Spring break was a much needed break, especially after a busy winter quarter and long week of finals. However, I was spending my last day of freedom driving eight hours back to UCI. As I started the long drive from my home to my other UCI home, I began thinking about what I was thankful for—as cheesy as that sounds!
I realized that I had really missed my CHP friends, even though we had only been apart for a week! I had always thought of myself as a bit of a loner in high school, but I met a lot of amazing people and made some really cool friends from the very first day I moved into the Shire, the CHP honors residence hall, during my freshman year. Since then, we have remained close, meeting up every couple of days to study together and hang out. Sometimes, we’d catch up over breakfast food and shakes at Denny’s. It has been amazing to have a mini-family that supports me when times are hard and celebrates with me when times are good. I was very excited to be reunited with my friends after this spring break.
I also missed doing research and working with my lab team, as nerdy as that sounds. Last year, I started as a research assistant in a criminology lab—a position that I have dreamed about since freshman year when I first learned about the senior honors thesis. I work alongside a graduate student and another undergraduate research assistant on a project that investigates chronological and cognitive aging. We are studying memory formation and the implications that memories have within the legal system, namely eyewitness testimony. I couldn’t wait to get cozy in the CHP study room in Langson Library or in my dorm room where I would read and review research articles, finalize the methodology, and study up on how to run participants.
Working in this lab, I have learned a great deal about memory and the importance of witness testimony in addition to the nuts and bolts of research in the Social Sciences such as writing research proposals and applying for funding. I jumped at the opportunity to present at UCI’s Undergraduate Research Symposium where I was able to talk about a field that I have grown to be so passionate about and to educate others on the prevalence of false memories and their impact on court trials. This year, I am working on part two for my senior capstone project, investigating how altered witness confidence levels can influence their recall later on and impact their level of confidence when identifying suspects. I can’t wait to present my new research at the Symposium again this May!
Once I reached Los Angeles, I got stuck in the rush hour traffic, of course. But that gave me the time to realize that I also missed the overall feel of UCI. In complete contrast to the noise and the stress of LA traffic, UCI has always felt so calm, so serene to me. One of the best parts of my day is walking through Aldrich Park at the center of campus. I’d admire the trees and soak up some sun on my way to and from classes. At night, one of my favorite pastimes is to walk the paved path around Aldrich Park and Ring Road around campus at night to admire the variety of architecture of the tall, quiet buildings and to hear music from dance teams practicing new hip hop routines. These strolls always reaffirmed the reason why I chose UCI in the first place: it simply felt “right” to me; it was a place I could make my home.
Finally making it back to UCI, I pulled into an empty spot in the parking lot of the ARC, the UCI Anteater Recreation Center gym. I was relieved to have the long drive over, and I was excited to be home. Although I was tired, I couldn’t wait to take my nightly walk around campus. Maybe this time, I’d invite my friends to come along so we can catch up. The night was truly mine.
By Cheyenne (Criminology, Society & Law and Psychology & Social Behavior)