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The Quad: Graduating transfer students reflect on academics, community at UCLA

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By Caitlyn Somers

June 4, 2022 6:44 p.m.

The transition from college to the outside world can be difficult for many Bruins, but for some graduating transfer students, having a limited time to adjust makes the experience even more unique.

As the school year comes to a close, graduating transfer Bruins are reflecting on their journey to UCLA and their experience on campus for the past couple of years.

Cameron Mouton, a fourth-year American literature and culture student, said she decided to transfer from Los Angeles Valley College because UCLA was always her dream school.

“Since I was a child, I was always told by my family that I was going to go there one day,” Mouton said. “As I got older, I wanted to fulfill that dream and be the first person in my immediate family to go to a university as amazing as UCLA.”

Other students may choose to transfer for academic and career-related reasons.

Scott Mueller, a fourth-year communication student, said UCLA’s stronghold in the entertainment industry, both in terms of academics and job prospects, encouraged him to transfer.

“The reason I decided to come to UCLA was because I knew the end goal was to work in entertainment, and this is definitely the place to be in Los Angeles,” Mueller said. “But also, UCLA for my major – it was a direct entrance to the major. There were no prerequisites.”

Nonetheless, the transfer experience is not always easy. Once transfer students are accepted and begin classes, it can sometimes be challenging to access campus organizations.

Mueller said he dreamt of joining numerous organizations on campus, but during the pandemic, he found it difficult to join clubs as a senior.

“I feel like as somebody that was joining as a senior, you were looked at as ‘Oh, you can only be here for one year,” Mueller said. “Usually you join a club and you have at least two or three years to be a part of it.”

Mueller is certainly not alone in these sentiments. According to a dissertation on the transfer student experience, transfer students are less likely to join student activities and have limited knowledge of the campus resources because of the lack of orientation provided by the institution.

However, transfer students that did join organizations have felt that student organizations have positively impacted their experience.

Fourth-year sociology student Chloe Levian said she found a family on campus through clubs within her first couple of months at UCLA.

“I applied to the boards of Bruins for Israel and AIPAC (Bruins for Israel Public Affairs Committee) before I even heard back from UCLA with a transfer decision,” Levian said. “And because I was on the boards of those clubs during a fully virtual year, I’ve had an instant community on campus.”

Mouton said, although transferring in the middle of the pandemic was hard, she has made efforts to meet new people and use resources on campus to gain a sense of community.

“I didn’t join any clubs, but I did utilize the Black Bruin Resource Center a lot, and I’ve met a lot of nice people through them as well as the Afro-Latinx Connection,” Mouton said.

Mueller added that he has grown a lot in his time at UCLA, both personally and professionally.

“In order to grow, I feel like you have to be uncomfortable,” Mueller said. “But in terms of growth, one thing that I really feel that I found here, more so is myself, getting to branch away from family … and surround myself by the people that bring out the best version of me.”

Levian said she has developed her research in two different departments and strengthened her leadership skills over the course of her time at UCLA.

“I’ve also grown a lot as a leader, as a human being. As a sociology major, I’ve learned how to be a better activist,” Levian said.

Mouton said her best advice for other incoming transfer students is to not let imposter syndrome control and dictate their experiences.

“Just take it day by day and do what you feel is right for you and your college experience and your overall journey into the real world,” Mouton said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s your life, and it’s what you make of it.”

But for now, Mueller said it is important for transfer students to realize that one’s educational experience is not the only thing constituting themselves as a person.

“For transfer students, you have two years. Live it up and enjoy it … don’t make school your entire identity,” Mueller said. “Because as soon as you graduate, it’s important to make sure that you know that you’re so much more than a student.”

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Caitlyn Somers
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