Miriam Torres – Undergraduate Student 

My second year of undergrad finally ended in a blink of an eye. Having spent my first year virtually, I was really looking forward to the in-person college experience, but once I was there all I could think about was how lonely I felt. I was a second-year student in a freshman body, struggling to find community in a large school. Before stepping on UCLA grounds, I envisioned myself going to football games, making new friends, and partying while also staying on top of my grades. I quickly noticed I couldn’t keep up with the partying and games. The rapid quarter system made it difficult for me to have a social life and I also noticed I wasn’t as social as I used to be.

Part of it was a culture shock, but the other was the pandemic, which made me socially awkward. Midway through the school year, classes went back to online and then slowly upwardly switched back to in-person. These inconsistencies made it difficult for me to adapt and find my place at UCLA. My mentor repeatedly stressed the importance of finding community and I found it through Grupo Folklorico de UCLA. Through dancing, I sweated off the loneliness and I finally met people. One of the most important lessons I learned is that college is what you make of it, and despite the hurdles, I tried to make the best of it. For the next two years of undergrad, I plan to put myself out there more and maintain a consistent social life.  ​​After all, college isn’t only about school work; it’s also about meeting new people and having new experiences. The first year might be difficult but don’t let it define the rest of your undergrad trajectory. You are not alone and it will get better. 

Daniela Hernandez-Ayala – Undergraduate Student

When it comes down to education, there has never been a doubt in my mind that I would go to college. It has always been a dream for me to attend a higher institution of education because I personally wanted to go and also my family ingrained it in my head. As a first-generation American, everyone in my family is watching my every move making sure I can reach the American dream. During my winter break, my cousin called me to help him with his college application as I had already gone through the process. This previous school year was my first year in college and while it was not the ideal movie-painted school year, I know that I would not trade it for the world. I have met amazing people who I can always count on for anything, no matter the situation. I have been faced with opportunities that can be deemed impossible such as this internship at Todo Wafi and also attending the press preview for a Latino Museum in Washington, DC.

Overall, my first year was amazing socially. When it comes down to academics, it was not terrible but I did have to relearn how to study and take notes as High School was pretty easy when it came to studying for tests and copying the writing the teachers had on the board. I struggled for a while as I did not have an understanding but slowly throughout the year, I found study methods that worked for me or ways on how I wanted to take my notes but also be able to understand the material presented. One thing that I changed once I entered college was going to my professor’s office hours or setting up a meeting with them whether that is to talk about my classes or  books to read for pleasure. My Spanish professor would lend me books to read and then talk about them in the next meeting or sometimes when I was going through a difficult situation, she would always offer her advice and be a shoulder on which I can cry. It is only my first year, but I feel like I have accomplished new things and it only gets better from here on out. 

Madison Hernandez – Graduate School Student

When I was completing my undergraduate degree everyone kept saying, “Enjoy it because it goes by fast.” Of course I didn’t believe them and then I blinked and before I knew it I was being handed my degree. When I started graduate school I wanted nothing more than to jump right to the end because it meant I would finally start my career which would lead to the start of my life. Well, I got my wish and graduate school is nearing the end and I find myself looking back on this school year. The graduate program I am currently in is Strategic Communications and Public Relations, the courses I’ve been taking have taught me a lot about a career that I knew little about until I entered the program.

This school year I’ve had the opportunity to enhance my skills and step out of my comfort zone, and the class that contributed the most to this was event planning. Although the class had its challenges, I was able to step out of my comfort zone by showcasing my creative side since I helped to design centerpieces for our event (Slava Ukraini) which was a live telethon event to help raise money for the people in Ukraine. This class also helped me improve skills such as networking, research, organization and time management. Overall, I am thankful that I’ve had the chance to learn from my professor and my fellow classmates during this school year. I can’t wait to see what happens next! 

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