The Sierra Story

Sierra program logo

The Sierra hall, located in Mesa Court, offers first-year students a unique living-learning community experience that includes an in-hall class and other activities that challenge residents to think critically and consider new perspectives. Residents engage with their hall community to explore a variety of issues including diversity and identity as they build communication skills and clarify their own values and ethics. The Sierra experience is one of both self-discovery and opening up to a diverse community of peers. Learn more about the Sierra Curriculum and the Benefits of the program!

Why Choose Sierra?

  • My favorite thing about Sierra is the sense of family it's given to me.
    - Camila Gelabert '18
  • "Sierra Hall is a great community that allows people of a wide background to cohabitate in a certain space and learn from one another."
    - Zack Maddren

Button: Become part of the Sierra community


Curriculum & Requirements

The Sierra curriculum is shaped around developing how to think--how to tackle and address problems, arrive at solutions, make decisions, and reflect on experiences. In college, acquiring knowledge is just the beginning; the key to learning centers around the development of critical thinking skills that utilize information to support conclusions, mastering concepts versus facts.

The Sierra Class - Social Ecology 74A, B & C: Moral Development and Just Communuity

All residents that live in Sierra take a mandatory 4 unit, pass/no pass class, each quarter. Class is held in the hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 - 9:30 pm.

  • The Fall Quarter curriculum is organized around three themes: Community Building, Skill Building, and Values Clarification. These themes create a launching point for in-depth community exploration of sensitive and critical issues.
  • The Winter Quarter curriculum is organized around topics of diversity and participating in dialogues about identity. It is an exploration of oneself and others.
  • Spring Quarter is a continuation of the past two quarters with a strong focus on student participation and empowerment.


As part of the class, Sierra residents write in a journal on a weekly basis. The journal is an opportunity for reflection and exploration of issues, beliefs/values, and experiences. Journal entries are shared with a program staff member, who will challenge you to think critically about the issues and content presented in your journal.

Simulated Society Retreat (SIMSOC)

Early in fall quarter, Sierra resident go on retreat off campus to participate in SIMSOC (Simulated Society). This activity challenges participants, individually and collectively, to develop their ideal society, determine how best to achieve objectives, and reflect on issues of power and the social distribution of resources. The experience is designed to expand your thinking about how communities function and to inform the way that Sierra residents go about building community throughout the year.

Questions? Email us at


Ameer Baloch, 4th Year, Resident Advisor

Major: Business Administration

One thing you like about UCI: Meeting people from various parts of the world and coming together to accomplish our goals.

A Future Goal: Providing my family in Pakistan the knowledge and skills to be financially stable so that they overcome poverty.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am excited to make an impact on incoming freshmen by providing them a safe and comfortable place to live and express themselves. I am also excited to support residents as they grow throughout the year and develop a sense of self.

Anjelica Cespedes, 4th Year, Curriculum Coordinator

Major: Psychology and Social Behavior; Criminology, Law and Society

One thing you like about UCI:Campus is a circle, you can't really get lost.

A Future Goal: Get a doctorate degree

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? Watching residents grow as I grow alongside with them.

Sanam Khajenoori, 4th Year, Programmer

Major: Psychology and Social Behavior

One thing you like about UCI: How many resources are available to support students.

A Future Goal: To give my parents the best possible life in their elderly years and to travel the world and learn about as many cultures as I can.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am excited to help and watch resident’s grow during their special first year experience. I’m also excited for all of the fun and spirit that comes with Sierra - the late night talks, the laughs, and spontaneous adventures.

Leizel Fulgencio, 3rd Year, Programmer

Major: Criminology, Law and Society

One thing you like about UCI: The people that I've met here that have made me feel at home.

A Future Goal: To buy both of my parents their dream cars, to own a lil corgi, and to find/follow what I am passionate about.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am really excited to give back to the program that has shaped who I am today, and to keep growing and learning from the residents and staff team.

Joshua Cudiamat, 2nd Year, Programmer

Major: Business Economics, Minor: Digital Filmmaking

One thing you like about UCI: The friendly environment that has allowed me to connect and thrive towards new experiences.

A Future Goal: Direct my own movie or TV show. Meet Bruno Mars.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? For the relationships I'm going to build and the opportunity to help everyone be the best version of their authentic self.

Tauveon Walton, 2nd Year, Programmer

Major: Criminology Law and Society

One thing you like about UCI: That UCI is one if the safest campuses

A Future Goal: To run my own basketball league

What are you excited about for Sierra this year?I'm excited to see where Sierra takes me as a person and everyone as well

Micky Nguyen, 2nd Year, Programmer

Major: Business Administration

One thing you like about UCI: Gotta say I love the atmosphere that the lovely people here create. Everyone's mellow and they don't get in your way unless they do so accidentally while trying to help.

