The Optimists: Mihir Mathur

Have you met the UCLA Optimists? Over the next several months, the Bruin Blog will be highlighting our student Optimists. These current UCLA undergraduates will give you insight into the application process and tips, student life and culture, and what it means to be a Bruin.

My experience at UCLA has been invaluable. Despite being born and brought up in a different cultural environment in a place diametrically across the world (New Delhi, India), I have adapted really well at UCLA. Since my first week here, I tried to be as involved as possible in different clubs and organizations. By getting involved in student organizations and by going to as many campus events as possible, I connected with many great people pretty early on. A lot of those people are now my close friends.

UCLA has more than 1,000 diverse student organizations. This vibrant student body was a major reason I chose UCLA. Before even coming here, one of the things I was looking forward to was the Enormous Activities Fair. The Enormous Activities Fair occurs during Zero week of Fall quarter where hundreds of our student organizations table in Royce Quad so new students can explore and find organizations they might be interested in joining. At the fair this year, I was handed hundreds of flyers, and it was very challenging to pick which clubs I should be involved with because they all sounded very tempting!

Mihir_2As a Computer Science major, I’m very interested in tech-startups. So one of the first clubs I joined was Bruin Entrepreneurs, where I met many people interested in startups and entrepreneurship. I also worked on a short film as a visual effects editor with the Film and Photography Society. I later joined the Daily Bruin as a Web Development intern to gain technical skills. The skills I learned by going to different workshops helped me prepare for the career fairs. At the Engineering career fair in winter quarter of my freshman year, I met lots of recruiters and interviewed with about seven companies. Each interview prepared me for the next and ultimately I was fortunate to secure an internship at Thomson Reuters for the summer. My internship was extremely enriching and I had a wonderful experience working as a UX and Frontend Engineering intern. I’ve written more about my internship here.

A great perk of being a Computer Science major is the opportunity of going to different hackathons around the US. In the past two years I’ve been to hackathons at schools like Stanford, UC Berkeley, Cornell and University of Pennsylvania. At these hackathons, one can meet people, create products, network with companies and have fun–all in 36 hours! Plus, the trip is usually paid for! After going to hackathons, I started loving the idea of organizing events that promote innovation and collaboration. So I joined the organizing team for LA Hacks, one of the best hackathons in the country, hosted at UCLA. I had an amazing time working with some talented people to organize LA Hacks 2016 and 2017. My passion for collaboration, innovation and creating things also lead me to start a new club with some Bruin Entrepreneurs members. This club – Creative Labs – encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration, learning and creativity. I am very proud of the fact that I contributed in connecting many people from different majors for creating digital products.

UCLA’s student organizations have had a huge impact on me. I’ve met friends, learned skills and most importantly had a very fulfilling time. I recently got elected as the President of UCLA Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and I hope I can contribute in fostering a vibrant, inclusive and collaborative tech community at UCLA.

Stay tuned with more of my projects and writing at: www.mihirmathur.com 

MIHIR IS A SECOND YEAR COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR FROM NEW DELHI, INDIA.

The Optimists: Jamie Baron

Have you met the UCLA Optimists? Over the next several months, the Bruin Blog will be highlighting our student Optimists. These current UCLA undergraduates will give you insight into the application process and tips, student life and culture, and what it means to be a Bruin.

UCLA has an endless list of amazing qualities and opportunities for students. We have all heard the list a million times: prestigious academics, competitive athletics, a beautiful campus, ground-breaking research, an incredible location. While I am grateful for all of these things, my favorite thing about UCLA isn’t something that is easy to see from the outside. When you sign your intent to register at UCLA you aren’t just agreeing to receive an education from a school, you are joining a family.Jamie Baron Composite Photo

I don’t believe that you can find another place on earth that is filled with more talented, passionate, incredible people. People who walk miles and camp out at Drake stadium to raise money for cancer research. People who plan and perform an entire play in just 24 hours and leave the audience doubled over in laughter. People who raise thousands of dollars and stay on their feet for 26.2 hours to eliminate pediatric aids. People who win more NCAA championships than anyone else in the nation. People who protest social injustices. Most importantly, people who are there for each other.

When you go to college you face so many challenges. Some are foreseen: being away from your parents for the first time, taking more challenges classes, making new friends, and the all time favorite having to do your own laundry. Other challenges are unexpected: overcoming self doubt and feelings of inadequacy, finding your own identity, and trying to figure out where you fit in to this enormous Bruin family. Though challenge can be difficult, it more importantly results in growth.

Being a Bruin is a beautiful journey of self discovery, and the best part about the journey is that you are never alone. In fact, it is all of your Bruin family members who make the journey possible. When you first start your time at UCLA you meet a lot of incredible people, which though amazing and enriching, can also be intimidating. You think to yourself, how could I possibly be smart and talented enough to be a member of such an impressive group of people? You might even consider running into Murphy Hall and making sure the admission officers didn’t make a mistake letting you in. Then UCLA works its magic and everything changes.

Each time you meet another Bruin they teach you something new and amazing about yourself. When I walk into a challenging physics class on the first day of the quarter rather than entering a hostile competitive environment, I am surrounded by peers who immediately sit down next to me, shake my hand, and exchange phone numbers with me in order to study together and help each other work through the class.  As a campus tour guide, after a rough day when I am feeling down about myself, I go to the tours office and am comforted and reassured of my strengths by each and every one of my fellow guides. As a member of the Greek community, I have created close relationships with incredible women who remind me everyday how strong and capable I am. Over your four years at UCLA with the support of your peers you go from wondering how you got into such an amazing institution to knowing that it wouldn’t be nearly as amazing without you in it. UCLA is nothing without the people who make up the Bruin family, each and every person is an integral member and that is what makes UCLA so special.

In the end, one’s time as a Bruin extends far beyond the four years it takes to complete your undergraduate degree. When you meet another Bruin in any random corner of the globe it doesn’t matter if they graduated the same year as you or 60 years before you, that person is instantly part of your family. The Bruin family is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each student is a uniquely shaped piece, and if a single piece is missing the whole picture just isn’t complete. Sure, it’s great to graduate being an expert in Biochemistry or Economics, but the most valuable thing that you learn here is that you matter, and your Bruin family will always be around to remind you that.

JAMIE IS A FOURTH YEAR BIOCHEMISTRY MAJOR
FROM THE BAY AREA IN CALIFORNIA.