At nine years old, a random thought popped into my head: “I’m going to go to UCLA.” I have no idea where this idea came from. No one I knew had ever gone to UCLA. Quite frankly, I do not know when or where I heard about the university, but I knew wanted to be there.
For the following eight years, I went on to do everything in my power to make sure that I would be able to get in one day. Reading over the admission website, I found that my journey to acceptance would not be easy. Starting in middle and continuing onto high school, I would stress over test scores, afraid that one bad grade would ruin my chances. I became more obsessed with GPAs than actually learning, which was detrimental to my educational experience. I recall once in sixth grade I was working on an in-class assignment while other students were off task. Frustrated, I turned around in my seat. In the harshest tone my 11 year-old self could conjure, I said, “Would you be quiet, I’m trying to get a 4.0!” I settled back into my seat faced forward, and continued on with my assignment.
Despite the pressure I would put myself under, I still believed that UCLA was in my reach. This was not the message that I heard from those around me. I was constantly confronted with the doubt that I was no good enough. My preoccupation with perfectionism only led me to feel inadequate. In 7th grade, I realized the struggles I had in school were probably due to a learning disability. The summer before my first year in college, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. Having a disability, I had to confront the ablest and perfectionist mindset that plagues our society. Somewhere along the way I realized that it was not the “high achieving” that was the most important. It was the lessons both inside and outside the classroom that I would carry with me throughout my life. I have still maintained the same drive that has gotten me to where I am. I realize now that my education is what really matters. I continued to strive to not only obtain the grades I have been accustomed to, but more importantly focus on the learning.
This focus on learning is something that is embraced at UCLA. Of course we are all high achievers (that is a reason we were accepted), but it is what we do with the knowledge we gain that truly set us apart from others. The empathic mindset of those on this campus is unmatched, and that is why UCLA go on to make a difference in the world. UCLA is a place where incredibly talented people all come together to encourage each other’s progress. My years at UCLA have fostered a mindset that embraces boldness, openness, and honesty. These traits budded and flourished within me over my time in college due to UCLA’s enriching environment. I cannot thank UCLA enough for all it and the amazing humans I have come in contact with for blessing me with knowledge, care, and growth over the past 4 years.
During my time at UCLA, I have greatly expanded my understanding of the world, those whose backgrounds differ from my own, and many facets of society I was once unaware of. Since my first year, I have had the privilege of serving people experiencing homelessness on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Every Tuesday night, a group of undergraduate students from various Christian fellowships on campus partner with Cornerstone church to pass out food to and provide a loving environment for the Santa Monica homeless population. There are few things in this world that are more important than hearing those who often go unheard. I love that I have the opportunity to make people who often feel overlooked in our society feel seen. I was able to take my knowledge I gained through this homeless outreach to Bruin Shelter, an organization with a similar mission. Bruin Shelter is a student-run homeless for homeless students, the first of its kind in the nation. Three years ago, UCLA undergraduate students recognized the need for housing for home-insecure students, and decided they were going to do something about it. UCLA is a place where incredibly talented people all come together to encourage each other’s progress. My years at UCLA have fostered a mindset that embraces boldness, openness, and honesty. These traits budded and flourished within me over my time in college due to UCLA’s enriching environment. I cannot thank UCLA enough for all it and the amazing humans I have come in contact with for blessing me with knowledge, care, and growth over the past 4 years. My decision go to UCLA is the best decision I have ever made!