Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

My area of research consists of the combination of my major, Drama, and my minor, Management. My faculty mentor, Daphne Lei, is from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Drama Department, and has been a guiding force behind my work. My research project, Diversity University Irvine (D.U.I.) involves the starting and maintaining of a theater organization. The D.U.I. organization has produced seven shows now, including a full-length musical with a five-piece band. Numerous students have benefited from learning about the organization and the amount of work that is involved with maintaining a theater group such as D.U.I.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I first began to conceptualize my research project when Said Shokair came to my housing unit and discussed the possibilities of UROP. With his introduction to UROP, I began to evaluate some of the possibilities that I could bring to the UCI Drama Department. I originally wanted to expand on the ethnic representation in the department with my organization, but my idea eventually grew to all artists who may be under-represented in one form or another. As I began to build the theater organization I gained numerous student and faculty supporters who made the D.U.I. organization what it is today.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

I never would have had the opportunity to learn how a theater company works from the ground up. When I get a job in a company it will already be established, and often I will just receive the information necessary to do my particular job. Starting D.U.I. introduced me to every aspect of organizing and running a theater company. It has given me knowledge and experience that would not have been feasible in a real-world setting at the time.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

Audience reaction to the work that I've done through my organization. I have received so much praise for the work that I have done and the opportunities than I have been given. It makes me feel good to know that I have given over 100 students an opportunity to be involved with a production that would not be present if I had not stepped forward with my UROP project. It also brings me joy to hear that a number of people feel connected to a production because it relates to them in one way or another. Those who may not have a voice get one in the organization's productions.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I have two answers to this question. The plans I have for the organization have already begun. I've elected a handful of students and written out managerial positions for each one. As I graduate this year, they will keep the D.U.I. organization running. I realized that I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to explore and learn how a theater organization functions and runs. I did not want the project to end simply because I was graduating.

Personally, I plan to work for a theater company and produce and direct shows. Because of UROP, I believe I have more than enough experience in the field of work to which I wish to apply myself. Theater management and production opportunities do not come easily, especially to an undergraduate student. With the help of UROP, I created that opportunity for myself and others, and it will help me in my continued work to give underrepresented artists a home and a voice for their productions.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Understand your limitations. Although I would not exchange my experience and my work with UROP to create the D.U.I. organization, I created an environment for myself that pushed me to my furthest limits. I became involved with over three organizations/jobs and while continuing to strive for academic excellence. If you are driven by leadership possibilities, do them, but plan accordingly. Above all, take every experience for the educational value it is worth. You can try to do everything, but you cannot do everything right. If you realize doing a large UROP project is not possible with your time and schedule, take on a smaller project first. The experience will only heighten the value of the education you receive when you do have the time to put into your larger project later.

Past Researchers of the Month
Dec. '04 Martin Vega
Nov. '04 Peter Kuo
Oct. '04 Michelle Plyer
Sep. '04 Camille Campion
Aug. '04 Ahmed Ibrahim
Jul. '04 Gregoria Barazandeh
Jun. '04 Matthew Korn
May '04 Jolene Minakary
Apr. '04 Zhanna Kovaleva
Mar. '04 Dorothy Chang
Feb. '04 Elizabeth Yanni
Jan. '04 Brad Cohn
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