A Future Goal: If we're talking about within the time I have left, I'll let you know that I'm giving it my all to be living in Mesa Court for 4 years straight. Just can't have enough of the dorm life! As a long time goal, I want to open up my own restaurant.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? The growth! Being able to support Sierra residents through the challenging times that they run into in this newfound life of theirs makes me happy. I personally am surprised how much reflection I fall onto at the end of the day and week. I already am not the person I was before Sierra, and with so much more to come, I hope the residents can say the same.

Nikita Arivazhagan, 2nd Year, Programmer

Major: Computer Science

One thing you like about UCI: Aldrich park.

A Future Goal: Get a dog

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? The siemories I am going to make with my fellow Sierrans.

How to Apply

Become part of Sierra! Here's how to apply:

  1. iconSubmit your housing application by May 1st. (You must submit your Statement of Intent to Register before you can access the Housing application.)

  2. iconSelect “Mesa Court” and “Sierra” theme hall when completing your Personal Information (PI) Form. List "Sierra" first in your PI Form for Theme Preferences. (You will complete this form with your housing contract.)

  3. iconDuring the housing assignment process you may be contacted by a Mesa Court staff member to confirm your interest in the Sierra theme hall.

  4. iconYou will receive your housing assignment via email in early September.

Questions? Email us at


Sierra History

"In 2015, the Sierra Project celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Sierra Project was founded by a diverse group of students, staff and faculty at the University of California, Irvine in 1974. The inspiration for the Sierra Projected emerged from summer conferences in 1973 and 1974, which had brought UC Irvine theorists and researchers with very original ideas on what institutions of society can do to promote an enhanced sense of equity and justice and make education more meaningful and transformative for learners."

Excerpt from Whiteley, J. M. (2014). Character And Community During the College Years: The Rationale.

Staffing Model

The Sierra Program has a unique and intentional staffing model which was created to further the development of each Sierran and the Sierra community.

Sierra Resident Advisor

Resident Advisors act as the live-in link between Mesa Court professional staff and the residents, communicating the needs of each group to the other. They assist residents with problems and keep track of what's going on in their halls. They attend weekly meetings with Mesa Court staff and conduct meetings with residents as a group. RAs rotate weeknight, weekend, and holiday duty to be available for emergencies. Resident Advisors get vast experience working as a leader, influencing their residents, and coordinating efforts with professional staff. The Sierra RA also works closely with the SIerra Programmers, Sierra Curriculum Coordinator, Instructor and Housing Liaison to plan for weekly curriculum and activities within Sierra.

Sierra Programmers

Sierra Programmers are a team of student leaders who provide support and guidance to the residents of Sierra Hall and to the students taking the weekly Sierra Class. Each programmer serves as a role model/mentor to the residents in the hall and facilitate connections between residents in Sierra. Sierra Programmers are assigned to individual suites within in Sierra (6 total) and also assist in development of curriculum and activities within Sierra.

Sierra Curriculum Coordinator

The Sierra Curriculum Coordinator has a primary responsibility of helping in the development and implementation of the Sierra class curriculum, based on the Sierra Project philosophy and goals. This is done in collaboration with the Sierra Hall Resident Advisor, Sierra Programmers, and class instructors.

Sierra Instructor

The Sierra Instructor serves to oversee the curriculum for the Sierra class and ensure that student staff as well as current residents of Sierra have input in their learning process. The Sierra Instructor works most closely with the Sierra Curriculum Coordinator but facilitates curriculum input and guidance from all Sierra staff.

Sierra Housing Liaison

The Sierra Housing Liaison is a Residence Life Coordinator who supervises all of the Sierra Student Staff positions and ensures program quality and assessment. The Housing Liaison also helps to set and guide the Sierra program philosophy and the day to day life of the Sierra community to ensure resident safety, community development, and connection to Mesa Court.


Dinner Anteater Family Style

Chancellor Howard Gillman met with 10 students from Sierra Hall to have dinner Anteater Family style. Read the full article here.


We have some great news to pass on to all of you - news you may have already heard but news that needs to be reiterated. Thanks to all of you, the Sierra endowment fund achieved its goal, Sierrans have contributed $25,000 to establish the Sierra endowment fund. We should all feel extremely proud of this effort, and we can't wait to see how the endowment will contribute to enhancing the Sierra experience in the future.