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Four years ago, I would have had a hard time convincing myself that the UC Irvine community would be a place that I would be proud to represent and be a part of. A big part of it was that I didn’t know many people; another big part was that I was socially incapable of meeting new people.

I had fewer wrinkles and worries then. I also had fewer friends and acquaintances among the many Anteaters for whom now I have so much respect and love.

Respect and admiration to the fantastic and brilliant students, faculty and workers whom I have had the chance to meet and work with. Taking a walk around Ring Road paints a picture of the UCI community, which is diverse not only in culture and background, but also in the research and work being conducted. I don’t pretend to know the work going on over in the sciences or even among other departments in the humanities, but I can find solidarity with and be inspired by others in their determination, passion and care for what they do.

Love for those who welcomed me into their lives. It has been nothing but an absolute pleasure and privilege to call many of them friends.

I am a proud citizen of the magical kingdom up the 5 freeway, but nothing in my wildest imaginations could have prepared me for the adventures I’ve had in the last four years. And for an individual who had the social capacity of a cabinet coming into college, I’d like to say I’ve found my own voice. Or several voices, for that matter.

My time at UC Irvine definitely wasn’t perfect. As the news editor, I can say with certainty that our community isn’t as pretty and utopian as it seems to be. As a person who has looked in a mirror before, I can also say with certainty that I am not that pretty, either. But seeing and experiencing the ugly has made me appreciate the beautiful all that much more.

Thank you to all the beautiful individuals whom I’ve met and been changed by. Thank you to all those who work so hard to make UC Irvine what it is and are working to make it a better place.

I’m trying to become better, trying to hold on to what I consider precious to me while stumbling ahead step by step. It gives me peace to know that many others are taking their own steps at their own pace, and that I can hold on to and be held by those who accept me for who I am.

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