Alumni Letter: Robin Mertens, UCLA School of Nursing

Hey everyone,

My name is Robin, and I recently started a Master’s program in nursing at UCLA. I graduated from Cal Poly in 2016 with a B.S. in Kinesiology and took a year off in between undergrad and nursing school to work. I may be biased, but I would highly recommend taking time off to anyone considering it. First, I was able to focus whole-heartedly on my applications, second, I gained work experience and saved up money, and third, I finally had the opportunity (and savings) to travel! I started school this fall feeling recharged and ready to really immerse myself in school again, and I’m still one of the youngest people in my program!

The transition into grad school has been relatively smooth, but I have definitely had to improve my study habits. The workload is much heavier than undergrad, and with quizzes nearly every class meeting, there is no time to slack off. I have also shifted my approach to learning because my efforts in school directly affect my future patients. Rather than cramming and learning material just to pass tests, I have really challenged myself to thoroughly understand as much as I can. My best advice would be to practice this skill now, while you have more time to devote to it!

All of my courses and instructors have validated why I chose nursing and what an incredible profession it is. Knowing this makes it (somewhat ;) ) easier to work so hard, especially because I’m so interested in the material. I am also constantly inspired by my classmates, who motivate me to achieve more and live up to my potential. I feel really lucky to have such a supportive and fun cohort because it makes every aspect of school that much better.

When I was deciding where to apply, I focused a lot on which cities I would want to live in. LA is such a busy and vibrant place to live, and there is a never-ending list of places I want to see and food I want to eat. I also love getting to experience student life at UCLA. There are so many events, talks, and opportunities to learn that it’s hard to resist wanting to try everything! I also recently went to my first football tailgate and it was a BLAST. There are so many resources and campus is always buzzing with different activities, which make it really great environment to be in! I think choosing a school based on the program is obviously important, but choosing an environment that will bring you joy outside of the classroom should definitely not be overlooked.

I certainly look back so fondly on my time at Cal Poly, but I’m happy to report that this next chapter in life is equally wonderful and exciting. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions-- about nursing, UCLA, or life in general. It’s really important to use your resources throughout the whole application process (and life!), and I am happy to be one for you!

Go Mustangs!

Robin Mertens