Countdown to Graduation: 2 Days
“I owned every second that this world could give / I saw so many places / The things that I did / Yeah, with every broken bone I swear I lived”
They say time goes by quickly when you’re having fun, but that was a huge understatement for the four years that I spent at UCI. I thought the first three years went by quickly, but my fourth year… every time I blinked, another quarter was over. Then one day, I was counting down the days to graduation. One thing about being a graduating senior is how much you reflect on everything you’ve experienced in the time you spent at the school.
Fall 2016: Fall started out with Housing Training, and even though I already went through it once before when I was on staff my second year, there were still some experiences in it that I did not expect to go through. For one, being an RA entailed more work preparations than I thought it would. So many hours working on posters! Then again, my hall ended up having a told of 32 posters throughout the whole hall (what in the world was I thinking). The thing about Housing Training is you get to experience 3 weeks with people you are going to be working with for the rest of the year and you get to live with them during training. With training ending with a dive into Move-In Weekend, it’s a lot to take in. My whole life Fall Quarter became dedicated to being an RA just as much as I dedicated time to school, and it wasn’t easy. At certain points in time, it just felt like schoolwork was drowning me and I struggled. While I had a successful Fall Quarter as an RA, the other half of it was that it wasn’t the best results as a student. The lack of sleep and tackling 5 classes, fieldwork, and research destroyed my health physically, mentally, emotionally, and… academically. My quarterly GPA didn’t make it to the requirements and it was like Freshman year all over again with Academic Probation. This time, though, I didn’t doubt myself or think I wasn’t capable the way I thought about it my Freshman year. This time, I was ready to come out on top when I came back Winter Quarter.
Winter 2017: Transitioning into Winter Quarter was difficult academically. Because of the results of Fall Quarter, I thought I needed to sacrifice a part of me, and what would have to pay would be my RA life. I mean, I already lost my social life to school and being an RA, but this time it had to be even more sacrifices. Luckily, my residents were on the same boat of focusing more on their schoolwork rather than socially, and so it all worked out differently with all the schoolwork I needed to focus on. I thought Fall Quarter was hard with all the classes. As it turns out, UCI had it in for me and this quarter was even harder. The hardest it had ever been. This was also the quarter where RA applications and interviews happened, and that’s when I realized that the journey was a lot closer to the end than I thought it was. Around the same time, I had been working on an application for a job position that I would start in post-grad. The same week my applications for the jobs were due, I was dealing with Facilities-related situations in the hall. I never thought it was possible to have been challenged throughout the entire hall. There was literally something wrong in every suite and I didn’t know where or how to begin solving issues. The worst part of it was that I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to keep the comfortability for my residents. In this same week, school was at it’s peak difficulty (cause midterms). So from what I thought of school demolishing me Fall Quarter, this one had me beat. I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the end, and for the first time I said that maybe I wasn’t cut out to be an RA and Res Life would not be fitting for me after all. Luckily, I had ProStaff that reminded me that I am here now and the things that are out of my control should not let me feel like I’m insufficient. So, learning opportunity. A few weeks later, I interviewed for the positions I applied to. Best believe I was nervous for them. I survived Finals Week and Spring Break hit. Oh… and ICYMI the end of Spring Break was when I got a tattoo.
Spring 2017: Spring Break was difficult because I could not find myself to focus on anything entirely because at the back of my mind, I always had thought about the end of this quarter meant graduation followed by all my kids moving out of the hall, then all of staff. Spring Quarter was just a whole quarter of me being an emotional train wreck. I finished Winter Quarter with the strongest GPA I had ever had in a a quarter and I was proud. I was determined to finish as strongly as I possibly could academically, this was the quarter of celebrations (Pass Down, Hall Banquet, Housing Banquet, MESS Celebration, Graduation). There was no way that this quarter could go wrong. That’s where I was wrong. My life had it in for me. I had to go through one more big thing before things ended, and it was the hardest experience I had gone through. I cried for weeks, I said some things I was disappointed in myself for, and for a while I was lost. Of course, it couldn’t happen towards the beginning to the quarter, it had to happen in the last half. It was the longest, most stressful and emotionally draining three weeks I have ever had in my life. I turned to a something I hadn’t done in a long time because I no longer had a handle of my emotions. The anxiety, the hyperventilating, the crying was all too much for me to handle and I found myself wanting to stop feeling emotional pain by focusing on the physical pain. I was stopped before I did anything. All things became better eventually with a lovely Hall Banquet, Housing Banquet, and going home with the “Middle Earth Spirit Award” for the second time. I had the privilege of getting to deliver the Closing Prayer for the graduating seniors at the Graduation Mass with the UCI Catholic Community. One by one, I was finishing yet another journey. Spring Quarter was supposed to be easier with only two classes and research, but I still was challenged. Luckily, I didn’t have any Finals. So here I was on Thursday of Week 10, finished with my last class as an Undergrad ever, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I was three papers away from being done with Undergrad. By Tuesday at 4:30 AM, I submitted my last paper and it was over. The rest of my life is going to begin after I walk that stage – in two days (even though I’m not leaving Middle Earth until June 19th LOL).
Post-Grad: Many people have been asking me the same two questions: “Are you ready to for graduation?” and “What are your plans after graduation?” The answers: Yes, I am excited to be graduating. At least once every quarter of college, I had thought about dropping out because I didn’t think I was cut out for it, but I had all these people who supported me. On Friday, June 16th I can finally say “I made it.” What’s the next step? Well… In light of graduating, I am more than proud to share the next chapter of my life after graduating: I am going to be serving as an Assistant Resident Director at UCLA. I’ll be starting at my position as ARD at the end of July. This is the first step I am taking towards my dream of working in Residence Life/Housing (forever). So, UCLA Residence Life (#COURTSIDE) — see you soon!
UCI gave me the best four years of my life thus far. Four years at UCI didn’t feel very long unless you’re looking at it from one of the following perspectives: 194 weeks, 1,368 days,32,832 hours, 1,969,920 minutes, 118,195,200 seconds. In two days, I get to put my graduation gown and cap on, hang my stoles on my shoulders, take a picture with Peter the Anteater, and walk the stage – a moment I have been anticipating for. There will be tears, there will be smiles and laughter, and there will be memories. There are so many things in my life that I am so grateful for, and I am SO EXCITED for what’s to come.
University of California, Irvine: the school that’s a hidden gem… Thank you for the memories and for teaching me how to live and giving me memories for a lifetime.
With all my love,
Jamrensze Jeannylle De Leon
Class of 2017