UCLA: A Place to Change the World (or: How Dance Marathon Changed my College Experience)

Hi everyone! My name is Katie and I am a fourth year at UCLA studying Political Science. I have had truly the most incredible college experience and owe it all to the tremendous amount of opportunities I have had at UCLA.  

Getting involved at UCLA is what made it my home, and what made a big school feel like a close knit community. I picked UCLA because of the passion and energy I could sense from the student body, so when I got here I knew I wanted to get involved on campus and find my passion. Throughout college, I have been a part of greek life, Relay for Life, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition, and have also had several internships and on campus jobs. While I have very much enjoyed all of my campus involvements, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition has certainly been the most influential in my college experience.  

At the beginning of Spring Quarter during my freshman year, I was convinced to sign up for UCLA’s annual Dance Marathon. It’s a 26 hour dance-a-thon, which means no sitting or sleeping for the full 26 hours.  I was hesitant to say the least. It didn’t seem like something I would enjoy, and I was unfamiliar with their cause of HIV/AIDS. Yet, I wanted to have that quintessential college experience and participating in a dance marathon seemed like a must do. Little did I know my life would be completely changed by those 26 hours.  

I emerged from Dance Marathon with sore feet, but a new determination to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The next fall I joined the Pediatric AIDS Coalition, which is the club that puts on Dance Marathon. Through this club, I found what I had been looking for- my passion. This organization introduced me to some of the most incredible Bruins and allowed me to grow as an activist and a leader. I have seen the change that a group of determined students can make. In the last three years, we raised over a million dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tutored and mentored children affected by HIV/AIDS, and spread our cause to the UCLA community. As I prepare to graduate, I couldn’t be more thankful for the friendships, personal growth, and amazing memories this organization has given me.  

While my experience is special to me, it isn’t unique. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t found their passion at UCLA and gotten involved in something they care about. The students at UCLA are determined to make the world a better place, and the culture on campus couldn’t be more reflective of that.