Gazing upon the Golden Gate Bridge through a misty frame of fog, my eyes beheld a radiant sun and clement breeze beckoning me to campus. I will never forget the fusion of intimidation and excitement I felt my first time visiting UC Berkeley with my family back in elementary school.
Although initially daunting, this sentiment soon matured into a sense of belonging as I evolved into the scholar I am today. Walking through Sather Gate, I witnessed brilliant students, Nobel Laureate professors and members of the greater Berkeley community collaborating to form a cultural mosaic of activism. Rich diversity of intellect and expression resonated invigorating notes of purpose and progress, orchestrating an ambitious yet tranquil tune to which I was entranced.
My mom, a UC Berkeley alumna, exemplified such brilliance and tethered my siblings and me to campus throughout our childhood. We listened attentively to her vivid narrative of academic achievement and personal enrichment, gleaning every morsel of insight until we could call UC Berkeley a second home. While my family contributes to my Berkeley experience, I am actively writing my own story. It is one influenced by setting yet determined by the author — a chronicle characterized by perseverance, vision and an unfinished resolution.
In my story, UC Berkeley is more than a world-renowned institution of education. To me, it is a setting in which you can realize your dreams alongside fellow tenacious change-makers and leaders. Surrounded by people seeking to inspire society, the trajectory of your success is determined primarily by the scope of your ambition. At UC Berkeley, you can expand your mind with insights beyond previous imagination, reinforcing it with an intention to empower your community. No lesson conceived in a classroom remains confined. As I now enter my freshman year, I understand that the students I observed all those years ago walking through Sproul Plaza were envisioning an optimized world.
Such pioneering visions emerge from eyes dilated by exposure to unique perspectives. A UC Berkeley education may be rigorous, but it is nurtured by students questioning preconceived notions while establishing foundational beliefs. This is the campus culture that I love and strive to contribute to — a culture of commitment to intellectual growth and refinement. Similar to the lessons from which they are derived, these perspectives are not limited to the classroom. Venturing into the Berkeley community, a profound love for culture and diversity of perspective vitalizes delicious cuisine, innovative business and heartfelt activism.
The setting of your story may influence your perspective, but it does not dictate your passion; that is for you to decide. Thankfully, the city of Berkeley is an infinite source of energy, quite like its dozens of Little Free Libraries. These quirky wooden stands are located throughout the city, holding books for communal exchanges. In the same manner in which Berkeleyans graciously share their favorite books, their diverse perspectives contribute social energy equal or greater to the amount they consume.
Though communal book exchanges and delicious food may seem minor in comparison to the city’s overarching status, Berkeley teaches you to cherish the value of each distinct piece of your own cultural mosaic. This process of self-discovery attributes a purpose to your education extending far beyond any prior expectation.
College is an opportunity to amplify every facet of your character, and UC Berkeley offers an unparalleled environment to do so. I absorbed this advice from my family, commencing my freshman year with excitement reminiscent of the very first time I walked through Sather Gate.
Attending UC Berkeley marks a circular plot in my story, a benchmark reminding me every day of how far I have come and how far I will go. My fellow incoming freshmen and continuing students, find these benchmarks and exceed them. Allocate time to acknowledge your achievements and heed your mental health. A campus sustained by brilliant minds must be fortified by awareness and empathy for your peers.
The fall 2022 freshman admitted class unites students from 55 U.S. states and territories and 88 countries. Each student is writing their own story and receiving a world-class education with which they can change the world. When it comes to altering lives and advancing society, Berkeley means business. Write your story and pursue your passions unapologetically, for you are an integral piece of the campus mosaic.