Within the spacious and diverse walls of the Center for the Arts, lies a stage imprinted with the birth of confidence. The stage sits bare, its focal point a young woman, glamorously donned in street attire, wearing nerves as her accessories. Though only two sit in the audience, this is her most significant performance yet. As she opens her mouth to sing,her attention is not on the empty seats or her own two feet. Instead, she settles her gaze on one set of eyes. Their eyes locked, he eases her into the chorus of the song, until, by the end, she ditches the nerves for a smile.
This moment of strength and perseverance would never have come to pass without the understanding and patience of a professor, who allowed performer, Alexis Farias, then-first year student, to invite her boyfriend to calm her nerves during an audition for a musical theater workshop.
Many of Farias’ emotions, including anxiety, insecurity, and doubt, can find a home within the mind of any typical first-year student, though they can be thwarted by empathetic professors, along with seasoned students, and an onslaught of caffeine.
Inclusivity and support can be found beyond the classroom, as the entire campus is brimming with opportunities and services aimed at student aide.
“There’s a lot of tutoring services available,” said Farias. There’s some in the math department, the library, even in Pathways. If you need it, search for it. It’s not for certain students it’s for everybody.”
Pathways, one such program, is typically beneficial to new students, as the program focuses on helping newcomers set and achieve educational goals.
Another lesser known service is EOP&S, a program geared toward helping students who are financially and academically in need.
“These programs will give you access to academic counselors, also early registration, book vouchers, food vouchers, and tutors,” informs second year, Roger Martinez
Some things never change, as the title for ‘most popular study spot’ is awarded to the library.
“The library has different layers and different sections that are covered off,” reasons second-year student, John Diaz. “There are people, but you’re covered, so you have a little bit more privacy.”
Avoiding the crowds is crucial to obtaining a coveted study space. Third year student, Justin Lampert recommends the second and third floor of the art building “because it’s cool and there aren’t that many people there”.
For those who would rather study with an open mouth than an open book, the off campus scene offers a diverse bunch of study venues from beloved chains to hipster dives. Farias raves about Home Brewed , a local coffee shop on Arroyo Parkway.
Alan Macias, a Pasadena native, can be found in between classes at Chick-fil-A recovering from a library study session or at local coffee shop, Lavender and Honey with, his personal drink recommendation, a “French Lavender Breve”, en route.
Meanwhile, straying against the grain, Farias cites Starbucks on her list of places to avoid,
“I find it annoying because it’s so loud in there,”, she said. “I feel like saying it is like ‘oh no, don’t believe her’ type of thing. But I would stay away just because it’s so crowded.”
Despite his reputation as coffee shop guru, as a first year student, Macias is less certain of his social endeavors, noting the temporal nature of college relationships.
“Everyone’s pretty nice and respectful,” he says. “I see that we can be friends but beyond or after this semester, we’re not going to be like, ‘oh let’s hang out.’”
Lampert, offers some advice to those in Macias’ position.
“New students probably think people are intimidating but they really aren’t,” Lampert chuckles knowingly. “Most people are really friendly, they’re probably just zoning out, that’s all”.
The three C’s to forming friendships are: clubs, classes, and cold ones; drinks, that is, according to Lampert. A devoted member of the fencing club, Lampert reveals the unifying nature of shared interests.
“There’s rivalries but we’re also all friends so at the end we just go to Pizza Press and have some drinks after that,” he said.
Participation and confidence speak volumes, according to Martinez.
“Just be active,” he says. “Be out there, be outspoken. Speak your mind and I feel like people will gravitate to what you have to offer, if that’s what they want.”
Diaz offers a unique approach to making friends: asking for directions. Diaz recalls a successful use of this method. While walking through campus one day, he spotted a fellow classmate, whom he’d never spoken to before. He approached him under the guise of asking for directions to student services, but alas he harbored ulterior motives.
“Psych! I wasn’t asking for directions, I was asking for friendship,” he laughs fondly. “It’s funny because that was during one of my first semesters here and we’ve been friends since. I did that with my current girlfriend and other people that I’ve met here. It’s my go-to”.
Words of wisdom manifest in Diaz’s personal ‘do and don’t’ mantra.
“Don’t expect anything handed to you,” he asserts with an authority experience can provide. “Do your best every chance you get. Don’t procrastinate, that’s probably a key one for me. And pay attention.”