From those working in beloved Berkeley food spots like Artichoke Basille’s Pizza to students pursuing their professional passions through campus opportunities such as the Berkeley Art Studio, there’s no denying that UC Berkeley is home to an unparalleled, diverse community. The unique blend of experiences found only in Berkeley allows students to grow and learn from others outside of the traditional classroom setting. Among the multitude of people one may meet while exploring the campus and city, a few share their stories and advice.
Kenneth Chapman (see above) stands in the Golden Bear café, or GBC, kitchen. Chapman has been a stationary cook at Cal Dining for nearly 13 years, and he can often be seen working at GBC. His work for Cal Dining began in 2007 — at the time, he was experiencing a lot of change in his life and found support from UC Berkeley. “Berkeley pretty much supported me with my schedule. … When I started my business, they worked to make sure I had that Saturday off,” Chapman said, referring to the personalized omelettes he sells at the Berkeley Flea Market on Ashby Avenue on Saturdays. “That’s the thing I like about Berkeley. If you want to grow, the university is here to support you.”
Oia Walker-van Aalst works in the Berkeley Student Food Collective, or BSFC. Walker-van Aalst is a senior at UC Berkeley and is majoring in conservation and resource studies with a CalTeach minor. Walker-van Aalst joined the BSFC during her freshman year in 2016 and works two hours in the store every week. “I think food is what brings everyone together. I think food is the most important thing that we do for each other,” Walker-van Aalst said. “I don’t think that the collective is perfect. I don’t think that the collective perfectly addresses the needs of the community. I don’t think that the collective perfectly includes all of the community, even. That’s something that we really need to change.”
Jean Badroos is working her last shift at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza. Badroos, who has worked at Artichoke’s for a year and a half, recently graduated from UC Berkeley as a molecular and cell biology major with an emphasis in genetics, and with a minor in history. She will be continuing her education in graduate school at the California Institute of Technology. Her “mini-dream” is that an Artichoke’s opens up in Southern California so that she can continue working at the pizza place. According to Badroos, her experience working at Artichoke’s can be described as educational, memorable and full of variety. When asked to give advice to incoming freshmen, Badroos said: “Relax a little. One of the most impressive things about this school is not just the academics, but the fact that there are so many impressive people and peers … around you. Take advantage of that and interact with others even if you aren’t studying for a class (together) — just talking to a person around campus is a learning opportunity.” She added, “That’s why I like this job, because I get to interact with everyone.”
Jonathan Boyle practices a dance routine on Lower Sproul Plaza. Boyle graduated from UC Berkeley as part of the class of 2018 with a degree in applied mathematics. He is spending his summer directing a dance team through AFX Dance, where he has been a member for almost four years. He describes his artistic purpose as “letting people have fun, and teaching them a little bit in the process.” Boyle affirms the importance of maintaining self-care as a college student, specifically advising the incoming freshmen that their “first year is about making friends and stepping out of your comfort zone.” During his time as a student at UC Berkeley, Boyle followed his own advice, and this allowed him to grow as a person, become more outgoing and acquire the skills necessary for the working world. He currently works in San Francisco with a consulting company located in the financial district.
Skye Fierro stands in front of the César Chávez Student Center, where she works in the Native American Student Development office. Fierro graduated from UC Berkeley as an ethnic studies major last semester and is here for the summer, working in the office where she has worked for the past four years. Fierro herself is a member of the Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe, and her work in the office helps serve the Native and indigenous communities at UC Berkeley. As a recent graduate, Fierro advised the incoming freshmen: “Look for housing early because it’s really hard to find around this area. Don’t take everything too seriously. Definitely make time for yourself, and do the things you want to do and make you happy because it can be really stressful here. Go out and meet new people and try new things, because you never know what will happen.”
Rob Borsdorf throws a pot on the pottery wheel at the Berkeley Art Studio. Borsdorf recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in art practice, and he has spent the summer working as an assistant at the studio, ensuring it runs smoothly. He will be continuing as a photography instructor in the fall, teaching workshops including “Beginning Darkroom Photography.” Although he began his freshman year at UC Berkeley as an intended computer science major, Borsdorf stated that he has always been an artist. He first started at the Berkeley Art Studio in his freshman year, taking a beginning darkroom workshop with Dana Davis. He acknowledges that college is not easy and advised incoming freshmen to “really slow it down and take the time to relax and take care of yourself as well as your grades.”
Charly Lehuédé stands outside of Caffe Strada, waiting for an actress to talk to him about an upcoming film he is making. Lehuédé has been studying at Caffe Strada a lot this summer since he enjoys the fast service and outdoor study spaces. He is an international student from Paris, France, who is studying cinema, multimedia and digital storytelling at UC Berkeley for the summer. Lehuédé is particularly interested in learning how films are made in the United States, and he felt that studying at a university in California would be the best place to do that.
