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SoCal Student Says UC Merced Will Be a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’

July 6, 2023
first-year student Kayla Lopez
Meet incoming first-year student Kayla Lopez.

UC Merced is highlighting incoming students for fall 2023 — a dynamic, diverse and accomplished cohort of new Bobcats.

It's the change of pace that Kayla Lopez has been craving. In August, she will leave the busy streets of Southern California and head north to begin her first semester at UC Merced. Lopez is already daydreaming about the scenery around campus where she said she can "take a deep breath of fresh air."

Committing to UC Merced nearly didn't happen for Lopez. After hearing back from multiple universities, she thought her dream of attending a UC wouldn't become reality. She even considered taking a gap year. It felt like fate when she checked a hidden folder in her email to find her acceptance to UC Merced.

"When I saw the confetti from the acceptance letter, I knew this was meant for me," she said. "I texted my mom and showed everyone I got into a UC school after I was rejected from so many other schools. It was so exciting and a day I'll honestly never forget."

Lopez is proud that she will be the first person on her father's side of the family to attend college.

It won't just be a geographical change for her. Lopez has spent the past four years at a journalism institution - Daniel Pearl Magnet High School. Despite her initial aspirations in law and an education that's been centered around writing, she says she's following her intuition to peruse a new goal.

"At first I was going to major in political science and become a lawyer, but I decided to switch it up a bit," she said. "I want to become an anesthesiologist."

When she arrives at UC Merced, there will be one student that's a familiar face from SoCal. 

"He has been one of my best friends since middle school so that's exciting, "she said. "I have a pretty good intuition and it's telling me I'm going to enjoy it."

A different home. A different career path. Lopez says she is open to all things new and unexpected.

"I know I'll probably miss everyone, but I know I won't let it affect my college life," said Lopez. "I want to go in blind and see where I end up."


Alyssa Johansen

Alyssa Johansen HeadshotPublic Information Officer

Office: (209) 413-9330