I would be lying to you if I said UCLA was my dream school. As a matter of fact, I had no dream school. I knew so little about the higher education system that sometimes I am amazed that I am here today 6 weeks away from graduation. However, I always knew I would go to college. I did not know how, I did not know where, but I knew I would!
To begin telling my story of how I ended up at UCLA, I need to go back to my childhood. I was born and raised in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. My parents instilled in me that one day I would go to college, although they were not able to attend college themselves. Even when I migrated to the US for the first time at the age of 11 (not knowing the language, the culture, and the school system) and then again at 15, my parents still expected me to go.
When I migrated to the US for the second and final time at the end of 9th grade, I was completely lost and I did not learn enough about college either. However, one of the options I heard about during these years was community college. Unfortunately, there was always a stigma around it. But I knew in the back of my head that it could be a starting point. When I started at East Los Angeles College (ELAC), I remember looking at the school with great enthusiasm. ELAC was a tiny school under lots of construction, but in my eyes, it was my home from the first moment I set foot there. And ELAC did not disappoint. ELAC gave me the opportunity to learn how to be disciplined scholar and conscious human being. It taught me to always be a proud Transfer, no matter where I ended up. I genuinely believe that ELAC started carving the Bruin within me!
The first time I came to UCLA I fell in love with the gorgeous campus and the majestic architecture. But when I learned that it was one of the top universities in the country, I really started to doubt I would be able to come to this great institution. However, my drive and love to become a Bruin was greater than my fear. After three long years of hard work at ELAC, support from amazing organizations, such as Center for Community College Partnerships, and the guidance of my best friend, mentor, and partner Carlos, I was accepted to UCLA and became an official Bruin on June 2016!
Upon my acceptance, I started my academic trajectory through Academic Advancement Program’s Transfer Summer Program. To be honest, UCLA hit me like a storm. So much knowledge, so much work, and so much to do at this campus but so little time. My first year at UCLA was the most challenging time of my academic career. I had midterms back to back, my anxiety became more frequent, and I changed my major. I felt like I had ran the longest marathon of my life. This, however, made me realize two things: first, that as a proud transfer I had built the resiliency to put up with any challenge thrown my way, and two, that becoming a Bruin was not easy but it was certainly a growing experience.
As I started my second year, I became more confident academically and socially. I had the opportunity to work at the Transfer Center and serve my amazing transfer community. I felt like my first year had taught me so much that I was ready to explore UCLA at its maximum without letting the fear of failure stop me. I began attending more events, planning activities for students, and sharing my own knowledge with others. I felt like I had become a real Bruin and I simply loved every minute of it.
Now, as a third year transfer, I can definitely say I am putting into practice everything I have learned thus far. UCLA has given me the opportunity to do things that for years I felt intimidated to try or even think about. For example, I am conducting and presenting my own research under the guidance of my amazing femtor (female mentor) Rahel. I am also co-facilitating an Education dialogue course. I’m getting ready to apply to grad school for Fall 2020 thanks to GUM (Graduate-Undergraduate Mentorship) and I am learning and practicing gymnastics – a sport I have admired since middle school. Though these things scared me in the past, I have noticed I have a new view about facing challenges. I no longer believe I am unable to do anything. Being a Transfer Bruin at UCLA has given me the confidence as a scholar and as a person to know where I stand. It has made me realize I have many great qualities and so much potential in this university and abroad. It’s taught me that my experiences as a Transfer and a 1st generation student matter, that I belong, and that I am a knowledgeable mujer. It has prepared me for the future because I know if I can succeed at UCLA, I can succeed anywhere. And lastly, it has made me optimistic, knowing that I am a valuable person who has the potential to contribute to education and society at large.
UCLA has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Although UCLA was not my dream school, it became better than just a dream. UCLA became my reality! #GoBruins