|Ode to UCSD
As senior year approaches, a moment of appreciation for my school
4 Sept. 1999
The U.S. News and World Report released their annual college rankings last week, and UCSD again placed highly. UCSD has emerged as a prominent university in its short 40-year history. While prestige is important, one of the things that I have come to realize over the past few years is that people help to make a place unique.
I've had an experience of UCSD different from that of most other students. For the past three years, I have been enthralled at how much people at this campus are able to accomplish. I am amazed at how much I have been able to learn. Serving as news editor of the campus newspaper required that I cover much of the campus. It wasnt uncommon for me to run downtown to search court records or to cover a protest. I like having the ability to have a conversations with different people -- from the chancellor all the way down to the people that clean the student center every night.
It's a shame, but most people don't seem to have the opportunity to meet some of these terrific people that truly make up the university. I have only had the opportunity to meet with a few, but each one is important to UCSD. One thing that some staff members have observed is that they are energized by the students. I am amazed that many of these staff members have been here for several decades and are still truly concerned with the well being of the university.
UCSD is a small city bustling with 14,000 undergraduates and about 4,000 graduate students. It seems like it would be easy to lost in the shuffle. I think that it would be easy to overwhelmed by sheer size of UCSD.
To be honest, my first few experiences at UCSD as a freshman were very impersonal. It seems that I was somehow lost in the shuffle on incoming students and didn't receive vital information about Welcome Week. Because I was a student commuting from home, I didn't have a lot of initial contact that many freshmen might have and I felt disconnected. I think that people understand UCSD the more time they spend at the university.
Physically, San Diego is the second-largest campus in the University of California system (Davis is largest). Among the many things that UCSD operates, it runs two medical centers, four natural reserves, a medical school, an engineering school, an oceanography school, a fleet of ocean-going research vessels, an aquarium, two student centers, an international relations school, six libraries, a theater complex, a supercomputer complex, three athletic facilities, a university extension, three art galleries, a crafts center, a police department, a post office, an outdoor art collection. The university is the largest single employer in San Diego County. Whew.
One can look at all of the things that the university accomplishes and ignore the people that make it happen. It is easy to look at the beautiful campus placed atop a eucalyptus tree-covered bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and forget that it took the efforts of thousands of people to make it possible. The people that I have met are energetic and like working at UCSD. Many of them have been shapers of the university's history. All of them contribute to the functioning of the university.
Academically, I have found it easy to get access to my professors in my major. The staff people in communication department are easy going and understanding. In a general education class of 300, it's difficult to reach the professor. Kudos goes out to the teaching assistants that bridge the gap between the student and the professor.
Since my tenure at the Guardian, I have continued to explore the many different aspects of the university. One of the things that have made it easier to comprehend the complexity of UCSD is the college system. The five colleges are modeled after those in Oxford and Cambridge. They divide the undergraduate population into more manageable bodies of around 3,000 people each. Each of the colleges has a distinct personality and graduation requirements. I was most fortunate to choose Thurgood Marshall College. Marshall College, previously known as Third College, was named in 1994 after the late Supreme Court Justice.
Because the undergraduates are separated into the five colleges, it is easier to meet with administrators with your college. I have had many terrific conversations with the administrators at my college. I don't know if this would be possible if I went to a school with 30,000 students.
Student organizations play another important part of life on this campus. There are enough people here to support more than 200 different organizations. I have had the unique honor of founding two such organizations (Triton Tide and the Journalism Club). The musicians in the Pep Band and staff at the Guardian have all helped me in my development as a member of society.
Thanks must go out to the California taxpayers for they have helped to make an excellent college education decently affordable. Although some might complain, fees at UCSD cost only about $4,000 a year -- a very good price for a top-of-the-line education.
I recently looked back at the colleges that I was accepted to during high school. I cannot imagine what my life experience would be like without my years at UCSD. Some of the schools that I was accepted to might have been ranked higher in the U.S. News and Reports rankings, but I like to think that I have found a place for myself at UC San Diego.
So to the regents that we write checks to, the staff members and administrators that make the university function, to the professors, TAs, and the other students that make learning fascinating, thank you from a very grateful senior who is honored to attend such a wonderful school.
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