Beyond the banner: what inspired our poster students

If you’re not staring at your phone or the ground in despair as you head to class, you’ll notice there are student banners attached to the light posts spread out around campus. The idea is simple but bold: capturing pictures of bright-eyed, smiling UC Berkeley students with quotes telling us why they chose UC Berkeley or why the school is special to them. But they don’t get many words to do it, so we at the Clog decided to find out more about what they had to say. We obviously can’t fit all of our feelings about UC Berkeley onto such a small space … no one should have to limit his or her stories about this great school. So we at the Clog did some (somewhat) lightweight Facebook stalking this week to find out what else these poster students had to say about UC Berkeley.

We asked the people we could find on Facebook a few simple questions: Why did you choose to include this quote? What inspired it? What was the process like for getting on the banners? If you could, would you change your quote now, and if so, what would you say?

We got some pretty rad responses from the people who were kind enough to deal with our creepiness and answer them.

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Kristen McFadden/Staff

Name: Sabina Cook

Graduation year: 2016

Banner location: Tolman Hall

Quote: “My Berkeley experience has challenged me in the best way possible.”

Backstory: “I chose that particular quote because I wasn’t exactly sure what to say, and Berkeley has certainly challenged me throughout my time here, in ways both good and bad. I was still pretty new to the school and I was very excited to be here. Not that I’m not now, I still am but I feel a bit more … grounded? I’m having a hard time finding the word. I received an email about coming out to the photo booths on campus because I received some scholarship, so I figured I’d check it out. Realistically, I would probably change my quote to, ‘My experiences at Berkeley have taught me that life goes on whether I fail something or not, so I better know how to get back up and get through it. Also, there are radical assholes of all demographics everywhere.'”

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Name: Kashawn Campbell

Graduation year: 2016

Banner location: Wurster Hall

Quote: “It has given me an opportunity to grow outside Los Angeles.”

Backstory: “I don’t want to be confined and defined by one area. I want to touch the hearts of others everywhere I go. Coming to Berkeley has given me that chance to share my talents and become me without ‘helicopter parenting,’ meaning, to view myself in the light, I want to be seen in and not someone else’s definition of who Kashawn Campbell is. I have learned and done so much to contribute to my education in and outside of a classroom. I love dancing, created a wrestling club, wear clothes that actually fit me, joined the Rally Committee and I have learned more about what it means to be black in a new environment. It’s a beautiful struggle that warms me up like morning tea, knowing that I am making a statement with all of these activities and my ethnicity. I have shown that I can ‘grow outside of Los Angeles’ by staying true to myself and never forgetting where I come from no matter where I am and who’s watching. Having a banner on Cal’s campus reminds me that I am strong beyond measure and that nothing can stop me from shining, even when someone tries to rub dirt in my face. I love my quote the way it is, but if I did change it, I would say: ‘The world is my Caltastic utopia, molded by my own choices’ or ‘being me means being free to learn and make mistakes.’”

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Name: Carol Alexander

Graduation year: 2014

Banner location: Stanley Hall

Quote: “Traveling the globe through music, being a leader on campus and off … Cal has changed my world.”

Backstory: “I was thinking about my journey to Cal as a transfer, how much I had been able to grow and find my place here in so little time. Part of the quote was inspired by a trip to eastern Europe I went on with the chorale ensembles last summer. By leaving my comfort zone and taking a chance, I was able to see so many incredible things and learn a lot about communities and people I hadn’t before. I was also thinking about a promise I made to myself my first week at Cal, to pursue hobbies and opportunities that I loved no matter if I failed at first and to learn from my mistakes along the way. That train of thought lead me to incredible places and organizations where I was able to lead and help new communities grow as well. Honestly, my only knowledge on the banner process extends to the day I took the photo near Doe. I definitely put some effort into my quote, but had no idea where it would end up. I’m curious what you’ll find too! I’m pretty much okay with the quote, but if I was writing it for the first time now, it would be, ‘Traversing the Bay, I’ve found a new family, discovered great treasures, and grown at every step … Cal has become my home.'”

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Name: Michelle Temple

Graduation year: 2014

Banner location: Qualcomm Cafe

Quote: “has opened up limitless opportunity and helped build character. And I’m grateful for everything.”

Backstory: “I choose to feel thankful and hopeful over feeling jaded. We all go through our own journeys in college, and it is not always easy, and it is not always what you expect. You are put to the test and your limitations are self-determined by your response. Stay open and your possibilities stay open. If you can make it through the tough stuff, hold on tight, and stay open to new experiences and opportunities, you might find that you grow immensely. The 17 year-old I was when I came to Cal is certainly not the 22 year-old I am today. This university is filled with some brilliant people doing amazing work so stay open, and learn from everything and everyone around you. I just happened to walk by the Berkeley Photobooth setup on my first day of classes by chance. They have you fill out a form asking you to fill in the blank. “Berkeley … ” And then they take your photo. You may or may not get a banner. Maybe I’d change my quote to ‘What a long, strange trip it’s been.'”

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Kristen McFadden/Staff

Name: Cory Mohn

Graduation year: 2015

Banner location: Wurster Hall

Quote: “Berkeley has reignited my passion for new experiences and adventure.”

Backstory: “My acceptance to Cal did two things for me: it awarded me with a world-class education and a ticket to leave home. I come from a town that is a lot smaller and a little more static in its norms than Berkeley is, so being immersed in this environment gives me life. I took this photo at the Chancellor’s Reception on my 2nd day at Berkeley. There was a photo booth set up where the photo was taken. There was also a form to sign and said to write something 10 words or less. I took the photo, wrote this thought and six months later it was posted. I wouldn’t change it. That photo and caption crystallize what Berkeley means to me and I couldn’t have said it any better than I did then.”

These people clearly had some great things to say about UC Berkeley. If you were chosen to go on a banner, what would you say? Tell us in the comments below!

Contact Kristen McFadden at [email protected].