Overall, my second year was a time of immense change and growth - a feeling I know I will continue to experience until I graduate from this institution. The best piece of advice I can share with all of you is to always push yourself out of your comfort zone, and to constantly challenge yourself in every way possible. I've used this quote so many times in these emails I write to the ILC, but I can't help to share this again; a great friend of mine at UCLA once told me, "You grow the most when you are in uncomfortable positions." If you're afraid to join an organization or club, join it. If you're afraid of taking a class because it's too hard, take it. If you're afraid to make new friends, talk to as many people as you can. Constantly challenge yourself - because when you are comfortable, you are complacent.
As I mentioned in the email I wrote in the Winter, this past year, I served as Parent Investment Coordinator and an Academic Peer Advisor for a Pilipin@ college access project, Samahang Pilipino Advancing Community Empowerment (SPACE). As both an administrator and staff member of the project, I literally had an obligation to do every single day, including going to Belmont High School every Thursday to work with the students. As a result, I learned how to manage my time more efficiently. Using a planner and writing all my responsibilities became a weekly routine for me. Part of becoming a strong leader is learning how to balance multiple responsibilities, and from my experience in SPACE, I feel that I have refined this essential skill.
Also, I encourage each and every single one of you to constantly reflect on what you want out of your college experience, and to reflect on what you want to do in the future. Never let anybody else make those decisions for you. Just recently, I changed my major from Political Science to Asian American Studies. In Winter Quarter, I began to reflect on what I wanted out of my college experience and my future aspirations, and felt that Political Science was no longer helping me to achieve my goals. As I've stated earlier, I now hold aspirations to become a professor in Asian American Studies and engage in the process of research to improve the Pilipin@ community; the classes offered in the Political Science department, however, were insensitive to the experiences of Pilipin@s, and Asian Americans, in this country. Therefore, I chose to switch to Asian American Studies in order to immerse myself in a relevant education that not only helps me to better understand myself, but to direct me toward my dreams.
In the Fall, I plan on applying for independent research cohorts such as the McNair Fellows and Mellon Mays - research programs that aim to increase representation of students of color into PhD programs. In preparation, I have networked with a number of Pilipin@ professors and graduate students in the LA area to mentor me in the process, as well as working to join research projects. In addition, I was also elected to serve as Access Coordinator for Samahang Pilipino, the official voice of the Pilipin@ community on the UCLA campus. My vision in this role is to help others better understand the issues Pilipin@ students encounter in entering institutions of higher education. As Access Coordinator, part of my role is to supervise the project SPACE and represent the Pilipin@ community the Student Initiated Access Committee (SIAC) - the official committee that represents all access issues for all 26,000 and more undergraduate students on campus. For the summer, I am a current intern for the Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Los Angeles County's Second District. As an intern under the Education Deputy, I assist in the work he does, staffing special education events and undertaking specific research projects.
I hope this email has provided a brief glimpse of my college experience and the advice my mentors, predecessors and role models have shared with me. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me. Good luck on all your college endeavors!