Hello Future Bruins! Congratulations on your acceptance to UCLA. This is a HUGE accomplishment!! You not only got accepted to the best public university in the nation, but you have done so after having to completely readjust what it means to be a student. AMAZING (to say the least)!
My name is Kelly and I am a second year transfer student. My major is Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and my minor is Biomedical Research. I transferred from Glendale Community College in 2019 and I will now be graduating in 2022.
Every time I say that I am a UCLA student, it still feels surreal. It takes me back to my mentor’s office, where I opened my UCLA acceptance letter and came to the realization that I would be a Bruin. There was never a doubt in my mind about where I wanted to continue my education: It’s been UCLA for me since I was 12 years old. What I did doubt while I was in community college was my ability to succeed in my science classes, to do well enough to transfer at all, and to be academically competitive enough to get into medical school someday. I thought about changing my major and career goals many times in my community college days, but never found something that interested me more than science. I was lucky to meet my mentor, Professor Gonzalez (or Tia Krys as I call her now) who encouraged me to get involved in research so that I could get a feel for what it is to be a scientist.
Heeding her advice was one the best things I’ve done for myself. Since then I have been involved with organic chemistry research, developmental biology research and evolutionary biology research. These experiences have helped me believe that I have a place in science, and as a result I am doing better academically. I also found that I genuinely enjoy the process of doing research.
When I was accepted to UCLA, I was very excited to attend my dream school and to also have the opportunity to do research at an institution that is consistently at the forefront of scientific discoveries. I heard about the Biomedical Research minor during week zero and immediately enrolled for the Biomedical Research introductory course, Concepts and Strategies. I learned that this minor would teach me about research and it would help me get a position in a lab as a student researcher. I applied to the minor and was accepted in the winter. Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t able to join a lab until recently, during winter. My research experience definitely hasn’t looked like what I expected it to, but I have learned new skills and have truly enjoyed what I am doing.
The virology lab I was placed in focuses on investigating the interactions between a viral genome and the host immune system. In line with the lab’s objectives, I am currently working on creating a bioinformatics tool that identifies areas of increased GC dinucleotide content within viral genomes. This tool I created using python is mostly up and running, with a minor modification still pending. When I first started this project, I was super hesitant because coding is something I had never done before. The learning curve has been pretty steep in terms of learning to code. It’s been frustrating at times because I feel like I am learning a new language, but mostly it’s been gratifying every time I add an element to the tool and it runs smoothly. Independent of the outcome of my research, I am already so happy with my experience in this lab, working on my project, and learning how to code. The mentorship I have received in my lab thus far has been priceless and I am suuuppper grateful for receiving it.
I have truly benefited from continuing to learn through research and am excited for what I will learn in the time I have left in this lab. If research is something you are considering getting involved with, I absolutely think you should! It’s important to note that it’s not something that’s reserved for STEM students. Everyone has something to add, a unique perspective, that always has a place in research. If you are interested in it, you can find a research lab by reaching out to professors, sending out emails to labs researching something you are interested in, or even joining the Biomedical research minor. Once again Congratulations class of 2023! Best of luck with this next chapter in your academic journey and may you find opportunities to be involved with what inspires you to get up every morning in your time here!