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Upon reflection: Parting words from UC Berkeley's graduating seniors

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MAY 07, 2015

We asked UC Berkeley graduating seniors, or students who graduated in fall 2014, to submit 100 words that describe their college experience. They could submit their responses in the form of a poem, story, monologue or whatever worked best for them. Here are the responses.

Brittany Cliffe: Environmental earth science, Cal Teach minor

I learned to never be content, never settle for the status quo. Don’t nod along when people tell you “that’s just the way it is,” don’t accept a 400 percent tuition increase since 2007, don’t sit back while you overhear jokes that perpetuate rape culture. Don’t give up on water conservation just because you know that 80 percent of it goes to agriculture anyway. Don’t think that being a scientist excuses you from being politically active. Don’t think being a humanities major excuses you from understanding our changing climate. In other words, be more than you think you can be.

Warren Laufer: Economics and social welfare

Bears and beers, and hugs and tears,
Overcoming co-ed bathroom fears,
Rolling on, and rolling out,
Forgetting all graduation doubts,
Holiday bowl defeat and a season with just one win,
Four Big Game losses brightened with Oski grins,
4/20s on the Glade and Nobel laureate parking spots,
Cobbs dropping ’Zona with a last-second shot.
Black Lives Matter and Occupy,
Based God concert and the Space Shuttle fly-by,
Dirks came around after Birgeneau,
And there were protests over Napolitano.
New Memorial Stadium and a new “IM” field for football, too,
Midterms that seemed too hard to be true,
The first time you walked past People’s Park,
And Late Night runs after dark.
Tedford is out, and in comes Dykes,
Constant budget cuts and tuition hikes.
Flannels, beanies and even Crocs,
To man buns, bucket hats and Birkenstocks,
Soon to be gone like Manhattan Grill,
Second thoughts about 4.0 Hill,
Graduation has come at last.
UC Berkeley 2015: quite the class.

Samira Irfan: Integrative biology

It was phenomenal. It amazes me how four years of studying at the same school can magically transform someone. I came in as an insecure, socially awkward girl who didn’t know how to do chores. Now I will step out as a more confident, mature woman who is ready to harvest a beautiful dream with the support of some of the best friends I have ever made. I am so grateful to my friends for being there for me, to my classes for enlightening me and to my clubs for helping me grow personally and professionally. Thank you, UC Berkeley.

Ramanathan Veerappan: Geophysics

College has been all about personal growth and unforgettable experiences. Over the past four years, I changed in so many ways —  mostly positive — while also finding time to create memories that will last a lifetime. I became a better friend, son, brother, student, tutor, co-worker, editor, writer, leader and overall better person over the past four years. I somehow also had time to run for president of the ASUC, attend Holi all four years, have an amazing Cal Day and experience countless other memorable activities. These past four years at UC Berkeley have been completely filled with optimal experiences.

Alexandra Cruz: Molecular and cell biology

school of my dreams
creator of knowledge and destroyer of dreams
land of treasured laughs in giant lecture halls
filled with concerned professors as to why i blacked out
and why i love history so much
land of wicked deliriums
filled with the zombie crowds and joyous rapture
seeking out the next caffeine delivery
filled with revolutionary ideas
that went with and against every fiber of my being
taking me to another space and time to reflect
land of hidden opportunities and missed chances
filled with regrets of days past and celebrations of possibilities
and I shall surely miss you

Aditya Joshi: Applied math

When entering college, I was told that we, as students, would learn to think. Four years ago, amused by this claim, I cynically thought of myself as entering a school to accumulate knowledge and a piece of paper acknowledging that fact. After I joined some clubs and made close friends, I found myself modifying my originally cynical point of view. I questioned what I knew, noted what I did not and sat on Memorial Glade drinking in the best of a thriving intellectual and social community. Ultimately, I learned to keep an open mind and not to think but to understand.

Grace Lovio: Peace and conflict studies and French

I’m packing up my Berkeley in a box and bringing it with me when I leave. I’m taking down all of my Daily Californian articles taped up on the wall and saving them for the days when I’m not so young anymore. I think I’ll leave behind the days, weeks and months lost to the profound loneliness that creeps up on so many of us here. I’m saving the short-lived romances, the second language, the ideas that rearranged me and the people I loved best. I’m taking my Berkeley with me so I never have to leave.

Francesca Lampert: English and education

I’m an English major. Words are important. For a long time, I did not have the words I desperately needed to express my frustrations, emotions or ideas. UC Berkeley was a complete gift. The gift of language is the gift of self-expression. The gift of knowledge is the gift of autonomy. College meant finding my voice and using it — loudly. As a transfer, my educational experience was not traditional or typical, but I’ve enjoyed every beautifully chaotic moment of it. And after all is said and done, I’ve read a lot of fine books.

Andrea Cerecedes: Anthropology

My life changed forever when I was diagnosed with autism my first semester here. As hard as it was to come to terms with it, I’ve grown so much because of the opportunities — work, school and social — I’ve found here that I now truly believe that I have a lot of abilities for someone who is “disabled.” UC Berkeley has allowed me to start on a path to make the rest of my life the best of my life. Now my long-term goal is to teach special education to help others who have learning needs live like I do now. Go, Bears!

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MAY 07, 2015