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


Tauveon Walton, Resident Advisor

Pronouns: He, Him, His

One thing you like about UCI: The ARC basketball courts.

A Future Goal: To run my own basketball league for low income teens.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I'm excited for the journey and to see where the year goes to see how everyone connects with one another.

Jairus Pacelo, Curriculum Coordinator

Pronouns: He, Him, His

One thing you like about UCI: I enjoy the various challenges in creating myself that UCI presents on a daily basis. In the past two years, I’ve constantly looked around and found that I’m different from a lot of the people in the school, that I don’t have a niche that makes me feel normal, secure, or comfortable in who I am or what I do. But, this particular challenge that only UCI’s environment could provide, reminds me to look in the mirror and embrace the aspects of my personality that make me different, that make me special, and that make me unique.

A Future Goal: My goal is to be able to support my family with my career. I want to be able to provide a home for my parents while also giving back to them as a way to show gratitude for the love, sacrifice, and support they’ve given me throughout my whole life.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am excited for the challenges (surprise, surprise LOL), challenges such as conflict, disagreement, miscommunication, amongst other things, that will help mold my own leadership style, the ways I approach individuals with

Garrett Adriano

Pronouns: He, Him, His

One thing you like about UCI: The diversity in opportunities around the school. You can go anywhere on campus and find a new club or network to connect with.

A Future Goal: To become multilingual. I want to learn Japanese, Tagalog, and French.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? To establish relationships with the residents and act as a role-model for them.

Kimberly Cood, Programmer

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

One thing you like about UCI: I love the beautiful campus at UCI and how friendly and welcoming everyone is.

A Future Goal: To achieve my dream of becoming a doctor and be able to give my parents the world they deserve for their endless hard work and support.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am so excited to see the growth of everyone in the hall and staff as well and be a part of such a unique and amazing experience filled with many memories! I cannot wait to be a part of a program that I love so much and has truly shaped me and continues to shape me into a better person. :)

Yvette Hernandez, Programmer

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

One thing you like about UCI: I like the infinity fountain. Especially at night.

A Future Goal: I want to travel with my friends and possibly become a child psychologist for children that are abused and neglected, as I want to be a role-model and support system for children.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I'm excited to see my contribution towards the hall that initiated my growth and the new memories that will be formed in Sierra. But most of all, I'm excited to form a strong bond with staff as well as residents.

Omar Juarez, Programmer

Pronouns: He, Him, His

One thing you like about UCI: Our rad mascot, Peter the Anteater.

A Future Goal: To live comfortably somewhere nice with someone I love.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I am excited to see the new Sierrans learn about themselves in this safe space that the community creates.

Emily Ngai, Programmer

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

One thing you like about UCI: A lot of people scoot (including me).

A Future Goal: A short-term future goal is to learn a hands on skill like embroidery or leather making. A long-term future goal is to be successful enough for my family to live comfortably.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? I'm excited to meet my new hallmates, broaden my perspective, and be a part of something bigger than myself.

Ariyan Prothro, Programmer

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

One thing you like about UCI: The environment. I appreciate both the different kinds of people I've met here as well as the overall beauty of the campus and its surroundings.

A Future Goal: To buy a house for my mom and me.

What are you excited about for Sierra this year? Building our own new and unique community in Sierra.

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.


Fall 2019: 

  • New Staffing:  This year we have 2 new instructors for Sierra.  We are fortunate, thanks to great collaboration with Dr. Frances Diaz from our Counseling Center, to have 2 Senior Staff Psychologists become Sierra instructors.  Dr. Jasmine Thilghman and Dr. Shruti Mukkamala both have extensive diversity and inclusion backgrounds.  thank you to Bruce Aquino, Residence Life Coordinator who has served as the interim Sierra instructor for the past year and a half. 
    • Endésha Pierson is joining the Mesa Court staff as a Residence Life Coordinator and Sierra Program Manager.   Endésha come to UCI from CSU East Bay where she also worked as a residence life staff member. 



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.