Hey everybody! My name is Brandon Washington.  I am a first year transfer here at UCLA from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga.  I grew up in Los Angeles County so I, like many others, envisioned myself attending universities like UCLA or USC.  I was ecstatic when I received my acceptance letter and learned that I would be attending my dream school in the fall of 2020, especially due to the fact that I was denied admission to UCLA during my senior year of high school. I finally felt like all of my hard work at my community college paid off, and the only downside was that the nation, as well as the rest of the world, would go on to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

            Never in a million years would I have expected that my first year at the university of my dreams would be spent at home.  It’s just something that I don’t believe anybody had seen coming at all.  I was very much prepared to go out, live on my own, and experience what the university life had to offer.  It did not work out that way, but looking back at it now: staying with my parents here in the Inland Empire was somewhat beneficial in terms of affordability.  I am sure that I have saved a good amount of money by avoiding the added cost of housing as well as the other aspects like parking and a meal plan.  It might be worth it for someone who already lives in Los Angeles or near UCLA to consider the option of staying home and commuting to the university.  I do want to live on or near the campus in the fall 2021 quarter, however, I do believe this could be a viable option for some. 

There may be some people who are unable or prefer not to live in the residence halls, but there are plenty of ways to meet more people besides meeting new individuals as roommates.  One could join a club, organization, or just simply socialize with other students on campus.  I know for myself that I have met some more fellow Bruins through my friend that currently lives in the UCLA apartments.  Another avenue for meeting new people, especially during the pandemic, has been the Umoja program.

            Umoja is a program/network that strives to improve the academic success of black students in California.  The program spans over 100 community colleges in California, and several UCs.  Umoja is part of the reason why I decided to attend UCLA.  I was heavily involved in Chaffey College’s Umoja program and through that discovered that UCLA had a program themselves.  I definitely enjoyed my time in the program at my community college and I wanted to continue that experience going into my four year institution.  I love interacting with other black people and being exposed to new cultures within the diaspora.  So, I have been utilizing zoom and going to the Umoja general body meetings.  I’m even in a group chat for black UCLA students on the Groupme app and going to other programs’ events that get dropped in there.  I have interacted with other students from the Afro-Latinx Connection, Afrikan Student Union, and the Nigerian Student Association.  I originally had planned to be going to these events and meetings in person, but I’m just trying to be as social as I can be while away from the school.  Hopefully I can meet more people and make even more new friends and connections in the fall.