Ethan Nguonly and Evan Aizenman chat with each other in a shaded area of Memorial Glade. Although they are enrolling with the undergraduate class of 2023, Nguonly and Aizenman have gotten a head start on classes through the Freshman Edge program, and for the past eight weeks, they have been taking courses with other UC Berkeley students. Nguonly hopes to declare as a computer science major, and Aizenman as a linguistics and cognitive science double major. Reflecting on his time spent on campus thus far, Nguonly expressed his appreciation for the city and the college, stating that he chose the school for its excellent computer science track and proximity to potential internship opportunities. Aizenman, born and raised in Beverly Hills, stated that he was able to make new friends and become more familiarized with the pace of classes. Their advice for their fellow classmates? “Don’t skip lecture and discussion sections.”
Hannah Ye completes homework inside Doe Memorial Library. A broadcasting major from China, Ye has chosen to spend her summer taking classes at UC Berkeley. During her time here, Ye has found that Doe Library is her favorite place to study, as the quietness allows her to focus without distractions. When asked if she had any studying tips for incoming freshmen, Ye advised, “Focus on what you’re doing right now, and do things one by one, step by step.”
Mari Costantini and Laura Mackenzie study on the fourth floor of Moffitt Library. Costantini, a rising sophomore from Berkeley, is currently taking classes on campus in order to aid in her path as an intended public health major. “Start studying early in your classes, because falling behind is the worst possible thing. Prioritize sleep, and find a good balance between social life and your academics,” Costantini said. “Once you get that down, you’ll be OK.” This sentiment is echoed by Mackenzie, a rising junior and a double major in environmental sciences as well as conservation and resource studies with a concentration in biology. “Don’t get trapped into thinking that you have to work in the library or in certain spaces. Explore a little bit to find out where you’re most comfortable,” Mackenzie said. “Join clubs or find something where you’re doing something not academic, so that you have an outlet for your mental health. Don’t stress if you fail a class or if you’re not doing as well as you should. It’s going to be tough, but don’t beat yourself up. Be forgiving towards yourself.”
Victor Pulido stands outside the Golden Bear café. Pulido is a junior majoring in sociology, and he hopes to pursue a career path in social work after graduating from UC Berkeley. “It’s very helpful to study with the people in your class, especially in the math and science courses,” Pulido said. Pulido’s favorite part of UC Berkeley? “Everywhere I go, I always see a bear,” he said, gesturing toward the Golden Bear café sign, which does indeed feature a bear.
Gresshaa Mehta, a senior majoring in business, studies for her last class at UC Berkeley. She has spent this summer taking an accounting class and working at a tech company, where she specialized in user experience design. Her preferred method of studying is to take advantage of the vast information and resources provided through the internet, particularly online lectures found on YouTube. Mehta moved to Berkeley four years ago from India, stating that UC Berkeley’s prestige appealed to her when she was deciding which college to attend. Although she chose to spend her studying time at Caffe Strada this summer, Mehta advises that “you have to keep switching (your study spot) up — otherwise you will get bored and you aren’t productive. This summer, I chose Strada because the vibe is really nice. Everybody around you is working, so you feel more compelled to work, and there’s always cool things happening. For example, I noticed that every day, there’s a group of old people who play chess and talk about life.”
Grace Evans stands in the David Blackwell Hall residence hall. She has been residing on campus during the summer semester through the Freshman Edge program, taking History 137AC and Math 16A. She is an intended cognitive science major, drawing inspiration from the seminars she attended as a Yale Young Global Scholar. Evans has enjoyed living in the Blackwell dorm, and she also enjoys exploring the city. Her favorite part of Berkeley is the people, and she has learned much about the campus in the eight weeks that she has been here. Evans advises her classmates, “Take care of yourself and don’t let your academics overcome your interests.”
Karthik Sreedhar stands on Lower Sproul Plaza. He is a member of the matriculating undergraduate class of 2023, but has spent this summer taking classes on campus through the Freshman Edge program. Intending to declare as an electrical engineering and computer sciences major, Sreedhar has utilized his time at UC Berkeley to take Computer Science 61A and Economics 110. He described his experience in these classes as a little challenging, but is nonetheless enjoying his time thus far as a UC Berkeley student. He advised his fellow freshmen to “start studying earlier before your finals, maybe a week or two before” and not to “let yourself become distracted.” Sreedhar added that you should “set goals for yourself every day on how much work you’re going to do, and don’t go out until you’ve done your work.” Sreedhar also stressed the importance of healthy eating as a college student.
Contact Jenny Lee and Cheyenne Tex at [email protected].