Leaving a Mark on the Anthill

Four years ago, I was a completely different person. In spite of having Ivy League acceptances, a GPA that got me into every school except Harvard and scholarships all over the US, the most important offer came from my grandmother.

A frail Mexican woman in her late 80’s, she asked me in Spanish, “When I die, you can go anywhere you’d like. Until then, can you stay here?” And to be honest, I didn’t hesitate in complying with her request.

My mother’s parents and my great-aunt have been an integral part of my life — like a second set of parents that loved me more than anything in this world — and until then, they had been the basis of my future.
Ever since my grandmother had fallen ill, ever since I could remember, I had adamant aspirations of being an oncologist — a doctor that could help those in the direst positions find a will to live. And when I started my career as a bio major at UCI, I was starting on that path.

But you know that saying, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”? That’s pretty much the maxim for my life.

Over the last four years, I’ve faced every problem that UCI could throw at me while I commuted from my house in La Verne — in Los Angeles County. Let’s look at my commuting stats: two cars, three transmissions, one ticket, zero accidents, 59,674 miles driven, 2,729 hours spent driving, and $33,458.97 spent in gas. It’s been a HELL of a ride!

Being a commuter sucked, and there’s no going around that fact. Honestly, my family couldn’t afford for me to dorm, and I had to work full-time near home to afford commuting. And it wasn’t until this year that I realized the value in the struggle.

I never had to experience homesickness. I was never stuck in a dorm, bored out of my wits. I always had the support of my family, and everyday I was able to drive from the beach to the mountains and know that I was home.

Best of all, I was able to get a puppy — Skuttles!

Four years ago, I thought I knew what I wanted, and I regretted my decisions. But then again, I was logical to a fault.

Over the course of my college career, I found my passion in journalism. I found some of the most intelligent, caring, exceptional people in the world. I’ve fallen in love, had my heart broken, and found a way to mend it with the support of my friends — the friends whom I’m happy now to call family.

There have been ups and there have most definitely been downs, but when it’s all said and done, we’ve made it through this journey together. I’ve stuck it out in bio sci, finding my passion in eco evo (thanks to Professors Mooney and Treseder, who put up with my insatiable thirst for the outdoors and its furry animals), and I feel as though I’ve broken the mold of a stereotypical bio sci student. There have been countless professors who have shaped my future, and some who have believed in me even when it seemed as though I was the dunce in the class (Dr. H).

Moving forward with my life, I’ve realized that everything happens for a reason, and that my experiences here at UCI have shifted my perspective and my future into something I could have never dreamed of. A minor in civic & community engagement, a future in science journalism, a pack of sexy writers and scientists that have got my back, a damned MAGICAL friend who’s embarking on a new journey with me — UCI has given me it all!

This year, when I was on Homecoming Court, they asked us why we wanted to do it. My response was simple: I wanted to leave an imprint on UCI so that I knew I had made a difference. And looking back now at the accomplishments I’ve had and the lives that have been reciprocally touched, I know that I have.

Last year in my column, I made a statement that I believe was incomplete: “All relationships have an expiration date” — but love lasts forever! It’s true that this journey must come to an end, and that I have to say goodbye to a lot of people that I value most in this world, but the only regret I have is not telling each and every one of you that I LOVE you more than you will ever know! I love you, my pack of Anteaters — you’ve changed my life! Keep calm and ZOT on!