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Gallery: Graduating Bruins remember their homes on campus

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

By Sitara Lewis and Christine Kao

June 11, 2023 8:29 p.m.

(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)
(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)

Alek Muro, a fourth-year biochemistry student, stands next to an entrance to Royce Hall.

For the past four years, Muro has been involved with the Bruins Fighting Pediatric Cancer club, of which he became the president. Muro described Royce Hall as his home on campus, as it hosted the club’s meetings, socials and guest speaker events.

(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)
(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)

Muro sits on the “Trees of 1931” bench on the east side of Royce Hall.

“A great sense of comfort really overwhelms me when I enter the room, especially ever since freshman year – being scared and entering with such a welcoming community,” Muro said as he reflected on his time as a Bruin.

He said he aims to give new members the same feeling of comfort with which the club had welcomed him.

(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)
(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)

Muro sits on a staircase in Royce Hall.

Muro said he has explored various parts of Royce Hall, often admiring the architecture as he goes up the stairs toward his club’s meeting room. He said he has enjoyed the opportunities that have come from being in the meeting room, including learning more about pediatric cancer, advocacy, education, fundraising and ways to participate in the community.

(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)
(Sitara Lewis/Daily Bruin)

Muro smiles and poses inside the entrance colonnade of Royce Hall.

Muro said he has made not only lifelong memories at his home on campus, but lifelong friends as well. After graduation, Muro said he is planning vacations with club friends and plans on staying involved with his community.

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Third-year psychobiology student Sanjita Nithyananthan and fourth-year environmental science student Taylor McMahon, roommates and teammates on the UCLA Spirit Squad, smile in front of a UCLA sign inside Pauley Pavilion.

Nithyananthan met McMahon when she was 14 years old. The two continued growing their bond as they shared an apartment, to which Nithyananthan said she looks forward to returning every day, for the past three years.

“It’s just a very safe environment,” Nithyananthan said. “I always feel like I can be myself. There’s no judgment. And that’s something I’ve really come to value about these people.”

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Nithyananthan leans on a wall in Pauley Pavilion, a home base for the Spirit Squad.

Outside the apartment, Nithyananthan and McMahon also practice and perform together on the Spirit Squad. Searching for a tight-knit community, Nithyananthan joined the Spirit Squad at the end of her freshman year of college, which she said she wishes she had done sooner. Despite rehearsing and living together, the pair does not get bored or tired of each other, Nithyananthan said. To her, McMahon is like family, Nithyananthan added.

Even after graduation, Nithyananthan hopes to watch and cheer for her teammates when she attends UCLA games.

“People always say that in college, they get kind of homesick,” Nithyananthan said. “I think a reason that I haven’t really felt that homesickness is because of these people and the environment we’ve created for each other.”

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

McMahon stands between two pillars mounted with boards honoring top moments of UCLA Athletics throughout history.

McMahon said that the UCLA friends she already knew from high school, such as Nithyananthan, helped create a home for one another in college. The two lived together in Los Angeles during the pandemic even before they joined the Spirit Squad, McMahon said.

Leaning on each other during the isolation made the uncertain time of returning to campus less stressful, McMahon said.

“When we’re all together, I feel very at home and safe,” McMahon said.

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

McMahon and Nithyananthan smile at each other in front of a wall recording UCLA’s NCAA championships throughout history.

McMahon said that trying to make friends in a big school like UCLA can be overwhelming, but joining the Spirit Squad helped her find a family and a home on campus. The long hours she committed to the team were also dedicated to her teammates, she said, allowing them to grow closer.

McMahon added that collaborating with her teammates in representing UCLA at events such as Bruin Day, a day on which current students are able to share their experiences with incoming students, also makes UCLA feel like home.

“I think all 10 or 11 of us feel so close to the family because you’re together all the time,” McMahon said.

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Sitara Lewis
Christine Kao | Photographer
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