They call it the “Book of Records” — a well-worn folder filled with old papers that Rameen and Shauhin Talesh have had since childhood. Every time the brothers played basketball, football, foosball, backgammon, Scrabble or any other game, they would duly note the winner.
“We’d write down all of our matches,” Rameen says. “I had the advantage of being older, so I’d usually start out beating him, but there’d always come a time when he’d take over.”
The Talesh brothers (they have no other siblings) still engage in friendly sibling rivalry — notably during intramural basketball games at UC Irvine’s Anteater Recreation Center — but they no longer keep records of their wins and losses.
They’ve evened the score. Both graduated from UCI, went on to earn advanced degrees and launch careers, then returned to campus to work for their alma mater — Rameen as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, and Shauhin as assistant professor of law and criminology, law & society.
Seated in Rameen’s office on a fall morning, the brothers insist they’re not competitive, except when it comes to basketball. They’ve been one-upping each other on the court since they were kids.
“I’m seven years older. It was easy for me to push him around,” jokes Rameen.
“But then there was the point where I beat him one-on-one, and he wouldn’t play with me anymore,” Shauhin chimes in.
They say they’re more alike than different, with a few exceptions.
“I’m probably funnier than he is,” Rameen says.
“And he’s better at karaoke,” Shauhin adds.
“But he was the stronger student,” Rameen concedes.
Both have similar taste in movies, food and sports. “We’re huge fans of the Dallas Cowboys — and the Lakers,” says Rameen. They also like the same music and created a blog devoted to their favorite 15 U2 tunes.
Despite their age difference, the two have always been close. When Shauhin got married two years ago, Rameen sang at his wedding. “I got to fulfill my dream of being a wedding singer,” he says.
The brothers coached youth basketball and soccer teams together. Both were on the varsity basketball squad at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills. “We played seven years apart, but we had the same coach. And we both wore jersey No. 10,” Rameen says.
The Taleshes have never been separated for long — even when Rameen left home for UCI in 1985. “I used to come here to visit my brother,” Shauhin says. “UCI is like a second home. It’s been a part of my life since I was 11.”
After Rameen got a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1989, Shauhin followed in his footsteps — receiving his bachelor’s degree in criminology, law & society in 1996. Both engaged in all kinds of campus activities during their undergraduate years.
Rameen participated in intramural sports and Greek life, delivering a winning performance from “Les Miserables” at Greek Songfest his senior year. He also worked as a resident adviser, which set him on a new career path.
“Being an RA changed my life,” Rameen says. “It gave me an understanding of student affairs.”
His role at UCI is to help students thrive outside the classroom.
“I oversee areas focused on student engagement and learning,” he says. “Our office promotes involvement opportunities while emphasizing mentoring, both staff-to-student and student-to-student.”
Even in a challenged budgetary climate, the university has a mandate to cultivate student leadership, Rameen says.
“When students reflect back on their experiences, they’re often reminded about how much they learned in their co-curricular involvements and mentoring relationships that shaped their values,” he says.
Shauhin excelled academically while playing backup point guard for the UCI basketball team. He was a Rhodes Scholar candidate, Phi Beta Kappa member and Mohan Narasimhan research award winner. And like his big brother, Shauhin served as an RA and a volunteer for the Student Parent Orientation Program.
After obtaining a doctorate in higher education administration from USC and working at Occidental College, Rameen joined the UCI dean of students office in 2006. He’s also the UCI Alumni Association vice president of membership.
Shauhin got his J.D. in 2000 and LL.M. in 2001 from the University of Connecticut. After working as an attorney in Los Angeles, he earned a doctorate in jurisprudence & social policy from UC Berkeley and joined UCI’s School of Law earlier this year.
“I remember getting a call from Rameen saying, ‘Hey, UCI’s going to create a law school. I made it back here, and now it’s your turn,'” Shauhin says. “I returned to a place that’s familiar to me because I wanted to participate in building a newly founded law school, one grounded in an innovative curriculum and social justice. That’s something no other university could offer.”
Adds Rameen: “UCI has been a special place to us. That’s why it’s easy to want to give back.”
Originally published in ZotZine Vol. 4, Iss. 4