Sometimes on Facebook, a reminder of a cringeworthy photo or status will come up from years ago, taking you back to memories of your past. Seeing this moment of history prompts you to reflect of the physical, mental and personal growth you have achieved over these years.
If you weren’t already aware, the Daily Bruin’s blogging site, Mojo, transitioned to The Quad in 2015. In 2012, Mojo published a series of articles that began with “Fresh Faces,” featuring five freshmen who had just moved in and begun their Bruin journey. Later on, Mojo recapped the end of their freshman year.
Now, in 2016, those of us here at The Quad decided a #throwback was in order, and followed up with some of these “fresh faces” one last time before they throw their caps in the air. Unfortunately, we were not able to get into contact with Donte Magic-Layton and Yves Beauzil.
We last left Shreya Aiyar while she was in her dorm room with her huge teddy bear, Charlie. The oversized bear still resides in her apartment. During her first year, Aiyar joined us at Daily Bruin, her interest piqued by her interview with Mojo, and has been at it ever since. This past year, Aiyar was assistant editor of the A&E section, and as cliche as it is, she considers involvement at the paper her favorite part about UCLA. In fact, in a full circle turn of events, we helped her check off an item on her bucket list by interviewing her for this article.
Next, I met with Kristina Solorio. In a rush to get back to her research experiment, Solorio, a biology student, is one of the rare students who will graduate with the major they came in with. Initially, Solorio tried her best to attend as many sporting events as she could, from watching football to baseball to her favorite sport, gymnastics.
“(UCLA) has a lot of people and there’s unity around sports,” Solorio said. “My family is very sporty, so it was really cool to be a fan of the teams here (together).”
With premedical requirements on her plate, however, she eventually began to focus more on her academics. Her four years were filled with studies rather than attending big school events, but it paid off: Solorio will continue her studies at Princeton for graduate school in the fall.
Another Fresh Face, Nisha Nalamala, told us back in 2012 that she was most looking forward to auditioning for an a cappella group. True to her word, Nalamala auditioned and was accepted into Signature A Cappella during her sophomore year. You may have recently seen her rocking out at Pauley Pavilion during Spring Sing 2016 while performing Signature A Cappella’s Rihanna medley.
“That was a really defining experience in my college (years) because I’ve been in it for three years and we’ve been in Spring Sing twice,” Nalamala said.
Balancing school as a premedical biology student and a social life with Signature was difficult, but Nalamala says that it gave her many opportunities to meet different people and have fun. After graduation, Nalamala will be attending medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia, in a land far, far away from sunny California. The weather isn’t the only thing she’ll miss, however – she’ll miss Bella Pita’s chicken wowshi with white and spicy sauce.
As each of the “fresh faces” reflected on their undergraduate careers, they all agreed that although the academics were stressful, the best part of UCLA is the community, whether that means the newspaper staff, club sports teams, or an a cappella group.
The main takeaway? On a campus of more than 40,000 students with different majors and interests, it’s clear that finding your niche within the broader UCLA community makes for a valuable college experience. Hats off to all the seniors: From being lost freshmen moving into minuscule triples, to finishing your undergraduate life here at UCLA, you made it. Congratulations!