Published Jul 1, 2009 11:00 AM
All around the country, new Bruins are heading to UCLA for the very first time, and UCLA alumni are planning special parties for them. Fun, food and friendship make the Student Sendoffs a must for students and alumni alike.
The events are sponsored by regional Alumni Networks and provide students with their first glimpse into their new lives as Bruins. Get-togethers are planned for Chicago, Honolulu, New York City, Orange County, Portland, Ore., Sacramento, San Diego, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, Ventura County, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
At the Ventura County Bruins' barbecue picnic, alumni teach the eight-clap and attendees compete in a tug-o-war contest. Carolyn Phillips '98 says it's important to have a fun, heartwarming event for the students.
The UCLA Bruin Club of Hawaii holds a sendoff dinner and awards its annual $1,000 scholarship. "It's our biggest event of the year," says Christine Strobel '94. "Many are going to live on the mainland for the first time. This event is a chance for them to learn about what life on the campus is like and know that they've got an ohana [family] here looking out for them."
Henry Lam of the Bay Area Bruins finds that his group's event, a sendoff potluck, offers a network of support for new students. "It's nice for them to meet other Bay Area students before heading down," he says. "They swap e-mails and contact information and are able to connect with each other once they are in Westwood. It just helps to make the UCLA community a little smaller."
Sendoffs also offer reassurance for parents struggling with sending their children away. Jessica Thaler '95 says that the Club of New York's barbecue matches parents with alumni who've been through the experience. "Parents get comfort from meeting the other students starting school with their child and a network of other similarly situated parents."
Letting go can prove difficult for some, Thaler adds. "One mother had her son sit inside, away from the other students, while she finished her meal. Later, she sat with the kids rather than with the other parents."
From helping students find campus networks to soothing concerned parents, regional Alumni Networks offer a unique, entertaining and informative service for new members of the UCLA community. "This is my sixth year," concludes Phillips, from Ventura County, "and I can't imagine not going to the student sendoff now."