Aanya Schoetz, campus sophomore and political science major, is running for ASUC Senate with Elevate Cal on a platform of cross-cultural collaboration and higher education equity.
As someone who identifies as being from a mixed racial background, Schoetz said she sees a “real need” for spaces where people can engage with each other’s cultural backgrounds in a respectful way.
“It would be really cool to do an event that just emphasizes all the different ways we are similar, while respecting the beautiful things that make us different from each other too,” Schoetz said. “I would hope to start a (cross-cultural) collaboration commission because it’s important these decisions are not made in a vacuum.”
The proposed cultural collaboration commission would invite leaders of registered cultural student organizations to collaborate on cross-cultural events or initiatives. Schoetz also hopes to hold events that especially allow people to engage with the food and music of different cultures.
Motivating this platform is what she considers to be the biggest problem on campus: the “fear” people have of each other as a result of the “overarching anxiety” of attending UC Berkeley.
Schoetz believes another major problem on campus is the lack of basic academic and pre-professional information regarding resources available to students.
In ASUC President Chaka Tellem’s office, she has worked as the executive for academic and professional opportunities. In this role, she expanded on a relationship with the Princeton Review by helping to organize an MCAT event aimed at helping pre-med students navigate medical school applications and testing.
“Test prep can be so expensive if you want a test prep book or tutor,” Schoetz said. “That should never be a barrier for someone to score or do well because there’s obviously an income gap there. It was really cool … to know people were walking out of there with MCAT prep books in their hands they may not have otherwise been able to afford.”
Outside of the ASUC, she noted her work in education equity efforts through the Youth Passion Project, a nonprofit she created during the COVID-19 pandemic, which provides teaching resources and tries to improve access to education.
Schoetz also hopes to collaborate with LGBTQ+ professionals and businesses in order to answer student questions about navigating LGBTQ+ identities in the workplace, and to continue to find ways to increase accessibility of information.
“My mom and grandfather are immigrants. They’ve taught me that anything material in this world can be taken away from you … but the two things no one can take away from you are your heart and mind,” Schoetz said. “Everything I do comes from a place of, ‘how can I expand my heart and mind to the fullest and how can we provide those opportunities for other people too?’ ”