Summer at UCLA: Xiomara

Xiomara Gudiel is a current high school junior and second-year Minds Matter mentee. She spent her first summer program at the Design Media Arts program at UCLA. For two weeks, summer program students live on campus and take 4 classes a day. Her classes included graphic design, web design, audio/video, and gaming, and she earned 4 units of UC credit.

How has this summer program changed you?

This was my first time being away from home. I’ve never even been to a sleepover before! When I got off the plane, I was surprised because it was warm at night unlike the bay area. This was my first time being independent and the experience gave me confidence.

I was completely undecided on what I wanted to do before studying at UCLA, but now I know that I am interested in working in the arts. If I were to go to college, I would be the first one in my family to graduate in the United States. My younger brother is 13 and I have been talking to him about my Minds Matter experience. I want him to apply to Minds Matter as well.

Did anything surprise you while you were at UCLA?

I was surprised by the number of International students in my program. I was exposed to a lot of different cultures and became friends with many of my fellow students. One of my good friends was from China, but instead of Chinese, she spoke English and Spanish! We became so close she would speak to my mom on the phone with me.

Did your summer program influence the classes you are now taking in high school?

This year, I have a really demanding academic schedule, but next year I plan to take art as one of my electives. I am also considering signing up for yearbook. I took yearbook in middle school and enjoyed it, but I was too intimidated to sign up for it in high school because it’s more design-focused, and I didn’t have much design knowledge. Now, with the skills I learned from my summer program, I feel like I have the knowledge to improve the yearbook at my high school.

Do you have any advice for mentees attending future summer programs?

You might worry about what other people think, or if you will make new friends – don’t worry! Everyone is there because everyone has a common interest in the program. On my first day, I arrived late and I was scared because I didn’t know anyone. After speaking with a few students, I realized they were just like me and I made friends super fast. I learned that you should be confident. Everyone is shy so you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and be the one to initiate the conversation.