This spring’s commencement will be the first time Andrew Norman walks the stage. Diagnosed at 8 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he spent many years of his childhood undergoing chemotherapy and remaining indoors to avoid pollutants. The La Habra native was pulled out of high school due to “chemo brain,” a temporary cognitive impairment related to cancer treatment. He attended a continuation school but relapsed with ALL and had to pull out of that as well. Norman took several high school equivalency tests before finally passing and enrolling at Fullerton College. He transferred to UCI as a psychological science major in 2020. Norman hopes to eventually go into social services and provide students the psychological support in school that he lacked.
What is your favorite memory at UCI?
When I joined UCI, we were in a pandemic, so I think my favorite memory was the first quarter that in-person classes resumed, fall 2021. It was cool to see a bunch of students again, and everyone was like, “OK, we’re getting back to that sense of normalcy.” And that was important, because it really bummed me out that I got to go to university but then we were [remote]. So finally being in a class on campus was really special.
What are your plans after graduation?
The goal is to go to grad school. I haven’t applied to any yet because I’m trying to find a job. I’m 29 years old, so working is key. I’ve been blessed enough to not have to work till now – just focus all my attention on school. But I would say that grad school is definitely within the next year.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself working within my career, either in school psychology or social services. Psychology has always been my focus, but there’s also a little voice in the back of my head saying that there are other things I would like to do as well. I could achieve that through volunteer service, but just helping kids is my goal. I also see myself being married – because I’m engaged right now – and, hopefully, starting our family soon.
“Andrew Norman is a passionate, inquisitive, open-minded scholar – an intellect eager to learn about new ideas and challenge old ones.”
Paul K. Piff, associate professor of psychological science
Who was your biggest influence at UCI?
I’d definitely say my fiancee. She has really backed me up and kind of been my cheerleader. My buddy Nick was a big driver for me to go to school as well. I think when you surround yourself with people who share the same goals, it helps motivate you, and those are the two people who really pushed me forward. Obviously, my family has also been a big influence, as have other friends, but those two are the ones who stand out the most to me.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before coming to UCI?
That it’s OK to go to clubs, to social gatherings – those kinds of things. I think I might have exiled myself a little bit from that so I could focus 100 percent on my educational goals, my grades. Getting out there and enjoying being on campus and part of it all is a big opportunity to meet people and even make lifelong friends.