So my freshman year in college came and went with the blink of an eye. Reflecting back on my past year, I see how every experience was so instrumental in shaping the woman who I am becoming. Chosing Berkeley was by far the best decision of my life; and, ultimately proves that everything happens for a reason. Distinctly I can remember, getting my email notification of acceptance to UC Berkeley and being filled with pride and happiness. However, at the time, my parents were far more ecstatic than I, my Mama basically tattooed a sign to her forehead telling the world that her daughter had been accepted to Berkeley. My focus at the time was going to USC, but thankfully the finances did not pan out to make it an affordable option. So, I set my sights on Berkeley and have NEVER looked back.
Those of you who know me, remember how depressed I became towards the end of my senior year. From relentless bullying to a horrible break up, I dealt with it all. Graduation was a dawn of a new day for me. My family packed up and moved to Huntington Beach, I focused on the future, and happiness quickly followed suit.
Reflecting on my time at Berkeley thus far, I can easily say it has been the best part of my life. I am so incredibly grateful for the experiences that I am so fortunate to have been granted. Although not always easy, every aspect of it has served as an incredible lesson for me.
Academically, I have learned to be an independent go-getter. The competitive environment that manifests itself at Berkeley is tough to manage initially, but once you know where the resources are, you can easily tap into them and reach your full potential. For me, math has been so hard. Coming in with such limited calculus experience has near killed me, but I was able to get through it with a lot of help from the free tutoring services that are offered at Berkeley.
Living life in general without parents to guide me was a challenge in and of itself. I remember waking up the first morning in my dorm and wondering what I should do. Mom did not have breakfast waiting for me when I woke up… what a shocking dilemma! *Sarcasm* After a solid ten minutes of consideration, I opted to walk to Noah’s Bagels. Although a rather simple example, its rings true to my overall experience as an emerging independent woman. Also speaks volumes to how fortunate I was to grow up with such an amazing mama and stepdad by my side.
Socially, however, is probably the area which I learned the most. College gave me the opportunity to escape the confinement high school created for me. Constantly meeting new people was the most liberating feeling of my life and was at the forefront of my happiness. A few of these amazing people who I met, deserve a huge shout out and a whole lot of love from me.
Pamela Lagera: At CalSO, the student orientation, I met a girl who would quickly grow to become my best friend. From day one (though she claimed not to be boy crazy like myself) we were able to relate on all levels. Although more on the quiet side at first, she quickly emerged from her shell and now, well, cannot stop talking. Tehehehe… She has stood by me through thick and thin, we have been with eachother through every up and down, and our list of inside jokes reaches infinity. Basically we will have each other until the end, whether we like it or not.
Farzana Mohammed: Through my sales associate position at Labels Luxury Consignment, I was able to meet my “Big Sissy,” Farzana. Although I do not get to see her as much as I would like, her support and advice has been such an influential force in my life. Her unbounding compassion and love of life is absolutely contagious. She always knows the right thing to say (even if it stings!) and she can always put a smile on my face. Unfortunately we have no pictures together! We need to work on that!
Jazary Olvera: Although a more recent friendship, she has been an amazing mentor for me through the Latino Business Student Association at UC Berkeley. Always there to offer advice or give a little word of encouragement, she has saved me in this tiring path to Haas. My spring semester was a very draining time, but she helped me keep my eye on the prize and reminded me to stay focused. For helping me keep my priorities in check, I will forever be appreciative of her friendship. Best of luck to her at her Wall Street internship this summer.
Ian Utz: Luckily, he took me to Cal with him from high school. In fact, was one of the main people who persuaded me to choose UC Berkeley. I am eternally grateful to have him in my life. We do not see each other nearly enough, but I can always count on him for his honest opinion, his smile that lights up the room, and his conversation that quickly gets as deep as the deep blue sea. Friends like him are the ones that you always want to hold close to your heart.
The men. The boys. The losers who broke my heart.: To all of you, I have to credit quite a lot, surprisingly. You all know who you are and I am here to let you know that I have grown so much because of my experiences with you. Every mistake I made, every wall I let down too quickly, happened for a reason. Thank you for teaching me that I do not need any of you to define my success or to feel fulfilled in life.
My Parents: Last, but certainly not least, thank you to my parents for standing by my side on this crazy roller coaster. I know that it has not always been easy, but it has been so rewarding. I am so lucky to have you in my life, to guide from afar and to always be a phone call away. Your love on this journey has gotten me through some incredibly tough, exciting, and life altering times.
College has changed me in more ways than one. From altering my perception of life to transforming my goals, UC Berkeley has made me a new person; and, one that I am proud to be. Now as a college sophmore, I can say that I managed to juggle full-time academics, two jobs, and balance it with a socially life successfully. That is an accomplishment that I will always hold close to my heart. Working with Young Entrepreneurs at Haas, especially, has been very instrumental in developing my interests. Through this program I have become exceedingly interested in pursing a career that somehow brings aid to underprivilidged schools around the United States. Ultimately, Cal continues to shape my being on a daily basis and I am excited to see where these next three years take me.
So, cheers to that and all of the new experiences to come!