In the summer of 2018, I spent the majority of my free time researching universities and California state schools and working on my personal essays. I made a list of all the schools I wanted to apply to and noted which schools were my top picks. The list was a way of compiling my excitement, which was also filled with hints of anxiety and fear. My community college days were finally coming to an end, and it felt bittersweet.
I was worried that even though I spent so much time at community college preparing to transfer, I wasn’t academically ready to move on. Every time I glanced at my GPA, I doubted the likeliness of getting into schools that were at the top of my list. Nonetheless, I was eager to move on to the next chapter of my life, but for the moment, I would just have to wait patiently to see where life would take me.
Once I got the OK from my adviser to submit my applications, I cautiously, yet quickly, pressed the “Submit” button with my eyes closed. With one click of my touchpad, my goal was already achieved, but in that moment I didn’t see it that way. Now that I am going into my senior year at UC Berkeley, I can say that transferring here turned out to be more dynamic than I thought it would be.
As a first-generation college student, I really didn’t have a clue as to what a university like UC Berkeley would be like. All I had for reference was what I had read online and seen in movies. The only expectation of UC Berkeley I had was that it was going to be academically rigorous on a completely different level than community college. During my first semester, I definitely struggled with meeting the higher writing standards and keeping up with the heavier reading schedules, but I managed. Throughout my first semester, I would find myself feeling filled with gratitude and amazement as I walked through campus and passed by the Campanile, Doe Memorial Library and Strawberry Creek. It felt like I needed to pinch myself and wake up from some dream, because it all felt so perfect.
This summer when I went back home, I was asked by friends and family how my first year went, and I always replied by saying “Too fast, but so great.” Now that summer is coming to an end, and I’m about to head into my last year at UC Berkeley, I feel excited to be the first in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree. I look forward to reading in Morrison Library and swimming laps at the Hearst Gym pool. Unlike my first year, this year will have a little more direction in terms of my academic goals.
During my first semester, I was focused on settling in and getting a feel for the campus and trying not to academically and socially overwhelm myself. As a result, I ended up not being an active part of campus, going to very few events and only hanging out with people I met during orientation. This summer, I set out to be more social and more than just a student who attends classes and goes to the library. So far, things are looking very different from last fall. I’m starting off the new semester by being a Golden Bear Orientation Leader, which makes me feel like a bigger part of the UC Berkeley community than I did before. I’ve met some really great people who want to welcome the new freshmen and transfer students as much as I do.
This is the year I’ve been waiting for: my definite last year of college. I want to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources we have here at UC Berkeley before I am no longer a student. Just the thought of not being a student is odd to me. Being a student has been such a large part of my identity since my first semester of community college. In some odd way, I think I’ll miss going to class and interacting with professors as well as my walks around campus.
Even as a first-generation college student, I am privileged to have this opportunity to be here at UC Berkeley to study, learn and prepare for my future. I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling grateful for my time here at UC Berkeley, and I’m beyond excited to dive into my last year of undergrad!