Exploring the Other Side of Town

This summer I’ve been busy working in Downtown LA (the other side of town) as an intern for Teach For America. When I first realized I would be in Downtown I was both super scared and super excited. I was scared because I wasn’t used to navigating the area- Westwood definitely is not as populated and does not have as many huge buildings or one-way streets as Downtown- but I was excited to learn about this side of LA that is so close yet so far away from my college town.

One of the first things I did when I got off of work early one day was adventure to Bunker Hill with another intern and visit Tom’s bench from the movie 500 Days of Summer. This is one of my favorite movies, so I was super stoked to be sitting on the same bench that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel had sat on for the film. It was a beautiful view.

Another awesome thing about being in downtown (or LA in general) is the FOOD. Oh my gosh, the food. At first I tried to bring my own lunch to the office to save some money and to eat a little healthier, but seeing people bring these awesome plates back to the office during lunch made me super jealous and I ended up bringing money and trying a new place every day that I had my internship. There are so many awesome and hip restaurants to go to, but there are also a lot of cheap and delicious hole-in-the-wall places that are just as delicious. There’s also a farmer’s market in Pershing Square a couple of days a week that is super yummy and right across the street from my office! A few of my favorite things that I tried were a thai chicken sandwich and a maple glaze bacon donut (yes, that exists) from a diner nearby. On the last day of the internship all the interns and our managers went out for happy hour at a place called Public School where they had great deals on amazing food. Here’s their version of a hot dog (yes, there’s a hot dog somewhere in between all that food) that was only FOUR DOLLARS during their happy hour! So good.

Finally, one of the coolest things about being in downtown was actually the amount of my friends from UCLA that were also in the area for the summer! On the days before my internship I could text one of my friends that also had a summer internship nearby and we would meet up for lunch or dinner or coffee or boba and catch up. So many people I know are doing super cool things in Downtown- from fashion to accounting- UCLA students are super diverse. Here’s a picture I took when me and one of my sorority sisters met up and had a fancy dinner at Bottega Louie – a really yummy (but expensive!) and nice place that was a perfect middle-ground meeting spot between our offices.  They’re famous for their macaroons!

Although I had a great time in Downtown, I absolutely cannot wait to be back in Westwood (my move-in date is September 7th and yes I am counting down the days) to catch up with everyone I couldn’t see over the summer and prepare for the unbeatable Fall quarter with the super fun zero week, all the new freshman, and of course football games! Downtown was pretty awesome, but Westwood will always be my home and where my heart lies.

Internship Opportunities and Class Credit

While the classes I have taken on campus at UCLA have been incredibly valuable, one of the best experiences I have had is my internship class at a local elementary school. My goal is ultimately to become a teacher and having the chance to intern at an elementary for class credit has been absolutely amazing. Getting hands on experience in the classroom is one of the best ways to really get a feel for the teaching profession. The school is super close by and a bus ride only takes a short fifteen minutes. This has seriously been a life changing experience and inspired me to apply for Teach for America!

As a college student, organizing your schedule to fit internships can be challenging but UCLA has many opportunities that allow you to receive units for the internship. These off campus opportunities often involve a community experience mixed with relevant coursework. For example, on top of my hours spent at the elementary school I meet with a coordinator for reflection. I also complete readings and written responses. The academic mixed with hands-on experience is an awesome way to approach career interests.

My focus has been on internships involving teaching, but there are many other opportunities for other interests. For example, my roommate who is a science major gets unit credit for the research she does. Another program focuses on civic engagement and sets students up with internships with nonprofits or government work. Los Angeles is a prime location for finding internship opportunities because so many different industries are located in the area. There are chances to get involved in medicine, business, teaching, and many others as well. College is all about finding out your true passions and internships are an awesome way to help students figure this out.

Just the Beginning

This upcoming week is my last week at UCLA…it is so eerie just to type that out. Just three years ago, I was just about to graduate high school and discover college land. I was so scared. Three years later, I am in the same position. I am about to graduate college and moving on to a big boy job- become a teacher. I am set to work for Teach for America as a corps member and teacher in California. I am excited and scared at the same time.

I want to take this LAST post as an opportunity to express my thanks to all the readers and every one who has had an impact in my life while at UCLA. Because of all of you, I am a better person today. As I graduate, I want to move on, create even better memories, and live happily. I know that sounds so broad but I am in the move to do just that.

For those of us graduating, I am so proud of us!!! Really, I am! Couldn’t be more excited for the next phase of our lives! Those whom I have met while attending UCLA have been a true blessing in my life. I am the Manny I am today because of all of you guys. Attending UCLA made my life a happier one. I run my life through the word “fabulous.” Anytime anyone makes a reference using fabulous and my name is just precious. I take it to heart. Fabulous to me is so empowering and endearing in everything I do, and in return, what I hope people see out of me.

This year has brought a lot of changes, both good and bad, in my life and a lot of my friend’s lives. But I am so proud to say we are all still here, fighting our causes and ending our school year on a high note. Our faith has brought us together and made us so much stronger. It brings me so much happiness to know that despite everything that has happened in our lives we are still standing and not letting our circumstances get the best of us.

