Finding Your Place

Going to a large school such as UC Berkeley can become intimidating at times, but through persistence and passion one can navigate through and find the pieces of this school that somehow seem like such a perfect fit. Being an underrepresented minority in a very large school can feel like there are not many places or opportunities present for someone like you, and it is tempting to spend all of your time alone rather than go out and attempt to join groups of people that may not accept you. But these challenges that come our way are only allowing for even larger celebration when we achieve our goals, and that is how I inspire myself to keep on pushing when I’m down, because things only get better if you try.

I’m a 3rd year legal studies major, with a minor in public policy, and I am interested in pursuing the field of law and politics after I graduate from university. I used to be really into speech and debate in high school, and the analytical and public speaking skills that I developed translated into my interest and dedication to pursue this field. However, I was not sure how to introduce myself into this field here at Berkeley, or how to find career opportunities while being a undergraduate student. As I was searching around for internships and job opportunities this past summer, I noticed that there was an opening for internship positions in the Office of State Senator Nancy Skinner. As I did more research, I realized that she was a Berkeley alumni with very high qualifications along with policy views that aligned with values I hold important. With someone that has background in policy through speech and debate, this position that involved public service and giving back to the community through passing local legislation was a great opportunity for growth as I gained vast knowledge about the field that I was interested in pursuing. Senator Nancy Skinner was also the writer of the monumental bill SB206, which allowed for college athletes to profit off of their own likeness, which was huge for college athletes here at Cal and all over other schools. I also found new professional and social student groups on campus to join as well, and before I knew it I was surrounded by people who continued to inspire my passions and studies while still maintaining and preserving meaningful friendships and networks.

41,000 intelligent Berkeley students sounds like a scary number, and it is easy to sometimes feel like you don’t belong or that they somehow made a mistake with your acceptance, but even the most introverted and shy people can go and find a community in an environment like Berkeley, where so many people are doing good work and implementing actual change and progress. When you come to Berkeley it seems as if everything is moving so fast, but once you get situated and find out who you are, what you are good at, and what you want to do, there is nothing stopping you from moving fast and making change as well. Everyone at Berkeley started out as a clueless undergrad, and whether you continue to stay clueless and stagnant depends on you and your ability to go out and attain knowledge, relationships, and a pursuit to make a difference. There comes a time where you realize that there is a place for everyone here, and we would not have been accepted if people didn’t believe we could succeed here. Whether or not we do so depends on us. Some find that pressure to be terrifying, but it also is exciting and invigorating, seeing that heights that you can accomplish while under challenge and duress, so never give up!