An Amazing Year

It has been an amazing year filled with late nights, good grades, and funny memories out with friends. I don’t think I can imagine my freshman year any different. College was, at the same time, what I expected and not what I expected. In the beginning, it didn’t really sink in that I was at this esteemed university. But as midterms and then finals came creeping up, I knew then that this was not like those days in high school, where I can get by just looking over my notes, and I’d be good to go. I had to form study groups, study late into the nights, create flash cards, and so many other skills I had not had to do before. But midterms and finals weren’t as daunting any more, when later in the year I discovered a major that highly piqued my interest. It was perfect – Human Biology and Society. It was a mixture of life science and social science, and had a Public Health related focus, a field I’m slowly gravitating towards. In the beginning I was unsure of what I really wanted to do. I wanted to go to college, but then what? All these questions were zooming through my mind – what would I study, where, what, HOW? Fortunately, I have received support from so many people – emotionally, mentally, and financially. Programs such as Summer Search, Gooden College Connection, and Edfund provide me with that extra support needed to get through tough times at school. Scholarships such as the Irene Scully Foundation and the Retired Educators Fund continue to support me in my studies today, allowing me to worry less about my financial situation and more on my studies and future. Instead of having to take up more hours for work, I’m able to take up internships and do better in my classes due to more time dedicated to studying. In the beginning, I was lost and confused, but throughout the year, I was able to discover what really interested me, which in turn led me to the field that I hope to have as a career in the future — public health. Without the support of my family, friends, mentors, and of course the scholarships that I will be forever grateful for, I don’t think I could have had a better freshman year of college. I want to thank everyone who has allowed me to get this far, and who will continue to support me in my future endeavors. Thank you!

Year One

This past year has flown by just as fast if not faster than my last semester of high school. I still cannot come to terms with the fact that my first year is already over and my second year is approaching. It is nerve wracking to think how quickly a year could pass by, let alone the next couple years of my undergraduate career. A lot has changed since my I graduated high school. Not only have I embarked on a journey towards self-discovery, but I am rapidly changing from just three quarters. As challenging as my first year at UCLA has been, I do not regret my decision in attending this university. It has taught me a lot about myself in such a short span of time that is both irreplaceable and valuable towards personal and professional growth.

College is meant to be challenging. There is no doubt about it. Students must be given the opportunity to grow and learn from their trials and tribulations. If not, my achievements and positive experiences would not be as meaningful without hardships to put things into perspective. The amount of mental, physical and emotional challenges seemed never ending at times. I have learned and grown stronger from each experience I have overcome. From my first midterm, to my first feeling of homesickness, to my first major illness, each experience has become invaluable for my undergraduate career and beyond. I have learned to be resilient and determined no matter how difficult it can be. Resilience and determination are two qualities essential for all students when put under constant stress and self-doubt in college. Thankfully, I always had the support of my friends on campus to work past the difficulties especially since we all underwent similar burdens as students.

I am ready to do my best this upcoming year, and to push myself even further than before. But before school begins in the fall, I am happy to be able to take a break from school this summer. Although I am not taking summer classes, I have been working with UC Berkeley’s Pre-College TRIO Talent Search Programs. As a Teaching Advisor for their Summer Bears program, I have been able to maintain a level of productivity. It is as if I were going to school. Not only am I gaining invaluable work experience, but I am also able to work with one of the programs that has contributed to my academic success since high school.

I would just like to thank the Ed Fund for all their support this past year. I am very grateful for the program’s hard work and dedication towards serving scholars of the West Contra Costa College Unified School District. I cannot thank you all enough.

First Quarter

My first quarter at UCLA was somewhat challenging because I was really shy and hesitant to talk to anyone. I did not make connections around with people on campus and faculty members, which was a BIG mistake. Not making connections with students on campus, you do not know about the tricks around campus. Yes, tricks. What I mean by that is specific classes to take/ avoid and studying habits. Eventually, I was lucky enough to land a job on campus that exposed me to the resources at UCLA. I think it really helped me because I learned the resources UCLA offered, how the school was structured (so I could reach out to specific staff members), and how I could be more involved with different retention and outreach programs within UCLA. Through my job, I met a lot of students who were enrolled in the same courses with me. We formed study groups, which were effective because you are able to learn about details that you never knew and the things you do know, you could emphasize more on it by explaining it to other students.

The biggest moment for me at UCLA was attending office hours. I always told myself that I would go to office hours, and I would, but I would never go for chemistry. I was intimidated by my chemistry professor because I felt that I did not have the knowledge like other students did, so he would be wasting his time catching me up with the course’s material. However, I built my confidence and approached my professor in office hours. Before coming into office hours, I would prepare a list of questions and examples that I want him to clarify and explain to me. I felt more prepared for my exams because he would explain things to me in great details that were not explained in lecture.

