Dear Future Bruin

Dear future Bruin, 

Congratulations on your admission to UCLA! It’s an incredible accomplishment to be admitted and a testament to your hard work. My name is Dilara Bahadir and I use she/her pronouns. I am a first-year student from Boston, MA studying neuroscience. Two quarters into my first year, UCLA already feels like home and it has been really meaningful to me to reflect on how I created such a strong family here. 

I chose UCLA and continue to choose it every day because of the warmth, welcome, and kindness of my peers. Prior to even applying to UCLA, I reached out to a very distant alumni family friend (who I had never met before) about her experience. As well as texting me her tips, she went above and beyond in welcoming me by giving me a personalized campus tour. She filled the unfamiliar buildings with quirky anecdotes, tips, and historical facts. I started to see a future for myself in a community where individuals are eager to connect and share learnings for the growth of one another. 

This sentiment continued when I returned to campus for the first time after accepting my offer of admission. The summer before you enter campus, UCLA hosts a New Student Orientation where incoming students experience living in the dorms for the first time, attend informative seminars, and sign up for classes. From elevator rides to scavenger hunts, everyone I met was just as eager as I was to create friendships and learn about one another. On the second day of orientation, I spontaneously met one of my closest friends because she was sitting next to my orientation roommate in the dining hall. Fast forward a few months, and she was the friend who opened up her home to me over Thanksgiving break when I was unable to travel back to Boston. I am continuously awestruck by these examples of generosity. 

I’ve found that UCLA clubs and organizations emphasize community and mentorship. For example, when I expressed my interest to join campus tours, current tour guides welcomed and encouraged me. One of the members even offered to sit down and talk to me about her experience on the team. It warmed my heart to feel that mentorship, especially as a new out-of-state student. Mentorship, both informal and professional, has allowed me to feel confident and supported as I face unfamiliar challenges. For example, I joined SCOPE Patient Health Advocates last fall to pursue my interest in the intersection of medicine and public health. Weekly, club members volunteer at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Hospital to provide resources for patients experiencing food, housing, and transportation crises. I was excited to contribute so directly, but nervous about how to conduct myself in a professional medical environment. Luckily, I was paired with a mentor, a senior within the same organization. She showed me the ropes in the clinic, discussed her neuroscience course experience, and is someone I know I can always come to with my (many) questions. 

Ultimately, it feels like everybody is committed to student success. During my first month at UCLA, I reached out to professors for an undergrad research project and heard from them within days. Even when a professor did not have an opening, they took time to introduce me to others who might, which ultimately supported me in getting a position at the UCLA Laboratory for Epilepsy Research. Similarly, one of my professors outside of my major went above and beyond to give me feedback on an article I had written and encouraged me to submit it for an award. With relationships like these, the big school and campus feel much more intimate. 

At UCLA, I’ve learned that there is no set of required experiences and skills one must possess to be successful or pursue their goals other than an open mind, curiosity, and a love of collaboration. You get to design your college experience the way it feels authentic to you. So, future Bruin, I encourage you to open your heart to adventure and friendships. In one year, I camped in Joshua Tree Park, went on a club team-bonding retreat to San Diego, became an undergraduate researcher, and made friends who have become my rocks. What will you do?

I am so excited about all the incredible experiences and people you will meet during these Bruin years. I look forward to welcoming you! 

Photo of Dilara wearing a blue UCLA Bruins crewneck sweater.