La’Tonya Rease Miles, Ph.D., is the director of first-year experience and strategic initiatives at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her responsibilities include collaborating with various units across campus, including within and outside of student affairs, to strengthen and enhance the experience of first-year students. This includes overseeing signature programs (e.g., Common Book); targeting particular populations to increase their engagement at the university and educating the campus about first-year students. Dr. Rease Miles is particularly interested in first-generation college narratives and the hidden curriculum in higher education. Additionally, she is an expert presenter, panelist, and keynote speaker, as well as the creator of the “Empowering First-Generation College Students” national Facebook page.
Dr. Rease Miles obtained her Ph.D., in American literature from the University of California, Los Angeles, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park in English language and literature.
Symone Morales is a coordinator for the first-year experience at UCLA supporting first-gen students in their transition to UCLA by providing programs, information, and campus resources to assist them in navigating the campus. Specifically, Symone oversees the "First To Go" initiative, which promotes campus involvement and visibility with a focus on the retention and success of first-generation students - both first-year and transfer students. The "First To Go" initiative seeks to foster an environment that is welcoming and inclusive for first-gen students by offering connections to resources, creating networking opportunities with faculty, staff and like peers, and providing programming specific to the population.
She earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in sociology and African American studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a master’s degree in student affairs from UCLA.