Hey readers, my name is Kendal and I am a new blogger for the UCLA Life Blog. I’m a first-year student so I’ll be able to share all of my new experiences with you all as I adjust campus. It will be as if you’re right here with me =). Go Bruins!

As an incoming freshman, I often get asked what I am most looking forward to during my first year. I immediately say my classes, the friendly student body, and living in Los Angeles. Even more often than that, I’m asked why I decided to attend UCLA. Is this a valid question? Yes. Should I be able to answer it effortlessly? Of course. So what is my answer to this question? Complete silence. I never know what to say out loud. I think to myself “Now Kendal, you are enrolled in one of the best universities in the country and you can’t answer why you want to go here. Shame!” Even though I can’t seem to form a proper response (for some reason unbeknownst to me), I do like to reflect on the special bond I seem to have with this magical place.

I remember that April in 2004 pretty well. My parents and I had arrived at the UCLA campus for the LA Times Festival of Books. I didn’t know it then but we walked right through the newly constructed De neve Plaza (I remember telling my dad how it looked like a hotel). I conquered the hill at 9 years old, I waited in line with my family as John Wooden autographed thousands of copies of his autobiography My Personal Best, and I fell in love with UCLA. It was a quick romance but one that I held onto all through my junior high school years. Needless to say whenever someone questioned which college I had set my eyes on, my answer included the four little letters that anyone and everyone recognized. Half of my classmates would say the same thing. I never really came up with a true reason why I wanted to attend. But back then it was obvious to the 9-year-old me that UCLA is comparable to success in most people’s eyes. Yes my story sounds dramatic but it is definitely accurate, especially the fact that I didn’t realize why I wanted to study at UCLA until this past April. Sure the commitment deadline was looming over my head like a dark cloud, but I had to make sure not to make any hasty decisions. So I thought and thought and stared at walls that entire Saturday morning, trying to decide how one school was better than the other. How one would provide a sense of fulfillment while the other would leave me bored (and probably broke). Some reasons were apparent while others were more demure. In my situation, UCLA is accessible financially (Another local university had my attention as well but they proved to be less accessible in the money department). Second, it’s one of the highest ranked public schools in the nation, which definitely helps when it comes to job prospects. Those were strong motivations.

To complete my reasoning, UCLA is a summation of people, ambitious and intelligent, who all have an interconnected journey that will never cease to impact their lives. And I am now a part of that. So when I move into De Neve this September, I’ll remember the most important reasons why I personally wanted to attend UCLA: First, it nurtures and encourages its students to be ambitious even through times of difficulty, and second, I’m in love with this place!