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The Bruin offered life-changing opportunities, fueled lifelong love of the arts -30-

Graciana Paxton stands for a portrait wearing a graduation sash. (Courtesy of Graciana Paxton)

By Graciana Paxton

June 10, 2024 9:08 p.m.

I recently came across a photo of myself as an awkward eighth grader with a round smiling face of heavy acne, sweaty hair and a well-worn cornflower blue UCLA sweatshirt.

When I think about that photo, I know the girl in that picture never imagined she would be attending the school she spent so much time dreaming about. I also know that girl would never have dared to call herself a writer.

In high school, I wasn’t yet confident expressing myself on paper. Instead, I found my voice on the field hockey pitch and in physics classrooms. With my passion for science, I entered UCLA as a psychobiology student, convinced that a career in medicine was the field where I could have the most impact on my community.

While my major stayed the same, my plans didn’t. During my second year at UCLA and first year on campus, my weeks were spent messily marking up the dorm lounge whiteboards with sketches of organic compounds and interviewing for lab positions with duties including – but not limited to – cutting the tips of rat tails.

During weekends, however, I was familiarizing myself with Los Angeles’ litany of concert venues and movie theaters. If there was a free screening or Q&A at a theater within five miles of UCLA – bonus points if a premovie chai latte was in walking distance – sophomore me was there.

Soon, “for your consideration” pamphlets and ticket stubs joined the Phoebe Bridgers vinyls, “Almost Famous” film poster and other fashionable prints of my favorite musicians and actors that covered my walls, greeting me every morning.

Before I ever even envisioned myself as a member of the Daily Bruin Arts section, I was already waking up thinking about arts and entertainment.

After obsessively reading a multitude of film, album and concert reviews published by The Bruin, I decided my dream was to have a byline of my own. Despite self-doubt about my writing skills and lack of journalism experience, I knew in my bones that applying to the Daily Bruin was something I needed to do whether that be by force of destiny or grit.

I started writing for The Bruin as an Arts intern during winter quarter of my sophomore year. Three months later, I was filling out an Arts assistant editor application.

While the Daily Bruin granted me innumerable opportunities like covering the Grammys and interviewing Oscar winners, I quickly found that my most-beloved stories highlighted student artists within the UCLA community, a passion I was able to carry into my role as music | fine arts editor.

During my time as an editor, I was consistently inspired by students and alumni using their talents to impact their communities.

From utilizing recycled materials to create stunning, sustainable fashion pieces to sharing personal stories of identity through arts to pay homage to one’s culture and family history, the skills and inspirations of the artists and activists I crossed paths with during my time at the Daily Bruin have encouraged me to critically evaluate the ways I can make change through sharing the stories of others.

As my trust in my abilities as a writer, editor and mentor to other contributors grew, so did my interest in pursuing more interdisciplinary topics in my writing like exploring the intersections of social justice and the entertainment industry.

Experiences like these have not only helped me understand the intimate relationship between dedicated creatives and their art but also inspired me to pursue a career in music and intellectual property law where I can help safeguard the rights of these individuals and ensure their work and ideas are protected and distributed equitably.

What began as an artistic outlet and creative “escape” from the content of my demanding coursework and labs quickly transformed into my most formative experience at UCLA.

From being a part of the paper’s Trivia Bowl team to regularly geeking out over new music releases with my fellow writers in the “arts-news-and-links” Slack channel, the social side of The Bruin has given me a supportive community of friends that appreciate news, entertainment, music and the arts, a niche I long struggled to find within my STEM classes.

But professionally – beyond cementing my confidence as a writer, critic and journalist – the Daily Bruin changed my life.

When I look back on my experience at The Bruin years from now, I know there are specific potent feelings that I will recall with ease, such as the rush of tracing my fingers across my first print byline or the exhausted satisfaction that comes with turning in an album review after an all-nighter.

I will never forget the thrill of speed walking around a dark, icy parking lot in Park City, Utah, exploding with nerves and excitement before my first red carpet interview at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Most of all, I will cherish the opportunities to train energetic interns and bright-eyed future editors and the privilege of telling them two things: 1. Joining The Bruin is the best choice you’ll ever make during your time at UCLA and 2. You are now in a community of multitalented, compassionate, competent writers. Use them.

Soon, you too will beam with pride at the opportunity to call yourself a writer.

Paxton was an Arts contributor 2021-2022, music | fine arts editor 2022-2023 and Arts senior staff 2023-2024.

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Graciana Paxton | Music | fine arts editor
Paxton is the 2022-2023 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a third-year psychobiology student from Morgan Hill, California.
Paxton is the 2022-2023 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a third-year psychobiology student from Morgan Hill, California.
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