it seems like just yesterday that i was setting foot on campus for the first time as a student, seventeen years old and incredibly excited for the next four years of my life. and here we are, in may of 2016, so close to graduation i can almost taste it.
four years ago i never would have imagined that i’d be where i am.
you challenged me in so many ways. there were days that i felt like the stupidest person in the room, days that i hated going to class, and there were days that made me feel so accomplished. there were tests that went great and some that didn’t go so well. there were classes that i hated with every fiber of my being, but those classes made the good ones (although few and far between) that much better. you saw me through three changes in majors, and what seemed like many life crises.
(trust me, i was never this happy in a library… haha)
but i am so grateful i got to be here, because it was working in the hospitals here that eventually sparked a desire in me to become a nurse. it was those hours spent in the hospital, going on errands, talking with patients, playing with patients, even braiding patients hair, that allowed me to see just how big of an impact nurses have on people’s lives and hearts. and i’m entirely convinced that it was my experience here that allowed me to have the opportunity to head to emory next fall.
during my time here with you, i fought through a period of depression my sophomore year, i made it through a fitness leadership program that i never thought i would make it alive out of, i survived heartbreak during a finals week or two, and so much more. you taught me to persevere, you taught me to be stronger.
you made me hate living in LA but also made me feel incredibly grateful for the experience of living in a big city. this city allowed me to go to countless concerts, trips to disneyland, late nights out line dancing, and do so many things that made me feel so alive.
you witnessed a huge transformation in my fitness. from someone who could barely perform any olympic lifts to teaching classes that involved them, from someone who always took group fitness classes to someone teaching them. i ran a marathon when i was 19 years old, participated in plenty of fun obstacle course races, PR’d every single lift, and became a leader. during my time here i escaped the depths of my negative thoughts surrounding my body and food and allowed so much more freedom and happiness in my life.
finally, one of the most important things of all: being at UCLA led me to meet some of the most amazing people i’ve ever had the privilege of being friends with. through thick and thin there were always people supporting me and making me feel at home even through the worst of times. when i felt broken and beaten down my friends were the people that told me that i could keep going. they were the ones who made me laugh so hard i cried, who went on mcdonald’s runs at midnight when we thought we couldn’t survive one more final, who were there to wipe the tears over a guy, who made birthdays and holidays so much fun, who went on late night drives with the windows down blasting our favorite music, and so much more. i can’t put into words how grateful i am for these people.
i had the blessing of living with these three girls in one of the tiniest apartments and they were the ones that made it bearable even when we didn’t have electricity in the kitchen or someone was having yet another obnoxious party outside our bedrooms or when yet another thing stopped working in our apartment. and we made it through everything together.
and i can’t write a single thing about this school without talking about my family. my parents who made it possible for me to even be here, for working so hard to provide for me and for Jay. the many phone calls i made to my parents when i was in tears thinking that i wasn’t going to pass a class, get into a major, make it into nursing school, survive heartbreak, and so much more. every time i called whoever picked up the phone managed to calm me down and tell me: you can do this. and they were right.
to my brother Jay, who i got to live within 5 minutes of for three years, who helped me move and build furniture, who went to the store for me when i was sick, who ran a freaking marathon with me, who always let me come over and rant when i thought i just couldn’t take it anymore, who celebrated my birthday with me when everyone else was busy, and so much more. i wouldn’t have made it without you.
(flashback to Jay’s graduation last year!)
and honestly, this post doesn’t do any of this justice. my words fail to explain just how thankful i am for the last four years of my life and the people in it. i am a different person than i was when i walked on campus at seventeen years old. as i prepare to leave this place for the last time as a student at twenty one years old, i feel so grateful for all the change that has happened, everything i learned, and everything that made me stronger. i am ready for all the changes that are ahead knowing that i have some of the best people in the world by my side.
so, UCLA: thank you for everything. Bruin born, Bruin bred, Bruins til the day we’re dead.
4 more weeks until it’s official!
photos by Evan Yang Photography