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California DREAMing

United Way of Long Island's DREAMS for Youth Scholarship Program provides scholarships to deserving students so that they may achieve their academic dreams of continuing their education. Here is a reflection from scholarship recipient Anna of Lindenhurst, who moved across the country to study science in California:
 
I experienced more than I ever thought was possible during my first fall semester at the University of California, Berkeley. I took on quite a large workload, which was many more units that is recommended for starting freshmen. Yes, it was quite challenging as I did an untraditional route for Molecular Cellular Biology – for the fall semester, I took a mathematics series that is intended for engineers and not the life sciences, and I also started off with a Biology class in which I was the only freshman as opposed to taking Chemistry 1A. Other than that, I also took a Classics class, and got to explore a side of the humanities that I love, and as a result I’ve decided to pursue a minor in the subject. At the last second, I also signed up for a history class, and I have to say that it was one of the best decisions I made. I had an amazing section and the class was ridiculously intriguing. 
 
Putting the academics aside, getting used to California was another experience, and I am still getting used to it today. Being from New York, this state could very much be like a different country for me, if it wasn’t for the common language of English. I had difficulties with my health mentally, emotionally, and physically, but I am very glad that I’ve gotten better. I wasn’t homesick for New York, but for the people there. However, I met some of my favorite people in the world right now that live with me.
 
Starting the spring semester, it was easier because I had an idea of what to expect. I implemented a strict regimen of scheduling hour by hour and getting all work done as I needed to. I fell in love with Chemistry through my laboratory class and lecture. Also, I took the class Data Science this semester, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever taken before. I needed the class for a statistics requirement, and I am very glad I did so as the analytical skills are very useful. Spring semester has been quite a tough ride for me, as my classes were all STEM classes, which was a different experience from my fall semester. I did miss the liberal arts aspects of an education, but my love for chemistry that had bloomed helped fill that void.
 
Other than school work itself, I’ve been very busy with other on-campus activities. In addition to my job that I received during this semester as a Snapchat Writer for The Daily Californian, I also received a job in the Music Department for Work-Study. On campus I’ve also been accepted to be a mentor for the CASA Student Alumni Association in their Big Bear Little Bear program to help guide other students in their first year at Cal. In addition, in the School of Optometry, I’ve been participating in a long term Visual Learning Study. I am doing this in hopes of connecting with the professor operating this lab and to eventually land a position in the lab in the upcoming semester. I’ve always loved the field of optometry and am very fascinated by ophthalmology - the study of eye diseases - since my own sense of sight isn’t that great.
 
Even though my first year is over, I am still in California – working on completing a minor in Journalism over the summer. It gives me the chance to bring my education full circle and to be creative, as I worked in my high school, the Cornell Summer Program, and now university newspaper. I cannot express how grateful I am to United Way of Long Island for granting me such a generous scholarship so that I could proceed with my studies at an out-of-state school. My family and I were on the line of whether I should go here due to the large price tag that came along. My experience at UC Berkeley for the last year will forever be an irreplaceable part of my life that was made possible by your bountiful endowment.