Exploring the Meaningful Benefits of a Berkeley Summer Minor

After COVID-19 sent a shock wave through college campuses across the nation in early March, forcing thousands of students to return home and finish their spring semester virtually, I found myself scrambling to plan for the upcoming summer in quarantine. I had originally planned to live in Berkeley during the summer months and work as a Campus Ambassador, but the complications of the recent pandemic forced me to consider other options. How could I stay productive while trapped at home? What could I do with my time that would be beneficial to me in the long run? 

After days upon weeks of panicking to find a concrete plan for the summer months, I resorted to exploring summer classes that I could complete to receive credit for my major. After my web search drew a blank, I started looking into the summer minors that Berkeley offers. At first, completing an entire minor in one summer seemed extremely daunting to me. I questioned how I would be able to sit at my computer for multiple hours every day after I had already reached a point of mental exhaustion from half a semester online. 

However, I eventually realized that the ability to complete an entire minor over the course of one summer is not a burden, but an invaluable educational opportunity. When first deciding to come to Berkeley, I thought I wanted to study journalism, but was dissuaded when I learned that the journalism minor was only offered over the summer. Before COVID-19, I assumed that I would be too busy with other summer plans to ever get the chance to take journalism courses and pursue a subject I am unique passionate about. However, the circumstances of the pandemic gave me a window of opportunity to pursue the minor and fulfill my educational desires amidst a period of loneliness and isolation. 

As I enter my fifth week of online journalism classes, I cannot speak more highly of the summer minor program. Over the course of quarantine, I began to feel disconnected from my Berkeley community and unmotivated to do anything substantial with my time. However, completing a summer minor has allowed me to develop a productive work schedule, collaborate with fellow students, create faculty connections, and stimulate my intellectual curiosity all while still enjoying my free time. 

A community garden run by the Student Organic Gardening Association, or SOGA, is located on the Northwest corner of campus. The garden is run by Berkeley students and operates to help feed the Berkeley community.
A community garden run by the Student Organic Gardening Association, or SOGA, is located on the Northwest corner of campus. The garden is run by Berkeley students and operates to help feed the Berkeley community.

One project I am currently working on for my multimedia class has connected me with a gardening club on campus and alerted me to the service they devote to our greater Berkeley community. Through one simple project, I am gaining a deeper understanding of an organization I was previously unfamiliar with and found a new community to become apart of on campus when returning to school in the fall.

While my classes require a certain level of dedication and hard work, I still have the ability to relax and be productive with my day outside of completing my academic responsibilities. Come August, I will have experienced a restful, fulfilling summer, and have completed an entire minor in the course of three months. What more could you ask for during a global pandemic? 

 

Sydney Hilbush

Author: Sydney Hilbush

Hello! My name is Sydney Hilbush and I am a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in Political Science and minoring in journalism. I am involved with an array of clubs on campus including Greek Life, Sage Tutoring, and Surfrider, and outside of school I love hiking, backpacking, and spending my days on the beach.