The Faces of UCSB – Sophia Kaplan

Illustration by Diane Kim

Kate Fernandez

Staff Writer

[Edited 10/27/2022 at 4:50 PM] The Bottom Line has edited this article due to concerns about its title. The original name for this series, “Humans of UCSB,” was claimed by UCSB’s Writing Program during the spring quarter of 2022. To avoid confusion and with respect to this approved initiative, the title of TBL’s running series has been edited as such. The content of the article remains the same.

The Bottom Line introduces “The Faces of UCSB,” a series that aims to highlight the stories of students, faculty, staff, and other prominent people in our community at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Isla Vista (I.V.). If you would like to write a piece on someone or have an idea of who The Bottom Line (TBL) should spotlight next, please let us know! Contact the Features Editors at

Ambitious, hilarious, driven, and thoughtful. These are just a few words to describe Sophia Kaplan, a third-year zoology major at UCSB. 

Prior to her arrival at UCSB, Kaplan went to school at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) where she switched her major from bio-psychology to pre-biology before finally setting her sights on zoology.

While Kaplan had always known that she was passionate about helping animals, it was her experience working at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Center that helped her realize that zoology was the major that best suited her. 

Kaplan expressed to TBL, “I already wanted to pursue zoology before I started my volunteer work, but it gave me a sense of exactly what I want to major in.” 

For almost every week for the past year, Kaplan volunteered at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Center to help rehabilitate animals who would otherwise die in the wild without volunteers such as herself. 

Kaplan works with all kinds of animals such as birds, baby squirrels, and even raccoons. At the center, Kaplan learns about animal behavior and skills such as providing fluid to animals using an IV. 

“I like to throw in nuts for the squirrels because they go crazy for it, and it’s cute to hear them nibble on it!” Kaplan excitedly explained. “Vet-wise, I enjoy giving them fluids via IVs — I like putting the needles in their bodies and feeling the pockets of fluid under their epidermis, it makes me feel like I’m doing the work of an actual vet.” 

Kaplan’s history of doing hands-on work at the center gave her the confidence to solidify zoology as her major and start making progress toward her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

She said, “I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was five years old. I’ve had four hamsters, three geckos, three birds, three dogs, and a bunch of fish. I feel a stronger connection to animals than people at this point. Animals are born good — only nurture can turn them bad. They don’t have the ability to be racist, sexist, etc. — they love people based on kindness, trust, and companionship rather than their ideologies, physical appearance, or sexuality.”

Kaplan was even inspired enough to purchase her own suture kit. 

“I want to go into vet school having perfect sutures. Suturing is like sewing though, and it can be quite soothing. I also need to practice because when I’m in surgery, I could be there for hours so training my hand or wrist muscles will help put me ahead,” she told TBL.

Kaplan’s experience helping animals at a rehabilitation center isn’t the only thing that makes her unique. Kaplan’s choice in transportation vehicles is yet another unique feature of hers worth spotlighting.

To get to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Center where she volunteers at, Kaplan takes her Vespa, Chuck. One of her pride and joys, Chuck makes getting to and from destinations easy. In addition, with the help of Chuck, Kaplan doesn’t even have to worry about finding parking — a rare blessing in Isla Vista. 

“Chuck is my 200 cc Vespa. I’m lowkey an adrenaline junky, so feeling the air on my face without any protection on my body gives me a high,” Kaplan stated.

In Kaplan’s free time, she enjoys boxing, going on “roomie” runs (going on runs with her roommates), and plunging in the ocean. Exercise is an important part of her life, and participating in group workouts with other people helps motivate her. In addition, Kaplan likes to express herself creatively by cooking. Kaplan currently runs her own Instagram page, @frankinthekitch, where she posts pictures of unique dishes from recipes that she makes. 

“The account was originally made for people with eating disorders. It’s a good form of self-expression or even mind relaxation,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is the epitome of what a well-rounded UCSB student looks like. Like many other students at UCSB, she is incredibly driven and passionate when it comes to her education and her future aspirations. What makes her unique is her variety of interests coupled with her nature to work hard.

I have no doubt that Kaplan will be successful in whatever pursuit she finds herself in, veterinary or otherwise.