Countdown to Graduation: 4 Days
“I’ll spread my wings, and I’ll learn how to fly / I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky”
As my journey comes to a close here at UCI, I’m taking the time I need to break down my journey piece by piece to thank those who have made a significant impact in my life and to reflect on the different experiences I have had over the years.
Allow me to tell my story in this 3-part series of posts, taking you from the very beginning leading up to the biggest moment of my life thus far.
When I started my senior year of high school, I had no intentions of UCI being the school I ended up in. After all, it wasn’t my dream school. UCI was just one of the 9 other school I applied to. I had so much misconceptions about the school – and this university only proved to me that I couldn’t have been any more wrong in all the ways I viewed the school.
Application Season: Now for all those who have already gone through the application season for colleges, you know just how hard it is to keep up with all of those demographic applications, personal statements, supplemental applications for programs you are applying for. In other words, it’s an overload to your system on top of having to keep up with all these classes and everything else you’re involved in. Here’s some flash news: it doesn’t end there.
Fast forward for February 28, 2013: the first thing I see in my email that morning was an acceptance to UCI. Yup, I remember the date – it’s also my mom’s birthday. That year, it was my gift to her that I got into one of the two UC’s I applied to. At this time, I still wasn’t grasping the idea that this school could possibly where I throw myself into and be in for another four years of my educational career, because I was still waiting on my dream school.
April 26, 2013: This was the day I first visited UCI, and I fell in love. I know, that sounds super cliche. That’s the truth. One of my friends who at that time was a first year at UCI gave an unofficial tour of the campus to two of my friends and I along with my mom. In that time and in that moment, everything just felt so right and something was just pulling my heart to sign my SIR at UCI. Even with getting into my dream school, it no longer was my dream because all I wanted to do was become a part of UCI. I went home and signed the same day. No hesitation, no thinking twice. My mom and I filled out the SIR together and paid the fee, and there it was. I was going to UCI.
Graduation Day- June 8, 2013: How I managed to survive all my commitments, emotional roller coasters, disagreements, struggling to stay awake in classes, and making it to graduation in one piece… I will never know, but I did. I made it to graduating high school, coming out on top. When they called my name to shake hands with school administrators and grab my diploma, I was incredibly proud to hear them say that I was going to UCI. It was only a matter of time before I was going to finally start at UCI.
SPOP 5- Sierra: When I was told that UCI’s orientation program was nothing like anyone has ever experienced before, I thought people on the UCI Class of 2017 Facebook group page were exaggerating and just excited to be starting college. I went through the program and it was such a positive introduction to what I was about to encounter during my college experience. I know not everyone shares the same view as I do, but UCI was nothing like what I already knew before.
SMLI 2013: I was thrilled to dive into learning where I fit into UCI, and that’s how I ended up in the Summer Multicultural Leadership Institute just a week after SPOP and a month and a half away from move-in day. Here I was first introduced to diversity and understanding diversity from a different point of view. In this program is also where I gained my two best friends and a few of my now closest friends of fellow SMLIeys along with Staffers. These were people I became incredibly close to over the years I was at UCI and have helped me in more ways than one.
September 21, 2013: Move-In day. While I was filled with excitement to start my newest adventure, I was also extremely terrified. This would be my first time away from home and I lived with 48 people I didn’t know. I had to share rooms with someone, I had to share the bathroom with even more people, we ate in a cafeteria-styled dining place, and why the heck was everything around me named after Lord of the Rings? Guess those are some of the things I missed when I chose not to take the official campus tours. At this point, I had already freaked my RA out from asking questions about being involved with Community Council and I was getting myself ready to settle in.
I hate Chemistry: This was the year I discovered how much I actually dislike Chemistry and I didn’t understand why it was part of my Nursing curriculum. For the first time in my years of schooling… I felt the pain of not succeeding because I just could not understand anything in Chem no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much I reviewed various resources – books, Google, YouTube. Chemistry and I just were not good friends.
Academic Probation: Fall Quarter didn’t end as I would’ve liked it to and though I didn’t show it, I struggled transitioning into the college environment. When I finished high school, I was at the top of my game and I thought that I would be able to tackle college. As it turns out, things don’t play out the same way and here I am in a lecture hall where you can fit my entire high school in it, lost and confused. At that point in time, the only thing I wanted to do was quit school. I lost my self-esteem and I had no confidence. I didn’t want to go back to UCI anymore after Fall Quarter grades came out because I was scared of what people would think of me and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to move on further to handle the next set of classes. I even risked losing my scholarship at this point because I just didn’t know where I stood. But of course, I wasn’t alone and I had the support of so many people around me.
Winter 2014: Upon my return, I was welcomed by my RA and one of the people on staff that year that lived in my hall. On separate occasions, the two of them had reminded me that I wasn’t alone and while not everyone goes through Academic Probation, it didn’t make me any less qualified to be a part of UCI and that I could continue to do more. The struggle didn’t end there. I’m taking Chemistry all over again (because I needed to for Nursing), and I still wasn’t getting any of it. Then there was the Bio class that I just could not keep my eyes open for and my brain was not soaking up the information no matter how many times over I read the textbook. Nearing the end of the quarter, I begin doubting again and I don’t know if I could handle pushing forward. I made it to the end of the quarter, got out of AP, and was able to keep my scholarships. Except, there was a new thing for me at the end of this quarter: I dropped out of the Nursing program and now was lost and confused again.
Spring 2014: Diving into Spring Quarter of my Freshman year put me in some sort of a shock because I was not expecting how quick time flies by, but it did. If there’s one thing I remember coming into college for, it’s that I wanted to become an RA one day. Of course, when I first started, I didn’t realize that there was more than the benefits of being an RA (free housing and meal plan). Coming from a background of financial difficulty, “free housing and meal plan” definitely caught my attention. Then my RA showed me what it really meant to be an RA and how much you can change lives and I knew that I wanted to be an RA more than anything else I have ever wanted. J-Mi from 2013 didn’t know it at the time, but she’d become an RA a few years later. In the meantime, I started working my way more into Housing by first becoming a part of the Community Council team as Vice President. A new adventure was going to begin. On June 12, 2014, I said goodbye to my room in Isengard, and told my RA that we’ll see each other again – even if he’s all the way in New York.
Summer 2014: So what does a student who just dropped out of her major do to get out of the confusion do? She explores. During the summer between my first and second year, I took 20 units (5 classes) because now it was time to explore what new thing I wanted to be a part of, and I might as well start early. I was preoccupied with classes that summer even up until I started Housing Training in the Fall.