My time at Cal has gone by incredibly fast. Being a first-generation Chicano student at Berkeley majoring in Global Studies has not been a walk in the park, and navigating a university as prestigious and massive as Cal has been an experience unlike any other. But without a doubt, this journey has shaped and inspired me to be a human who will apply the knowledge I have acquired here at UC Berkeley for a lifetime.
Prior to coming to the Bay Area and leaving home at 21, I was nervous about being a low-income, first-generation student. As I packed and got ready to head north in 2020, I had no expectations of what college would be like and no one to tell me what to expect of university life. Moving away and attending college was not the norm in my family. I am the youngest of six siblings in my immediate family, and I am the only one to graduate thus far with a bachelor’s degree.
As soon as I arrived at Berkeley, I knew that I was making a statement by moving away from home to begin this new chapter of my life.
Attending Cal has absolutely been one of the best experiences of my brief 23 years of life. As a transfer student from northeast Los Angeles, the past two and a half years at Berkeley have allowed me to interact with students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Thankfully, the fellow Golden Bears I have been fortunate enough to go to school with have been wonderful in a multitude of ways. My professors and peers have enriched my experience at Berkeley as I have learned from and through them.
I have taken great classes such as Psychological Anthropology with profesor Stefania Pandolfo and my personal favorite, “Migration, Border Geographies and Decolonial Movements of Latin America” with profesora Diana Negrin.
I have also been blessed to be a part of organizations like The Daily Californian. Starting in the spring of last year, I began taking pictures as a member of the paper’s photo department.
From skateboard block parties to shooting concerts like The Marías, I have come to be a better photographer. The opportunity has been a tremendous learning experience and a gateway to photograph events that have truly been unforgettable experiences.
Being involved in the Daily Cal has also opened my eyes to the world of photojournalism, and I have been inspired to potentially pursue a career in both photo and journalism in the future. Shoutout to Lisi and David for taking a chance on me and bringing me onto the Daily Cal photo staff. I’ve enjoyed every moment of being on this team.
As my undergraduate career at Berkeley draws to a close, I am nostalgic and flooded with bittersweet emotions. I reflect on my experiences at Cal — both the good and bad. I imagine my life had I never taken the chance to apply to UC Berkeley, giving into the fear and possibility I would get rejected. I didn’t even list Berkeley as one of four choices because I thought I was not qualified enough. Yet something inside me told me to add it, just in case.
Now as I write this during my final week of attending UC Berkeley, it seems to have worked out. I think of all the knowledge that I have gained and all of the skills that I have been equipped with. I cherish all of the moments that have been forever etched into my memory.
Although this journey has not been smooth, I am eternally thankful for my time here as an undergraduate. Being a first-generation, low-income Chicano student at Cal is possible — as long as you are willing to work smart, manage your time wisely and never, ever forget where you came from.
Viva la raza and go Bears!
Anthony Angel Perez was a senior staff photographer. He joined The Daily Californian in spring 2021 as a staff photographer. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies.