StressBenders Update: My Graduation

It has been some time since I last wrote an article. However, I assure you that I used my time wisely and engaged in activities that resulted in a significant amount of personal growth.

Perhaps it was not that I had run out of things to say, because to be completely honest, I didn’t. It was rather, I had too much to say and I did not know how to begin. But thankfully, I have been able to compose my thoughts together and now, you all will benefit with reading the posts after I have been able to organize my mind!

I graduated from UC Riverside in the summer a few weeks ago. I walked in commencement and my parents were so proud. This was absolutely crucial to me because deep down inside, I know that they have sacrificed everything to come to America for my education. Unfortunately, the suffering does not stop but this graduation is the symbol of getting closer to the “American Dream.” Thank you…

It is quite a story of how I was able to graduate, because for the longest time, I was sure that I would not be able to. More so, it was not that I was not able to graduate, it was that I didn’t want to. In fact, the reason for graduating can be attributed to being ready to graduate, and that staying would not benefit me further.

It all started in March when I went to see my counselor to see if I can pick up a minor in theatre. I was rather excited about this possibility! After joking about becoming big in Hollywood, and what I would do with my acting career, I was told by the school that I could not take up any more units and that I had to graduate. I was accepting at first, but then I started to get more and more emotional. It was as if for some reason, I did not want to leave.

For this reason, I even went through the phase of finding ways of trying to stay at Riverside for as long as possible. I had already got a housing contract, but realized that I could not stay there if I were not a full time student.

So in this twisted state of mind, I reassured myself that everything would be all right, and that I could even sleep on campus buildings to get by. I wondered what life would be like without showering, but then I realized: “Hey, hospitals have that cleansing foam that I can use in restrooms!” I know, in hindsight, it was stupid but you can only know these things once the phase has passed.

So after many attempts to try and stay at Riverside, I knew that all efforts would be futile. So I decided to let go. The problem was, I couldn’t.

I began to wonder about all of the different experiences I had at Riverside, including all of the painful ones. It was as if I could walk around campus and recall every painful experience I had, and every heartbreaking conversation I engaged in. It was all too real…

I knew that if I had to graduate, I had to make it strong. But at times, I felt really saddened and began to miss UCR more and more. I was actually sad about graduating!

But indeed, graduation is supposed to be a time when tears shed are only for joy and there is supposed to be nothing but pride and happiness. But why was I feeling completely the opposite?

I often joked about with my mom, who said that we should be happy because there are many others who couldn’t graduate in 4 years. Fortunately, my mom never burdened me with pressuring me unnecessarily. In fact, we both were hung up of staying an extra year! It was as if somehow, we both did not want to let go!

Now that I think about, it is clear why we did not want to leave UCR. Uncertainty. Once I graduated, I would no longer be secure of knowing that I would be sheltered at UCR, learning my sciences. That uncertainty meant stress, and more stress that I could not possibly bend.

But all things must end, and the initiative must be taken to do so, so after agreeing to take one more course in the summer, I graduated! I graduated with most of my friends, including my best buddy Mohamad, who is the co-founder of StressBenders (check his bio).

The founders of StressBenders! With friends like this, is there a reason to ever be stressed?

However, I can recall many other friends who were not able to/did not choose to graduate. I felt bad for them because I put myself in their shoes and I knew that I would be sad if most of my friends left. Well, not sad necessarily, but that awkward feeling of knowing that some of the people you shared time with at UCR is gone. And then I thought of how close I was to be in that position. At this phase, I started to feel glad graduating.

“Early” graduation has allowed me to end my UCR academic journey with a bang. I was able to stay with my good friends, hang out, engage in musical endeavors, continue my research and take an amazing Chicano Studies course with Professor Enrique Lopez. Seriously, that man changed my life.

When I look up at the Bell Tower here at Riverside, I no longer see pain and regrets. All I see is hope. That 161 foot Bell Tower has kept me sane throughout my 4 years at UCR and it always made sure that no matter what I did there and regardless of how I felt, to just stop, pause and look up.

And so I did. I can recall staying on campus at every hour and walking home so lonely at night. Seriously, I have walked home at every hour of the day possible while I was at Riverside. I don’t recommend it, especially since at 2:35 am, every stranger driving by in a car seemed like a threat. My mind was euphoric and I remember many times feeling numb.

But you know what fellow stress benders? I did it! And so can you. Remember, education is important, but it does not make up 100% of your life. Sometimes, I wondered that if I would not be able to study, then I would be useless. I felt that death was a better option than failing academically. To this, my mother said, “So, are you saying that people who are not Doctors and Lawyers all deserve to die?”

But I did not do this alone. Thanks to my parents for the help. I remember when being too depressed from academics and failures, I told my mom that I wanted to jump of the 4th floor of the research building. To this, my mom said:

“Don’t forget your parachute.”

With this kind of support from friends and family, why should I be stressed? So I bent it, and even when it seemed to fail, I worked hard to ensure I would always be a step ahead of my stress. And I am.

The path may not be clear at times, but it is always important to keep focus. May you forever keep the passion for learning and never let it diminish.

The class of 2012 will forever ring in my heart, and may success always meet you with a smile around every corner, inside every building.

The destination is important, but always make sure you have your journey in mind. That way, you don’t miss out in the details and you enjoy the path a little more.


And always..


Bend your stress!

Happy after Graduation! Class of 2012

About the Author: Kevin Kim

I have devoted my life to science and rational thinking. As a student in life's classroom, I am striving to learn something new every day. Graduate of UC Riverside, Class of 2012. Graduate Student at Keck Graduate Institute, part of the Claremont Colleges. Class of 2014 with a Masters in Bioscience. The track is pharmaceutical design and development with the ultimate goal of becoming a pharmacist who can also contribute scientifically through research. I hope that through my postings, people will no longer be crippled by stress and anxiety. Fight on! Fight Strong!

Leave a comment