My Family’s Berkeley Story

Although my mom graduated from Cal, her journey there was not easy.

My mother was six years old when the Khmer Rouge came and ripped her and the rest of her family from the happy, mundane lives they knew. Anyone was lucky to survive alone, yet my grandmother ensured that her two daughters would not only survive but stay with her. After experiencing much physical and emotional trauma, they eventually made it to California where my grandma concurrently held three demanding yet low-paying jobs that each paid two dollars an hour earning just enough to send both her daughters to college. Despite just learning English, my mom worked hard through high school, climbing up the academic ranks and eventually making her way to the top of her class and making it into Cal. She later not only graduated from Berkeley but the Southern California School of Optometry as well, achieving her dream of becoming both an optometrist and a business owner. read more

What Berkeley Has Taught Me

Although my college experience is far from over, recently I’ve been reflecting on the lessons that I’ve learned from the school I’ve called home for the past 3 years. Looking back on my freshman year self, sometimes it’s hard to recognize the person smiling back at me in photos. Berkeley has shaped me into who I am today, and although at times I seemed impossible, each of the challenges I’ve overcome have taught me important lessons about myself, life, and the world around me.

Even though my journey at Berkeley started with an acceptance letter, I’ve been faced with more rejections than I can count. Extracurriculars, research positions, and jobs here can be competitive, and even if I felt as though one was perfect for me, sometimes I’ve been let down. I’ve learned to embrace the phrase “rejection is redirection” – I believe that things will work out exactly the way they’re supposed to, even if it’s not always what I want at the moment. read more

Breaking Through Into Business Clubs

Besides the incredible academic and research opportunities, a diverse student population, and an impressive faculty roster, one thing that I will always rave about at UC Berkeley is the variety and professionalism of student extracurricular clubs. While what we learn in the classroom is vitally important to our futures, taking advantage of our Bay Area location and career oriented resources is what truly ensures that Berkeley will set us on an ideal post-grad path.

Berkeley has dozens of business clubs, some of which are notoriously difficult to join. From consulting to finance to technology, the popularity of startups and business centered careers for students has been on the rise, and joining these types of clubs has allowed students to gain valuable first hand experience of what business industries look, while also building student community and networking with professionals in their interest fields. This spring semester, in my third year here, I decided to branch out and try something I had never tried before: joining a business club.

As someone who is interested in learning more about the music industry and how business plays a role in its inner workings, I decided to apply to the Business Careers and Entertainment Club, more commonly known as BCEC, which hosts a variety of committees in fields of work like music, film, television, media, and many more. Despite the competitive nature of the club’s admissions, I opted to apply anyway, thinking that even going through the application would help me get a better feel for what the club was like. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the current executive and members of the club were not only extremely passionate for the organization’s wellbeing, but were friendly, supportive, and encouraging to the potential applicants.

As I progressed through the selection process, I was really impressed at how the leadership afforded time to really get to know you on a personal level and took time to make sure I, and the other applicants, understood the projects and their expectations. I especially appreciated how my time, effort, and ideas were validated and appreciated as I progressed through the interviews. I was very surprised when my committee leader reached out and let me know that I had been selected to join the group. In my first month as a member, I’ve had the chance to develop my professional assets, create lasting bonds, and begin outreaching with and generating content for a variety of music artists.

So here are some of my takeaways from my experience thus far:

The community and relationships you build in a business organization are just as important as important resources and opportunities you may receive, and if you aren’t happy in your membership, you probably won’t enjoy the club as much. Additionally, a business club is a great way to delve into more niche interests while also deciding if business is truly what you want to pursue. Each club here at Cal is different, in their club culture, offers, and expectations, so it’s important to do your research and figure out what values matter to you.

