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

2016-2017 Staff

Sierra staff


Ian Edwards, 2nd Year, Sierra Programmer

Incoming year at UCI: Sophomore

Major: Cognitive Science and Philosophy

One thing you like about UCI: The bold architectural choices in the building on campus.

A Future Goal: Working with a Non-profit or Institute that works to empower mentally atypical people and children or regulate pollution in ecosystems and human communities. I have a small modest apartment. As hobbies, I would play an instrument, practice martial arts, write poetry and tutor children. I am still passionate, but I am at peace. Personality-wise, Leslie Knope is the ideal.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am excited to meet all the residents of the Sierra hall and I want to see how we will all grow over these months and what places, emotional and physical, this growth will take us.


Bobby Luu, 3rd Year, Sierra Programmer

Incoming year at UCI: Third Year

Major: Political Science

One thing you like about UCI:The people at UCI are amazing. Everyone is so friendly and it's refreshing to see people from different backgrounds connect on an intellectual and social level.

A Future Goal: Going to law school and becoming an attorney.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I'm excited about meeting everyone that will be involved with Sierra. I am also looking forward to expressing who I am as a person and learning about others.


Neel Mukhopadyay, 2nd Year, Sierra Programmer

Incoming year at UCI: 2nd Year

Major: Computer Engineering

One thing you like about UCI: The people I've bumped into.

A Future Goal: To have a stable job. To find my passion. To be able to support my family. To figure myself out. To be the best me I can be. And if we're being optimistic, to have super powers as well.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? Each person in Sierra has their own past and each will bring their own personality. I'm excited to see the dynamics that will play out between these different individuals. I'm excited to see each resident grow in their own way. And most importantly, I'm excited for each Sierran to find somewhere they can truly be themselves here at UCI. Here's to all the "Sierraiously" fun memories I look forward to making this year.


Rottha Pann, 2nd Year, Sierra Programmer

Incoming year at UCI: 2nd Year

Major: International Studies

One thing you like about UCI: I really like how pretty Aldrich Park is.

A Future Goal: Be fluent in Spanish

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am really excited to meet and work with a lot of new people.


Carmen Godoy, 2nd Year, Sierra Programmer

Incoming year at UCI: 2nd Year

Major: Biological Sciences

One thing you like about UCI: I like that you always have opportunities to meet new people around campus.

A Future Goal: To learn more about the possible career options in my field of interest.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? Getting to interact and listen the perspectives of a new diverse group of students.


Maya Hamilton, 2nd Year, Sierra Programmer

Incoming year at UCI: 2nd Year

Major: Political Science

One thing you like about UCI: The friendly environment that is created by the people

A Future Goal: To influence and support students as a teacher

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I'm excited to learn and grow alongside everyone in the Sierra community.


Deanna Tayag, 3rd Year, Sierra Resident Advisor

Incoming year at UCI: 3rd Year

Major: English and Literary Journalism

One thing you like about UCI: The way it feels like/is home.

A Future Goal: To own a French Bulldog and a Pug!

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am excited to finally be a Sierran! I am excited about being there for all of the incoming residents. I am honored to have this opportunity to hopefully make a positive impact in their lives and to get to know so many wonderful people. I am incredibly excited to witness their growth and to be there for them as a mentor, a friend, and a guide throughout their time here at UC Irvine. I cannot wait to see how we grow as individuals and as a community. It's going to be one amazing year!


Ameer Baloch, 3rd Year, Sierra Curriculum Coordinator

Incoming year at UCI: 3rd Year

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: Combat illiteracy among my family in Pakistan so that they can overcome poverty.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? Getting to know all the residents and providing them a new perspective.


Roger, Sierra Instructor

One thing you like about UCI: The ability to connect with such diverse people and have the opportunity to engage in intellectual exploration and self-creation.

What does the Sierra Program mean to you? For me personally, as the instructor, being part of the program is a privilege and honor. Every class, conversation and interaction with individuals that currently live in Sierra or have in the past is such a blessing. I cherish being able to witness the impact that Sierra and UCI has had on students. Moreover, each time I participate in a Sierra experience, I continue to learn and grow from others.


David, RLC and Sierra Housing Liaison

One thing you like about UCI: I cannot say enough about the amazing people UCI has brought together. Students, staff, and faculty truly care about their time here and seek to make it the best experience possible.

What does the Sierra Program mean to you? It means reciprocal learning. It means challenging us to think about why we hold the beliefs we do.

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.