Brandi Madison

Brandi Madison, senior UCI political science major, is the 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Community College Transfer Student Scholarship. The honor, which includes a $1,000 prize, recognizes academic excellence. Below, the first-gen Anteater and future legislator from San Jose shares the hurdles she’s overcome to get to UCI and where she plans to go from here.

What drew you to study political science, and specifically at UCI? What interests you most about your work?

As the first in my family to attend college, I am pursuing an advanced political science degree at the University of California, Irvine, to become a legislator to create public policies for environmental and social justice. I am passionate about advocating for human and environmental rights and being a voice for the voiceless.

What’s next after UCI?

After obtaining my undergraduate degree in political science this June 2024, I plan on pursuing a doctorate in political science.

What has been your biggest accomplishment as an Anteater?

My greatest accomplishment at UCI, undoubtedly, is being chosen for the Political Science Honors Thesis program. My research project examined how effectively the needs of disabled students are being met at the UCI Disability Service Center. I have received several awards and scholarships. In particular, I was awarded the Houts Family Scholarship, CA Community Colleges Student Affairs Association Leadership Scholarship,  De Anza Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action (VIDA) Leadership Award,  De Anza Commission Scholarship, De Anza FHDA Board of Trustee Scholarship and Kiwanis Club Scholarship. I am also a member of several honors programs, including the UCI Political Science Honors Program, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.                  

Share with us some of the activities you’ve been involved in outside the classroom.

I interned at FASD United (The National Voice on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) through the UCI UCDC Program. I participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), UCI First Generation program, and disability advocacy work through various organizations on campus. Currently, I am doing environmental work off-campus through the grassroots organizations I co-founded, Healthy Alternatives to Pesticides and Safe Pure Water. 

Who has played an important mentorship role in your life thus far and why?

I am immensely grateful to my exceptional honors thesis advisor and mentor, political science professor Davin Phoenix. His guidance, patience, and unwavering support have been instrumental throughout this research journey. His dedication to my growth as a new researcher and belief in my abilities have been invaluable in influencing this work.

What challenges or hurdles have you faced in getting to where you are today?

Being born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder due to my mother's drinking while pregnant played a significant role in my pursuing a degree in political science at UCI. I want to become a voice for the voiceless by becoming a legislator to advocate for human and environmental rights.

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

My best memory is attending the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program symposium, in which I showcased my research on UCI students with disabilities.

Any other interesting tidbits you would like to share?

I enjoyed interning at FASD United through the UCI UCDC Program in 2022 because I was given the opportunity to be of service to families in need. In addition, I enjoyed planning the FASD United large-scale annual event. Being of service to my community is one of my most fulfilling and rewarding experiences.

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