UC Riverside is currently wrapping up the spring quarter, the final third of the hectic school year. While many students are cramming for final exams and cumulative projects, the graduating class of 2021 is preparing to receive their diplomas in the midst of a global pandemic. Paulina Herrera, one of our writers, will be moving on from us in a couple of weeks, but she’s taken some time to gather her thoughts about her experiences and plans to share them with the world.
How does it feel to be graduating during a pandemic? Are there positive things that came out of this experience?
I feel more than anything surprised, I honestly didn’t expect the pandemic to last this long and let alone to have to graduate during this time. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to graduate and although it may not be the most conventional graduation it is still a great moment in my life.
When did you know that your major was right for you? Was it always your major or did you change it at one point?
I have always loved to read and write so going into university I knew that I wanted something to do with those skills. I chose English because it did not just encompass literature and the skill of writing but it merged into other fields such as cultural studies. It allowed me to have a broader view of the world and the faculty is really supportive!
What is one way (or more ways) that you feel like you have grown since your freshman year? Are you more confident, more outgoing, more well-put together etc?
I think I have grown in the sense that I am not as scared as I used to be. I mean I’m definitely anxious about the future but I am also not scared to take whatever opportunities come my way. I’ve learned that rejection is a part of life and sometimes you’re going to get fifteen NOs before you get one yes, that just means you keep trying.
What are you most excited to do once you graduate?
I’m excited to have time to nurture my creativity and myself. I love school and learning but I feel many of my hobbies have been pushed aside and I’m excited to be able to sit down and paint, draw and write. I’m excited to have a few weeks where my time is not heavily regimented and I’m not extremely stressed. I am also definitely excited to start grad school, although that won’t be for a while.
What are your plans for the near or far future? How do you see the happiest version of yourself?
I plan to take some time for myself and then head off to grad school. That’s as far as I’ve planned and all I know is I want to do something regarding books and art as these are my main two passions. I see the happiest version of myself as someone who has a stable career and can find happiness in every day.
What is one thing you would like to tell your freshman year self?
I would tell my freshman year self not to be so anxious and that everything will work out. I think when we first start a new chapter of our lives we are scared but really we should face it head-on with confidence and pride in our abilities.
When you were at your most stressed, how did you relax and unwind?
I love to listen to music and go on a walk, that was one of my favorite things about UCR. The campus had the best sunsets for evening walks.
What is one thing you feel like you’ve gotten from Her Campus? What is a word of advice you’d like to leave the remaining undergraduate students?
Thanks to Her Campus I have gotten the opportunity to express myself and find a community. If I could give some advice it would be not to be afraid to take opportunities especially if it benefits your goals and dreams for the future. Also, to always be friendly with others because that can really brighten up their day.
Any finishing words?
Thank you for interviewing me and I just wanted to say it has been an honor writing for Her Campus here at UCR. I will miss it when I leave and I wish the best for all the current undergraduates.