Kamila Campos at cal state LA

Kamila Campos is a sophomore studying Political Science and Spanish at Cal State LA. She lives in Northeast Los Angeles with her family and her three German Shepherds.

As a first generation college student, my freshman year at Cal State LA in 2020 was full of highs and lows; with fun and exciting opportunities as well as the depressing effects of COVID-19. Now, one year later as a sophomore, the reality of the past year is settling in.

I can’t believe how far I’ve come. As I get into the groove of my sophomore year, I think about how different it will be compared to what I experienced in the fall of 2020.

There were endless days when I felt alone, depressed, and anxious because of pandemic scares. I worried about my parents, who did not have the luxury of working from home.

Some of my main worries a year ago included how I would develop friendships or how would I find internships? More importantly, how would I make the most out of a year spent online?

In spite of these concerns, college offered new opportunities in unexpected ways. I was able to earn a scholarship, win third place in my first-ever speech and debate tournament, and obtain my first internship as a freshman.

My experience in speech and debate was the highlight of my first year. After the first round of a virtual tournament, the judge revealed I had won, beating a very experienced debater, who threw a fit after he lost. I ended up winning third place alongside other competitors! This instance prepared me for my future job working retail at the CSULA bookstore, where I have come across a variety of entitled customers.

When I walked onto campus three weeks ago for my sophomore year, it felt like culture shock to see vast amounts of students! I sanitized my desks, chairs, and hands every time. These small changes were something that I never imagined doing years prior to the pandemic.

Keeping myself and my family safe is my number one priority. I hangout with friends for the sake of my mental health, and I feel safe knowing my friends and I are vaccinated, wear our masks, hang out in not so crowded places, and constantly sanitize our hands.

All in all, my freshman year of college was not what I had envisioned.

However, I still managed to keep myself grounded and reflect on how privileged I was to have all the important people in my life under one roof, including my three wonderful dogs who were there when I was lonely, and my friends who checked in on me every other day.

A piece of advice I can give to students everywhere is to step out of their comfort zone, especially when a new opportunity arises; whether it is work, internships, joining clubs, or even making a new friend. I did it multiple times, and although everything was online, I made the most out of my circumstances and still managed to have fun!

Sunday Story showcases first-person essays as well as fiction by residents. We welcome submissions, but stories must be set in one of the neighborhoods we cover.

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