Some UCLA bound seniors at CHS shared some of their feelings and/or thoughts about setting foot on their new chapter in their life, along with fun filled memories from CHS and advice to underclassmen.
Why did you decide to choose UCLA?
Juliette Uy: I chose UCLA mainly because of the opportunities there. I wanted to focus on research in college and I know I will be able to take part in impactful research there.
Diana Zhen Zhang: After weighing my options, UCLA was able to fulfill most of my desires in regards to a university that would help me succeed personally. The institution also offered me a considerable amount of financial aid.
Kamran Sheriff: UCLA was a good school near my home.
Gordon Krauss: UCLA has a really good philosophy department, a good mix between social and academic environments and was probably the best school I got into!
Ava London: I chose UCLA for a multitude of reasons, which I will try to sum up to the best of my abilities. First, the career paths and opportunities that open up during and after college. As the university is well-recognized, the pathways it opens up are immense, and with a location in the heart of LA, the post-graduate connections the university provides are phenomenal. Moreover, the university has very high ratings in student life, and is also one of the most diverse UC campuses. With 31,543 undergraduate students, I am most excited to be able to interact with those with unique backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, which I believe was something that was missing from my schooling up until this point; everyone has more or less been attending school with the same people since elementary school. The location in Westwood is also ideal, as the surrounding city gives a taste of the city life, which I’ve always found intriguing, but is also close enough to the beach to retain a sense of normalcy and sanctuary. Of course, I couldn’t forget the food! With a rating of #1 in university dining, how could I turn down the offer?
Asiya Junisbai: I chose UCLA because it’s way out of my comfort zone and that’s what I need. It’s a huge school in a huge city full of cool strangers. Plus, the professors, museums, libraries, classes, and student groups are all awesome.
What major/s are you taking in UCLA?
Juliette Uy: My major is Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, and I plan on going pre-med.
Diana Zhen Zhang: I will be majoring in materials engineering and considering a minor in environmental studies.
Kamran Sheriff: [I am majoring in] political science.
Gordon Krauss: I’m majoring in philosophy but may change to political science.
Ava London: I entered UCLA undeclared, as I want to take my first two years to explore the nuances of college learning. Throughout my academic career, I’ve always been told that you won’t ever really know if you like a subject until you take a college course in it (not an AP one), so I decided that at a university with well-established professors like UCLA, the smartest option would be to start out with a blank canvas so I can get a taste of different majors before selecting one. However, what I have gleaned from high school is that I excel in areas related to writing and composition, which led me to enter undeclared in the colleges of letters and sciences. I am excited for the self-discovery that will take place these next four years, and can’t wait to experience different fields of learning.
Asiya Junisbai: At the moment, I am on track to major in Education and Social Transformation. I am not totally tied to the idea of that, though. I just plan on taking different classes and seeing what I like.
What is one thing you are looking forward to in college that will be particularly different from highschool?
Juliette Uy: The biggest thing that I’m looking forward to in college that isn’t very prevalent in highschool is the flexibility of what you can study. Of course, there will be General Education classes but unlike highschool, I wasn’t able to focus on studying the subjects I love like microbiology.
Diana Zhen Zhang: I am looking forward to studying something I am genuinely interested in and experiencing the rapid pace of the quarter system.
Kamran Sheriff: I have no clue about what I look forward to. I am probably more adrift than anybody else, but I am determined.
Gordon Krauss: [I am looking forward to] good social mixes and meeting more people from entirely different backgrounds that I’m able to learn from.
Ava London: Something that I’m looking forward to in college is the experience of living away from home, and of course being able to attend scholarly and sophisticated classes under exceptional professors. Living away from home will provide me with not only life experience, but the freedom to develop life skills that I will be able to take with me as I enter into the professional world as an independent. Of course, I’m looking forward to meeting new people, immersing myself in the vivid student life, and exploring the perks and drawbacks of living on my own. In terms of academics, I’m honestly just excited to experience a real college class, which I can imagine will be even more enriching and interesting than even the courses I have taken thus far.
Asiya Junisbai: I hope that the classes in college are everything that the classes in high school aren’t. I hope that they are intersectional and acknowledge that history cannot be realistically separated from political science or geography or sociology, or theology, or anthropology or economics. I want to take classes that don’t shy away from discussions about race or class or gender or any of the messed up institutions that prop the American empire up.
What is something that you will miss when you leave CHS?
Juliette Uy: Something I’ll miss about Claremont is how small the school is. UCLA is a huge school so I’m sure the transition will be a bit jarring, but I think I’ll get used to it.
Diana Zhen Zhang: As much as I look forward to the experience of a large public university I will miss the close ties I have made in Claremont.
