Saturday, May 18

Who Are We: How I embraced my accomplishments as a transfer-commuter student at UCLA


The sun shines on Royce Hall. Columnist Victoria Rodriguez is graduating at the end of the quarter, but in many ways, she feels like she hasn't had the Bruin experience she expected. Nevertheless, Rodriguez has achieved many things during her time at UCLA and is proud of all that she's done. (Daily Bruin file photo)


Most of my time at UCLA has been spent either on Zoom or the 405 Freeway.

Alumni, fellow students and professors all congratulate me as I near the end of my academic journey. They deliver their good wishes with big smiles on their faces, and I politely thank them, but I can’t help that I don’t feel celebratory.

The culture and traditions of UCLA are still a mystery to me.

Of the two years I have had at UCLA as a transfer student, I only had in-person classes for 25 weeks. In that time, I spent approximately 50 days on campus.

Being a commuter as well as a transfer has created a disconnect with the beauty of Bruinhood. My time on campus is pure necessity, as my classes are stacked, and anything social is a trade-off between having fun and enduring rush hour traffic.

The luxury of coming to and leaving campus at will is foreign to me. I have to plan my excursions to UCLA as solo day trips since there is no ease of walking home and coming right back.

Having to leave UCLA in the rearview mirror every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon makes my time on campus feel like an already distant memory, even though I won’t graduate until June.

Making plans with friends, attending department socials or getting some face time with professors at office hours requires the utmost preplanning. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, it still falls through, and I simply can’t make the drive that day.

Even with the plethora of resources and social events geared toward transfers and commuters, the isolation that comes with these identities is overwhelming.

Although I am grateful for the opportunity to even say I attend UCLA, I feel as if I did not experience enough or make ample connections to fully commemorate my time here. I never got to touch the Bruin bear’s paw during finals week, I was not taught the fight song and I was never “Bruintized” during orientation in the Inverted Fountain.

As my graduation nears, I feel more conflicted. I am happy I get to finish this chapter of my life, but I am also sad I did not live up to my own expectation of what it means to be a Bruin.

Having your college career interrupted by a pandemic was not on anyone’s itinerary, but the demand to make the most of your time in college is still prevalent. The pressure to make sure your time is not wasted can be crippling, especially for someone like me who does not get the same experiences as direct-entry students or students who live near or on campus.

Graduating with this inner conflict of feeling disconnected from campus and coming to terms with the fact that my campus experience doesn’t define me feels like I am being pulled in two different directions.

Despite these laments, I can step back and recognize the achievements I have made while obtaining my degree and facing the difficulties that have come with it. I have produced content for the Daily Bruin my entire time here, made the Dean’s Honors list every quarter and will be graduating summa cum laude.

Being a transfer and commuter student does not have to be defined by hardship. I can choose to see how I overcame the nontraditional college experience.

I can look at my time as a transfer-commuter student, recognize the hurdles I navigated, and leave UCLA with accomplishments I can keep with me forever.

I am a transfer-commuter, and I have cultivated resilience.


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