Reaching a Milestone with The Up Lab

As I walked past Starbucks at the beginning of week 6, something big and bright caught my eye. The UP Lab had their Milestone Project set up right outside Starbucks, on Ring Road.

What is The UP Lab? It is an organization started by UCI alumni David Ly Khim and Justin Ho in June 2013.

Grace Kim | Photography Intern

Grace Kim | Photography Intern

The UP Lab is an organization that aims towards helping people realize their significance in this world and also helping them work towards their goals. It is open to any and all people who want to follow their passions and unlock their potential.

Last year, The UP Lab hosted the Looking UP Project at UCI. This project was aimed at making people think about who they look up to and why.

“The mission of the organization is to create a movement that would allow students and individuals in general to achieve their own definition of success,” said Daniel Kim, Director of The UP Lab at UCI.

“This is really important especially in today’s world where people tend to think of success based on what they were taught in their childhood, their family values and what their peers think. The UP Lab helps people reflect  on what their personal definiton of success is.”

“We want to bring lots of projects where students can share their passion and long-term goals.”

The UP Lab found its UCI chapter in October 2014 and is currently one month old.

The UP Lab at UCI is the first chapter of The UP Lab. It is mainly for the students and faculty of UCI. It was started to help reduce the stress on students when it comes to following their passions, keeping their goals and thinking about their future. It is a way for students to talk about their goals and discuss their future plans with other students on a common platform.

The UP Lab at UCI aims to encourage students to think about their passions and also achieve their goals by taking one step at a time.  This year they are hosting their very first project called the Milestone Project.

The Milestone Project is a way for students, faculty and staff to think about a short-term and long-term goal for this academic year.

“I’m hoping that the Milestone Project will give people a better sense of direction and really help them to jump out of their comfort zone,” said Kim.

“I feel a lot of times that, though people have goals, they think about it and slowly forget about it. With this project, it is like a public promise you make to yourself because you come to the booth, think about your next milestone, write it and then put it up. You are kind of sharing both to yourself and to other people what you will be working on this year.”

“It is a way for students to think about their future, but not in a way that stresses them out (…) instead, they delve into the possibilities and have fun thinking about it. It can be like, ‘I’m going to wake up earlier in the mornings.’ That’s the whole purpose of this project. We want students to share something personal, something they wouldn’t usually mention in their regular conversations,” said Khim.

The UP Lab is open to all participants. All you have to do is go to the booth, think about your milestone, write it on a piece of colored paper that is given to you, which says, “My next milestone is….” and then pin it up on the cardboard.

“I want to learn how to properly compliment people, because I want them to know that they are appreciated,” said Syed Faizan Ul Haque, a first-year physics major.

“My next milestone is to strengthen my spiritual self,” said Amanda Lu, co-project coordinator for The UP Lab and a third-year business administration major.

Grace Kim | Photography Intern

Grace Kim | Photography Intern

“This is my next milestone because a lot of the times society has their own standards on how you should look this way or behave a certain way. A lot of times this is discouraging, as it discourages you from being who you really are, and you start to question yourself. I think it is important for you as a person to realize that you are valuable and that you have something to offer.”

This project has been very active and has gathered a lot of participants.

“The turn out has been very good this year, even with Tuesday being a holiday for Veterans Day,” said Newsha Dowlaty, UCI alumna and staff writer for The UP Lab.

Her next milestone is to exist in a state of balance.

“Maybe it is a little ambiguous, but I feel that, in life, it is easy to get unbalanced and devote time and energy to unnecessary things. So I want to find my own balance and how much energy to give to different parts of my life,” said Dowlaty.

Most students tend to major in a subject that their parents want them to major in. They are not given the opportunity or chance to express their opinions or even think about a future different from what their parents have envisoned for them.  The UP Lab aims at providing the  nescessary support and encouragement.

“I want to become a teacher, but my mom wants me to be a doctor; a radiologist specifically,”
said Cody Chau, a second-year english and history double major with a minor in education.

“I am working towards becoming a teacher though and The UP Lab helped me reassure myself in pursuit of my passion.”

“My long-term goal is to become a lawyer, but personally, my milestone is to spread love and happiness to all,” said Abhiramy Sathyanarayana, a second-year political science major.

“I thought about it all week and then decided to participate in the Milestone Project, because I liked the idea and I feel that it lifts people up and helps them get things into perspective.”

Grace Kim | Photography Intern

Grace Kim | Photography Intern

The atmosphere and the buzzing activity around the Milestone Project really rubbed off on the students and it was wonderful to see students walking away from the project really excited and pumped up about their goals.

Personally, I felt that this project helped me get my goals in perspective. My most immediate milestone is to get my own driver’s license and get an on- campus job so that I can become more independent. Though this may not be a huge milestone for some people, I feel it is really important for me to start becoming more independent.

You also get a sense of the challenges faced by other students and the different milestones other students have.

Going over the other milestones on the board also made me realize that there are a lot of milestones on there that I resonated with from short term milestones like “Get an on campus job” or “Do well in my midterm” to long term goals like  “Get into medical school” or “Graduate within four years.”

This project is definitely a wonderful opportunity to put things into perspective and to think about your own long-term or short-term goals. It is also a way for you to work towards it, as writing it down and participating in the project reaffirms the fact that you want to achieve this milestone.