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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

            In a college campus, it seems like all the students have the same goals and worries. Passing that midterm, getting into the right classes, succeeding in finals, finding a good job to by the time we graduate, paying off student loans, and becoming financially stable after college. What we seem to forget sometimes is that we are all our own individuals who carry our own aspirations and goals that represent the type of person we want to be. Fellow UC Irvine students David Ly Khim, Francis Cailles, Jesse Oduro, Justin Ho, Kendrick Wang, and Timothy Casasola have decided to bring a project to UCI that would remind and inspire students to value life and others for the different type of people we all are.

            The Before I Die project was created by a woman named Candy Chang who transformed an abandoned home in New Orleans into a chalkboard painted wall that said “Before I die I want to…” with a blank space next to it, after she herself has lost someone important in her life. She didn’t know what to expect after leaving chalk out so people could fill in the blanks, but the next day she found to her surprise, a wall filled with people’s life wishes. In TED talk, Candy Chang expresses how touched and moved she was with the overwhelming response. She said how some responses made her laugh, some made her cry, and some had helped fill that lonely space in her heart after her loss, as the messages reminded her that she was not alone. Since then, there have been walls created all over the world and Candy Chang has made the Before I Die project easily accessible on her website to whoever wants to bring it to their community by creating a toolkit and links to other resources to create their own walls.

            Candy Chang’s story and the response of the world inspired a UCI student named David Ly Khim who pitched the idea to create a wall at UCI to other UCI students. David Ly Khim formed a team with Justin Ho, Jesse Oduro, Kendrick Wang, and Timothy Casasola to make the wall. They hoped that this would help take UCI students out of their mundane concerns from tests, to parties, and class scheduling and make them think about where they want to be in the next five or ten years that is beyond more than just their major. This team of students believe in the potential of every individual student.

            When the wall hit campus, it blew up all social media networks. Students were Tweeting, Instagraming, and Facebooking their photos of their wishes, as people’s responses made them laugh or cry. Walking down Ring Road, you would see a crowd of people at every hour gazing at the wall and filling in the blanks with their life’s aspirations. When asked what David and his team hoped students would get out of the wall he said, “We wanted to encourage individuals to live out their dreams and aspirations and we believed that, by doing so, they could inspire others to follow their example—in this manner, students can both inspire and be inspired.” And it worked, as there was a newfound Anteater pride radiating throughout campus as well as a newfound optimism.


 Our campus is the first college campus to ever have a Before I Die wall, and the great thing about it is that it was created with no organization involvement, but just a group of students with the same goal. Students got the chance to feel connected to their peers from their dreams, and how they want to be known in this world. Being in college, the general mass of us thinks that the only goal to be accomplished is finding a great career with stable income. The way we meet each other is by asking “What’s you major?” We do not look beyond our career goals or academic goals and lose our focus on the kind of person we want to be. The kind of experiences we want to have, and what relationships we want to make are to be cherished forever. All in all, that is what the wall brought to campus. David admitted that there was a particular moment that he and his team had a sense of accomplishment as he explained, “We overheard a student confide to her friend, ‘This made me re-think my life.’ ” It is these kinds of moments that make this wall empowering and lets us know that we can dream big and live our lives to fullest even when the world makes us feel like it is impossible.


Photo Credit:  http://beforeidie.cc/site/irvine/