Alumni Insights: Hillel Wasserman '78

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hillel Wasserman is a true Bruin. UCLA was the only school that Wasserman applied to when he graduated from Fairview High School. He quickly found a place in the Communication Studies Department, where his wit and multiple interests could flourish. His senior year he started a speakers program for the department. By inviting interesting speakers like Grant Taylor and Jack Smith, Wasserman was able to better connect his fellow students to each other and help identify potential career paths. 

UCLA taught him that universities are not trade schools: College is a time for students to grow up and learn how to think critically, not just learn a set of skills. It is a time for students to be exposed to brilliant minds of professors like Wasserman’s favorite professor, Harold Kelley. 

By drawing on experience and knowledge he had gained from working and interning while attending UCLA, Wasserman was able to start his own talent and marketing company just a year after he graduated. After eight years he decided to pursue other options and took jobs at Disney, A & E, Columbia Pictures, and NBC. For the past 20 years he has worked as an independent contractor and freelancer. As a freelancer, he has done work in copy writing and print material to promotionals for radio, TV, and theaters. 

Wasserman remains actively involved in UCLA. Fourteen years ago he made the decision to get involved and contacted the speaker program at Being Alive. He is a board member and Volunteer Speakers Bureau Chair for Being Alive HIV/AIDS Action Coalition. He has lectured to UCLA students about HIV/AIDS as well as worked with Dance Marathon, 48 Hours to Action, and participated in outreach and prevention on campus.

Wasserman tells students that, “We can all make the decision to help others, you just have to decide to do it. Whatever you do to get involved and help will come to be the easiest thing to do. What comes back is ten times more than the effort you put out. The satisfaction that you feel when you leave a classroom is such a gift and all you have to do it talk for a little bit. You really end up helping yourself. Pick something that matters to you and just do it.”

In the future, Wasserman hopes to see the UCLA Communication Studies Department given greater recognition. He wants this substantial and substantive interdisciplinary program to be available to more people. As society is moving aggressively into the information age, this program has become increasingly valuable. It offers a rich tapestry of courses that are directed at crafting, controlling, and disseminating messages that are so pervasive in our world today.