By Cindy Chan
When I first arrived at UCSB, I had absolutely no clue as to what my purpose would be. I just hoped that I would be able to find one. Like many of my peers, I found it difficult to commit to a field of study, in fear of being dissatisfied with my choice. The classes I truly enjoyed fell under the humanities and arts classification. Courses from philosophy, to foreign languages, to music, challenged me to think critically and creatively; my mind had never been more active. But when it seemed that everyone I knew was urging me in the opposite direction, I felt immense pressure to become a standardized person. 

During my freshman year, a course led me to declare an English major. English 187, “Modern Literature: Life and Learning,” taught by Professor Enda Duffy, inspired me to live the way I always wanted to: poetically. The thought of an assigned literary recitation in front of our small discussion mortified me. But somehow, the passion and promise singing in the air of that class encouraged me to speak in front of the entire lecture. It was a bit shaky, but every word of John Keats’ Bright Star echoed quietly in that hall from my voice.

At the close of my sophomore year, stress and personal battles led me to impulsively apply to an EAP program as far away as I could imagine. It was in this optic-widening experience that I was able to rediscover my values. The engrossing history and social and cultural livelihood of Cape Town, South Africa, was a world greater than my own. Seeing it up close reinforced the weight of my humanities vision. Considering others as a mirror to myself, I experienced the privilege of observing the alignment between my studies and personal life, which connected significance back to the general meaning of the humanities. By studying and interacting with the deeper common roots of one another, tolerance, compassion, and fraternity were re-instilled within me. Blessed with another opportunity to study French language and literature in Bordeaux, France, it was clear that my decision to invest in the humanities led me to a future beyond college that I was excited and equipped to conquer.

With an analytical framework of thought and mindful attention to self-care, I am proud to say that I have accomplished many goals here at UCSB honest to my values and interests. I’ve worked with incredible faculty members, sought out my own internships, and even started my own student organization. Most importantly, I have been able to find satisfaction in championing my own experience. UCSB’s strong belief in the humanities and arts provides an environment that supports students’ colorful minds.

I graduate with an English B.A. and minors in French and Professional Business Communication Writing. For the near future, I am freelance-writing and editing. Further down the line, I am surely open and prepared to whatever comes my way because of my experiences from UCSB.