Advice From A Random Senior: Finding Your Home

I want to start by congratulating you, the class of 2026! As the newest class of Baby Bruins, I
know you’ll come to love UCLA as much as I do. Even now, 4 years later, I find myself walking
around our campus pinching myself in disbelief that I am a Bruin. I hope because you’ve been admitted that you feel the same way!

My name is Emily Emard (she/they), and I am a 4th year traditional student double majoring in
History and Gender Studies. I am from La Verne, California and I was born and raised in
Southern California. I remember the day I was admitted to UCLA, I was so excited I could barely
contain myself. The first thing I did was buy a UCLA sweatshirt within 10 minutes of reading the
acceptance letter, and I wore it everyday for the rest of my senior year. I would have worn it to
my graduation if my school would’ve let me. It’s still my favorite sweatshirt, and yes, I still feel
that same excitement I did the day I read: “Dear Emily, Congratulations! It is our pleasure to
offer you admission to UCLA…”

Maybe you’re feeling so excited you can’t focus on anything else, maybe you’re feeling scared
but ready, or maybe you’re just feeling scared. Maybe you’re feeling anxious, or maybe you’re
feeling nervous. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling totally terrified in a really awe
inspiring, grateful, and proud way. I remember feeling this the moment I stepped onto campus
for the first time on Bruin Day. Our campus, while sunny, warm, and inviting, is a huge place full
of so many diverse people and different majors, clubs, organizations, jobs, spaces, and so
much more. I remember feeling grateful, but totally overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with joy, with
anxiety, and with nervousness as I began a new chapter that I realize now has been one of the
most meaningful journeys of my life.

My journey at UCLA was not always as fun as the 8-claps and cheers you see on Bruin Day.
When I attended my freshmen year New Student Orientation, now known as New Student
Session, I remember calling my mom on the second day sobbing, and questioning whether or
not UCLA was the school for me. But on the third day of Orientation, I received the most
valuable piece of advice from a random senior I was speaking to that has guided my entire
UCLA career. I asked her “What would you tell your freshman year self if you could?” After
telling me about how she struggled her freshman year immensely, and also questioned if UCLA
was right for her, she responded with “It might take 4 days, 4 weeks, or 4 quarters, but you will
find your home here at UCLA. You just have to keep trying.”

I wish I could go back and thank her, I don’t even remember her name, but her advice was all I
needed to keep going. I have had my challenging moments, where I felt like UCLA made a
mistake in admitting me and I wasn’t good enough. When I felt so scared, I called my mom
crying. When I was so sure I wouldn’t make it through 4 years here. But I kept trying. And sure
enough, she was right, I found my home. I found my home in UCLA Residential Life, working as an On Campus Housing Council Representative (OCHC Rep), and then as a Resident Assistant (RA), which I still do now. I get to help create a home for students like you in the dorms. A home that is supportive, loving, and kind even in those moments at UCLA that are overwhelming, anxious, and scary.

I found my home in the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC), where I served as
an Academic Senator on the Undergraduate Council and where I now serve as the Chief of
Staff of Publicity in the Office of the President. Here, I worked with the administration to ensure
you have a safe, accessible, and understanding home, not just in the dorms but in your
classrooms, your major, and all of your academic endeavors. I advocated to make UCLA a
more inclusive, diverse, open, and transparent home for everyone on campus, including you.

I found my home in the subjects I am deeply passionate about, in the History and Gender
Studies departments. I volunteer on the History Undergraduate Advisory Board (HUAB), and
work hard to make the department a home for history students, like me. We plan, organize,
and throw an annual research conference and other history events that center transfers, provide
academic assistance and advice, and make UCLA academics feel less intimidating and more
accessible and fun. I have found a home among many Gender Studies majors in our small class
group chats, in the Gender Studies Scholars organization, and in the many professors who
remembered my name in a lecture hall of 300, and have continued to mentor and advise me

I found my home in UCLA New Student Academic Programs as a New Student Advisor (NSA). I
get to help create a home for you at your New Student Session, when you might call your mom
sobbing and questioning if UCLA is for you. In those moments, I get to support you, and remind
you that you can do this. It is my honor as an NSA to be able to advise you academically,
comfort you, and remind you that “It might take 4 days, 4 weeks, or 4 quarters, but you will find
your home here at UCLA. You just have to keep trying.”

So new Bruins, welcome home. UCLA is an incredible place, with so many opportunities for you
to discover, enjoy, and learn from. The ones I listed above are just a small, small glimpse into
your newest journey. And UCLA is a place that will challenge you. Challenge you to grow, to
learn, to adjust, and will sometimes challenge you so much that you’ll call your mom crying. But
I hope that you make the most of these opportunities and challenges. I hope that you never stop
trying, because in all these opportunities and challenges, you will find your home.