UCI's Zonké “ZZ” Frasier: Putting the 'Z' in Amazing

This is a sponsored feature for the film "What Men Want."

While Taraji P. Henson’s character Ali Davis is overlooked for a promotion as a sports agent in her latest film, What Men Want, Her Campus at UC Irvine aimed to spotlight a female student to hear more about she balances school and work in a competitive environment similar to Ali’s in What Men Want.

On a crisp Friday afternoon with a gap in the January showers, I sat down with Zonké “ZZ” Frasier, a humorous and friendly fourth-year Psychology student. ZZ’s on-campus involvements include being a peer advisor in the Study Abroad Center and working as a Research Assistant in the Psychology department. With two on-campus jobs and a full course load, ZZ shared how she juggles school, work and a social life. She confessed, “last year was hard because that was my first quarter [having two jobs] but bullet journaling helps a lot.”

Image by: Bich Tran

As a peer advisor in the Study Abroad Center, ZZ often works with large groups to present study abroad options that suit their needs. On a weekly basis, ZZ prepares presentations to groups as large as 300 people, tailoring talks to the diverse needs of the student body. ZZ has presented study abroad options to STEM majors, transfer students and freshman. This month as a part of Homecoming, she will be presenting to UCI-affiliated families for those interested in starting study abroad from an early age.

Last year, ZZ studied in Scotland, fulfilling a long-time goal--she originally wanted to do all four years of college in Scotland before finding UCI to be a better fit. Loving her time in Scotland, ZZ works with potential study abroad students to share her story and inspire fellow students to take that plane ride. As a former study abroad participant, ZZ shares a big passion for overseas study and hopes to work abroad after graduation.

Image by Zonké Frasier

Beyond international study, ZZ’s other passion includes neuroscience. As a research assistant at UCI, ZZ also aides graduate students with a developing sleep study, developing surveys and other research documents. Months-long preparation for the sleep study which analyzes sleep differences with sex hormones, has helped ZZ determine some of her own goals with her degree in Psychology. She told me, “overall--while research is interesting--I hope to go into something more applied and people-oriented.” As a peer advisor, ZZ definitely has applied her people skills to the diversity of the UCI population, helping students meet their individual study abroad interests and needs.

ZZ also showed me pages of cognitive neuroscience material from her classes, including diagrams of the brain’s lobes. I asked her which of the lobes could’ve been affected when Taraji P. Henson’s character Ali Davis hit her head and woke up hearing the thoughts of all the men around her. ZZ’s best guess? The temporal lobe, which controls hearing and processes sensory input.

To close our interview, I then asked ZZ a few fun questions based on #WhatMenWant:

If you could suddenly gain the ability to hear men’s thoughts, what would you expect to hear?

A lot of thoughts about food. And maybe seeing me, “oh--she has blue hair”.

What would you DO if you could read people’s minds?

Oh my god, I would be so good in class and use that to my advantage. I’d use it to get A’s for sure. I’d be the teacher’s favorite.

In What Men Want, Ali Davis goes to see a psychic, do you believe in psychics?

I actually went to see a psychic for my 20th birthday with my friend Jess! It was actually a tarot reading. And she predicted I would do study abroad in Scotland. So yeah, I think after that, I would say I believe in psychics.

Taraji’s character, Ali works to sign basketball players--do you have a favorite basketball team?

No! I’m really bad at sports. I played basketball when I was younger though. Once I scored a three-pointer and ran up and down the court before realizing the game was still going.

What is one of your favorite Taraji P. Henson roles?

I enjoyed her in the Karate Kid! And I want to watch her in Proud Mary.


This interview was lightly edited for clarity. What Men Want comes out Feb. 8, 2019.