I seriously can’t believe I made it through yet another academic year. Every year I’m in the quarter system, I feel like every quarter goes by faster and faster; sometimes it’s terrifying just how fast it goes. Just as fast as things go, I also feel like I aim to do less work in Spring Quarter and it somehow ends up still being a load of work. Which brings me to this next part.
I took a hiatus – unintentionally – from my blog these past three-is months because rather than producing half-a**ed work as I described my experiences, I’ll just take you on a stroll of what this quarter has been like… week to week. I thought that at some point I was going to drown from all that I had going on this quarter, but just like every quarter – I made it.
Week 35: Spraaaaaaang Break
Okay, so the title is quite deceiving. More than a “lit” Spring Break, it was more of a working Spring Break. Probably the most productive Spring Break I have EVER had. I think first year and second year, I spent it sleeping. Third and fourth year, I was working. So this was a nice change. A number of my UCLA colleagues and I went down to San Diego for the WACUHO Annual Conference and Exposition (WACE). This was my first time attending the conference and it was an experience. A lot of the people I was surrounded by had been going to the conference for YEARS. Sometimes, it does feel really refreshing to be around different people and when they come together, it feels like they were never too far for long. I learned a lot from this conference and look forward to going to more of them.
Some of my takeaways were:
- Pre-Conference introduced me into a new light about what it’s like to be in this field and what it means to be the “in-between.” Those who aren’t at the top and making all the decisions but not those at bottom (which are usually the students we support). Being in this “in-between” means that we are constantly challenged and fighting battles between wanting to support our students in fighting the system when it’s wrong but also not risking oneself or the needs of oneself from the job in exchange.
- One of the best things is being REALLY new. Everyone wants to support you, everyone wants to look after you, and everyone wants to care for you because you’re new. It’s almost really fascinating how much people invest in you (time-wise) because of how new you are. I’m not going to even try to hide it – I love my “new-ness” because I can continue being a sponge and continue learning.
- Being a First Gen is so important, and people need to remember that these people need just as much support beyond academics. See, the thing is that people often forget that there are lots of things a typical First Gen doesn’t know about or does not know how to respond to. That’s because we are First Gen. When you’ve never had the exposure, how are you supposed to know what to do? The thing is that when we First Gens get out of school, people suddenly think we can jump right into something and know how to do it. Nope. We need more care than that. We need more guidance than that. And if WE need the guidance, then so will the people we support.
- WACE is basically a giant family reunion. A few hundred people coming together to see how everyone is doing and what everyone is doing, while simultaneously meeting new people (this is especially even more for the NewPros). It’s incredibly fascinating. I reunited with a big part of my Anteater family and that felt really nice. As Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin) said, “It felt like my heart is glowing!”
- WACE has a lot of raffles. Like… a lot. So much that I won TWICE.
WACE was really an experience. There was so much to take away from it and I genuinely appreciated being able to experience all that there was to experience. It was a learning opportunity for me and I enjoyed getting the pleasure of having new things to learn about and meeting new people. I love people; the stories they have to tell, the experiences they have to share, the tips they continue to give, and the sheer love that they continue to make transparent. I knew I loved my job, but this conference just reminded me that the people make the job better. Not too long ago, I was just a student and now I’m a professional. The best part of the experience was simply sharing it with people I truly loved and cared about – both my Anteater family and my new family at UCLA.
Week 36: The Expensive Event
American University in Cairo visits UCLA: I am constantly fascinated by the opportunities being presented here. While I had no direct involvement in American University in Cairo’s (ACU) visit to UCLA aside from the brief moment I met some of the people and their presentation midweek during Professional Development time, it is times like this that remind me just how resourced UCLA is and how widely known this school is. Probably the coolest part of the week was getting to reconnect with Nardeen, who I met and was my roommate at STARS College 2016. Another friendly reminder that Student Affairs is a small field.
Howard Shore: When I tell you UCLA is resourced, UCLA is incredibly resourced. I felt so lucky I had the opportunity to be one of the advisors for a $17K program that brought Howard Shore to The Hill. If you don’t know, Howard Shore is a genius composer famous for… oh I don’t know, Lord of the Rings (*screams internally again*). This was something I was really proud to have been a part of because the student leading this event was my Courtside President, Juan. He worked tirelessly for a year to get Howard Shore on this campus and it paid off when Howard Shore was on campus for two days and students had the opportunity to interact and learn from him.
Justin’s Birthday: My cousin (#2) turned 13 this year. THAT IS TWO COUSINS IN THE TEENS.
Week 37: A Packed Working Weekend
LMU visit: Back to this “UCLA is well-resourced” thing. Last quarter, we made a visit to USC as part of Professional Development. This quarter, we went to LMU – and it’s such a beautiful campus. We learned about their Residential Life and THEY HAVE A BEAUTIFUL VIEW. I swear, I almost cried. I want to work there.
