(Esther Li/Daily Bruin staff)
Editor’s note: This post was updated June 10 at 10:58 a.m. to accurately reflect a source’s pronouns.
Fourth-year political science student Lauren Valles smiles on the steps leading up to Kerckhoff Hall. Although she was not on campus for the majority of her time as an undergraduate, Valles said Kerckhoff Hall symbolizes some of her most cherished memories at UCLA. The third floor houses UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association Council offices, which Valles was heavily involved with throughout her time as an undergraduate.
Valles stands in front of the USAC external vice president’s office. She said that in her first year at UCLA, she was asked to work on alumnus Aidan Arasasingham’s campaign, who was eventually elected external vice president in May 2020. After this, Valles continued working with the EVP office from home, contributing to a campaign to double the Pell Grant, which increased federal funding for students to be able to attend college from the lowest income bracket.
Posing in front of the bridge between Ackerman Union and Kerckhoff Hall, Valles recounts how much of her time would have been spent at Kerckhoff Hall in a normal four years.
Alan Wang, a fourth-year statistics student, stands in front of Young Hall – the site of a foundational UCLA memory. Hoping to switch into computer science, Wang took a class in the department at the end of his freshman year. Wang said he experienced significant testing anxiety during the midterm and failed the exam, shattering his perception of his academic and intellectual abilities.
“I really did not like first year because I was like, ‘I have no close friends. I did not do any of the fun things that people that I knew did.’ I felt lost,” Wang said. “Walking out of this hall at that moment after taking that midterm, I’ve never felt that way before.”
Wang said he decided to visit UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services, where he learned to embrace uncertainties and understand the power of his actions. After counseling, he said, he looked at anxiety-provoking experiences as a mental workout that trained him to go out of his comfort zone.
“You have to learn how to get out of your head and into your life,” Wang said.
Wang said he applied this lesson to the rest of his time at UCLA. He said that because of his anxiety, he almost canceled both his first date with his current girlfriend and an interview with Disney+. But he used the lessons he learned from that midterm and is now celebrating the one-year relationship anniversary with his girlfriend and will be working as a data engineer for Disney+ after graduation, Wang added.
Fourth-year economics student Aeji Hyun sits in an empty Royce Hall.
Hyun is the associate producer of the 2022 UCLA Korean Culture Night, the largest student-run production celebrating Korean culture in the United States. As a producer, she oversaw logistics and performances and sat in the audience for every day of rehearsals.
“I’d skip class to be there for rehearsals,” Hyun said. “Royce basically became my home.”
Sitting crisscrossed on the Royce Hall stage, where the show took place April 7, Hyun reminisced about the curtain call at the conclusion of the show.
“Being able to verbally thank everyone who helped make that moment happen was absolutely amazing,” Hyun said.
Hyun has been a member of KCN since her freshman year. Despite not putting on a show in Royce Hall for two years because of the pandemic, Hyun said she has many fond memories of this space.
“I feel a sense of pride and gratitude,” she said. “I am so thankful for the work and care all the performers and executive staff put in to make the first KCN out of the pandemic a successful one.”
Hyun looks ahead into the house while seated at the edge of the stage.
“Productions like KCN are so special because they allow so many people from different backgrounds to come together to share a story,” she said.
Hyun said she hopes future students are able to appreciate the teamwork and collaboration that goes into the show.
“I hope that everyone who comes to Royce to watch a production would feel the power that comes from a joint endeavor like this,” she said.
Fourth-year electrical engineering student Andrew Li and fourth-year computer science student Zian Chen stand at the entrance to Startup UCLA in Covel Commons.
Li and Chen were executive directors of LA Hacks, the largest student-run hackathon in Southern California, hosting a three-day competition for around 1,000 attendees.
Both Chen and Li have been a part of the club since their sophomore year.
“My first time walking into this place was nerve-wracking but exciting,” Li said.
Chen also reflected on her journey to her current position.
“It felt overwhelming,” Chen added. “But it was really cool to see how that shifted. The first year I was on the tech team, just sitting in the back. Then I was the tech director, leading my team in the back. And then I was sitting in the front as an executive director.”
Chen and Li sit at the front of the room, their usual spot as executive directors.
“I met a lot of really cool people here,” Li said. “They helped me a lot along the way and made me feel like I was valuable.”
Chen added that club members would always show up to weekly meetings.
“Our club honestly meets really late – 8 to 10 p.m. on Mondays – yet everyone shows up week after week,” she said.
Sitting on rearrangeable foam blocks at the back of the room, Chen looks around Startup UCLA, a coworking space that hosts various clubs and innovative projects.
“It’s a very dynamic space,” Chen said. “We end up moving things around a lot, and it feels very much like our space.”
Li added that the Startup UCLA space fostered a lot of creativity.
Li and Chen sit on a sofa reminiscing about the space.
“My favorite memories are just hanging out in the back,” Chen said. “It feels like a family and like you’re hanging out with friends even though you’re putting on a whole event.”
Li added that he is excited for the future of LA Hacks.
“I can’t wait to see what happens next,” Li said. “I hope next year’s team is equally as excited as I was this year.”
Fourth-year applied mathematics student Lexa Huang smiles in front of the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood.
Huang looked back at the times she would spend with her friends at the Regency Village Theatre and Regency Bruin Theater while at UCLA.
“I just have a lot of good memories (there),” she said.
Huang said going to the Regency theaters was a way to connect with new students she had met on campus.
“I remember watching ‘Joker’ in freshman year with some friends I just met, and because I hung out with them, we got closer,” she said.
Huang stands at the ticket counter of the Regency Bruin Theater.
Huang said the theaters were also a place for bonding with other students when watching the latest films.
“The whole theater was UCLA students, and we all had the reactions to ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’” Huang said. “It’s like a community.”
Fourth-year computer science student Amy Sywe holds a volleyball in front of the court.
Sywe said that when she went to the volleyball open gym in her freshman year, she played on a team of people she mostly didn’t know.
“But for this time, even though I had just met everyone on my team for the first time, I distinctly remember how incredibly wholesome our team was,” Sywe said in a written statement. “Our setter kept praising my passing, our hitters kept complimenting our setter’s sets, and after every point we’d always come together and celebrate together! It was one of the first times I felt like I truly was a part of the community at open gym.”
Sywe gets ready to receive a spike from the other team as her teammates watch.
Sywe said she is grateful for the community of people she found through volleyball.
“It has definitely been my home for my time at UCLA!” Sywe said in a written statement.
Fourth-year public affairs student Rutik Shinglot smiles as he poses in the UCLA Radio station.
“One of my favorite memories in Radio has been having my own News show and being able to make politics understandable for people my age,” Shinglot said in a written statement. “I think we have a huge potential in creating content that allows everyone to participate in conversations about the news.”
Despite having his own office, Shinglot said his favorite spot at the station is the room he typically broadcasts from.
“The fact that I had the privilege of having that platform was great,” Shinglot added.