“The first time that I was on campus I was a little scared and had a small panic attack because I didn’t know where my classes were.”


Mercedes Alvarez

Mercedes Alvarez is taking a picture when she went on a trip to the lake with her aunt and uncle. This was before she started her freshman year of college

Interview Audio

Mercedes Alvarez, 18, started going to college after her counselors and teachers at Animo Ralph Bunche School motivated her to go to college. She was going be the first person in her family to go to a four-year university. This would create her a better future and career.

She was nervous about entering a new campus. Mercedes had a small panic attack because she didn’t know where to go and was scared to ask people around her.

Mercedes got the hang of things. She managed to find her classes. 

In 2019, Mercedes entered her sophomore year of college. She’s ready to take on her classes. She also has advice for some new college students and how they can prepare.




Joseph Alvarez: What college are you going to? What motivated you to go to college?
Mercedes Alvarez: The college that I’m attending is Cal State University, Los Angeles and what motivated me was my counselors and teachers who told me this would be a great opportunity for me to have a success future and the career I would love and knowing that I will make my family proud because I am. I would be the first person in my family to go to a four year university.
J.A: How did you feel on your first day on campus? Did you have trouble finding your classrooms?
M.A: Ummm…the first time that I was on campus I was a little scared and had like a small panic attack because I didn’t know where my classes were and um I was by myself so I didn’t know anybody there and I was scared to ask for help because I felt like everyone was staring at me and I did have a bit of trouble finding my classes. It took me a while and I had to build my courage and ask people around me where my classes were and my buildings were. So, that was kinda tough in my first year.
J.A: What’s one thing you like about college?
M.A: Umm. What I like about there is you have a lot of freedom ummm you are on your own and people don’t really care like they do care about you but they don’t like um they don’t care what you do because everyone do their own things, everybody does their homework, everybody focuses on what they’re doing, they just go to class and go where they need to go.
J.A: Were you ever late to class?
M.A: Umm I don’t think that I was… No I was never late to class because I would always leave my house, giving myself extra time to go on the bus and walk to my classrooms, and to do other things before I enter my class so I would always be at least 10 minutes or 15 minutes early to my classes.
J.A: What happens if your professor does not show up?
M.A: If they don’t show during the first 15 minutes of class without an email or any noticed, then I could stay in the class and do the work that was gonna be done for that day or extra homework or gone somewhere else or home if that was my last class.
J.A: Out of your class you have taken, what was your favorite one? Which one was your least favorite? Were there any difficult classes?
M.A: My least favorite was.. is an Asian Studies course because it had a lot of reading and my professor was a really tough grader and we have to analyze a lot of films and we have to do a certain way that he would like us to do it so it was really difficult to meet the standards. Thats was my least favorite and my most difficult. And my favorite class was Anthropology class because my professor she was a nice older lady and she would always have an energetic voice that I would like to come to class everyday because she would always talk about her observations on prime apes and what she learned and all she tells us all these when she was in college and how she started off as an anthropologist and all these funny little stories that she had encountered during her graduate year.
J.A: How are your meals on campus?
M.A: Ummm our meals they’re not like high school or middle school. We have our own cafeteria but we have to buy our own lunches. Umm… you could go eat any time you want either when it’s the morning or the afternoon. We have a Carl’s Jr, Pollo Loco, and some other restaurants. I think we have a Chinese place but I don’t remember what other ones we have but those are the three I remember. Ummm.. so yeah and I don’t really eat on campus because I bring my own lunch from home because I don’t want to spend money on lunch every single day on the same food places so yeah I bring my own lunch from home.
J.A: Do you get to choose your classes?
M.A: Ummm.. When you’re in college yeah you could get to choose your own classes you could choose any class whatever time you want. It’s not like in high school or middle school where they have your classes chosen for you. You could choose your classes like take dance class, you could take an English class, or a P.E class what ever any time that is listed so I don’t go to school… Or you could choose a day you don’t want to go to school like I don’t go to Monday and Friday just Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday but I don’t go to school until 12 in the afternoon and come back at 6 in the afternoon.
J.A: How do you get to your university?
M.A: I take the bus. I take two buses. I take one bus from my house to downtown LA and from downtown LA to my school and umm. I prefer transportation because parking at colleges are very expensive and difficult to find a parking space especially when you’re in a rush. It could be very difficult to find a parking spot and it would take.. you have to leave your house cause from where I heard from other people, you have to leave your house maybe 30 minutes before you even get there, so you have 30 minutes to look for a parking spot.
J.A: What devices could you use in class?
M.A: During class, we have a more free time to use your devices. For example, if students don’t want to write their notes on paper, they could easily take out their computer and type them out in class but there’s some wrong that don’t like to use electronics to being use out in class time because it’s kinda disrespectful that professor is teaching and the students are looking at their computer screens and not focusing but some might be typing up their notes but other times people surf the internet to check their social media or they text other people, watch Netflix like those type of shows I mean those type of platforms. So, um were allowed to use it but it’s just disrespectful while you do it when the professor is teaching.
J.A: Any advice for newcomers?
M.A: Um the first time I would say is to look for your classes in advance the day before and visit your campus and see what building is where and how to get there so your not lost in the campus like I am. It’s always good to have a friend or two in each class so incase you don’t come for a day that they could fill you in so your not left behind and that way you have resources before you go to your teacher’s office hours. Also, to do not be afraid to ask for help because you’re not the person who’s feeling that way some students feel that they’re alone and don’t ask for help and if you go for them to talk to the counselors so they could know how to get this necessary help and then there’s like health care on campus that’s paying your tuition so your able to go see a therapist, get your self checked out, and there’s even like a dentist and an orthodontist on campus. And, yeah don’t so many more. Don’t be scared and ask for help or go out and just don’t forget that you’re not alone but there’s other people that feel the same way as you.
J.A: Thank you for responding to all the questions that I asked you.
M.A: You’re welcome.