Bruin Gratitude, Times Two.
In 1992, new undergrads Murshed and Nicole moved into the recently built
Sunset Village dorms on the same day and happened to be at the nearby
Puzzles Cafe at the same time. They met and became friends.
Though Nicole came from close-by Oxnard, UCLA felt like a different world.
"I chose UCLA because it was 'the big school' closest to where I grew up,
but I felt overwhelmed by the size of my first class—it seemed larger than
my high school graduating cohort," Nicole laughs, "And there were so many
classes I could take, so many opportunities. It opened my eyes to all the
possibilities life really has."
Murshed was a world away, in his native Bangladesh, the first time he heard
of UCLA. He was 13, and a visiting relative had brought him a blue and gold
T-shirt with a goofy Joe Bruin on it. The colors matched the ones of his
favorite soccer team. The gift was a hit. He would remember those four
In 1988, Murshed's family moved to Riverside County. By then, he had lived
in several foreign countries and had devised that a good way to learn about
a new culture was to learn about its sports. UCLA had a really good
football team, under Troy Aikman, and that caught his attention. "I read
more about UCLA, found out about John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and
Jackie Robinson, and I became a fan."
When time came for college plans, he remembers, "I had realized UCLA was
also an amazing school, and I asked a relative about applying. I was told
to be realistic and shoot a little lower, but two years later I visited
campus, and felt this was the place; I was going to be a Bruin."
And a Bruin he became. "I was a biology major and pre-med at first. In that
era, when South Asian kids got into UCLA, parents would say, 'you can
become anything you want in this world, so you can be a doctor or an
engineer,'" Murshed laughs, "But I soon realized I was really interested in
politics, communications, and government relations. So I switched and
majored in Poli Sci. And," he adds proudly, "I had football season tickets
for every one of my four years and also never missed a basketball game."
On her end, Nicole explored UCLA's academic opportunities and chose to
study the broad field of cultural geography. At the same time, she realized
she wanted to teach so she added education classes to prepare and obtain
Murshed did take Nicole to a football game once, but she wasn't impressed.
"It was a really boring game, against Stanford. I think we lost 9-3,"
Murshed reminisces, "But she saved the tickets from that game and mailed
them to me ten years later when we were dating."
Before they dated, Nicole and Murshed each forged separate life and career
paths and did not stay in touch. After graduation, she went on to start her
career in education as a teacher in the L.A. Unified School District. He
attended law school at Boston University and developed a career in
political advocacy in Washington D.C.
"I was on the road all the time, working on campaigns from 2002 through
2004," Murshed says, "I had not been home for Christmas for a while, but
that year I was finally visiting my parents. I decided to call Nicole out
of the blue, on Christmas morning. I had always had a massive crush on her,
and I had her home phone number memorized. We exchanged email addresses,
and that's how it started. Seven months later, we were engaged. On July 4,
2005, we were on campus, in front of the fountain at Royce Hall, and she
asked me to marry her."
Fast forward to 2020 and the dire circumstances of the pandemic. Nicole and
Murshed decided it would be prudent to have their estate plans in place,
first and foremost for their 9-year-old daughter. "As part of the process,
the question of making a philanthropic gift came up," Murshed explains,
"We agreed we had reached a position of privilege because of the start we
both got. We are both the successful result of the California public
education system. We wanted to acknowledge this, and do something with it.
And UCLA was an obvious choice.
"We decided to set aside in our estate documents a gift in support of
UCLA's Alumni Scholarship Fund because we had always been impressed with
the program when we were on campus. It is merit based, and these students
are remarkable. We hope to have a chance to catch our breath in four or
five years and fine-tune our gift a little, but for now we feel it is the
best way to pay it forward, help Bruin families and students, and continue
We live in really hard times right now. People question a lot of things. So
it might sound cliché or naïve to say that some dreams do come
true, but as someone who moved here at age 15, barely speaking English, and
who 32 years later is able to give back, I feel I embody this idea. I
wouldn't have the life I have without UCLA. In many ways, these four
letters define me."