How I Became the President of 3 Organizations at Cal

What is the process of going from a member of an organization into leading it as the President? Is there some kind of secret way on getting to the top? These were all questions I wondered in my first year at UC Berkeley. Before I begin elaborating on my experiences on how I became the president of multiple organizations (the Omniscient Tutor, See the Lord, Student Pre-Medical Advising Network), I would like to mention that you should only commit your time to organizations that you truly care about and would want to make a difference in, specifically within the field that they are operating in. It would be a complete waste of time if you were just solely doing it to slap that title onto your resume. I’m only saying this because I had that same mindset before. In high school, I made the mistake of becoming a President of 3 organizations merely to add to my list of extracurriculars. Although it worked out in the end (since I got into UC Berkeley), I did not truly believe that I made a significant impact in the fields that my organizations were working in. The most important thing that I learned throughout my 4 years at Cal is that being a President of an organization holds a lot of responsibility (not just being a leader that can inspire the team that you work with, but also uphold your organization’s mission and values in any type of scenario). You might be the President of an organization, but this does not mean that your team members have to respect you. It’s only earned through your actions and leadership style. This was the greatest takeaway that I got from the organizations that I lead now. read more

Dear Clark Kerr …

Returning to the dorms was something that I’d never thought I’d do. Although I had loved my freshman year experience, I was excited to experience new housing adventures, like living in my sorority house or in my own apartment. While I did end up doing these things, once COVID hit and I returned back to my hometown, I had to rethink my housing situation for senior year.

I ended up applying to be a Resident Assistant (RA), as I fondly recalled how the RAs in my freshman year building had helped me, a shy and scared first-year, navigate the university. I knew that I wanted to help provide other new students with the resources and tools to explore and grow at Cal. After going through the application process and completing our Community Leadership Seminar, I opened my placement email and found … Clark Kerr! read more

How I founded an Organization at UC Berkeley

Ever imagine building your own organization on a prestigious campus like UC Berkeley? Attending a school with 40,000 students is a great opportunity to start your own project or business. Not only is there a wide client base, but you also have access to a large audience and a ton of experimental room as well as opportunities for learning and growth.

During my junior year of high school, I told myself that I wanted to concentrate all my energy into making a positive impact in these three fields: medicine/healthcare, education, and business. Thus, as a current pre-medical student at Berkeley, I began my journey towards medical school. On the other hand, I also had a strong ambition to create an organization that can provide free education to low income students. I wanted to establish a type of educational platform that is unique—one that offers various services tailored for different types of middle and high school students (visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners). However, when I was in high school, I had a lack of resources and connections to make this happen. Getting admitted into UC Berkeley not only opened up a variety of options for my idea, but it also provided the environment that was necessary to get my organization, the Omniscient Tutor, to launch. The great thing about college campuses is that it’s the perfect place for recruiting and getting acquainted with individuals that have the same passion as yourself. read more

How to Build your 4 Year Plan as a MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology) Major

Will you be declaring as a MCB (Molecular and Cellular Biology) major? Do you need some help in getting things started with planning out the next four years of your undergraduate career? Well, I’m here to help! As an out of state student who came from Hawaii, I didn’t have any connections in Berkeley so I started planning everything out from scratch. During my freshman year, I was actually required to submit my 4 year plan (the courses that I am taking for each semester) in my 6th week of class due to a requirement that I had to satisfy in my Army ROTC program. Yep, that’s right, I needed to plan out all 4 years of my classes in a month after I started school! Thinking back about it, it’s actually not that bad. In this blog, I’ll share my secrets on how to get your four year plan done in less than a week. read more

Making the Most of a Bay Area College Experience

One of the best benefits of going to a school like Berkeley, is not just what happens in school, but what happens outside of it. The Bay Area is a diverse area, full of options, from the beaches bordering the chilly northern Pacific, to cities with major metropolitan offerings, to even mountains and beautiful California scenery. With so many different adventures to choose from, I’m here to share my favorite memories.

I’m a big foodie, and I love to try new cuisines from different places. One of the places I love to go with my friends is Fruitvale, a neighborhood in south Oakland that’s home to a large Latinx population, where I often to go a restaurant called Aguachiles el Tamarindo. Located in a stationary food truck with a large outdoor seating area, Aguachiles offers a large selection of Sinaloan dishes, from traditional entrees to newer, more popular food trends. It’s one of the many amazing restaurants and food trucks located in Fruitvale, and in the larger Oakland area.

Recently, on Halloween, I went with 4 of my housemates to Outsidelands, a music festival hosted in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. While it usually happens in August, this year’s event happened in October which allowed us to get creative with our outfits. We had the chance to see artists from many different genres, from rock to electronic to pop. While we didn’t stay the entire night, headliners like J. Balvin and Tame Impala performed as well. San Francisco in general is a hub for all kinds of arts and events. The San Francisco Opera recently put on their version of Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera, which centers around themes of imprisonment and freedom.

Another opportunity to take advantage of is the natural and historic elements of the Bay Area. This summer, I was able to join a friend on a trip to Angel Island in the northwest bay. Angel Island used to be a processing center for incoming Asian immigrants, but has since been converted to a nature reserve. You can take a ferry over from nearby Marin to the island, which is home to seals, deer, and a variety of bird species. Yet another must see in the Bay Area is the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Marin county. While I usually enjoy the view from the bridge from my car, you can also walk across the gate for a more firsthand view.

For an option closer to Berkeley, the Berkeley hills offer a must see view you should see at least once while attending school here. A nice feature about the Bay Area is the plethora of traveling methods, from buses to rentable Gig cars, so there are many ways you can get up to the tops of the hills. While I usually enjoy the view with my family when they come to visit, the scenic overlooks are great for an evening drive or a nice lunch spot.

My recommendation is to definitely try as many things as possible while being a Berkeley student! Weekends are holidays are the prime time to explore the exciting and fun spots around the Bay.

How Being A Campus Ambassador Has Helped Me

Thinking back to when I walked into my campus ambassador job audition my freshman year, I was so nervous. Being surrounded by so many intelligent people at a school that I thought I’d never get into* is intimidating in itself. When you add the opportunity to try to be a representative for the entire school by giving tours, my anxiety skyrocketed. I wasn’t shy, but I was unsure about my value as a student and human being. Becoming a campus ambassador has not only improved my confidence, but also developed skills, helped me make genuine connections, and understand responsibilities.  read more

So you’ve finished your campus tour… now what?

Unfortunately, our campus tours are limited in scope to only cover the Berkeley campus – there is so much more to see and explore in the surrounding city of Berkeley! Listed below are a few of my favorite places to visit while exploring after your campus tour.

Berkeley Thai House
Berkeley Thai is a longtime favorite of the students on campus – the outdoor patio provides an excellent ambiance in good weather (which, let’s face it – almost all Berkeley weather is good weather). The entree-side-drink combo is great for eating out on a budget, and the portion sizes almost guarantee delicious leftovers for the next day.

Normandy Village
Nestled in the quiet neighborhoods of the north side of campus, the Normandy Village is a taste of Europe right in the Bay. Either a drive or walk-by offers breathtaking views of this quirky themed housing – just be sure not to disturb the residents with your “oooh”s and “ahh”s!

Berkeley Rose Garden
While you’re on northside, check out the Berkeley Rose Garden! With over 1500 rose bushes and beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, the garden is a sweet oasis slightly removed from the busy city around the bend.

Telegraph Shops
Back on the southside of campus, Telegraph Ave. is home to a wide variety of storefronts, from vintage shops to record stores! A student favorite is Moe’s Books, which houses multiple floors of fiction, non-fiction, and everything in between. I always make a beeline to the poster section on the bottom floor – almost all of the walls in my apartment are adorned with my purchases from here!

Lawrence Hall of Science
Whenever I have the time, I love driving up to the Lawrence Hall of Science to catch some breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. The sunsets here are insane – watching the golden sun sink below the Golden Gate Bridge is such a treat!

Botanical Gardens
On your way to or from the Lawrence Hall of Science, stop by the Berkeley Botanical Gardens and marvel at the thousands of plant varieties surrounding you. While wandering through the gardens, I often forget that I’m even in Berkeley because of how peaceful it is. read more