of operations for use globally in Great Power Competition campaigns.


Matthew Stein ’00, political science
Partner, Law & Stein
Matthew Stein’s trust litigation and estate planning firm, Law & Stein in Irvine, recently had the opportunity to help a senior community. When defending those entangled in elder financial abuse, inheritance disputes, and trust litigation, his firm often works with clients who either have, or know someone who has, Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. More than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, with that number projected to rise to nearly 13 million by 2050. The disease not only affects one person, but their entire family and friends who love them, which is why Law & Stein is a proud supporter of the local Alzheimer's Orange County non-profit organization. In early spring, the firm donated essential gardening items and then got busy working to put together a garden for the Acacia Adult Day Services in Garden Grove. They removed the old soil and put in new soil, removed and installed new planting borders, installed a succulent garden, painted benches, and built a tool shed. The community now has a place to plant flowers and vegetables or just sit and enjoy the garden. The firm’s volunteers enjoyed every minute of it and are so grateful for the opportunity to continue to support the Alzheimer’s community. Zot! Zot! Zot!


Jackie Wu
 Jackie Wu ’11, Principal, J Wu Consulting.

Jackie Wu ’11, political science
Principal, J Wu Consulting
Jackie Wu started J Wu Consulting last year to serve nonprofit organizations seeking to make a greater impact through politically empowering their clients and members. An Asian American woman-owned consultancy, J Wu Consulting offers civic engagement, voter outreach strategy, communications, and grant writing services. She helps clients bring about positive social change by focusing on community empowerment, storytelling, and social justice through a compassionate lens for transformative action. She has been featured by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and CalMatters and has provided presentations and workshops on voting and the election process to numerous local and statewide organizations. She experienced an epiphany after the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection, and felt called to utilize her experiences and knowledge to play a more direct role in empowering historically excluded communities to realize their political power and potential.


Dennis Kause ’79, social science
Dueling Ducks Brewery
Dennis Kause and his son, Daniel, opened Dueling Ducks Brewing Co, which just hit its one-year anniversary. Dueling Ducks is serving some of Orange County’s finest craft beers, offering an ever-evolving menu that is all brewed in house. When Kause isn’t at Dueling Ducks with his son, he can be found cheering on UCI baseball at Cicerone Field.


Christopher Opfell ’77, psychology
Trial Farmers Insurance
Christopher Opfell went to Pepperdine Law after UCI and has been a trial attorney in Los Angeles for the past 40 years. While he is still working full time, he’s looking forward to retirement from law and becoming an artist.


Angel Lira ’20, political science
Fulbright Fellow
Two years ago, Angel Lira started his application for a Fulbright Research Grant to Paraguay with UCI's Scholarship Opportunities Program office. He’s now living in Asuncion one month into the grant working alongside Fundación Paraguaya, whose director and founder is Martin Burt, UCI visiting professor in global studies. Lira is studying the barriers to civic engagement and political participation that rural youth in Paraguay experience. Lira considers himself fortunate and privileged to be representing UCI as an alumnus abroad in the Fulbright program, and couldn't have done it without the School of Social Sciences.

“Who knows if I would be a Fulbrighter today if I hadn't heard Professor Burt give a lecture in the International Studies Forum class! I will be in Paraguay for the remainder of the year, and am planning on taking a two month backpacking trip through South America before I return to Southern California. Zot! Zot! Zot!” 




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