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Bruin Day inspires prospective students, sparks Bruin families’ school spirit

Students on Bruin Day are pictured. The day is aimed at welcoming prospective first-year students to UCLA and showing them the campus. (Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

By Katherine Smith

April 18, 2024 8:59 p.m.

Tyler Kastenholz never thought he would be Bruin-bound, opening his decision letter away from the prying eyes of friends and family. But the disbelief of the acceptance has since worn off, and Kastenholz – months before the school year will start – has embraced the crosstown rivalry.

“I hate USC,” the prospective mathematics of computation student said at Bruin Day, already committing to the rivalry spirit.

Cloudy skies and a slight drizzle didn’t deter thousands of prospective Bruins, including Kastenholz, from pouring onto campus for the admitted student event last Saturday. Newly admitted freshmen had the chance to tour dorms on the Hill, hear from university administrators at Pauley Pavilion and buy blue and gold merch to sport in their photos with the similarly decorated Bruin Bear statue.

(Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)
Pictured are student volunteers on Bruin Day. (Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

For Julissa Arroyo, her admission to UCLA was one of tears, cursing and, most importantly, joy. Arroyo said she was on a call with her childhood best friend when they found out that not one, but both of them, had been accepted to UCLA.

Arroyo, a prospective molecular, cell and developmental biology student, said her parents’ sacrifices and support drove her to do her best in the application process, making the acceptance even more rewarding.

“Knowing that she (my mother) had left … to a place that was now foreign to her at some point – it motivated me a lot more to be like, ‘OK, we have to do this,’” she said. “We have to try our best because I want to make your sacrifices worth it.”

Incoming first-year cognitive science student Ashlyn Sze said her love of talking to people made meeting everyone at Bruin Day enjoyable. She added that meeting her future roommates and other prospective students that she connected with online were highlights of the day.

“The campus, the atmosphere – everyone’s so friendly here,” she said. “I love talking to people, so this was just perfect for me.”

(Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)
Students walking around on campus are pictured.(Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

Sze wasn’t alone at the event. Her mother, Grace Ona-Sze, who attended alongside Sze’s father and younger sister, said she was too nervous to look at her daughter’s admission results when Sze first opened them. Seeing the life and resources on campus during Bruin Day reassured her as a parent sending her daughter to UCLA, she added.

“Seeing her happy and smiling from ear to ear just being here is amazing,” Ona-Sze said. “We’re proud to be a Bruin.”

For some Bruin Day attendees, the campus was already a familiar place. Luka Mardesich, a prospective business economics student, said he used to attend UCLA Athletics games all the time, adding that seeing other students in the same position as him made him less nervous about attending college.

Gracie Dixon, a prospective undeclared student, said touring the campus made her stop and realize how fascinating the university is. While UCLA was never a dream school for her, she said the moment she bought a UCLA sweatshirt, she realized she was meant to be a Bruin.

Her father, Rob Dixon, said their family has always been connected to UCLA.

“Her great-grandfather went here,” he said. “It’s fun to be back.”

(Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)
Visitors to the campus on Bruin Day are pictured. (Renee Rubanowitz/Daily Bruin)

Prospective student Aanika Raja said she wanted to gain perspective on the business economics major and that she received a tour from her cousin, Sachin Raja, who is a first-year computer science student. Sachin Raja said he showed his cousin around campus, which included visiting the birthplace of the internet in Boelter Hall and getting locked out of his room.

Multiple prospective students said they wanted to get a better sense of what it feels like to be a student at UCLA.

Mia Weathersby, a prospective biology student, said they were excited to get their Bruin Day bag from the admissions booth and plan on storing it as a keepsake. They added that despite UCLA being a prestigious university, they felt it was comfortable enough for them to be there.

“I wanted to see what it was like to walk around campus and if I really fit in here,” they said. “I feel like I do.”

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Katherine Smith
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