People vs. curriculum: Who to thank for shaping your UC Berkeley experience

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As this school year comes to a close, I am reminded again of the beautiful, but also brutal, reality that graduation is right around the corner. I am also reminded of the long study hours of dead week and the inevitable stress of finals week. I have been rereading my notes, rewatching my lectures and taking practice final exams twice over. More than anything, however, this time of year reminds me how lucky I have been to find my people at UC Berkeley, and how bittersweet graduation is when it means leaving those people.

Our experiences at this school are characterized, of course, by our studies and classes, but even more so by the people around us. The people we work with every day are far more important in comparison to the homework, projects and final exams. As we round out the spring 2020 semester, take time to reflect on the people who have shaped you. Here is a list of a few people you might include in that roster.

Academic advisers

Of course, there are jokes about the inefficiencies of academic advising departments here at UC Berkeley. With long wait times, limited availability and little control, it makes sense. But the fact of the matter is that many Berkeley advisers greatly impact the lives of students in tremendous ways every day. For example, the UC Education Abroad Program enables students to travel and learn in incredible places like Prague, the Netherlands and more. RISE @ Berkeley Haas, an admissions outreach program within the Haas Undergraduate Programs Office, works with students to put on incredible projects such as the Diversity Symposium.

Coming into college, I didn’t expect to have a relationship with any undergraduate adviser, but luckily UC Berkeley proved me wrong. I would not be where I am today without a handful of very special advisers in the UC Berkeley ecosystem.

Pledge classes

There are few bonds tighter than the ones you make early in your college career with members of your pledge class in your respective organization. Although you may not be extremely close with every member of your business fraternity, sorority or academic club, your pledge class undoubtedly has had an impact on your UC Berkeley experience. Organizations such as these bring together anywhere from five to 50 diverse people from all walks of life, and give them all something in common. In your pledge class, you likely found the study buddies, friend groups or roommates that shaped your time here.

Club leaders

In our careers, we all need role models and mentors to help us navigate the curve balls that life throws at us. We need someone to say, “I’ve been in your shoes. This is what I did that worked, and this is what I would recommend you to try.” College is no different — having guiding figures in our undergraduate lives can make all the differences in finding our direction, purpose and next steps. Whether they were your robotics team captain, newspaper editor or ASUC president, you likely have someone to thank for showing you the way. As we approach graduation, reach out to thank those who have helped you!

Best friends

This list would be incomplete without mentioning the best friends you have made at UC Berkeley, and all that they have done for you. From bringing you Ladle & Leaf soup when you were sick, to giving that motivational speech when you wanted to quit your campaign, your best friends are likely the core of your school experience. These are the people who have loved and shaped you into the person you are now. Take time this dead week and finals week to appreciate your best friends a little extra.

Graduation, like I previously mentioned, is bittersweet when it means leaving the people you have found and loved during your UC Berkeley experience. With the school curriculum, you can take your notes wherever you go. You can’t do the same with your advisers, pledge classes, club leaders and best friends. This is simply one of the great heartbreaks of college (closely followed by never having late night dining hall food again). Nonetheless, we can continue to thank and remind our people of what they’ve done for us, and work on paying it forward by giving to others.

Contact Brookey Villanueva at [email protected].