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Reflecting On My Unforgettable Journey At UC Irvine

I would have never imagined in a million years that I would be graduating from my dream school. The journey toward my graduation day was never easy, but all the fun memories with great friends made it worth the ride. Before transferring to UCI, my biggest struggle was the application process because I always doubted myself. I could not find the courage to apply to any school because I completely lost faith in myself. I always believed it is easier to set myself up for failure because of my fear of rejection. I also knew that I did not have the best grades to get accepted into UCI. During my community college days, I did not have the best circle of friends, and they were not the best influence on my life or my pursuit of higher education. I also felt so trapped in the toxicity and the drama that I completely lost my motivation to hit the books. I'll never forget hitting my breaking point because I would always feel so alone and empty inside, even when I sit in a crowded room filled with people. I still take full responsibility for my not-so-great judgments in the past. As the months passed, my emptiness grew worse because I knew something was missing in my life. I just could never put my finger on it. I always questioned myself: do I choose a big circle of friends, or do I follow my dreams? My loss of priorities badly affected my grades to the point where I was on academic probation, and I almost got kicked out of my community college with a grade point average of 1.89. I'll never forget receiving my academic probation letter in the mail, and I felt a big knot in my stomach while reading the warning in all caps that if I fail one more class, that's it, that's a wrap. At this moment, I realized that I had to do better for myself, and I had to push everyone else aside to pursue my happiness. My experience has taught me it's never selfish to put yourself first, and there’s no harm in prioritizing your dreams. The moment when all the negativity fades away is when your light shines brighter than ever. You also need to be surrounded with people who will help you learn, grow and help you succeed in life. I'll also never forget taking the local bus to enroll for 17 units at two community colleges to get my grade point average back on track. One year later, I raised my grade point average from a GPA of 1.89 to 3.89. I graduated with two Associate of Arts degrees and on the Dean's Honor Roll list. Later in the day, my heart started racing at the speed of light when I first opened my acceptance letter to the University of California, Irvine. Dreams really do come true if you put your mind and heart into them. I would like to thank Professor Penner and Professor Gray for always believing in me.

I'll never forget moving all my boxes onto the top floor with the most perfect sunset view in the Camino Del Sol apartments. I could not stop shaking from excitement to live on my own. The best part is that I had incredible roommates. They always pushed me to be the best version of myself, so I finally found my happiness again. I'll never forget the moment I watched Toys Story 4 in Aldrich Park, and I took a moment to look around to see the unconditional laughter of other students while feeling a light summer breeze. I'll never forget watching the Joker at the Regal University Town Center to celebrate my birthday with my closest friends, and then we ended the night with a delicious bite from Blaze Pizza. My friendships always made UCI feel like a second home away from home. Throughout my UCI experience, I have had some of the best memories. I've seriously had the time of my life with new friendships that I will cherish forever. 

Despite my unforgettable journey at UCI cutting short because of the global pandemic, I really learned how to appreciate all the little moments that mean the most. I’ll never forget the many protests I attended for George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter Movement in Downtown Los Angeles during finals week. I’ll also never forget attending many rallies for Stop Asian Hate. It’s important to fight for racial equality, stop police brutality and educate ourselves every single day. Most importantly, we still continue to fight for justice for these natural born leaders who will continue to march until every voice is heard because every story matters.  

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I also want to thank Her Campus for their unconditional support. These talented writers and editors have taught me to always write from my heart. There's also no better feeling than learning from brilliant and empowering women. I would also like to thank the English Majors' Association for allowing me to be a board member. I always had a blast planning fun activities for all our enthusiastic literature lovers. It was also an opportunity of a lifetime to get to know the faculty from the English Department. Lastly, I would like to thank the outstanding professors at UCI for their patience, guidance and encouragement. Every lecture I attended has truly inspired me, and all the lessons I've learned will always stay with me. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to pass down their lessons to my future students someday. 

I also wanted to thank the UTeach program. This program has been by far one of the best memories that I had at UCI. I’ll always cherish these memories because it was the opportunity of a lifetime to teach my first class with a topic that I am passionate about the most: “Working Women In Film.” I was beyond grateful to work alongside other outstanding student educators. I also feel blessed to have such hardworking and talented students. They would seriously be the highlight of my week, and they inspired me so much with their dedication to my class. There is no greater feeling than being a teacher who learns and grows alongside her students. My main goal for the class was for students to learn how to watch films from the lens of women, and how we can continue the progression of feminism together. After many heartfelt discussions, we have accomplished everything and more. I also sincerely appreciate all of my wonderful friends at UCI who have truly made a positive impact in my life during this incredible ride. Great friends will truly ignite the best version of yourself. Great friends will never judge you but always encourage you. They will cheer for you during your biggest accomplishments. They will guide you and they will know how to uplift you during your toughest battles. Most importantly, great friends who work hard together become successful together. The strength of the people around me influence me to find my voice, regain my strength, and learn how to believe in myself again. After graduation, let’s always remind ourselves that it’s only the beginning of the bright future ahead for all of us. Congratulations to the Class of 2021! We did It! Once again I want to thank UCI - I will always wholeheartedly cherish all of these memories that I know will last a lifetime. 

Hello Everyone, My name is Victoria Hernandez. I am a fourth-year English major with a specialization in Education. I aspire to become a high school teacher because I want to help students prepare for their future, and show them that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. I have a passion for writing slam poetry, performing rap lyrics, and film editing. I am also a HUGE Disney fanatic. If it is at all possible to live at Disneyland then sign me up. I hope that my future writings will make you smile or will make your day shine brighter because it's a great feeling to spread kindness wherever you go.
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