Bruin Day: This day made me really sentimental because it was the first time in four years that I wasn’t working at Celebrate UCI (the equivalent of Bruin Day). For every year of college, I was working at Celebrate UCI and introducing the incoming students to the environment they could be potentially joining. So, this was my first year not being a part of that. However, it was still a good experience because I got to be part of a new tradition. UCLA Bruin Day was a new experience and I’m glad I got to be a part of it. May not be the Anteater experience, but I guess it’s a close second. Oh! Bonus… saw my old boss (Hiiiii Edgar!) while he was touring his cousin. So there was still that little bit of the Anteaters sharing the same space.
PB TTD: For my Spring Team Training and Development (TTD) with Programming Board (PB), we spent most of the day at Museum of Failure. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s linked in the name. The museum itself was quite small but it was packed with a lot of things to learn from. Essentially, the idea of the museum was to showcase objects or concepts that are considered “failures” by varying reasons and it gives people a chance to see what these are. It’s fascinating because we begin to see things that were a part of our lives years ago and now they’re a part of this “failure museum.” What comes of the the whole trip was really recognizing the importance of acknowledging that sometimes we fail at the things we do, but at the end of the day, we learn from it as well. There was a perfect example while my students were at the museum because I created a scavenger hunt for them when I found pictures of some of the items in the museum and zoomed into some smaller parts as the clue and they had to find these items. It didn’t go as smoothly because there were some items that I found online that were not actually in the museum. It was an on-the-spot learning experience.
Week 38: A Week Full of Events
RGC President & Treasurer Interviews: Okay, I was not ready to go into the process of selecting a new President and Treasurer for next year. I developed such a wonderful relationship with my Courtside team that there was a lot of internal fear and anxiety about next year. I think it’s normal to feel some sort of sadness but also feel some sort of worry for what’s about to come. I felt like the relationship I built with my team this year was already so strong that I was afraid of losing that going into next year and starting again. That’s the challenge with ResLife; every year you change teams. Because the change happens every year, you expect it but it doesn’t make it any less challenging when your students leave. That’s also the fun of it, however, because you constantly meet new people and you watch their lives grow.
Sex Week: This was my first ever Sex Week, and I got to witness it so closely because my RD is one of the Chairs for Sex Week. When I say a lot goes down during this week, I really mean A LOT goes down. Everything from sexual education to activities to advocacy – you name it and they had it covered. There was so much focus and there was so much to do and see for everyone.
PB Shanty Town: To promote advocacy about homelessness, a number of students put together an event in collaboration with Programming Board where they built a small house. Homelessness is a topic that’s always difficult because it’s one that doesn’t have an immediate solution. However, I am impressed by the number of students who make it their passion and make it their goal to share the information widely.
Lettuce Feast: Let me first say, I did not know that it was not allowed to hold eating competitions of any kind. Luckily, I made everyone sign waivers. Now, back to the story. So one of my RGCs (Team Green Rep) wanted his passion program to be a lettuce eating competition. Strange, I know, but there’s a backstory to it (I’m telling the shorthand version). When he was still in High School, he visited UCLA and learned that there are so many clubs at UCLA, including a Lettuce Club that met once a year to compete in lettuce eating and the winner would become President. Feeling inspired, he took this back to his high school and tried to start up the club, but was shut down so he started it underground. To his dismay, when he started at UCLA, there was no Lettuce Club. He spent this whole year trying to make this Lettuce Feast happen – and it did. Along with a 7-minute (should be) Oscar-nominated video, Rocky Balboa style – except training for a Lettuce Eating competition. Needless to say, it was a success. Minus the part that I learned it wasn’t allowed. Oops.
Take A Drag 2.0: Again with the resources UCLA! This time, there was a collaboration with Programming Board to put on an event called “Take a Drag 2.0” that was essentially a Drag Show. I was the advisor for the event and I thought it was just so cool to have something like this for our students. The show was a competition between students (and event staff), and was hosted by a Drag Queen with a special performance from Tatianna – who competed in the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Anyway, enjoy this photo of ResLife folks with Meatball and Tatianna.
Candytopia: There is no child whose (sugar) dreams aren’t coming true in the pop-up museum called Candytopia. Basically, everything was made out of candy and it was not edible, but we still got free candy. Yes, “we” because I, too, am a child.
Week 39: Reminding Myself of My Capabilities
RA Mixer: Following the RAs being offered a position for next year, ResLife hosted an RA Mixer with all the returning RAs, new RAs, and ProStaff to talk about the different communities or buildings we have on The Hill that they can preference to be in for the upcoming year. It was really nice to meet a lot of people that will be RAs this upcoming year. Also, I felt really cool because I knew so much information about Courtside. I mean, it’s given I had already been working for Courtside for about 8 (or 9) months then, but still. I’m amused at what I already know!
Kevin hosts Price is Right at Department Meeting: The most fun we’ve had at a department meeting was learning about end-of-year deadlines and money in a game of The Price is Right. Adding to Kevin’s talents is being a game show host.
Avengers: I don’t think I’ve ever seen the community so packed in one place (except maybe during move-in weekend), but the line for Avengers Infinity War was LONG. Best believe we were there too! It was basically a UCLA event; we took over a whole theater. Then after the movie, we all needed a group therapy session because Marvel really did that to us.