I try to live every day to its fullest, without regrets. My goal is to be a happy person and make myself and others around me smile. How do I do that you may ask? Or how do I imagine I am capable of that? Well, its quite simple. Life is hard in itself easily. But it is goal of mine to overcome those obstacles and be a winner out of everything and anything I do. That is why, my ultimate goal is to laugh and make others laugh, which bring smiles from both sides :^D. Why should we let our downfalls get the best out of who we are today? It should be our goal to be happy and live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. As we graduate, it is important that we take that with ourselves in our lives after UCLA. We all go through different things in different times. It is what we make out of our unforeseen circumstances that make us who we are. Our hardest battles make us so much stronger than does that do not challenge us to think or act.

Therefore, we should make the best out of every challenge we may find. Smile on, I dare you. Try it at least once, I ask of you. Some say smiles are contagious. Well, I also say they are addictive. Do it once, and you’ll do it again and again. Psh, it’s hard to be fabulous! But what is life without a challenge? What is life without a little bit of a struggle? Once the dust settles, comes sunshine, :). You’ll see, trust me. There is a beginning to every end. That is the absolute beauty of it! It is up to US to bring about that marvelous change and beginning out of every opportunity we get. I leave you guys on this note in my last blog post.

Life is beautiful, do not ever forget that. It is filled with beautiful and marvelous people who make it that much more fabulous. Lets be grateful for what we have and not for what we do not have. Lets think positive and make possibilities happen. With this, I leave you all! Actually, I let you begin your new opportunity to smile…:)

Until next time, be fabulous! xoxo

Manny 🙂

Week 5- Halfway done with Undergrad!

This week brings Week 5! That means that I am halfway done with my Undergraduate  years as a student at UCLA. This is definitely ringing a bell that midterms are coming, papers are coming, graduation event-planning is coming, and graduation itself is upon us. It seems like Spring Quarter is flying by! Next thing you know, I will be writing that finals are here…so not fab! As these last few weeks at UCLA approach me, I want to remember one thing: all the precious memories that I have made here and all the one I will make as my journey as a student comes to an end. As many of you may know, I am going to be working with Teach for America as a Special Education teacher. I couldn’t be any more proud and excited than ever before. It’s like being accepted into UCLA all over again. I am up for the challenge and rewards that I am sure TFA will bring me. I have five other friends who I can call fellow Corps members who will be joining me in this new journey of my life as well.

As I continue throughout the next week finishing up my coursework as a student, I begin preparing for my work of the future. What a blessing! I couldn’t be any more excited and thrilled- BRING IT FUTURE!

Working for My Dreams

 

 

Those who know me know that I am constantly busy either with school or work. That’s the typical life of a college student. Either we are working to pay off our fees or we are studying/writing papers. We are constantly busy. This upcoming June I graduate but beforehand, during the last few days of May, I will be moving to Arizona to start my career as a future teacher. How exciting is that? Though I know I am going to be extremely busy, I couldn’t be more exciting for the future. Today, I enrolled in my last class to complete my last UCLA schedule. It’s bittersweet for sure. I am excited for what is to come but sad to know that the end is coming near by. Most of you who occasionally read my blogs know that graduation for me is a big deal, first of all because I mention it often, hehe. However, I’m the first in my family to graduate from a 4-year university so it’s a bit nerve-wracking and unbelievable. I’m also currently prepping to take the Praxis exam in Elementary studies for my upcoming placement as an Elementary teacher in Arizona. Next month I am going to be taking the English Praxis exam. It is a bit overwhelming to know the next few things that I have to do to make sure I am on the path to start my job as a teacher, but I know it is all going to be worth it. I’m achieving my dreams everyday and it’s a bit unreal and beyond words to be completely honest. So my words of advice to an incoming college freshmen like you is not be afraid to dream big and work for your dreams because a couple of years from now they are going to become a reality…it just takes a bit of hard work and perseverance with a lot of support from your family, friends, and loved ones around! 🙂

Teaching for America

This past week has been one of the best weeks of my life. I was notified that I was accepted into Teach for America– a true dream come true. I have always loved being involved in the classroom. Since I was a little kid, I was always intrigued on taking a leadership role in the classroom. Helping out teachers during my free time, breaks, and lunch time was my thing. It was something that I always enjoyed doing. During high school, I was constantly acting as the teacher’s assistant.

Now, to be known as a teacher is something I’m really looking forward to. Even typing this gives me chills. I am so ready for this next adventure in my life. It is going to be challenging and tough but the best part about it is the rewards and accomplishments that will come out of this. To be able to help out students who come from underprivileged areas is something that I am greatly looking forward to. To become a corps member and be given this opportunity is immensely gratifying. I am so privileged and grateful to be given this opportunity to be able to be trusted and being given a leadership position as a teacher. Teachers to me are one of the most hard working and well respected people, so to be considered one in the next upcoming months is anything beyond words that I can express.

The love and support that I have received the past couple of days is overwhelmingly beautiful. I am forever thankful to everyone who has stood behind me and encouraged me to become a better person. I hope that I make every single person out there who has encouraged me, pushed me, inspired me, and everything else in between very proud. This is for Teach for America, to my teachers, friends, family and believers– I am in for a fab road ahead of making change and pushing the boundaries! Here’s to a new and fabulous chapter in my life!