Six demanding UC Irvine organizations, 16-plus units and co-founding a Web site for Bruno is nothing. Some might call it overly ambitious, while others a little absurd. But Bruno doesn’t care; he only wishes he could do more.
Twenty-year-old Brian Monteiro, also known as “Bruno,” lives to be busy. While most students struggle to balance school, work and a social life, Bruno loves it. He would make the energizer bunny look like a tortoise.
On top of being a social science major, psychology and social behavior major and an education minor, Bruno has more commitments than most typical college students. He is an at-large representative in the Government of Undergraduate Student Housing (GUSH), a mentor in the Anteater mentorship program, a peer academic advisor and a co-founder of Collegefied.com.
“I take bathroom breaks during class and gum is my savior. I feel bad for my body because I only eat fast food or just anything portable and fast like bananas [or] chips,” Bruno said.
Even with his already packed schedule, Bruno is always looking to do more. From morning until night, his entire day is planned out and meticulously recorded into his cell phone. Without it, he could not possibly memorize his schedule. Bruno’s phone calendar for every day of the month shows white flags, screaming that it’s a full day. But he’s an opportunist. An hour of nothing to do is an hour of wasted time to learn something, help someone or do something for himself.
In one of his quarters at UCI, Bruno’s full day only allowed him free time after midnight. His grueling daily schedule consisted of attending class, going to on-campus club activities, creating workshops, working on the Collegefied Web site and mentoring. But when he saw that the B-Boys club practiced break dancing after midnight until 1:00 a.m., Bruno couldn’t help but think of possibly taking this opportunity to learn to dance. That’s when his closest friends jumped in to talk him out of having more on his plate.
Gina Terraneo, a sophomore at UCI and Bruno’s best friend of six years, sometimes needs to be the voice of reason for Bruno. She thinks it’s a great thing that he is so involved in school and does well at everything he puts his mind to, but she also believes that there are limits. Just like most college students, Terraneo knows that she hasn’t taken much advantage of all the opportunities UCI offers because she feels college is just a place to learn, but thinks that she is still a part of the school in her own way.
“He is ridiculous, in a good way. He’s outrageous, crazy and fun. He puts everything, all his passion into work, school and friends,” Terraneo said.
Coming to UCI from Ventura, California as a freshman, Bruno and Terraneo tried out 14 different clubs on campus. However, rather than sticking to social clubs, Bruno found ways to be a part of the school by helping others.
“My biggest goal in life is to make a positive difference in the world. I realize that high school and college is a world in itself, so I want to try to make a difference in the world that I’m in and give the biggest impact I can while I can,” Bruno said.
But helping others and making an impact in the world comes with the price of having no spare time. Bruno gets up as early as 6:00 a.m. to get ready for another busy day on campus. He starts off his day with a fashion statement, often completing his outfit with a gold wing pendant necklace and a pair of mid-calf black boots. Even with an extremely busy day ahead, his fashion, the thing that sets his mood for the day comes first. Between his classes, he has meetings and work. Although he lives in Campus Village, Bruno’s tightly packed schedule leaves him little time to change into his required uniform for his job as a peer educator. Bruno changes his shirt in the middle of the Social Science quad while walking to his next appointment. This is a norm for Bruno and a necessity.
Despite his stressful amount of commitments, Bruno manages to maintain strong relationships with the people he cares about and always carries an ecstatic vibe that can only be explained as being Bruno. How is it possible? How does he maintain that smile, that energy with all that he does? These are the questions that continue to linger in the minds of his close friends like Terraneo and fourth-year ecology and evolutionary biology major Diane Jong, but they have come to an understanding that this is just him. Terraneo and Jong both believe that just being with Bruno is fun. Even studying in the library is something to look forward to.
Studying with Bruno is filled with motivation, efficiency and fun. All it needs is Bruno’s presence and a cereal box called the Punishment box. Although the box is not filled with edible cereal, it is filled with slips of paper labeled with a punishment. Before starting the study session, each person of the group sets a goal to finish a certain amount of work in an hour to an hour and a half time frame. They reach into the box of Punishment to pull out a dreadful penalty in the case that their personal goal goes unfulfilled.
Bruno reaches in, goes through the pieces of paper at the bottom of the box in hopes of finding an easier punishment. He reads, “Stick your finger in the toilet.” This is one of the worst ones in the box.
Jong sticks her hand in, pulls out “In your choice of location, for five minutes pretend to be an Asian tourist and pretend every Asian guy you see is Jackie Chan and every Asian girl you see is Lucy Liu and ask to take a photo with them.” Laughter breaks out at the thought of Jong scrambling around campus to take pictures with random Asian students on campus.
Another slip reads: “Switch clothes with the other person during a class.” The clock starts ticking and everyone is eager to finish their assignments. Bruno wants to finish three chapters of his psychology book. Even if he is one page short of three chapters, the punishment must be carried on. It’s time and everyone checks to see if any of them have a punishment to go through. Today’s their lucky day; all of them have managed to escape an embarrassing moment.
Bruno knows he has somehow balanced his busy yet satisfying schedule during the first two years of college. But he also knows there are more opportunities at UCI, just not enough time.
“Balancing is one of the hardest things to do,” Bruno said. “Sometimes I feel like I can’t be as spontaneous as I want to be, but I want to use my strength to help people … [and] to give people something to be passionate about. I still want to be an R.A., a part of the Creating Options And Conquering Hurdles (COACH) program, a SPOPer (Student Parent Orientation Program counselor) in the near future and get into the Peace Corps after I graduate.”