February 19, 2019 was a day that forever changed my trajectory as a UCLA student. Before I talk about that day, I would like to give a brief introduction about myself. My name is Saeed Ahmad, and I am a 4th year scholar at UCLA on a pre-law/business path. My family and I immigrated to the United States from Pakistan when I was a younger kid. We came to the United States in search of the American Dream, where education was seen as a pipeline that would enable us to accomplish any goal we wanted. Little did we know that the American Dream would come with some strings attached; to achieve our goals, we would need to overcome blatant discrimination and institutional barriers that leave countless minorities in a state of turmoil. As a first generation Pakistani immigrant in a Post 9/11 social climate, allegations of being a “terrorist” and other insults from fellow classmates was a mainstay in both middle school and high school. And that very well may have contributed to me immensely struggling during my Junior year of high school.
With my grades faltering and personal problems facing me, it would have been reasonable for me to drop out and give up on my dreams. However, the constant hard work and sacrifices that my parents had made for me to get a top notch education prevented me from following through. It would mean that their sacrifices were done in vain. Therefore, I gritted my teeth and went on to take an exit exam known as the CHSPE- a test that enabled me to leave high school early and attend the local community college, thereby getting a fresh start to my academic career. I put my heart and soul into my two years at Norco College, and this resulted in my acceptance into my dream school, UCLA! I cannot express how grateful I am to Norco College and its excellent faculty and administrators who made my transfer process as smooth as possible.
While I was extremely excited to be starting at UCLA, my enthusiasm faltered when my classes actually began. Imposter syndrome was always in the back of my mind, and I was always wondering if I actually belonged at this campus. Remember when I mentioned that February 19, 2019 was a day that forever changed my trajectory as a UCLA student? Well, this imposter syndrome happened to rear its ugly head on this day. I had recently been selected as the Co-Chair of the Pre-Law Transfer Society at UCLA; this was the day of our first event with a major LSAT prep company. I was really looking forward to organizing an event that would help fellow UCLA students such as myself! However, my positive mood immediately dissipated when the event started… due to the fact that there were a grand total of 3 attendees at the event! My day was officially ruined when a fellow Co-Chair asked me, “ Saeed, did we even market this event.”
So what did I do? Did I dwell on my failures and blame others for the situation at hand? Absolutely not! Instead of giving up on the organization, I went back to my dorm that very night and wrote down two goals. I wrote that “Pre-Law Transfer Society will be the best pre-law organization on the UCLA campus, and that we will never have an empty room at an event again.” Throughout the rest of the 2018-2019 academic year, I tried my best to stay as involved as I could with the UCLA community. This included giving a pre-law information session to FSP/TSP students over the summer and being part of a virtual UCLA Transfer Student Panel (through STOMP) for an information session dedicated to incoming UCLA students.
I was installed as President of Pre-Law Transfer Society in the summer between my Junior and Senior year at UCLA- the rest is history. In the 2019-2020 academic year, PLTS has hosted UCLA Law Fellows, JusticeCorps, Harvard/Yale Law School, Harvard Law School 2Ls, and major LSAT prep companies to rooms packed with UCLA students. In addition, our demographic has expanded from solely serving pre-law students to being a resource to those interested in the fields of sports, entertainment, and business! In the span of 5 months, we have created not just an organization, but a family that tours UCLA Law School, goes on ice cream socials, and has board/member bonding nights to showcase that we indeed belong at UCLA. In the span of 5 months, we have gotten requests from students who attend neighboring schools such as USC to join as members. In the span of 5 months, we have created a website (uclaprelawtransfersociety.com) that attracts thousands of visitors. And finally, in the span of 5 months, we became the first transfer-founded organization in UCLA history to partner up with Forbes, Harvard founded organization The Key Society, Tekton LA, and ICON, for an event titled “An Intersection of Sports, Law & Entertainment: A Night of Culture”. The event took place during the evening of February 19, 2020 in Kerckhoff Grand Salon. Featured guests included Nick “Swaggy P” Young, COO of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Christine Simmons, and Former NFL Coach/Harvard Grad, Daron Roberts. They spoke to an audience of over 150 attendees, and it was an absolute honor to serve as the moderator for this historic event. You want to know something else? This event took place exactly one year to the day where Pre-Law Transfer Society hosted an event with only 3 attendees. God Bless.
But guess what? The grind does not EVER stop. As a Pakistani-American, I intend to unlock the full potential of the American Dream. I will keep putting pen to paper and accomplish the goals that I set out to achieve. I still have one more quarter at UCLA as an undergraduate: Even in the midst of Covid-19 and a worldwide pandemic, we will still end it with an exclamation point!