Take it From the Class of 2022: You Got This

Incoming students stand in the meditation garden in front of the Contemporary Arts Center for the 2021 Dean's Welcome. (Photo: Emily Zheng)

By Lauren Knight, B.A. ’21 

There are four classes of students heading back to Claire Trevor School of the Arts this fall, but only one class has spent a full year on campus. It’s crazy to think that half of our CTSA community has never stepped foot on campus before Welcome Week! We know that it’s daunting trying to figure out your way around campus, and honestly, it can be even harder to do so when you don’t know anyone yet or have only met people in Zoom classes.

As we transition back to college life in person instead of behind a computer screen, involvement on campus is more important than ever before.

But how do you even figure out how to meet people and get involved?

We understand your pain, and we also understand that we are not the experts here.

We can tell you all the ways that our staff recommends you get involved, but we have a better idea: Let’s consult the only class who has spent enough time on campus to dish out advice.

Please give it up for the Class of 2022, giving you the real tips on how to make Claire Trevor School of the Arts feel like home. Because if there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s that once you’ve found your community of artists, you’ll feel so much more comfortable in your new space.

Sarah Coscolluela, B.A. Art, Psychological Science

For art major Sarah Coscolluela, feeling involved on campus can be as simple as planting yourself in a location that gives you the opportunity to be creative and meet others with common interests.

My favorite way to get involved in the arts scene on campus is by going to gallery shows. The Catalyst has exhibition openings often, and so does the University Art Gallery (UAG). It’s great way to meet your peers and see their works – plus there’s always snacks!”

If that feels daunting, Coscolluela also recommends the Arts Plaza and the Green Room Café, where you’ll commonly find the most significant cluster of arts students hanging out in-between classes.

“My biggest piece of advice is to try not to get too caught up in feeling like you have a place at UCI,” says Coscolluela. “It’ll happen organically. As a double major, I found it hard to feel connected to either of my schools and my peers within them. I tried cultural clubs, research labs, and talking to my classmates outside of class. To no avail, none of these spaces made me feel entirely ‘at home.’ I think it’s important to understand your needs – allow each avenue of your life at UCI to act as a slice in a pizza pie. You can’t expect one involvement to fill all your needs. Rather, you can find different fulfillment in each involvement or group till your whole pizza is full.”

Image: Students gather during the opening of an M.F.A. Thesis exhibition in the Contemporary Arts Center Gallery.

Maya Holbrook, B.F.A. Dance Performance

When it comes to getting involved in the dance department, Maya Holbrook’s advice points directly toward Bare Bones Dance Theater, an organization created to display the choreographic work of undergrads.

“It's a great, open and inviting space for all dancers (not just majors) to create and move,” said Holbrook. “It's also a great opportunity to choreograph and potentially present that choreography in their end of winter showcase.”

Sometimes, finding ways to connect with others happens by chance in your major courses.

“I found some of my closest friends through required dance classes such as ballet and modern,” says Holbrook. “Assessed on your abilities, you are placed into levels. Luckily your peers at your level will often have very similar schedules with you! For example, my freshman year roommate and I had visibly identical schedules at one point, giving us the time to bond and become lifelong friends.”

And if you ever need help, she reassures new students that there is always somewhere to turn for assistance.

“To all the students that are new to the CTSA campus, I would like to say welcome, all of us upperclassmen are so excited to meet all of you! While the arts school is small in respect to the main campus, if you ever need help navigating don't hesitate to ask (or if you look lost, we will approach you),” says Holbrook.

Image: Bare Bones Dance Theater students perform for a K-12 outreach event in the William Gillespie Performance Studios.

Alex Bobroff, B.F.A. Music Theatre

One perk of the Drama major is that there’s no shortage of clubs and communities for students to involve themselves in. For music theater major Alex Bobroff, it’s a great way to get to know others and witness the passion of students in this program.

“One of the most popular clubs is Schrodinger's Cast: 30 Plays in 60 minutes. They do a special type of theatre called Neo-Futurism,” said Bobroff. “There are also four student-led groups representing different communities of students: Brick Theatre Company, Black Door, Brownbag Theater Company, and Theatre Woks. All of them put on different events throughout the year such as plays, cabarets and performances. It's all student led though, and that's the best part.”

While it can be daunting to put yourself out there, Bobroff assures students that the drama community at UCI is so welcoming.

“I am someone who can be intimidated to go up and talk to people and try to make friends,” said Bobroff. “But everyone I've met here has been really wonderful, and I think it is 100% worth approaching people in the courtyard or around the arts campus. It's worth checking the callboard, following the clubs on social media. The student organizations are the heart of the community that I've felt.”

Image: Students attend one of the many Improv Revolution events offered during the year in the Little Theatre.

Moses Carter, B.A. Music

While a great way to start feeling settled in is to attend different events and shows, music major Moses Carter says that with small classes, the best way to get to know people is in class.

“Your performance classes are where you can make the most connections,” said Carter. “Personally, I love playing in smaller ensembles. It’s where you can really show how well you work with others, and professors notice that. If they see that you can work well in a group and perform at a high caliber, they will ask you to do gigs. It happened to my quartet sophomore year.”

And similarly to the art program, Carter suggests that seeing shows on campus will help new students in the music program get involved quickly.

“Go to as many performances as possible throughout the year,” said Carter. “I say go to performances because there are so many concerts going on, often by world renowned musicians. These are people you may never be able to see live again, take advantage.”

“The best way to feel like you belong is by actively participating,” said Carter. “Once we really get going with the chamber program, jazz ensembles, symphony, major required classes, etc., you’ll start meeting and getting to know your classmates. That’s how to start to get comfortable with the school.”

Image: Moses Carter (far left) both performs and bonds with classmates during a music class held in the Music and Media Building.

They say the easiest way to get adjusted to college life is by getting involved immediately, but it’s not the easiest thing to put yourself out there immediately all by yourself. Above all else, hopefully, these tips show you that there’s a group of people who understand what it’s like to be in your shoes and want to show you the ropes on how to adjust to something new and exciting. At the end of the day, Claire Trevor School of the Arts is and has always been an accepting community, and we hope that throughout your time at UCI, you get to step onto our campus and feel what all of these seniors have been describing: home.