I first want to congratulate you on your acceptance to UCLA! All your hard work and dedication these last four years has paid off, and the exciting part is that it’s really just the beginning of an exciting journey. Wherever you choose to spend the next four years, you’ll form relationships and connections that will hopefully last a long time. So, I want to tell you about the community I’ve found at UCLA- from the day I got accepted to now, three years later.
When I got into UCLA, I didn’t know any current students. I was really nervous about going to a school where I didn’t know anyone- I wanted to make meaningful connections at college, and I was worried I wouldn’t know where to start at a large school. However, I quickly realized that there were a lot of people who had been feeling the same way, navigated the transition to college, and wanted to help. A friend of mine put me in touch with her friend who was a student, my cousin connected me to her friend who had graduated, and a current student even called me out of the blue. All of these people were so nostalgic about being a freshman at UCLA and happy to give advice, which wasn’t something I saw with the other schools I was considering.
As I talked about in my video, Bruin Day and orientation were further confirmation that I would not feel lost on UCLA’s campus. I’ve been lucky to find a lot of people and groups who make UCLA feel like home. From my freshman year Rieber Hall friends to the cohort of 25 I just spent a Quarter in Washington D.C. with, I feel really lucky to have met amazing people every step of the way. UCLA students reflect a range of diverse interests and backgrounds, but we all have a lot of experiences in common- from living on the Hill, to sporting events, to the highs and lows of the academic quarter system. Those experiences are what I’ve found lead to a very spirited student body and alumni network.
The advice didn’t end after I signed my SIR (Statement of Intent to Register). I’ve had older students and mentors throughout the last three years who have helped me at UCLA and beyond. By taking part in the Alumni Mentor program, I was able to clarify my career interests and path. When I was looking for an internship in D.C. this past fall, I found an awesome opportunity that ended up becoming my internship through a UCSB alum. That experience reminded me that as UCLA students, we also have access to a whole bunch of resources from the entire UC system.
Something I didn’t expect when I chose UCLA is how connected I feel to the Bruin community no matter where I am. One of my favorite UCLA tradition is Dinner for 12 Strangers, which is when alumni, faculty, and students share a meal and conversation. I’ve gone to a D12 each year I’ve been a student and knowing we all have UCLA experiences in common always helps get rid of awkwardness and hesitation. This February, I went to a D12 in Washington, D.C. with alumni who had all graduated in the last five years. It was so fun to talk to people who had also made the leap from California to D.C. and to hear all of their experiences in a new city. A lot of them also worked in politics or law, which I’m interested in- and all of them were happy to talk to me about these fields. On a similar note, when I was studying abroad in London, I was able to attend a UCLA alumni event for Bruins all over Britain. It was so cool to hear about how people ended up on the other side of the ocean but still remained close to friends from college. At the same mixer, Chancellor Gene Block gave this group of alumni updates about different campus initiatives. I was able to meet Chancellor Block and talk to him about my own experiences abroad. When I got into UCLA, I wouldn’t have thought I’d have the opportunity to form small, personal groups like those at Dinner for 12 Strangers or the alumni mixer. These experiences and many more on-campus have made UCLA feel like a small community, even though there are Bruins all over the world.