It’s me, hi! My name’s Adrian Campos, and I’m in my fourth year here at UCLA, double majoring in Anthropology and Sociology with a minor in Education Studies. Some of you may be wondering, “what does that even mean?” or “what do you want to do with that?” To put it simply, my studies focus on the development and structures of human culture and society throughout the past and modern world, and how they allow us to learn more about the relationships and differences between us. For example, like many of you currently reading this, I’m reaching the end of my senior year, and while I’m doing the best I can to make the most of the time I have left, I’m also taking the time to reflect on these past few years and everything they have brought my way.
To be completely honest, I didn’t have a set path in mind when entering college 4 years ago. I was leaving my home back in the San Fernando Valley for the very first time, and even though getting back was only a 45 minute drive away, I was entering a world where I didn’t know many people, didn’t know what to join, and especially as a first-generation college student, had absolutely no idea what I should – or shouldn’t – be doing. The one thing I did know for sure, was that I loved getting to go out and explore the world around me. I wanted to learn more about other people and their stories, and hopefully be able to take something meaningful from it along the way. I wanted to experience everything, everywhere, all at once, and not let anything pass me by. I walked into this place like every other freshman at the time: bright-eyed and wired on a mix of adrenaline and anxiety, hoping that this dream of mine could become reality.
But I’m not going to lie, as optimistic as I may sound, at the beginning, it can be terrifying to put yourself out there when you have no idea what the reaction is going to be. You might find yourself surrounded by people who are passionate about all the same things you are, or you might find yourself in a place where you have nothing in common and can’t wait to run out when it’s done. It’s all about trial and error, and trust me, you will try and try again, but after all, isn’t that what college is all about? It’s about learning and revisiting what makes you, you, and putting that person first at the end of the day.
UCLA has challenged me in so many different ways, and it has given me opportunities to learn more about myself in ways I couldn’t have imagined. In my freshman year, I joined organizations which helped me connect to my Central American roots and be even prouder of my Latino ancestry, and I found the group of friends who have stuck by my side since we met in the dorms all those years ago. I got to work at a boba shop in Westwood Village that gave me some unforgettable memories, while also appreciating the benefits that come from hard work. I got to share my own stories and love of music through my very own show at UCLA Radio while also interning for the Board President of LAUSD and learning more about how our educational systems work. I joined the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and made lifelong friendships and memories with Brothers I would not have met otherwise, and I joined the Bruin Ambassador team where I have gotten to work hands-on with people passionate about access to higher education, and fall even more in love with UCLA than I already was. These past 4 years have been a collection of experiences and memories that have helped me grow as a person, and there are so many things I will take with me and share with others for the rest of my life.
I usually don’t like to give advice, because as someone whose education revolved around learning about the lives of other people, I know that what works for one person may not work for everyone. So, instead, I’ll leave you with things I would go back and tell my first-year self. Your college experience is what you make of it. Take advantage of every opportunity that feels important to you, find the places which help make campus feel like home, and know that it’s okay to let go of certain things to make room for new things to grow. Fight for the things that you want, and when you fall, take some time to breathe, to reflect, to laugh if you want to, then get back up and keep on moving wherever life takes you. At the end of my senior year, I look back and thank UCLA for all it gave and taught me, which is so much more than I could have asked for, and I hope it continues to do that for all the future generations of Bruins to come.
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