Galen depicted above, trying to find good spots to take graduation photos

Throughout high school, there were many times that I felt like the world was caving in on me. I had a rough time crafting solidified relationships with my peers, went through several breakups, and even dealt with coming out to my parents my junior year. High school was just a culmination of all things bad, but I made the best out of my situation and found a silver lining in my Internet friends, specifically Galen.

I met Galen the summer of my freshman year over the Internet. We became mutual followers on Tumblr and Instagram, as I was drawn to the great photos he takes on the several trips he traveled to. I found out that he was studying abroad that summer but attended UCLA, my dream school that I never thought I would get into. We discussed our professional aspirations (he was majoring in applied mathematics but eventually switched to psychobiology) and talked about our mutual interests (House of Cards was the first conversation that we’ve had, and he even got me a t-shirt for Christmas that makes me constantly remember that fact).

I really liked talking to Galen, but he was mainly just one of my Internet friends that I would talk to here and there, as I didn’t really have a form of transportation to actively see him. In my junior year, however, I got my license and drove up to Los Angeles for the first time, specifically to UCLA where I would get the chance to visit him. I brought him spring rolls one time just because he was hungry, and I think from there, we really began crafting this strong relationship we have today.

Not to dramatize this in any way, but I really did feel like Galen was one of the only people I could talk about my problems with in high school. I often felt alone for most of high school, but Galen was an outlier compared to my other friends since he had no internal ties to anyone. He was very generous to me despite the fact we haven’t met in person (and he even sent me a postcard from the UK that I have plastered on my wall at home). I think that’s why it was so easy to build this solid foundation of trust with him.

I really admire Galen on all sorts of levels, just given how much he has been an outlet for me both socially and professionally. Whether that may be through navigating through family problems in high school or even revising my college apps in high school, he keeps me grounded even when I feel like the world is crumbling, reminding me that these trivial details I am putting so much emphasis on are really not as important as I deem them to be. His selflessness is by far one of the most exceptional traits that Galen possesses. He puts his feelings aside and prioritizes people he values and cares about above all else, and I try to emulate that into my life as much as possible. Galen is someone that genuinely cares about my wellbeing, and I couldn’t fathom living without him in my life.

The transition to UCLA has been somewhat difficult for me, given that my career path is very tentative with all of the changes I am constantly making in my schedule. Regardless, he has made me feel validated even when I feel like I don’t belong at this school, and I am eternally grateful for how much positive reinforcement he provides me to build myself up into the person I am today. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he has made the biggest impact on my life and my choices, and I am so lucky to call him one of my best friends.

Thank you for everything, Galen.

full-time student, full-time designer @ ucla

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