(Photo used by permission of Owaidat)
Julia Owaidat, ’15, (left) goes to brunch with her dorm mates in Venice, California.

Find out what the members of the class of 2016 are up to in their first year of college. A college freshman is featured in the Freshman Focus every week.

Julia Owaidat, ‘16, attends Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She is majoring in civil engineering and playing club basketball.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: There’s Engineering 100, which is the basic requisite engineering class everyone has to take. Then Calculus I, chemistry and a supplementary chem lab. And then I have my first-year seminar, which isn’t really related to my major. It’s a history class called The Holy Land and Jerusalem.

It’s really refreshing to have a class outside of my major to keep things balanced. Don’t get me wrong. I love engineering. But in a sea of equations and calculations, it’s nice to just sit down, read articles and write research papers.

First-year seminars are a requirement for LMU students. Next semester I need to take a Rhetorical Arts class. The main purpose is to make sure all the students have a writing class.

Q: How big are your classes?

A: Ten to 20 people. And then I have one seminar on Mondays with everyone in engineering, so it’s a little over 120. Chem lab is 50 people.

Q: What’s your favorite class?

A: Probably Engineering 100. We’re doing a lot of cool things. A couple weeks ago we made a solar car.

It was so much fun. After seven or eight trials, the average (speed) was about two-and-a-half feet per second, which surprised me. My group and I had to position the solar panel just right so that the sun was aimed right at it, and the angle of incidence (the angle that a ray of light makes with the surface at the point of meeting) was zero. It was so small, almost the size of a shoe box.

(Photo used by permission of Owaidat)
Julia Owaidat, ’15, (second from right) stands outside a dorm room with her dorm mates on Halloween.

Next week we’re going to be making a water filter. It’s interesting because there are civil, mechanical and electrical engineers in my class. So we just do a mix of those things, (and) I’m exposed to all three, even though I’m just civil.

For the solar car, I wouldn’t normally do that because that’s more of a mechanical thing. But the water filter would definitely be an area of my expertise.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Calculus I, just because I already took calculus. So it’s kind of all review. I’m getting anxious because I want to learn new things already.  

Q: What surprised you about LMU?

A: How diverse it (is). If you look up LMU’s stats, you see that it’s predominantly in-state and in-town people. But I’m meeting a lot of people with different cultures from different environments.

My group of friends and I make jokes about how we are the most culturally diverse group on campus. I have like three Indian friends, seven black friends and so many Asian friends and whites.

Also one of my best friends went to Buckingham (Charter School), which is pretty cool. She played soccer there, and she remembers our team.

Anyway, I was coming into the school expecting it to be a bunch of white kids.

Q: What is it like going to a Jesuit school?

A: It actually doesn’t impact my life at all.

Everyone is really accepting, especially with the recent election. It’s brought us closer together.

(Photo used by permission of Owaidat)
Julia Owaidat, ’15, (left) and her friend Salma (right) visit with Princess Jasmine from “Aladdin” at Disneyland.

I haven’t met too many religious Catholic people.

Q: Are you participating in clubs or extracurriculars?

A: Yeah. I’m doing club basketball (and) ASCE, which is (the) American Society of Civil Engineers. I’m the freshman representative for that. And then (I’m part of) SWE, which is the Society of Women Engineers. And then there’s Engineers Without Borders.

In SWE we have lots of events with companies and presentations from successful women engineers. Its main purpose is to connect our students with companies and, ultimately, job opportunities.

We keep in contact with LMU alumni who are extremely successful in the engineering field. They give us advice, and the club itself is an opportunity to make connections with important people who may help us get a job during or after school.

Despite the name, there are many guys in the club. I have met three of my best male friends through SWE.

I’m also in (the) MSA (Muslim Students Association), which is a Muslim organization on campus. There (are) Friday group prayers every week.

Q: How’s club basketball?

A: It’s really cool. At Country Day there weren’t a lot of people who played year round. But here it’s kind of like a bunch of versions of me from different schools.

We haven’t had a game yet, but one of our coaches is the assistant coach for the varsity team.

It’s really fun. We all get along really well. I’m the only freshman, so it was an opportunity for me to meet upperclassmen. We all go out to dinner and lunch (together).

(Our first game) should be next weekend.

Q: Will you participate in Greek life?

A: At LMU they require that freshmen wait until second semester to rush. So I still have time to think about it. But I’m mostly leaning toward yes.

Q: What is the overall attitude of the student body? Are the majority very studious or are they big partiers?

A: LMU is a smaller school compared to the other schools in the area like UCLA or (University of Southern California). So we are quieter compared to them.

It’s more of a chill environment here, but everyone who wants to go party usually goes to USC parties.

Q: What is your dorm like?

A: I’m in the honors dorm, Doheny. It’s one of the three residence halls that make up East Quad. The other two are the all boys’ and all girls’ halls.

It’s pretty small, a little over 100 people. We are kind of farther away from freshman quad, which is okay.

(My room is) one of the smaller rooms on campus, but we have sinks, which is a plus.

It’s pretty quiet in my dorm because it’s the honors dorm. It’s nice for when I want to get work done. If I ever want to go hang out, all I have to do is go walk to my friends in the freshman quad.

Q: How’s your roommate?

A: It’s actually a funny story. LMU asks questions, like how clean you are and how early you go to bed. I was brutally honest on mine. I said I was a huge neat freak, and I go to sleep relatively early, like at 10 (p.m.) or 11 (p.m.).

My roommate lied, pretty much. She said she was a neat person and she goes to sleep early. But she does not. She stays awake until like 5 a.m., watching TV and stuff. It can get kind of annoying, but it’s cool because we worked stuff out.

We don’t see each other a lot. We have completely opposite schedules. I have all morning classes, and she has all night classes. So by the time she wakes up, I’m already gone.

Q: How do you get around campus?

A: I walk because all my classes are in the same area. But lots of people longboard and bike.

I was thinking of getting a penny board and learning how to ride it.

Q: What is Marina del Rey like?

A: This is honestly my favorite part of the school. It’s one of the reasons why I’m happy I picked LMU.

We are literally 10 minutes from the beach. I go to the beach every weekend. We’re 10 minutes from Venice and 15 minutes from Santa Monica.

There (are) so many places to eat and so many places to go and explore. We’ve (always had something) to do on a weekend.

My group of friends and I go get brunch every Saturday and Sunday morning.

(Photo used by permission of Owaidat)
Julia Owaidat, ’15, (middle) crouches while her friends dab at Venice Beach.

Q: Has LMU lived up to your expectations so far?

A: Yeah, it definitely exceeded my expectations. I thought I was going to be hanging with a bunch of freshmen and not meeting people from outside of where I lived and what my major is. But I’m friends with all the juniors and seniors on the club team.

Not a lot of people know about LMU, and I’m so happy here. It’s a prestigious school, but doesn’t have a 4 percent acceptance rate or anything like that.

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?

A: I have calculus every morning except Tuesday. And then on Thursday morning it’s in a different classroom in a different building. So a couple of times I would forget it’s in a different room, and I would walk to the wrong classroom. I would poke my head in or look through the window and then totally remember. I would be a couple minutes late to calc.

It’s funny because my professor knows that I do that, so he doesn’t get mad at me (whenever I’m late). He just laughs.

Q: What is your advice for the class of 2017?

A: Don’t stress about getting straight A’s all the time. I know when I was at Country Day, people cared more about getting straight A’s rather than understanding the material.

Definitely worry about the content and not what grades you’re getting. If you’re understanding the material, then the A will come easily.

By Annya Dahmani

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