Have you met the UCLA Optimists? Over the next several months, the Bruin Blog will be highlighting our student Optimists. These current UCLA undergraduates will give you insight into the application process and tips, student life and culture, and what it means to be a Bruin.
Before applying to UCLA I had never been to the campus or really thought of it as where I wanted to attend college. The academic prestige and athletic excellence excited me. However, having lived in Southern California for nine years, I had planned the next four years to be in the east coast. I wanted to attend a small school, where I could have the opportunity to know everyone, have smaller classes, and easily get involved. I definitely had no plans to attend a big university, let alone the most applied to school in the nation. Now I am writing to you as a rising senior at UCLA, so obviously the east coast small school plan didn’t happen. However, my journey at UCLA has been everything I could have ever wanted.
Upon admission to UCLA, I decided to attend an Admitted Student Day on campus, about 40 minutes north from my home in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. The minute I stepped onto this campus, something felt right. I hopped on a tour and listened to students and faculty as they gave their testimonies of their experiences here. The day ended with a video highlighting the work of students and faculty, finishing with a video of 8-claps all around the world. This short video moved me. It moved me because it was a testament to how powerful this campus is and how this campus community could empower me and help me pursue my passions.
My whole life I knew there was more to this world than my own personal needs. Therefore, I knew my passions lied in discovering societal issues and solving them. That’s why I was interested in engineering – it is all about problem solving. So, I decided I was going to apply to UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Two principles that I live by are: everyone deserves access to clean water, and no human should sleep cold and without shelter. Therefore, I chose Civil and Environmental Engineering, which includes the concentrations of hydrology, structural and environmental engineering, to find cost efficient, eco-friendly ways to make clean water accessible to everyone and sustainable infrastructure for anyone without shelter.
My passion to tackle problems in this field was strong, but I began to realize how exciting it would be to address my passions here. Coming in, I was competing with students who had already mastered the language of C++, who were able to disprove physical theories with my professors, and knew how to build robots at the age of sixteen. My experience was limited to the Advanced Placement math and science classes I took in high school that I somehow did well in. My first quarter in the school of Engineering, I learned how important my classmates would be in my academic success. The community here is strong and through our study groups, career fairs, and engineering projects (like building a canoe out of concrete and racing it) I have become close to many of my classmates and plan to stay close beyond my four years here. The study groups alleviated my individual approach to understanding the toughness of material in my classes, all the while making learning challening concepts tangible and interesting. My friends and I will sometimes stay up for hours discussing the dielectric and semi-conductive characteristics of materials and how those properties affect and help us understand everything in our physical world. Trust me, if you take the course Introduction to Materials Science Engineering, your mind will be blown. The campus has also given me so many opportunities to pursue my passion of sustainable infrastructure as I am doing research in LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certification for existing buildings on campus. In addition, the career fairs hosted at UCLA aided in establishing my internship this summer for a construction management company as a project engineer. Lastly, I have been able to work on service projects such as the Navajo Project within our chapter of Engineers Without Borders, where we are providing a clean water system for a family on the Navajo Reservation. The initial academic challenges I faced were a struggle; however, I can say with true fervor, that I was more prepared than I realized to overcome such challenges and that has made me stronger, shaped me into who I am, and given me the ability to pursue some of my deepest passions.
I am surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds in a university filled with opportunities waiting for me to take part in. The UCLA campus is overflowing with excellence and I am so honored and blessed every day to be a part of it. Being a Bruin means you get to be surrounded and supported by a campus of people who will push you to achieve whatever you want. Trust me, we have it all at UCLA.