I feel like I’m slowly adjusting into UCLA. I feel more prepared now and know what to expect. I know exactly who to go to when I have questions weather it is questions for the professors or faculty members.

New Quarter, New Challenges

In the midst of ending this quarter strong, I am faced with a struggle that most students deal with during their college career. Although I initially applied to UCLA as a pre-sociology major, I have not been following the pre-requisites for my respective major. Instead, I decided to be undeclared in order to follow a more flexible track that can help gauge my interest with potential majors. Rather than confine myself to a major and follow the pre-requisites, I wanted to come to a decision after taking my time.
While this may seem great, I have been having a tough time enrolling in courses for next quarter. In fact, all I want to do is know what major I am working towards. Yet, I do not know what major I desire to pursue. I am rather impatient at the moment, especially by the few undeclared majors I have encountered. It seems as if many students have decided their major, which I know is unlikely, yet still unnerving. All I know is that I want a career that involves interacting with others in improving their circumstances. Since this can be translated into many fields of work, let alone majors, I am having a tough time deciding the right major.
While declaring a major is not a pressing matter during one’s first year, it is an experience that I am nonetheless undergoing. I have not reached my moment of sudden realization just yet, even with the classes I have and am currently taking. However, I have appreciate the anthropology and sociology classes I have taken. In order to navigate through my array of interests, I plan on making an appointment with the Career Center. Hopefully with some guidance, I can look into potential majors and careers with a clearer state of mind. It is important to be patient during times of frustration. Rushing into activities, let alone majors will deter one’s college experience. After all, college is meant for self-discovery, not self-containment. It is the prime time in one’s life to explore and further one’s character development. As easy as this advice seems to execute, it is quite difficult. However, I know it is only with time, that my future will become clearer.

New Beginnings

Before entering the realm of higher education, I had the faintest idea of what college would be like. I knew that for the first time in my life, I was on my own. By choosing to attend the University of California, Los Angeles, I was given a new set of responsibilities, freedoms, and an unfamiliar yet exciting environment. The realities of being given this much independence was unsettling yet exciting.
My first quarter was filled with trials and tribulations. Although I did not think I would feel homesick, there were times through out the quarter where I felt alone. As heavily populated as UCLA is, I had difficulties coping with the distance between my family and I. With many of peers originally from Southern California, I was jealous by how often and easily they could go back home. My homesickness would occur when I was left alone, or stressed by academics.
Part of the reason my homesickness was so strong last quarter was because of how difficult my first quarter was. I came to the realization that college was different from high school very quickly. Although I only took three classes, the course load was plenty to keep me busy. I have never read so much in a matter of 10 weeks than I did in my first quarter of college. In addition, the amount of hard work I put into my classes did not always translate into the letter grades I received. I was frustrated by how futile my efforts were. And since UCLA is on the quarter system, I felt dragged by the quick pace. This has taught me to adapt and resilient in times of distress.
Balancing my academic and social life was yet another learning experience. Trying to excel in one’s classes, participate in organizations, and have enough time for oneself is a constant challenge. Whereas I could do anything and everything I wanted to while in high school, I knew this would not translate well into college. Because of this, I decided not to participate in many clubs. While this gave me more time to focus on academics, I was left unsatisfied. Finding a good mix between academics and clubs are important. I was never the type to lay idle, and this new approach left me both unhappy, and regretful. While I did have more time to study, I would not always use my time effectively. Being more involved has actually forced me to manage my time. Maintaining one’s mental health is important, no matter how much emphasis is put on academics.
I have learned many things in my first quarter of college. While my experience was not smooth by any means, I am excited to take what I learned in my first quarter and apply it to my future college endeavors. As fast as high school was, college is even faster. It should not be used to be regretful, but to be resilient and progress in the face of conflict.

Entering College

The beginning of college was a great transition for me, knowing that I was moving to a completely new city. Not only because it was going to be a new and different environment but also because I was going to be seven hours away from my family, who have always supported me and cheered me on. At the beginning of the year this greatly affected me, but as the first quarter continued I became more adjust to this “new life”. One of the first things I learned entering college was that it is very different from high school, therefore changes need to be made in a person’s behavior and way of approaching situations. Work in college is definitely more time consuming than that of high school, this meant that I had to use my time wisely. For me, this took a while to figure out, but as time went by I managed to set my priorities and work from that. With the stress of adjusting to college also comes the excitement of learning new things and meeting new people. The classes at UCLA are packed with information and allow me to apply what I learn to life outside of college. This is very rewarding. The classes are not always easy, but the professors and staff are always willing to help. This allows me to interact with the professor and ask any questions I may have. Also, I’ve learned that the groups on campus are very welcoming. I myself have joined one that has greatly helped me feel better about the college life. This group helps me socialize with others but also helps me stay actives, such as participating in community service and career workshops. Even though the start of my college life was filled with ups and down, I have learned to love it and continue to look forward to the upcoming quarters !

