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Monday, December 5, 2022

The uncanny pursuit of a degree and the surprises I encountered along the way

Creating four years of college memories in two during the pandemic era

By KRISTIN TRENT

Few outcomes can be predicted in life, and the destination we land in is often achieved by unforeseen circumstances. No matter how much I had planned in high school for a future at UC Davis, I could have never predicted the trajectory of my college experience, and I know I’m among many. Walking to graduation with a degree is just about the only thing that stayed part of my original idea of college. But these unpredictabilities have been essential in creating a noteworthy future.

Changing my major

Coming to UC Davis to pursue veterinary medicine, I could have never predicted that I would graduate with an English degree in hand. Reaching this decision was the result of many late night conversations, a couple of grueling finals and a change of heart. No matter how much I had believed that my plan — four years of undergraduate work at UC Davis followed by an additional four years of vet school — could work out, I was struggling to excel with a science-heavy workload. 

The moment I started taking English classes, I found my love for learning again. It was refreshing to discuss and muse over interesting texts with classmates who were just as interested as I was. Not every class was my favorite, but with that spark to motivate me, it became even more important to show up and work hard.

I knew I was a writer when I decided to reach out to one of my first English professors in college and ask for advice about my relationship with writing. She emphasized my ear for poetics and encouraged creative writing practice.

 It was difficult explaining to friends and family why I made such a drastic change, but I knew that polishing my skills, I could take advantage of the many opportunities for writers at Davis. 

The future you have in mind will change, but always aim for something”

Writing for The California Aggie

I had been a reader of The California Aggie since my freshman year. In fact, I remember leafing through the pages of one when I toured. The isolation of the pandemic motivated me to get more involved, and the result of connecting with organizations like The Aggie kept me informed when they were looking for new staff writers. During that time, I applied on a whim and ended up with a position writing for the campus news desk. 

Working as a journalist, I have been able to meet and speak with campus leaders, advocates and representatives from different parts of the Davis community. Interviewing helped me gain a deeper understanding of the value of a large community. I saw it as a goal to represent the different sides of Davis and their respective issues, publishing articles about discrimination against students with disabilities and period poverty. 

Joining Greek life

If you had asked me in high school, rushing a sorority would be my last thought when it came to college plans. Most of my non-Greek life friends still can’t believe I am in a sorority. However, within a couple days of rushing, it became clear to me that the stereotypical depiction of the sorority girl was far from the reality at Davis. In fact, I found that my sorority sisters came from diverse backgrounds and were involved all over campus as club leaders, athletes, dancers and more. 

We all came here for the same reason, to join a found family. From family dinners to sports sisterhoods, each experience I have with my sisters brings us closer together. I know that after graduation, I can count on them for life. The connections I have with my sisters have helped me become more confident in myself and made me love this part of the Davis community. 

Writing a creative honors thesis

My application to the Creative Writing Honors Program started as a new year’s resolution: to get as many rejection letters as possible. If rejection was an inevitable step of submitting applications, it was easier to simply try. The day I heard that the project proposal was accepted, I called my partner and said “I can’t believe it, It feels like I’m dreaming, really!” The project is a poetry collection with the goal of capturing the community consciousness of Davis. I think of the classes and opportunities I’ve had at Davis as preparatory work for the cultivation of this longform creative project. I look forward to the time I’ll be spending at Shields next fall quarter researching and writing my project to life. 

I am a strong believer that it is never too late to get involved. Writing for The Aggie, joining Greek life and writing a creative honors thesis are all opportunities I undertook during my last year (and a quarter) at Davis. Even though you cannot predict when a pandemic will hit or that you will hate chemistry, things can work out. The future you have in mind will change, but always aim for something. 

I can be sure of my values when I walk off that graduation stage. Getting involved in different areas of UC Davis culture was the best thing I did (aside from getting my degree). Throwing myself into things and joining clubs I found interesting helped me cultivate my own interests and develop appreciation for community. It has been a privilege to say that I work for The California Aggie, and I will be taking the skills I’ve acquired forward into my future endeavors.

Loyally,

Kristin Trent

Written by: Kristin Trent 

Kristin Trent is a staff writer for the campus news desk. She Joined The Aggie during her senior year, in winter 2021. She graduates in the fall as part of the Honors Creative Writing Program with a bachelor’s degree in English.