While working on their garden on a warm Saturday afternoon, Edwin Moran and his friends unearthed a white square of plastic: a Cal 1 Card belonging to a graduate student by the name of Sarita Ann Yardi.
Expecting the ID to belong to a current student or recent graduate, Moran was surprised to find that the card had been issued in August 2004 — more than a decade ago.
“I thought, ‘Wait a minute, graduate student in 2004? She must be around 30 something years old now, what a random (and) awesome find,’ ” Moran said in an email. He immediately thought about posting the ID on the Free & For Sale page on Facebook, where UC Berkeley students frequently post lost IDs, to see if the owner or someone who knew her was in the group.
The picture of the scratched, dirt-covered ID card that Moran posted April 25 quickly became popular within the group, receiving about 700 likes as of Tuesday afternoon.
Commenters began expressing interest in finding the owner of the ID and, upon searching her name, found out that she had become an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. Some reached out to her through Twitter, sending screenshots of the Facebook post, and received replies from the owner expressing her surprise.
Yardi, who now uses her husband’s last name, Schoenebeck, was a master’s student at the UC Berkeley School of Information from 2004-06. After graduating, she received a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and now works as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Information.
“A lot has changed, some of which they found on my website,” Schoenebeck said. When she heard of the Facebook post, her first reaction was that it was “kind of creepy,” but she said she quickly became intrigued.
Schoenebeck currently studies human-computer interaction and social media — specifically how people find support online and how technology helps people. The main focus of her research is families, looking at how parents and children use social media and at what happens when children first start using social media.
Schoenebeck, a California native, is also married and the mother of a toddler. Her husband is also a UC Berkeley graduate who was a Ph.D. student from 2005-10, but they did not meet until 2009, three years after she graduated.
Schoenebeck does not remember how she might have lost her ID but believes it must have been in 2005. Her guess is that someone found her ID and peeled off the Class Pass sticker.
She vaguely recalls paying $20 for a new ID card, which is still in her possession.
“I did remember I had to take another picture, and my pictures were never good,” she said.
Moran graduated in the summer of 2013 but works in Berkeley and currently lives at the site of a former fraternity house at 2728 Channing Way. The fraternity left behind a backyard full of rubble, which Moran and his friends were working on transforming into a garden.
“What makes things even weirder is that our backyard was all concrete and had absolutely no dirt when we first began working on it,” Moran said, “which means it had to have come from one of the countless places in the Berkeley area that we got free dirt from.”
During her second year as a graduate student, Schoenebeck said she lived near the corner of Walnut and Vine streets in North Berkeley.
Tracing lost possessions through social media also became immensely popular on BuzzFeed earlier this year, when staff member Matt Stopera followed his stolen iPhone across the world and found “Brother Orange” in China.
“If I ever lost an ID it would be awesome to hear about somebody finding it a decade later in a similar way,” Moran said.
He plans to mail the card back to Schoenebeck soon.