The Busiest Girl in School Biz: NAC Class of 2013 Alum Marilynda Bustamante Engages UCLA
When the sun rises over DeNeve Plaza at UCLA, NAC Class of 2013 alum Marilynda Bustamante is already off and running, sometimes literally, through a day comprised of classes, meetings, workshops, work, and – on occasion – hanging out with friends. It is not uncommon for days like these to slide into one another, when sleep waits until 3:00 AM and another busy day begins shortly after.
In the second quarter of her freshman year, Marilynda is learning to master the balancing act that is her schedule. She is currently taking three classes (Calculus, Poverty and Health in Latin America, and Mindful Learning: Exploring Your Own Perceptions, Emotions, and Thinking) and maintaining active memberships in no fewer than six campus clubs and organizations, including the Peer Health Exchange, where she teaches pregnancy prevention and sexual education to students in low-income charter schools across Los Angeles. With pride, Marilynda notes, “I taught the second-highest number of workshops last quarter, teaching 12 times in the classroom, and I only missed being first by one workshop!”
While Marilynda strives to be a leader in her extracurricular programs, the competitive culture on campus has also fueled her drive to succeed academically. “It’s extremely competitive here in the science department, so although students genuinely want to help each other succeed, there is an underlying pressure for everyone to feel the need to be the best.” Marilynda supplements her study schedule with tutoring sessions through UCLA’s Academic Advancement program. One of Marilynda’s most surprising discoveries at UCLA was finding that others, including students and faculty, value her contribution to the academic community. “What was surprising to me as I transitioned to college was the high level of respect and intrigue I received from the adults here, as well as my peers.” She adds, “I was shocked that they were concerned with hearing my voice.”
Although Marilynda remains sharply focused on her academic pursuits, she also makes sure to spend time with friends and family. Marilynda’s family usually visits her on campus at least once per month, and with each trip they make an effort to explore a new part of Los Angeles or the campus. During a recent visit, Marilynda took her family to the UCLA Challenge Course. According to Marilynda, “The course consists of outdoor activities that test physical and mental strength.” Course challenges include tightrope walking, climbing, and swinging on a trapeze. Marilynda adds, “Although I don’t see my family as often as I used to, when we do get together, we bond, grow, and learn with each other, creating lifelong memories along the way.”
Looking forward, Marilynda plans to major in in Gender Studies and double minor in Civic Engagement & Planning and Public Health. She credits the decision to her experience volunteering and working with community leaders, which allowed her to realize her interest in outreach and education. She is also currently involved in the interview process to become a gender and sexuality coordinator for MEChA at UCLA, where she will plan events to help Latino students gain a greater sense of self and serve as a resource for future freshman to express their challenges and seek help in regards to gender and sexuality. This summer, Marilynda will work as a camp leader for Unicamp, and help fundraise $500 for low-income students to attend the camp.
Whether in the classroom, meeting hall, workplace, or dorm, or moving quickly from one to the next, Marilynda will continue to expand her horizon and engage UCLA, and like she did for the Nicholas Academic Centers, leave it a better place for having shared her company.