Berkeley branch of American Association of University Women launches transfer student scholarship

Berkeley City College
Samuel Albillo/File
The Berkeley branch of the American Association of University Women is offering three $1,000 scholarships to transfer students from Berkeley City College who identify as women in STEM fields.

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The American Association of University Women, or AAUW, Berkeley branch announced a scholarship for women in STEM transferring from Berkeley City College to UC Berkeley.

Sarah Miyazaki, president of the AAUW Berkeley branch, said the association is offering three $1,000 scholarships to transfers who identify as women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as two $1,000 scholarships to continuing students at UC Berkeley. This is the first year that the scholarship is being offered, with the application going live Aug. 22, according to Karen Weinstein, member of AAUW and the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees.

“I’m very excited to support students from Berkeley City College who are transferring to UC Berkeley,” Weinstein said. “I just want to make sure that those students who do transfer have an opportunity to get financial help.”

Miyazaki said the AAUW Berkeley branch has about 20 members, and due to the branch’s small size, they focused their efforts on creating this scholarship because it was something that they could achieve without many members.

In its first application cycle, the AAUW will prioritize women who identify as part of an underrepresented minority community, according to the AAUW Berkeley branch’s website. Miyazaki added that the majority of funding for the scholarship is from the College Women’s Club.

“Our mission is to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education and advocacy,” Miyazaki said.

Anita Santoyo, a member of the AAUW Berkeley branch, said the scholarship came about after branch members expressed interest in finding some way to support UC Berkeley students facing financial struggles this fall.

Santoyo added that they also intentionally made the scholarship open to students regardless of their citizenship or residency status, or whether they are a part-time or full-time student. There are also few restrictions on how the money could be spent since students have a variety of needs, according to Santoyo.

In the past, the AAUW Berkeley branch has donated to UC Berkeley’s study abroad programs, Miyazaki said. She added that the branch also hosts a STEM camp for girls entering eighth grade that was canceled this summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miyazaki said she hopes to continue the scholarship and continue to help women who are committed to getting an education.

Santoyo said they hope the scholarship will have an immediate impact, noting that “small steps are better than no steps” in addressing gender equality and racial diversity in STEM fields. 

“Students will use the money however will best help them complete their first semester in remote learning mode successfully,” Santoyo said in an email. “In the long term, we both hope that it will support women of color to thrive in the STEM fields and support them in their first semester at Cal.”

Mela Seyoum is a race and diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.