First and foremost, I would like to say congratulations on being accepted to UC Davis! I am sure you may have some anxiousness about the road ahead, but remember that you have earned these opportunities for yourself through hard work and dedication. In honor of Decision Day, I will share with you all my story of how I ended up at UC Davis.
In being asked to consider why I chose Davis, I had to really take myself back to my senior year of high school, which was a strange time all around. With college just on the horizon, I dealt with a lot of complex feelings about the path before me. Choosing where in the world you want to go to grow academically and develop yourself as a person is truly not an easy task and I vividly remember how this weighed on me. I remember feeling it was such an impossible decision to make, yet so many people take this step and move away for school. How is it normal to leave all that you have known for the first 18 years of your life, just like that? While it might sound a bit dramatic, these were my authentic feelings at the time.
Another aspect that made it such a difficult predicament is how I felt so many options were available to me. I worked especially hard in high school in order to receive better grades and thus better scholarship offers, as I did not want to limit myself due to finances. Additionally, as an L.A. native, I applied to mostly schools within California and a handful of out-of-state universities. In the end, I felt deeply split between two UCs: Santa Barbara and Davis.
I know, this story might seem rather anticlimactic in hindsight, as we know where I ended up in the end, but at the time I was unbelievably torn. I had visited Davis in years prior when seeing a family friend who was an alumnus and employee of the university. I remember how quickly the town and the campus grew on me. The deep greens that Southern California largely lacks and the overall feel of the town resonated with me deeply. We went on a campus tour, saw a movie at the Varsity Theater downtown, and walked next door for some gelato and people watching. It’s a small yet crystal clear memory that was very impactful to me. However, I still had my doubts and the distance was also quite daunting, as Davis was 400 miles from my family, friends, and home.
Now on the other hand, there was UC Santa Barbara. UCSB seemed like a pretty perfect location — far enough from home where I could establish myself and have enough distance to do so, but close enough where I could take weekend trips home when needed. Also, I had received a great scholarship offer from them which, to a lot of people in my life, seemed like a telltale sign that I would commit to UCSB. This new feeling of expectation only worked to further complicate my feelings.
I remembered talking to my sister, who seemed like one of the only people who could see that Davis held a special place in my heart. I told her how one of the hardest parts of this decision was that I felt I could really build a place for myself at either school. I knew that I was quite adaptable, and I could envision these two different lives for myself. These talks with my sister gave way to a new perspective that explained why I felt so torn — this decision bottled down to whether I would be true to myself or go along with what was expected of me. This crossroad marked a pivotal moment that would affect me more than anyone in the long run, so why was I so concerned with other people’s feelings? I knew then that, if I were to choose UCSB, I would likely feel some sort of guilt for not listening to my gut.
While moving north and settling in took some time, Davis quickly began to seem like home. I remember feeling myself becoming part of Davis and starting to establish
friendships with people from all over the world. Every time I had a gap between classes during my first fall quarter, I would bike through downtown Davis and allow myself to get lost so that I could learn the layout, see what’s there, and eventually know Davis like the back of my hand. Even in difficult times, as I stressed about choosing a major for instance, I felt grounded and supported by the campus community.
For me, choosing to go to Davis came down to a matter of principle and heart, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. As my own college experience comes to a close, I would like to offer a word of advice to all incoming students, from one human to another. As you take this leap into higher education, I hope that you remember to take chances, ask for help when needed, and always lead with your heart.