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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
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The Littlest Bruin
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Winter 2003
The Littlest Bruin
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Catherine and her sister Juliet in the lunchroom
After classes are over for the day, it's time for lunch with younger sister Juliet at one of the campus eateries.

Catherine likens the experience of being at UCLA to that of the characters in the X-Men comics — another of her favorites — who attend Xavier's Institute for Gifted Students. "Everybody there, and everyone here, has special talents," she says.

"She's just tremendously motivated and excited to be at UCLA," her mother says. "The faculty are wonderful and they've been wonderfully responsive to her."

There's a certain infectious enthusiasm to her, says Surian Figueroa M.A. '02, a Ph.D. student in Italian literature who teaches Catherine's Italian class. "When we are having discussions, she will talk about everything from cartoons to miniature golf to anti-trust laws and economics and math theory," Figueroa says. One day Catherine brought her collection of Disney comics in Italian to share with the class.

"She's aware and she is perceptive and just a lot of fun to have in the classroom," Figueroa says.

And though it would be unrealistic to expect that Catherine would make deep friendships with students who are five or more years older than she, they have taken to her as well.

"There is no way to respond poorly to her," says Taneisha Berg, a junior film and television student who is in Italian with Catherine. "She's obviously very bright, and she works really hard. She knows a lot and she is inspired to be here. She's a really sweet kid."

But why UCLA? Going to UC Riverside certainly would have been a lot easier on the family. The answer is pretty simple: It's because that's where Catherine wanted to go.

"When I was little, the only university I really knew about was UCLA, aside from Riverside where my parents work. I decided I want to go to UCLA because it's a good school in mathematics and economics, and I thought I wanted to be an economist, so I decided, OK, I'm going to go there."

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