Reintroduction of Serendipity

Given that today is Thanksgiving, albeit a Hallmark-driven holiday, I figured it would be the right time to reintroduce my blog’s theme, “serendipity”. It is times like these, when you reflect on what you are thankful for, that you realize how much these fortunate accidents tend to shape your life for the better.

I originally stumbled across this word when watching the movie, Serendipity (which is a great holiday movie, by the way!), starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack.

Jonathan: This is the ultimate blend to drink. How’d you find this place?

Sara: I first came in because of the name: Serendipity. It’s one of my favorite words.

Jonathan: It is? Why?

Sara: It’s such a nice sounding word for what it means: a fortunate accident.

After this film, I began to witness how “serendipity” truly plays a character in our daily lives – and for all those times I can count, the outcome is always better.

An example? My Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) minor at UCLA. I had known from the moment I started college that I wanted to minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. However, when I applied my sophomore year, I wasn’t accepted and I was absolutely heart-broken. Along with the disappointment, I wasn’t too keen on applying soon after. Less than a year later, however, while busy with plans to study abroad in the summer, I decided to apply last-minute on a whim. I’m not sure what consumed me, but despite the application being due the following day, I just knew I had to get it in. So in less than 24 hours, I contacted and received a spur-of-the-moment letter of recommendation from my 5th grade teacher and mentor (thank you, Mrs. Burke!) and was able to submit in a complete application. Two weeks later, I was offered a spot for the Summer 2012 cohort.

Spontaneity for the win, right? And sure, my plans for studying abroad were scratched. But as my good friend, Diana, noted today when I saw her, there’s always tomorrow. Back in high school, we planned on going to Spain together. Maybe that’s meant to be or maybe we’ll find our way there through some alternate path. While I advocate studying abroad in college, it just wasn’t in the books for me; but what I got out of my minor is priceless. Along with all the interactions with the children, I have met some of the most remarkable people through this minor. Some outside of my cohort, who supported me when I struggled to fulfill pre-med requirements and my minor requirements by overlapping classes and taking the maximum amount of units (thank you, Yujia!). And some inside my cohort, including one of my good friends post-graduation, Marina. I mention Marina because I had dinner with her a few weeks back. And it was then that I thoroughly explained to her about everything that went down with Columbia. Without hesitation, criticism, or disbelief, she simply said the following phrase. A phrase that was reiterated by my former partner-in-crime, Jessica, who I met up with this week,

“I feel like you’re doing you”

And that’s what I am thankful for – being surrounded by friends and family who understand where my true passions lie and are willing to believe in my dreams. I have done some crazy things in the past, but despite all that, they all have faith in me. My father, my mother, my sister. My advisors, mentors, and role models. My best friends from 4th grade, my friends from college and my friends in high school. Now I just need faith in myself, in my destiny, as I make my way towards medical school.

Along with Diana, I reconnected with Tim, a friend who will one day be one of the most powerful motivational speakers out there. He wrote this great gratitude speech, so while you’re dealing with that post-dinner food coma, check it out. In short, I am thankful for my failures along with successes. Without them, I would not be where I am today. If I wasn’t rejected the first time, I would have never met the people I did in my cohort in ADP. To sum it up, I am thankful for serendipity.

In gratitude,


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Connecting the dots

I know what I want out of life. I don’t know exactly what’s in store for me, school/profession-wise. But I know that there are certain events that need to take place so that when I look back on my life, I have no regrets. Some events are as trivial as posting a YouTube video, while others include residing in New York for 6+ months. So it’s not that I don’t have ambition or dreams. I do. I just need to figure out how to achieve all of this. I need to find ways, with any means necessary (while of course preserving my dignity) to get to that next step. I have all the dots, now I need to connect them.

