This time around, Her Campus UCI took their Campus Celebrity to an alumnus from the Class of 2013: Arman Liwanag. Some may remember him from PASS ([email protected] Americans in Social Sciences), perhaps seen him working in the bookstore, or recall that he was President of Kababayan (UCI’s [email protected] club) from 2012 to 2013. Before accomplishing all of that, he worked hard to get there.
“SPOP changed my entire mindset,” Arman expresses. Before he attended SPOP, he had stereotypes about UCI, but SPOP changed his perception. He lived in Whispering Wood, where he started making friends and became involved with his hall and Community Council. He first got involved with Kababayan (Kaba) then joined PASS and really loved it! He was part of their High School Outreach Program and spoke to high school students and inspired them. This is when he started to get an idea of what he wanted to do in the future. He came back to Kaba during the Spring quarter as an intern and fell in love with it. He took part in Pilipino-American Culture Night (PACN) and because of this, he was able to get to know the members better.
During his third year, he ran for Kaba External Vice President and won. He traveled with ASUCI to the UCSA Congress where he learned more about education and educating people. He was one of the founding members of the School of Social Ecology mentorship program. He dug deep into ASUCI in his third year and became the At-Large Representative, which allowed him to advocate and empower students. This was also the year when he began working at The Hill! In his fourth year, he ran for President of Kaba and won. The board did so much that year that when he looks back on it, what’s important to him is the knowledge that he lived that legacy. He continued his involvement in the High School Outreach Program and also became a Discussion Leader for University Studies 1. Before leaving UCI for good, he gave back to the community one last time as a SPOP Staffer during Orientation 2013: Phoenix Year.
He admitted that balancing classes and extracurricular activities was hard, and required him to prioritize. He has no regrets, but he wished he was smarter about it. Strangely enough, he tends to do well under pressure and says he never pulled an “all-nighter” but he did sacrifice sleep several times during college.
He had one thing to say about his fourth year: “Rushed! Where did time go?” Reflecting on it, his first year was when he felt super lost. He never really got used to the speed of time. However, Kaba really helped. “It’s really about having fun and enjoying every single day. Being in the moment, not always in the future, but also being able to reflect on the past.”
As busy as Arman was and as fun as he found his duties to be, he wasn’t all work and no play. He went to Disneyland a lot—as in a Deluxe Disney pass for the last three years of college that he put to good use. He also ate a lot! “Korean BBQ was my weakness!” He enjoyed hanging out with his friends, just talking or watching a movie.
So for someone who accomplished so much, choosing a favorite memory is pretty tough. He talked about one particular night in his fourth year, either the Week 5 or 6 General Meeting of Kaba when their theme was “family and ties.” Normally they have meetings in Dr. White Room in the Cross Cultural Center, but it was booked that night so they made a reservation in the Student Center. There was a booking problem and they ended up in Crystal Cove Auditorium, which also happens to be the room where the first meeting of the year is held. Arman stood on the stage with his board and pointed out that they were in the right place at the right time—having a workshop about family in the place where they start every year. That moment made him realize that for the past years, Kaba had been his family at UCI.
Today, he is working as a financial aid advisor with high school seniors in two San Francisco public high schools and helping them find ways to afford college. He’s been traveling and reconnecting with family, friends, community and himself, especially now that he’s been home for a year. He shared a quote about reflection, originally stated in Tagalog: “He who does not know how to look back at where he came will never get to his destination.” – José Rizal