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Senior signoff: Desiree Becker reflects on her year as a Bruin

Graduate student middle blocker Desiree Becker goes up to hit a ball over the net. (Shane Yu/Daily Bruin staff)

By Desiree Becker

June 10, 2024 4:12 p.m.

As a Bruin, many of us had the privilege of embarking on the college search journey. Whether student or student-athlete, we toured colleges, asked questions, sought insights into student life across universities and tirelessly compared schools, imagining what life at each one might look like. Our individual journeys were unique, each of us having different values and visions for our college experience.

In the end, we all chose UCLA. Among all our options and unique life experiences, something drove each of us to select UCLA to conclude our college search journey. In my short time at UCLA, the commonalities that united us in our decisions quickly became clear to me.

What links us is our passion for greatness. Saying that UCLA is a community of high-achievers is an understatement – from Olympic athletes to Nobel Prize winners, UCLA has become a center of excellence. Across a country of competitive universities and athletic conferences, UCLA has risen to the top of public universities while also dominating the athletic sphere, winning 123 national championships as of May 2024. In my sport of women’s volleyball, UCLA is among the top schools in the number of NCAA national championships won, with four under our belt.

Reflecting on my time among a community of talented and driven individuals has influenced me in profound ways. Being surrounded by peers who strive for excellence in every aspect of their lives has been incredibly rewarding. Not only has it pushed me to set higher goals for myself, but my time at UCLA gave me the confidence to achieve them. This would not have been possible without the supportive environment cultivated by athletics leadership, my head coach Alfee Reft and assistant coach Amir Lugo-Rodriguez.

My coaches, trainers and support staff at UCLA played an integral role in creating this supportive environment and provided me with the security to see my value as a player and teammate. Their guidance and encouragement made it possible for me to realize my potential as a player, leader and person. Before I even stepped onto the court, my coaches saw potential in me that I had not yet recognized in myself. This belief was not just communicated through words but through actions and consistent encouragement that gradually reshaped my self-perception and performance.

I had the unique collegiate experience of competing at two different universities, and during my short time at UCLA, I experienced, for the first time, what it felt like to be genuinely valued and uplifted as not only a leader but a person.

The positive experiences I had at UCLA extended beyond the volleyball court. The pursuit of my master’s degree at the UCLA School of Law was a challenging yet immensely rewarding journey. Balancing the demands of athletics and law school was more than a difficult feat – it taught me the invaluable skills of discipline and perseverance when things got hard. There were many late nights and early mornings: Juggling intense practice sessions with demanding coursework, preparation for exams and attending class. However, this rigorous schedule taught me perseverance to a degree I could have only imagined. The challenges I faced in managing these dual roles fostered a resilience that I know will serve me well in my future career, whether it be in professional volleyball or law. The ability to push through fatigue and maintain focus on my goals is a skill that I developed out of necessity at UCLA but will stay with me forever.

I cannot underscore enough the level of gratitude I have for closing out my collegiate volleyball career at UCLA. I will always cherish the life experiences I gained during my time in Los Angeles. The confidence I gained through the gracious teachings and positive culture cultivated by my coaching staff and the inspiration fostered through the legacy of achievement in the UCLA community are invaluable. The privilege and experience of wearing the four letters across my chest has been truly transformative. The Bruin community has left an enduring mark on me, and I am proud to be a part of its legacy.

Becker played for UCLA women’s volleyball in 2023 after transferring from Northwestern.

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