Jeff Fulkerson, a senior information and computer sciences major, made Bren School history by becoming the school’s first student to run for and win UCI Homecoming King.
He was coronated during halftime of the Feb. 3 men’s basketball game along with Homecoming Queen Emily Yee, a fourth-year biological sciences major.
“I will never forget how shocked and excited I was when I heard my name announced as the 2007 UCI Homecoming King,” Fulkerson said.
Fulkerson, who is involved with a host of different campus organizations, entered the competition to see how close he could come to winning.
“As I wrote my application essays, I began to realize that I could actually have a chance at winning, and that this was a chance for me to break some of the stereotypes that are normally associated with homecoming,” Fulkerson said.
The coronation capped a hectic, but fun-filled week of campaigning and made Fulkerson an instant campus celebrity. Students he has never met have come up to him on campus and offer their congratulations, or say “Hey you’re the guy who won homecoming!”
“It really is an honor. I am so excited, I can hardly explain it,” Fulkerson said. “I find myself smiling as I walk around campus, simply because I was chosen by my fellow students to represent them.”
A MENTOR TO PEERS
Fulkerson is no stranger to his populace, having impacted many of them during the past two years as a resident advisor in Mesa Court.
“When working with freshmen, it’s rewarding because you get to help them transition to college life,” Fulkerson said. “It’s fun watching them go from timid shell-shocked freshman to finals-hardened independent students. And as a nice bonus, you get a swank room and a full meal plan.”
He is also a peer mentor for incoming members of the Campuswide Honors Program, a job that begins long before the students get to campus.
“I sent postcards to my mentees last summer before they came to Irvine,” Fulkerson said. “I actually was able to answer questions through e-mail and Facebook before the year even started.”
During the fall quarter, there are various peer mentor events, where mentors and mentees get to know each other and discuss any remaining questions there may be about college life at UCI.
“Once the mentees are on their feet, however, the job of the peer mentor becomes more passive,” Fulkerson said.
FROM NOVICE TO EXPERT
When he isn’t aiding new students in their transition to college life, Fulkerson is navigating the world of computer science as an ICS major, fueling a passion for computers instilled in him at an early age.
“I have always been interested in computers, ever since we had an old 386 in my dad’s home office,” Fulkerson said. “I studied them a little bit in high school, and I knew that when I went to college, I wanted to continue studying computer science.”
Fulkerson, whose only prior programming experience before coming to UCI was with HTML, credits the Bren School for providing him with the knowledge and experience to get job offers even before graduation.
During the summer of his sophomore year, Fulkerson got an internship at Sigil Games, where worked on the game “Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.” By the end of the summer, the company had offered him a full-time job, even though he was still two years away from graduation.
“If someone like me, whose only programming experience came from their college education, can be offered a job after two years in the ICS program, just think of what opportunities await after four years with an ICS degree from UCI,” Fulkerson said.
Fulkerson has also had the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research with informatics professor Andre van der Hoek on the Lighthouse Project, a coordination platform that is based on the concept of Emerging Design. He contributed to the creation of the interface between the GUI and the data model.
CREATING A BALANCE
With the help of a daily planner, Fulkerson is able to create a balance between his ICS course load, extracurricular activities and, of course, sleep.
“I have a bag that I fill every week. There are three main units that can go into this bag: sleep, good grades and extracurricular activities,” Fulkerson said. “The trick here is that my bag can only hold two units. So each week, I must decide how to divide the units to fill my bag in the most efficient way possible.”
Despite a busy schedule full of activities and school work, Fulkerson is grateful to UCI for offering students a plethora of involvement opportunities that add to an all-around great college experience.
“UC Irvine has been a place where I can be independent but still have support. It has been a place where I could try new things, but still foster my current interests,” Fulkerson said. “It has been a place where I can learn both inside and outside of the classroom. I have been able to try so many new things, and the extensive resources available on campus are quite impressive.”
Fulkerson advises students to not be afraid to try something new; college is a place to learn new things whether it is saber fencing or speaking Greek.
Just be sure to create a balance so you don’t risk burning yourself out.
“If you can find a good way to fill your bag with enough units of sleep, extracurricular activities and good grades, then you will be healthy, happy and successful,” Fulkerson said.