Kamran Sheriff: I will miss nothing. Shoutout to Aaron Kim and Trevor Mitchell though.
Gordon Krauss: [I will miss] the friends that I made here and the 21 Choices on Mountain.
Ava London: My friends are easily going to be the hardest to part with as I leave Claremont for college. While the majority of my friends are staying in California, the constant proximity we’d normally live in will be disrupted. I think of all years, senior year was really the year that my friendships, new and old, developed the most. COVID was definitely a contributing factor, and also just the fact that there was an omnipresent realization that “this is it.” I can’t even begin to explain my love for those I’ve grown close to, or my gratitude to Claremont High School for bringing us together. These are people who I care for, trust, love, and respect most in the world, and I know the feeling is reciprocated, which makes the idea of parting that much harder.
Asiya Junisbai: When I leave, I’m going to miss my friends and the lovely teachers that took time to check in on me.
Throughout your four years of high school, what was one thing that you wished you did differently?
Juliette Uy: If I was to change one thing about what I did in highschool, I would try and focus on the journey more than the destination. Highschool went by faster than I thought, and I feel like I could have focused a bit harder on having a ‘highschool student’ mindset than a ‘college applicant’ mindset.
Diana Zhen Zhang: One thing I wish I did differently is realizing the value of a good night’s rest.
Kamran Sheriff: Throughout my years, I wish I just lived in the moment more, rather than just experiencing it.
Gordon Krauss: I mostly just wish I had focused on having more fun in high school, going to dances and parties, socializing more, etc. I also wish that I met some people that I didn’t know until senior year way earlier.
Ava London: Throughout my four years of high school, I honestly wished I hadn’t taken school so seriously, especially as an underclassmen. As a naturally competitive person, it was incredibly easy to make judgements regarding myself and my peers regarding academic success, and although striving for excellency is in no way a bad thing, I think it turned me off to a lot of people and experiences that I was too quick to judge. Letting school dictate my life of course paid off, but I can’t help but imagine how different my high school experience could have been if I had been more relaxed and less concerned with my academic image.
Asiya Junisbai: My biggest regret is that the CUSD SRO was not removed during the course of my high school career.
What advice do you have for underclassmen?
Juliette Uy: My biggest piece of advice for underclassmen is to focus on the experience. I’m sure a lot of students participate in extracurriculars for the sole purpose of getting into college or building yourself to be a better applicant, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to have meaningful experiences in those extracurriculars. You can be in 20 clubs and it wouldn’t mean anything if you had nothing to say about them. My advice is to do ECs because you enjoy them, the stories that come out of ECs that you love will be 1000% more compelling than those you just did to check a box.
Diana Zhen Zhang: I would advise the underclassmen to take on as many challenges as they dare to, because you often underestimate your resilience. That being said, it is equally as important to go out and have fun, because what’s the high school experience if you don’t break a few rules?
Kamran Sheriff: I know this seems cliché, but if you are ever feeling down, a simple smile will make you feel better. The true highschool experience doesn’t exist, it’s just whatever you want it to be. Just make sure 10 years from now, you won’t regret anything.
Gordon Krauss: Try your best to balance school and having fun outside of it, or do both at once! Don’t stress yourself out about college stuff and it will go way better.
Ava London: Underclassmen! My advice is very similar to what I would change about my own experience, and while I know many of you will find this impossible, I implore all of you to try to create an enjoyable experience for yourself and not take school so seriously. Yes, your grades matter, yes, your weighted gpa is important, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to look back on your high school days so that you can relive endless studying sessions. You’re going to remember nights out with your friends, school events, and your own mental and physical development. I encourage you all to stop writing things off as lame or worthless and to give people a chance. Speaking from someone who just recently has begun to talk to and interact with people outside my close group of friends, I promise you the built up prejudgments you might have developed barely reach the surface level, and so many people have so much more to offer than a dumb reputation. I regret letting reputations that I’d heard of from others interfere with my desire to talk to those in my grade level, and if I had known as an underclassmen how superficial some of the things I was hearing really were, I know I would have changed so many things about the way I acted. And remember that you are all still developing as people together! So many things are changing for you guys right now, and I know it’s hard to find stability, but just know that at the end of the day, what you’re experiencing is going to bring you guys together and will spur growth which like me, you might not recognize until you’re two weeks away from walking the graduation stage.
Asiya Junisbai: Please don’t waste high school doing what you think will look good on a college app. Find a passion and put energy into that — it’s fulfilling and looks better. Most importantly, know that you have the power to change harmful institutional practices at CHS. Start a coalition, start a campaign, apply pressure, make some noise. Things can get better.