Christina Kollias

Christina Kollias, a third-year political science and social policy and public service double major, is one of five inaugural recipients of the UCI Social Sciences Moore Scholarship for Community and Social Change. The $2,000 award supports students who demonstrate the most academic promise and potential to enact change and improve the community. Below, the Tustin native shares her journey, academic achievements, and deep-rooted passion for social justice.

What made you decide to pursue your current field of study, and specifically at UCI? What interests you most about your work?

I was initially drawn to UCI as a political science and social policy & public service double major due to the vast amount of opportunity that Irvine and the greater Orange County community has to offer in the realm of policy innovation, political advocacy, and government affairs. Additionally, the social policy & public service major intrigued me, as I was someone who was looking to study policies pertaining to social justice and welfare. I believe that my choice to attend UCI as well as pursue a double degree has positioned me in the right direction, allowing me to pursue countless opportunities such as interning at the Board of Supervisors, lobbying elected officials on behalf of the student body, studying abroad, and being involved in local campaign efforts. I always knew that I had a passion for advocacy work, however, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of what it means to be an advocate in various spaces while being in the School of Social Sciences. Although I have been able to work in a breadth of fields, I am most interested in the intersection of international policies, welfare provisions, and economic inequality.

When do you plan to finish your degree and what are your plans thereafter?

Upon completion of my degrees, I am looking to attend graduate school and pursue a master’s in the realm of social policy. My future is still a bit indistinct, however, I believe that graduate school will provide me with the same understanding and growth that my undergraduate experience has given me thus far. I am particularly interested in policy research and NGO work, however, I have not yet ruled out the possibility of law school.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?

I believe that my successes within the Office of the External Vice President have proven to be some of my biggest accomplishments while at UCI. We work in higher education advocacy, and this past year, I was able to serve as the Government Relations Director, where I led and strategized the office’s legislative agenda. This gave me the opportunity to regularly discuss bills with elected officials both in California and Washington DC. Our efforts have led to an increase in voter registration on campus, advocating for equitable districting maps with the Irvine City Council, and continuously meeting with stakeholders and elected officials to discuss affordable housing plans for students. These accomplishments are ones that are much bigger than myself, however, I am proud to have been a leader in advocating for my fellow students, giving college students a voice at the table.

Give us a quick list of the activities that have kept you busy at UCI outside the classroom:

- Government Relations Director, Local Affairs Coordinator, and now, the Co-Chief of Staff for the Office of the External Vice President.
- Social Sciences Senator
- Policy Intern at the Orange County Board of Supervisors, District 5
- President, College Democrats at UC Irvine
- Course Reader for Social Science 40
- Campaign Fellow for Pete Hardin for District Attorney and Katie Porter for Congress

Who would you consider to be your mentors at UCI?

There isn’t one person that has played an important role thus far, but the collective of inspiring professors and peers have all shaped me into the leader and student I have become. My professors have opened my eyes to the wide variety of professions that I could pursue with my education and challenged a lot of my initial beliefs of political science. Within my involvement at school, I am constantly meeting students with exceptional leadership skills and ideas that push me to become a better individual, pursuing more involvement on and off campus.

Are there any unique circumstances/life experiences that have played a major role in where and who you are today? What challenges or hurdles have you faced in getting to where you are today?

Transitioning from COVID during my senior year to attending a college with a large undergraduate population was a bit of a challenge for me but living on campus during my first year made a world of difference. I immediately fell into the groove of things once I began attending classes, meeting my professors, and finding involvements that contributed to my vocational development.

What’s your best memory thus far from your undergraduate experience at UCI?

Spending time with my friends after classes and on the weekends, going to Washington DC with the Office of the External Vice President for UC Hill Day, and living in the freshman year dorms.



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