Hello future Bruins, I want to start by saying CONGRATS on getting into UCLA! Thinking back to when I was in your shoes, I remember my shock and excitement at reading my acceptance letter and looking forward to everything UCLA would have in store for me. I can’t wait to see you on campus!
My name is Gurleen Kaur and I am a third-year Neuroscience major with a minor in Brain and Behavioral Health. I am also a first-generation college student on the pre-medical track. In fact, it was the student organizations at UCLA that played a large role in guiding my career aspirations.
One of my first memories at UCLA was walking around the Enormous Activities Fair during my first week on campus with some new friends I had made. I was completely overwhelmed by the abundant possibilities, but I still signed up for two clubs on that day. The first club I joined was Medical Friends, an organization that pairs underclassmen with upperclassmen who have experience being on the pre-medical track. It was through my experiences with my mentor that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. The second was Kids Korner, an organization where we tutor and mentor at-risk youth in North Hollywood. Not only have I enjoyed working with and getting to know the children, but I have also loved being able to work alongside fellow students who have a wide range of experiences. I am now one of the Finance Directors for Kids Korner.
At the end of my freshman year, I found out about a new organization being founded for first-generation college students. I applied and was accepted as the Professional Development Director. Though I felt extremely unqualified for my position, I found a lot of support in the first-generation community and even hosted an interactive resume workshop for students. I am now the President of the Association of First-Generation College Students.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, one of my friends informed me of a new club forming at UCLA, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM). I initially joined to support my friend but soon learned about the Access to Medicines movement that fights for equal and affordable access to essential medicines for all. UAEM has taught me so much about how to be an advocate and global citizen as a college student as well as how to carry advocacy into my future career. I am now also the Finance Director for UAEM as I wanted to play a larger role within the club.
The one thing that all of my involvements have in common is that they come with a community of students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Life as a college student has not been easy and I have struggled with everything from imposter syndrome to the current pandemic. However, I have always had a community at UCLA that continues to support me through it all. When I was struggling with difficult classes, it was a guest speaker at UAEM who is a physician advocate that inspired and reminded me what I am working for. When I was missing home and the stress was getting to me, it was my friends who would convince me to take a break and enjoy the LA sun. I have made connections here that will last a lifetime and I hope you will too.