Self-Appraisal Form: I struggled to write my Self-Appraisal Form (Self-Evaluation) because I felt like there was so many things about myself in my role that I was so challenged with that I didn’t know where I was succeeding in anymore. It took some minutes of tears, but I was able to pull it together and eventually figured it out for myself that there’s been a lot of things I’ve contributed this year. I feel proud after all.
Week 40: Meeting My New Team
Learning about Hitch Suites: The night of the RA Mixer, ProStaff was informed of what buildings we’d be in the following year, but it took about a week and a half before I touched base with the current ARD. I’m trading up my boss for his building. Is it a fair trade? Probably not (my boss is awesome), but I’m going to make the most out of my new building. Funny side story: this whole year, I’ve been joking around that all I want is a kitchen – and I end up being the ARD in the building with the only kitchen (that student staff can use) on The Hill. Life likes to play sometimes.
Non-functional Weekend: So, this weekend, Robert and I had plans to do KBBQ and WeHo as a celebration for Robert taking the MCAT and that being done but my body decided it was going to be sick. How rude, amirite? Anyway, we still ended up doing KBBQ and that was probably the least worth KBBQ I have ever done because I couldn’t eat properly. Then I was bed rest for the whole weekend – and I hate being bedrest. I survived the weekend, but it wasn’t fun.
Week 41: Sickness
Okay, so the worst thing about this week was that I was sick for most of it. If you know me, you know that I hate being sick because when I get sick, it’s like a storm. I’m not functional and my energy level is so low. It’s not the real me. Not to mention, I couldn’t even make full effort to put on the wing on my eyeliner. It was a rough week.
Fifth Annual Grilled Cheese Cook-off: A signature program that Courtside hosts is a grilled cheese cooking competition. It’s pretty amazing that this is something we can actually hold for our students. This event was the cherry-on-top of a lot of events, especially when it comes to seeing how self-sufficient my RGCs became when it came to event-planning. The cook-off was simple, we had cooks and we had hungry residents and judges. It was quite the event.
Mother’s Day: I went home for the weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mother and gave her gifts. I bought her flowers, couldn’t decide between two so I bought both, then I created a scratch art calligraphy for her. We also went to Universal, because I bought her a pass the same day of Candytopia. Of course, where else would we go?
Week 42: Multi-talented ARD
Deadpool 2: UCLA ResLife is constantly making it a trend to go to the first day showing of movies recently. This time, it was Deadpool 2. We do quite the taking over.
Breakfast for Dinner: Another RGC’s passion program (what is up with them and the food!) was doing a Breakfast for Dinner program where they were cooking breakfast food and serving it around dinner time. They made breakfast sandwiches that had biscuit, hash brown, cheese, avocado, and bacon. I love bacon.
Doctor: I dislike going to the doctor. But I went. Still haven’t figured out what’s happening to my human body, but it’s okay.
Sean’s Grad Photos: I love taking pictures. Not the best at it, but it’s something I genuinely enjoy. This time, I took grad photos for one of my RAs that was graduating and his residents. It was such a fun time because he’s so playful with them and you can tell how much they love him as their RA. The pictures were great, but this one is my favorite:
Week 43: My New Team and Lively Long Weekend
RA Reveal: Apparently, this was the first year that UCLA ResLife did a reveal that wasn’t just an email, so it was incredibly fascinating. Here’s how it worked. When the RAs arrived, they checked in and an envelope was given to them with a clue that they were only to open after being told to. They would come into a room filled with other RAs and ProStaff (excluding the Resident Directors). There was a short welcome followed by a Scavenger Hunt backstory. In the story, the ARDs took over the night and hid away the RDs so “we could get extra time” with the RAs. When the video was over, they opened the clue and it would lead them to their first location. Essentially, they would find the last location and that was where their RD was in the building they were assigned to. Clever, huh? It was so much fun and was such a positive experience.
CSIDE Fest 2018: This was Courtside’s End of the Year event, where we mostly replicated a music festival. Conceptually, the event was carried out as best as it could, but a music festival isn’t a music festival without performers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get performers. However, the rest of it was carried out well – there was music, making festival bracelets, tie-dying t-shirts, painting, and we brought back the grilled cheese. It was a big blowout, but I think our residents really liked it.
Memorial Weekend: This was by far my busiest weekend. I went to Happy Place with my mom, aunt, and cousin (I think this is the 3rd pop-up museum I’ve been to) on Friday. I definitely pulled something in my right leg behind the knee because I was limping for a few days (and to this day, I can’t keep my leg bent for very long). Worth the pictures though – and there were a lot of pictures. Kiana and Aimee stayed the weekend; can’t believe that we got Kiana to go out. We took her to WeHo, and I’m pretty proud of her for going out. Then Universal! We love Universal, we love Harry Potter World and I somehow ended up with a lot of Hufflepuff gear leaving. Just in time for me to find out that my building theme next year is Harry Potter!
We’re only a few weeks short of the end of the quarter for this story, but I guess you’ll have to tune in to learn more!
Until next time,
ARD Jamrensze “J-Mi” De Leon