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‘An absolutely phenomenal person’: Catey Vera named 2023 university medalist

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Vera graduated with a major in cognitive science with minors in data science and interdisciplinary human rights.


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MAY 26, 2023

Catey Vera was chosen as the university medalist for the 2023 graduating class.

According to Aaron Hill, a medal finalist, Vera excelled academically, athletically and in extracurriculars, all while dealing with “immense hardships.”

Vera said she is graduating with a major in cognitive science with minors in data science and interdisciplinary human rights.

Along with pursuing her degree, Vera added that she participated in the joint fellowship at United Nations and Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center and was the co-chair of the human rights committee at the United Nations Association for the National Capital Area. She was deputy editor-in-chief of the Review of Human Rights at Berkeley and the president of the Prytanean Women’s Honor Society.

“Everyone should go read her article and watch her video,” said Andrea Sandoval, a medal finalist. “She has a really great story, she’s really been through a lot, and still done great academically despite all of her challenges and obstacles that she had to face, so congrats to her.”

The university medalist is awarded to an undergraduate senior with a 3.96 or higher GPA who is involved in campus activities and strives to create a positive impact, noted Rosie Ward, a medal finalist.

Potential medalists must also go through an application process where they submit a personal statement and three letters of recommendation, Hill said. According to Hill, the applicants interview with a panel of five campus professors who ultimately select the recipient.

“I was so, so thrilled to see that Catey won the award, especially because we actually lived together my freshman year at Cal,” Ward said. “Beyond obviously the incredible challenges and road bumps that she’s overcome, she’s also just an amazing human being and I’m really really happy to be able to call her my friend. I truly cannot think of anyone that’s more deserving of the university medal than Catey.”

While working on her studies, Vera said she had to endure ovarian cancer and care for her father who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS.

After graduating, Vera said she will be studying at the University of Oxford this summer to obtain a certificate in human rights law. She added that she will then be continuing her education this fall at Yale Law School to become an international human rights lawyer.

“She seems to be just an absolutely phenomenal person … so nothing but respect to her for winning the award,” Hill said.

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MAY 26, 2023