Tuesday, November 21

Bruins bridge barriers, build bonds between students on Valentine’s Day


Louise Tamondong, a first-year physics student and Johnny Dang, a second-year molecular, cellular and developmental biology student, met through Bruin Connections, a service started by two UCLA students. (Kathy Chen/Daily Bruin)

Louise Tamondong, a first-year physics student and Johnny Dang, a second-year molecular, cellular and developmental biology student, met through Bruin Connections, a service started by two UCLA students. (Kathy Chen/Daily Bruin)


Louise Tamondong and Johnny Dang met just last week and now finish each other’s sentences.

Tamondong, a first-year physics student and Dang, a second-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, met through Bruin Connections, a service started by two UCLA students for Valentine’s Day last week.

To match students, Maique Vo, a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, and Brenda Pham, a third-year business economics student, circulated a Google form which asked for basic information such as name, gender, information about students’ ideal dates and pet peeves.

Pham and Vo then matched students based on commonality of interests, setting them up for dates on a day set aside for romance.

On Valentine’s Day, Tamondong and Dang hiked to Mount Hollywood after being matched up by Bruin Connections on the matchmaking service.

“I got the impression that he was such a positive and outgoing person,” Tamondong said. “He was one of those people I need in my life.”

Pham said that she and Vo came up with the idea when one of their friends needed a match for Valentine’s Day and they found a date for her based on their mutual friends.

She added they were also inspired when when someone posted a picture of a student looking for a date on the UCLA Free & For Sale Facebook page.

Pham said she and Vo posted the form on the Facebook UCLA group two days before Valentine’s Day, and within minutes 20 people had already signed up. Pham said that was when she knew it was about to turn into a big venture.

About 300 people participated in Bruin Connections. Pham and Vo said they sacrificed their own Valentine’s Day to make sure those 300 people had a match for the holiday.

Pham and Vo said they spent about 30 hours each working on the matchmaking process.

“It was a lot of work with long and grueling hours before the Valentine’s reveal,” Pham said.

Vo said they felt encouraged when people on the UCLA Free & For Sale Facebook page sent them motivating messages asking them to continue their work.

“The hardest part (was) matching the right couple and having them work out,” Pham said. “But it’s the most meaningful part too.”

After some initial indecision over where they should go on a date, Dang and Tamondong said they decided on a hike up to Mount Hollywood as their Valentine’s Day date because they had a common interest in adventure.

Tamondong received a text message from Dang at 6 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. She said she was surprised by how early it was, but felt touched because he had taken the time and effort to plan out the date.

Dang said they exchanged a lot of interesting stories, which helped them to bond during the hike.

“I was surprised we never ran out of things to talk about,” Tamondong said.

Tamondong and Dang said they spent eight hours together that day.

Although they said their personalities didn’t quite match as much as they had expected, Tamondong said when they started to get to know each other, they realized the Bruin Connections organizers were accurate in their matchmaking.

“We complement each other in what we were lacking,” Tamondong said.

Tamondong said she thinks she and Dang are different in how outgoing they are, but Bruin Connections helped to bridge the two different aspects of their personalities.

Although Tamondong and Dang said they are both too busy for a committed relationship right now, they have found a great friend in each other.

“The success story is not about whether they become a couple or not,” Vo said. “It’s about whether we made someone’s Valentine’s Day happier.”

Pham and Vo said they are currently working on a matchmaking app which will cater to Bruins.

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Features & Student Life editor

Ghosh is the assistant news editor for the Features & Student Life beat. She covers features on UCLA students, faculty and staff, obituaries, events on campus, Greek life and the Hill. She was previously a Features & Student Life news contributor and an opinion columnist.


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