As I bid farewell to my high school and head to college, I can’t help but reminisce about what it felt like, at that time, as the most important four years of my life. From freshman year—and honestly before that—I always had college in my mind; it often dictated what classes and activities I participated in. I worked hard to maintain good grades, get high SAT/ACT scores, and be “a well-rounded student.” I was constantly chasing something without a moment to breathe and take things in. At times, I wondered if it was all worth it.
But now, looking back, I am thankful for the countless hours of studying, and long nights of activities. They not only allowed me to fall in love with being an active participant in my community, but they also allowed me to meet some amazing people. I will definitely miss high school, and the friends I have made such priceless memories with.
As I settle into my dorm here at UC Berkeley, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of bittersweetness. I feel both the anxiety of leaving the familiarity of my school and home city, as well as the sheer excitement of exploring a new city and environment where everyone is pursuing their passions, to create meaningful change. I hope to be surrounded by people who enjoy education for the sake of learning, instead of merely seeing it as a tool towards “success.” I cannot wait to learn not only from my professors but also my peers who come from such different walks of life, and have so much to offer and share.
I am hoping to pursue Cognitive Science here at Cal. The study of the mind fascinates me, and even more so when examined through many different lenses. The field of Cognitive Science explores the mind primarily through the context of six focuses: Philosophy, Linguistics, Computer Science, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Anthropology. The interdisciplinarity of this field is very appealing to me since it offers a wide breadth of knowledge and skills to study.
Aside from academics, I hope to develop and discover my interests, hobbies, and passions; most importantly, I want to engage in work that gives back to the community. With so many options and resources available for me, I am excited to have the breathing room to explore and not feel boxed into any one interest, nor feel like I am just chasing something in the distant future. I hope to “live more in the now,” and value the present.
I am absolutely thrilled to join such a diverse, motivated community here at Berkeley, and can’t wait to get started. For all students currently going through the college application process, don’t hesitate to show off who you are as a person, beyond test scores and transcripts. I wish you all the best!
Ashley Park graduated in the class of 2019 from Grover Cleveland High School. She used to be a teen volunteer at the Porter Ranch Branch Library. At Cleveland, she was active in the marching band and the student council, among other extracurricular activities. She also loves dogs, iced tea, and reading thriller novels!
—Michael Baradi, Young Adult Librarian, Porter Ranch Branch Library