I was admitted to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a full scholarship starting in the Fall of 1989.
I won a Regents Scholarship which is a very prestigious merit based scholarship. It covered food, housing, tuition, books, all living expenses. I was ecstatic when I learned I had won one!
UC Santa Barbara is located right on the Pacific coastline. It is in a beautiful location. This is one of the reasons I chose UCSB as I had also won a Regents Scholarship to UC Irvine.
I lived in the dorms, San Rafael, in a room on the 6th floor overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Because I was an “older student” (I was 25 years old when I started at UCSB) I was put in the same hallway with other slightly older science students, and I got my own single occupancy room – it was very small, but I enjoy privacy, so I was very happy with it.
I spent a lot of time studying at my desk in my small room, often looking out the window as the sunlight sparkled on the Pacific Ocean. I was very, very happy about this change in my life situation.
The other students living in my hallway became my good friends, there is nothing like living in the dorms together in college to create strong and lasting friendships. One of these friends, I have stayed in continuous communication with for the last 20 years.
Because I had not had enough money to buy foods I desired during the previous 8 years, often not having enough money to have enough calories every day, the absolute best part of winning this scholarship was the abundance of food for me to eat in the cafeteria just adjacent to the dormitory. I ate a LOT of food, the cafeteria was open 3 times a day, all you can eat. I graduated from UCSB weighing much more than when I arrived. I still have a great love of eating, due to being hungry for so many years.
Because I was 25 years old, and had not studied much since high school, I did not expect to do well at UCSB. I was a physics major, and physics is hard. I planned to try my very best, but I fully expected that my very best would be average compared to the other physics majors at UCSB. So, I expected to be a ‘C’ student.
Then I started getting my exams back, here is one from a 2nd year physics course (I had completed a full year of introductory physics at SDSU, while primarily taking dance classes) that I took near the end of my first year at UCSB:
This was the highest score in the class, by a large margin. This experience would be repeated over and over again at UCSB. This was a happy time in my life: a safe and pretty place to live, LOTS of food, lots of friends, and for the first time in my life, real success.
Classes got much harder once I started taking upper-division physics courses, and I studied quite a lot, very hard studying. But I continued to be the top student in most of my physics courses. Here are a couple full exams if you would like to see my work. All the physics exams I took at UCSB were proctored, so keep in mind a midterm was done in either 50 or 75 minutes, depending if it was a MWF or a TTh class. I am pretty sure the Optics class was a MWF class.
The final exams were done in 3 hours.
Notice the note my professor wrote on the Optics midterm:
I did come see him after class, and he offered me a job to work in his lab that summer, which I accepted. See Experience: Job History (physics), this is the job in which I built a laser pulse compressor.
Although I did spend a lot of time studying, there was still time left, usually on the weekends, for socializing.
Because all my friends were right there outside my door, there were lots of fun times at UCSB! Here is a photo of a nightime bonfire party on the beach with my friends from the dorm. In the center is Jacqie Mahoney, who was my best female friend in the dorms, in the left of the picture is my husband-to-be. We were joined that evening by a young seal.
I transferred to the elite College of Creative Studies while at UCSB, and ultimately graduated with a degree from that college. I graduated with virtually straight ‘A‘s and thus with “highest honors.” The UCSB Physics department gave me the UCSB Outstanding Senior Award upon graduation.
Note: For those of you who are very observant, especially those who are desperately looking for evidence that I am a CIA MONARCH spy, I unofficially dropped the last ‘g’ in my last name during this period because someone in the year prior to me starting at UCSB did the “numerology of my name” and suggested I should drop the second ‘g’ in Melinda Kellogg to improve my name’s numerology. I later decided that was silly, and returned to using both ‘g’s. However, given that UCSB was the happiest period in my life, that may have been a mistake!
Copyright 2012 by Melinda Kellogg; All Rights Reserved