The values of optimism and leadership have always been important to me. I have always believed in the ability of people to be agents of positive change in their communities. So, when it came time for me to decide where to attend college, UCLA was at the top of my list because it shared my core values.
My name is Lauren Valles, and I am a second year Political Science major with a minor in Environmental Systems and Society. I’m from San Bruno, California and I absolutely love being a UCLA Bruin because UCLA is guided by a mission to create positive change in the community.
It was a little under two years ago in April 2018 that I decided I wanted to attend UCLA. Up until Bruin Day I had little expectations for what UCLA would be like, so when I arrived at the sun-dipped hills of Westwood for the first time, I was starstruck! The beautiful campus radiated a strong, academic energy rooted in tradition but still grounded in an imperative to move culture forward. Even more than the magic of Royce Hall, it was the people I interacted with during my first Bruin Day that motivated me to choose UCLA as the place I would spend my next four years.
Bruin Day allowed me to connect with Bruins that had used the resources available to them at UCLA to become positive agents of change in their communities. I stayed with a friend from home that had dedicated herself to helping uplift the Pacific Island community on campus. That friend has since become the director of a public health organization aimed at empowering Pacific Island communities across Los Angeles and was just accepted into a fellowship to provide systems-level change to underserved classrooms across all of America this summer. I also met two different Bruins who were extremely passionate about finding a cure for Pediatric AIDS and HIV; together, they had raised thousands of dollars for the cause. Since then, they have both held leadership positions in an organization on campus dedicated to hosting a yearly “Dance Marathon” to raise awareness and funds for the mission they care about so deeply.
I also spent a portion of my Bruin Day interacting with UCLA alumni who had devoted their time to providing scholarships to incoming Pilipinx Bruins to ensure their success throughout their time in Westwood- I was the lucky recipient of one of those scholarships, and it has helped me emulate the qualities of leadership and positive change I saw in the Bruins mentioned above.
UCLA is a force of positive change not only in the Los Angeles community, but around the world. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a Bruin because UCLA offers so many resources to me and all of my peers to practice forward-moving leadership on campus and beyond. Since I decided to attend UCLA, I have led an organization of over 80 student leaders in putting on an interactive womxn’s leadership conference for womxn across the entire UC system. I have worked to help give underserved students the opportunity to pursue higher education and attend UCLA by giving young students tours of our campus and presenting to high schoolers about the paths available to them. In addition, I’m currently taking a class led by the Chancellor’s Office with 24 other student leaders on how to become better forces of uplifting change on campus!
Because of UCLA, I have made foundational steps in becoming an agent of positive change. My hope is that after reading this post, you’ll want to join our network of change agents too. I hope you do! Go Bruins!