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The Bruin helped me discover passion for science communication in spontaneous ways -30-

Aditi Kumar stands for a portrait in front of Kerckhoff Hall. (Michael Gallagher/Assistant Photo editor)

By Aditi Kumar

June 10, 2024 8:49 p.m.

“It’s a blessing in disguise.”

My grandfather, an infallible optimist, would often fall back on this adage when life didn’t go as planned. Although I never met him, my mother would use this same phrase to console me growing up.

As an incurable planner, I was always baffled by this saying, preferring to rely on my calendars and schedules to steer my life back on track. Even before joining the Daily Bruin, I had mentally mapped out what I hoped the next four years would look like.

Passionate about design from my experience as a graphics artist in high school, I applied to the Graphics section and, much to my delight, was accepted as an intern. The following year, I was applying for the position of Graphics editor, armed with ideas to increase Graphics’ presence within the paper.

Several days later, however, I learned I had not been selected for the position, leaving me extremely disappointed and unsure of what to do with my next year at The Bruin. I could persist and reapply for the position next year, but was that what I truly wanted to do?

While scrolling through Slack, I noticed an announcement for cross-training into News. The announcement included a list of beats under News, and one in particular stood out to me: Science and Health. As an aspiring researcher, the thought of combining science with journalism piqued my interest.

That wasn’t to say I didn’t have any qualms. I had no experience in science writing as my high school newsmagazine didn’t have a dedicated science beat. When I initially applied to the Daily Bruin, News hadn’t been one of the sections I considered.

Nevertheless, I decided to take the first step and sign up for cross-training. Several weeks later, I found myself with my first interviewee to discuss a new material they had developed to engineer soft robots.

I was nervous and my hands shook as I glanced over the questions I had prepared. As I began asking questions, however, I felt these feelings fade, leaving behind a sense of exhilaration, akin to how I felt when I learned about a new technique in the lab.

Writing about the discoveries unfolding across the campus was exciting and thought-provoking, and I felt inspired hearing about the passion and motivations of the people contributing to these innovations.

Fast forward to the following year, I found myself applying for the position of science and health editor, a decision that I had made only two weeks prior to the applications opening. Much to my surprise, I was selected as the editor of the beat.

Editorship turned out to be a rollercoaster ride of its own, as I had to juggle it alongside my classes and other commitments while adapting to a constantly changing situation.

Despite the stressful nature of the job, my time as an editor only fueled my passion for finding new ways to cover science as a journalist.

Looking back, that initial rejection was a blessing in disguise. It not only taught me to embrace uncertainty and spontaneity but also helped me discover new passions and dreams that I would have never realized otherwise. As I look toward graduation and beyond, I now hope to have an impact on science both through research and communication.

One of my favorite memories from my time at UCLA is of hurrying from the lab to Kerckhoff 118 through the Court of Sciences in the evening to be greeted by the chaos caused by dozens of staff members – not to mention Ollie chasing Suzy around the office. Every conversation and every interaction during those evenings in the office are ones that I’m grateful for.

To Victoria, thank you for welcoming me into the beat. Your kindness and warmth as editor not only inspired me as a leader but were also part of the reason why I took the leap to apply for editor of this one-of-a-kind beat the following year.

To Constanza, Matthew, Shaanth, Catherine and Ally: Thank you for all your support and guidance as we navigated editorship together. I wouldn’t have asked for any other people to serve as News editors alongside me.

To all of the science and health writers: Leila, Anna, Lyah, Caroline, Danielle, Callie, Eva and many more – thank you for your passion and enthusiasm for the beat. I always looked forward to our beat meetings and many conversations in the office about a range of topics, from serious to entirely ridiculous.

To the Daily Bruin: Thank you for taking me on an unexpected journey and teaching me to embrace the twists and turns along the way. I am excited to see what lies ahead.

Kumar was a Graphics contributor 2020-2021, a News contributor and Graphics staff member 2021-2022, science and health editor 2022-2023 and a News senior staff member and PRIME contributor 2023-2024.

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Aditi Kumar | News senior staff
Kumar is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. She was previously the 2022-2023 science and health editor and a contributor for the science and health beat and a Graphics staff member. She is also a fourth-year bioengineering student minoring in bioinformatics.
Kumar is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. She was previously the 2022-2023 science and health editor and a contributor for the science and health beat and a Graphics staff member. She is also a fourth-year bioengineering student minoring in bioinformatics.
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