The UCLA Division of Humanities features Ph.D. student, Gina Lorenz

Published: July 26, 2017

Gina Lorenz tends to live life in pairs. She’s a musician (sings and plays piano) but is also a music theorist. She absolutely loves, and has lived in New York City, but currently lives in, and loves Los Angeles. A graduate student in UCLA’s French and Francophone Studies Department since 2013, Gina is also learning to speak Arabic as a third language.

To call her curious, and ambitious, is an understatement as Gina, like many graduate students here at UCLA, chose her degree of study because she knew it would surely lead to fantastic discoveries and revelations – to moments of clarity brought on by embracing vulnerability.

That’s not to say that she didn’t think it all out first.


UCLA was not a coincidence in Gina’s life. Raised by academic parents in the idyllic college town of Lawrence, Kansas, Gina loved her family (and Kansas) far too much to leave her hometown after high school. So she decided to stay and earn degrees in French and in Music Theory at the University of Kansas while teaching piano lessons on the side. Gina caught both a travel and cultural bug during a French study abroad stint in 2007, and afterwards, as she puts it, “I wanted a taste of the wider world, to do something by myself.” Enter TAPIF, an ESL program that placed Gina in Strasbourg, France, in order to teach secondary students after she graduated from KU.

This immersion of language, and teaching, in France eventually led her back to the States when, in 2010, Gina entered the French studies program at NYU, at which time she was also working at a French magazine. It was a life in tandem.

Then tragedy struck. Her mother suffered a traumatic brain injury, and Gina dropped everything to be back in Kansas. She did the right thing.

“I don’t think I really became an adult until that happened. You can make lists and charts until the cows come home, but life will still test you in unpredictable ways. I’m just so grateful that we got her back.”

Eventually returning to New York to finish her Master’s after her mother recovered, Gina played a game of hide-and-seek with academia following graduation, working as both a project manager, and a coordinator for a non-profit, before making the decision to earn a Ph.D.

Why did she choose UCLA over other schools?

Find out here: