Berkeley alum featured as contestant on “The Bachelorette”


UC Berkeley alumnus Alejandro Velez is a contestant on the new season of “The Bachelorette,” which premiered Monday on ABC.

Now in its eighth season, the show features 25 hopeful bachelors competing for the heart of 26-year-old single mom Emily Maynard, winner of season 15 of the network’s counterpart show, “The Bachelor.”

Velez grew up in Medellin, Colombia, and moved to the Bay Area when he was 10. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009 with a degree in Business Administration and Education, and gave up a six-figure job in investment banking to co-found Oakland-based mushroom farm Back to the Roots with fellow alumnus Nikhil Arora.

Back to the Roots was founded upon a sustainable business model after Arora and Velez discovered in their last semester at UC Berkeley that mushrooms could be grown on used coffee bean grounds. The young entrepreneurs developed mushroom-growing kits, which they now supply to over 300 Whole Foods Markets nationwide.

“Now I’m in a position in my life with the perfect timing to really let love be a priority,” Velez said in a deleted scene from Monday’s episode.

Velez did not receive much face-time in Monday’s episode, appearing only long enough to show his initial introduction to Emily. He did receive a rose, along with 19 other bachelors, so viewers can expect to see him for at least another week.

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.