After three years at UCR, I can confidently say that the best years of my life so far were spent here. Even though high school allowed me to discover my passions for writing and journalism, my time at UCR reaffirmed and redefined what it meant to love writing, researching and informing. 

I came to UCR in September of 2021, still in the thick of COVID-19 precautions that were in effect during my initial move-in day to campus. As someone whose original home was only a short twenty-minute drive away, I always felt that I would not be totally acclimated to campus life. For most of the first quarter at UCR, I did feel a bit lonely and empty. To avoid this empty feeling, with the help of HighlanderLink, I sent an email to a club called Model United Nations at UCR. I did not have any experience and was very afraid of embarrassing myself but, I put myself out there. 

A year down the road, with two national conferences in my cap, I became the President of Model United Nations at UCR, a feat I never could have imagined. Although it brought me great happiness to lead an organization of such wonderful people, there was still a small feeling of emptiness in regards to fulfilling my passions. 

During my time at UCR, I had always wanted to join the staff at The Highlander and become an editor to gain the full experience of what a journalist could do. Coincidentally, a month before I was elected President of MUN, a friend named Amaray, who I shared a Political Science class with, invited me to write for the Opinions section for The Highlander at UCR. At the end of that conversation, I realized that I had just made friends with the Opinions Editor of The Highlander Newspaper. I was frankly in shock. 

A month later, with some pressure from my friends at MUN, I published my first article, “China’s Role in the Ukraine War,” an Opinions piece. This first piece was not only special because it was my first published piece but that even some of my professors had read it and complimented me on it. It was when I realized that this could be my life.  

Twelve articles and a year later of being a part of the most creative, prolific and welcoming staff on campus, I want to say thank you. Thank you to our Editor-in-Chief, Brenda Jovel, for trusting me with becoming your Distribution Manager. Thank you to our Managing Editor, Senna Omar, for picking me to be a part of the Highlander Newsroom, for all the check-ins and laughs. Thank you to our Opinions Editor, Ysabel Nakasone, for dealing with all my tardy article submissions and for making me a better writer. Thank you to the entire staff for all the memories, my next chapter in Washington D.C. will be great because of you guys! 

If you are reading this, and are wondering about the possibilities ahead in life, just know that you are worth betting on yourself. Follow your passions, whatever they are, because that is what makes life worth living.