Challenging first week

School has been a lot harder than I expected. I knew it was going to be hard but I didn’t think it would be this much. Currently I’m taking math 1, english comp 3, and sex: through biology and gendered society. The hardest thing is the workload all the classes give me, all the readings and writings, specially the English class. I’ve never been good at thinking deeply and pulling out supporting evidence and analyzing it correctly so I’m struggling to keep up. Thankfully, I’m a member of PEERS which helps me get tutoring and counseling. Being in this situation makes me think about how I should have applied myself more in high school and how the classes at my school just don’t compare to the ones here, or the ones other people took in high school. The hardest classes at my school now seem to just be regular classes compared to what other people have taken. It’s ok though, I know that I can catch up and even surpass those people if I only truly apply myself. Besides classes, I’ve gotten into an exercise club and the schools’ tennis club. The best thing about them is that I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people with similar interests. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to participate in the clubs but hopefully I can eventually make time. The only thing that’s bothered me about UCLA so far is the heat. The heat is just horrible! Everyday I end up getting to class with a sweaty back, but besides that I like UCLA; the environment, the people I’ve gotten to meet, and all the resources available. I know it’s gona be a challenging year but I’m going to make it great with the support of my friends, family and organizations like the edfund.

Learning How to Swim

After working hard my whole life to go to a prestigious University and waiting for what seemed to be forever throughout high school, it was the most surreal feeling when the day actually came. It was in a sense overwhelming, and I had no idea how to feel about it. I was happy of course, but I knew that my world as I knew it was going to change. It was probably the toughest part to say bye to what I knew as home, my family and my friends; and accept that Westwood, Los Angeles, was now going to be my new home. It was kind of like being thrown into an ocean and learning how to swim for the first time, not knowing where you are headed or if you will be able to make it. I believe this is a part of life that defines your character, and demonstrates how bad you want something. If its important to you, you will swim to dear life until you get the surface and if not you will drown and give up. So I guess you can say, I am in the process of swimming to the surface. It has not been easy, in fact transitioning into college has been nearly the hardest thing I have ever done. It is now week 3 at the University of California Los Angeles, and I am beginning to get the hang of it. It is nothing like High School, in regards to not only curriculum, but as an environment as a whole. There are not enough words that can describe the experience of being at 4-year University. It has showed me the world in a whole different perspective. College, is the not a place where you go with the exact knowledge of who you are and what you want to be, it is a place that shapes the person you are destined to become and helps you find the path in which is best suited for you. Before my father left he told me something that I believe will stick with me for the rest of my life, “the dream does not stop, people just stop dreaming.” So to answer the question what college has taught me about myself, it is that I am a very good swimmer. I am living the dream that no one but myself can end.

Transitioning Into College

The thought of college seemed exciting, however, as the date approaches, I found myself very nervous. As the first member in my family to attend college, I felt the amount of pressure weighing on my shoulders. I do not know what to think or how to feel when I think about college. Although the college experience seemed great in movies, I thought my experience would differ. Continue reading

UCLA: Week 3 done, 7 more to go!

Transitioning from a four month long summer into college was tough. But now that I’m out of the transitional phase, living 6 hours away from home isn’t as daunting as I imagined. I thought I would be homesick by the second week, but I was wrong. Week 4 is approaching and I can confidently say that I am comfortable here. Sure, I can’t see my cat, my boyfriend, or my family regularly, but I know the distance away from home will give my room for growth.

My first few weeks here were exciting! Although I felt like the environment was a little out of my element, it was exciting meeting so many people whose names I have already forgotten. There are so many people here that it is easy to fade into the background in a crowded room, but once you make a few friends it isn’t so bad anymore. 

The initial impression of college life didn’t differ too much from what I came in expecting. I knew that college was going to be a lot of hard work and I also knew that school would consume most of my time. In the first two weeks, I was prepared for whatever work that was thrown at me. Today, I feel like I am improving as a student all the time. However, I am developing bad habits. For example, yesterday I had one cup of coffee. Yes, I said it. One entire cup!! I don’t want to end up as a caffeine-addict by the end quarter 1, but I see the inevitable already coming. 

As quarter 1 progresses and the transitional phase comes to an end, I am most looking forward to becoming a better, more mature version of myself in college.

-Celesti, UCLA ’16