Sunday, September 18th, 2016

“True Bruin.” It’s a phrase UCLA students hear frequently on campus, and for many, its meaning is not immediately clear. Becoming a True Bruin isn’t about the courses you take or the gear you wear. Rather, it’s a process of transforming into your best self. Held at the beginning of each academic year, Welcome to Bruin Life is a performance that helps students to feel connected, reassured and open to self-discovery as they embark on a new journey at UCLA.

Through the use of spoken word, dance, music and theater, students and alumni shared powerful stories of transformation they experienced during their time at UCLA. Together, we were immersed in what these students and alumni have learned and how they have worked to create the Bruin Life they want to see. Their stories revealed that appearances are rarely — if ever — reality. And that the choices we make today can impact our entire lives, echoing across generations.

When UCLA Student Affairs and the UCLA Global Art and Health Center created Welcome to Bruin Life, they weren’t aiming for us to define our identities. Rather, they invited new students to imagine how they would carve out their homes at UCLA — and to see that Bruins are all agents and allies in the process of building our community.

Post-event Reflections

Performers and crew share their thoughts on being a part of the 2016 Welcome to Bruin Life:

“I am completely humbled to have had the opportunity to choreograph two dance pieces for the show and to have shared the stage with other artists showcasing their movement, words, stories, voices and heart in front of so many eager young souls. Backstage, the cast was able to see so much joy in the reactions of the incoming class. To be a part of work that influences them, work that is raw, strong, important, impactful and sheds light on what we can do together to create and be a mindful, considerate, and conscious campus commUNITY is a memory I’ll cherish.” In gratitude – Janelle Perez, Dancer and Choreographer, Class of 2015

“Being a part of Welcome to Bruin Life was challenging for me because it was hard to develop such important stories without losing the heart of our message. After many nights of work, the show came together and changed my life. I was really moved by all the hard work that everyone put in, and after scrolling through the tweets about the show, I knew the new Bruins in Pauley were touched and inspired to be conscious and kind to others, as well as to be true to themselves.” – Ariana Garcia, Artistic Director for HOOLIGAN Theater Company, Actress, Class of 2017

“It was truly an honor to perform an original piece in a venue like Pauley Pavilion in front of so many people. I felt as if part of my story was being told and I was getting closer to my dreams, which is another reason why this show is so important. This show serves as a symbol of the voices that have been heard, and sends a message that no matter what you hear about something, good or bad, your experience will always be different.” – Chris Pree, Musician, Class of 2018

“Performing at Welcome to Bruin Life was an experience I never thought would happen during my UCLA career! Using arts as a platform to promote mental health and to explore the challenges one goes through during the transition of high school to college is definitely a step in the right direction. I feel honored to have shared my passion with all the incoming UCLA students!” – Michelle Olson, Dancer, Class of 2017

Welcome to Bruin Life is one of the most unique programs that UCLA has to offer. As a performer and contributing writer, I opened my mind to all of the existing problems on campus, but more importantly, I was able to have an open discussion with fellow performers about how to ignite change. Welcome to Bruin Life helped me understand that while Bruins have all taken different paths to get to where we are, we have come together at this school and can be a unified student body that is ready and willing to make a positive impact.” – Amanda Faucher, Managing Director of HOOLIGAN Theater Company and Actress, Class of 2018  

“Being a part of the Welcome to Bruin Life cast was a treasure. I was able to meet some amazing individuals who were true to their stories and true to themselves. We all shared the same nervousness of getting on stage to share a piece of our lives but we also shared the same excitement to give something so precious to our new Bruin family. This experience challenged me to be vulnerable and to never give up on the important life stories we must share to the world around us. I’m thankful to have worked on a group piece with such amazing people that is now a part of our legacy here at UCLA.” – Tichina Ward-Pratt, Spoken Word Artist, Class of 2016

“I wish I had seen our Welcome to Bruin Life show when I was an incoming freshman. The show never glossed over the difficulties and challenges that accompany the UCLA experience, yet I was left with a sense of optimism that would have been so comforting to the insecurity I felt four years ago. I was blown away by my fellow cast members, not just because of their amazing talents, but even more so because of their willingness to be vulnerable and share their diverse experiences in front of thousands of complete strangers. Although it is hard to represent ALL voices and perspectives in a show, I think that every single person in the audience could relate on a personal level to at least one story being told. I am so thankful to have played a role in shaping new students’ first impressions of this incredible school” – Vanessa Magula, Actress, Class of 2016

Welcome to Bruin Life was such an amazing experience for me in one part, seeing our community help our pieces grow in emotion and depth, and in another part, experiencing the event with the cast, a group of strangers brought together to promote awareness and equality in a place we all call home.” – Michael Dumas, Actor, Class of 2016

“Working on Welcome to Bruin Life was a challenging and rewarding experience for me. Having the opportunity to work with such a diversely talented group of Bruins dedicated to making positive change in our community was incredibly inspiring. Recognizing that our wonderful UCLA community always has room to grow and improve while opening a dialogue with incoming students is such an important step to take to better UCLA for everyone!” – Rachel Freeman, Actress, Class of 2016

Check out the video below for highlights from our 2015 Event: “Rehearsal for Bruin Life”