Class of ’09

Despite how much we competed with one another or simply got sick of seeing the same people, Class of 2009 was really one of the best classes ever. I’m not only talking about the class I graduated with, but in general, ’09 made its mark on history. We were the biggest graduating class in American history and every high school was impacted by our class. It might be the pride that’s making me talk about it right now, but in actuality, this topic comes up every day. Class of 2009 in DBHS for instance, didn’t have just one achievement. We really did run the school with our excellence in sports, academics, and in the arts. Although I know that the other classes had their quirks as well, we really were the top. We had the brightest and the most stupid (I mean, really, what other class had people jump off the J building?). We brought in the talent and when we left, we made a huge impression. I’ll predict right here, right now on this blog, that the next, Bill Gates, Michael Jackson, Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and all those other leading figures of society will result from the students of ’09. Because ultimately, we are the change.

So to all of those upperclassmen, who taunted us when we were freshmen, commenting on how pathetic we were and that our class would be the worst. What now?

<3 A.


What Could’ve Been

One of the goals I made this summer was to visit my elementary school in Whittier after 10 years. I don’t know how the interest came about, but all of a sudden, I just wanted to hop into the car and drive to Whittier by myself. The entire course of this summer, I’ve been adding friends from Orange Grove Elementary School through facebook and catching up with them. It’s funny how a decade has passed and yet there’s still that closeness between us. That’s because the environment I grew up in back then was completely different from the one here in Diamond Bar. For example, while there was competition, it was friendly, and the emphasis of the city was family and friends rather than grades and prestige.

I know that I may be biased because when I resided there I was quite young. And yet, even being eight years old, I still noticed a lifestyle change when moving from Whittier to Diamond Bar. After the move, there were less smiles and more insults. There were less walks in the afternoon and causal chats with neighbors and more work and expectations. Believe it or not, I never heard or knew about a single curse word until I started 4th grade in Diamond Bar.

But don’t get me wrong. I have come to love Diamond Bar because although it didn’t have the openness that Whittier had, it contained a sheltered lifestyle. While some can debate whether this is a good or bad thing, I can say that Diamond Bar didn’t have many disappointments. I mean, I do lead a great life with great friends and wonderful people.

Just, the reason we left everything behind – the good job, the great house, the lovely neighborhood, was because of us. My parents wanted my sister and I to have the best education and they didn’t think that the current district would provide it. So we shifted to a district that produced academically-acclaimed schools.

But seeing what all my old friends have achieved and how wonderful their lifestyles are, it makes me wonder, was the move worth it? As I started driving on familiar streets, a pull from memory lane was already beginning. I walked down the steps to the front office, uncertain of how I’d find my old classrooms, etc. Before I came to Orange Grove today, I had checked up on its website and had found out that my third grade teacher had become principal. I just didn’t know if she would recognize me.

I signed in and a vaguely familiar secretary asked me what I needed. I told her directly that it had been 10 years since I attended the school but that I just wanted to visit. She asked me what my name was and when I told her she just looked at me and told me she remembered me. Apparently the principal heard, because she came out rushing to greet and hug me. Mrs. Gasporra, the best third grade teacher and now the principal. We talked a bit in her office before she asked me what other teachers I came to visit. Although my Kindergarten teacher and 2nd grade teacher had left, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Winans, was still there. Now, I had no idea whether Mrs. Winans would remember me, because honestly, I was a shy kid at the age of 6. And yet, I really wanted to tell her that I still had that little apple where we wrote what we wanted to be when we grew up, and tell her that I still wanted to be a pediatrician.

Luckily, when Mrs. Gasporra opened the door and told Mrs. Winans I was here, she said that she still remembered. Apparently, my class was a famous one for the people. She then told me about one of my old classmates. Apparently, not only did he graduate as valedictorian at Whittier High School, but he was accepted into Princeton. However, he declined the college because he wanted to play ice hockey in Canada for a year. And yet, Princeton dubbed him so valuable that they told him they were willing to wait a year for him.

Who would have known, that my 8 year old classmate who wanted to be an actor, would wind up to be an ice hockey god going to an ivy league school? Which gets me thinking again, was it worth the move? Obviously, from others’ successes, I could have done just as well educationally in Whittier, so why did I leave the environment I loved so much? It just goes to show that a certain aspect may not include the whole package. Regardless, the move occurred, and there’s no point in thinking about the past because I don’t have any regrets. However, it doesn’t stop me from having my nostalgic moments.

<3 A.