Sunday, May 19

Alumni share Bruin experiences with incoming students at UCLA send-off

(Priyanka Nanayakkara/Daily Bruin)

(Priyanka Nanayakkara/Daily Bruin)

With the start of the new school year just weeks away, UCLA is preparing to welcome the class of 2019. However, not all the work is being done in Westwood. All over the world, UCLA alumni associations are throwing send-offs for new Bruins, including an event in San Diego September 13th.


NANAYAKKARA: Every year, Pepper Grove in Balboa Park in San Diego turns into a Bruin den, of sorts. To welcome new students, alumni associations invite incoming students to meet each other as well as alumni. More than 200 alumni, parents, current and incoming students had lunch, mingled and played a UCLA trivia game at San Diego’s send-off. The afternoon gave students a chance to ease pre-college anxieties, and gave alumni a chance to relive their days in Westwood. The chairwoman of the San Diego’s send-off is alumna Trish Halsey-Munroe, who graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in History.

HALSEY-MUNROE: We have 30 alumni who have been pretty consistent as volunteers. And so we have student greeters, we have sign-in people, we have parent greeters, we have food service, we have setup decorations.

NANAYAKKARA: The new school year is right around the corner, and incoming freshmen are getting ready for UCLA. From packing clothes to learning traditions like the 8-clap, they have a lot to do.

But, it’s not all fun and games. First-year geography student Margaret Holscher is anxious about schoolwork.

HOLSCHER: I’m nervous for the classes because … I’m taking a math class this quarter. I’m kind of rusty on math so I’m hoping that I can keep up with my studies.

SALING: Making friends, probably. Not so much that I’m scared that I’ll be friendless, but it’s just going through the whole process of making friends from the beginning is always a task.

NANAYAKKARA: Hunter Saling is a first-year theater student, who, like you heard, is worried more about a more social aspect of college. Older alumni remember a time when getting in touch with one another wasn’t so easy. Alumna Janis Bandich, class of 1964 is one such person. She graduated with an interdepartmental bachelor’s degree in history, English and anthropology.

BANDICH: I worked at the switchboard. … Back in the day to have phone service into your room you had to have a switchboard where you plugged when the call came in. You know, I was like the operator who took the call and I had to plug it into the room and ring the room. … You knew who was dating who and whose mom was calling all the time.

NANAYAKKARA: While many feel connected to the Bruin family, others take it to a whole new, literal level. Alumna Shannon Walker, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, has multiple family members who attended UCLA.

WALKER: My mom went to UCLA, and then also my uncle – so her brother. And then also their dad. … It just is a good thing to kind of bring our family together. We’ll maybe watch a game or call each other about something cool that UCLA accomplished this, and that’s awesome. It’s just one more thing that I think brings our family and ties it all together.

NANAYAKKARA: Walker’s mother, Mary Jane Turk, was stunned at the path her daughter decided to take. Turk herself is a graduate of UCLA, class of 1978, who studied biochemistry.

TURK: I said to her one day, “What did you decide?” And she goes, “Well actually, I’m going to go to UCLA.” And I was shocked because I didn’t even know she had applied to UCLA. And then I asked her what she was going to major in and she said biochemistry, and that was even more shocking, because that’s exactly what I had done.

NANAYAKKARA: The event gives alumni a chance to reminisce about their years in Westwood, and how they felt as incoming freshmen. Alan Terranova, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, remembers his own excitement.

TERRANOVA: That was probably the longest summer of our lives, waiting to get down to school.

NANAYAKKARA: And now, for the class of 2019, the wait is almost over. For Daily Bruin Radio, I’m Priyanka Nanayakkara.

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