Who inspires you?
For UC Berkeley students thinking about future careers, looking up to someone who’s been in similar shoes might help. Here are some iconic UC Berkeley alumni to help inspire your job decisions.
Arts and humanities
Counterculture journalist Joan Didion, Mexican poet Octavio Paz, queer writer Susan Sontag and feminist writer Betty Friedan represent some groundbreaking minds from UC Berkeley. Didion — a former reporter for The Daily Californian — was awarded the National Medal of Arts and National Medal of Humanities, and Paz received a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Beyond the books, actors Ashley Judd, Chris Pine and John Cho bring stellar accomplishments to alumni legacy. Their onscreen performances authentically leave audiences in both tears and laughter.
Behind the scenes, costume designer and alumna Edith Head deserves mention, along with her eight Academy Awards that make her the most awarded woman in Oscars’ history.
Another artist given his acting and producing career, alumnus Nnamdi Asomugha also played for Cal and later went on to play for the Raiders, Eagles and 49ers. When playing, most people considered him to be the best active cornerback in the NFL.
Joe Kapp made his mark in football as well. Having played on the Cal field and basketball court, he later became the only quarterback to lead teams to the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl and Grey Cup. In 1982, he also spent some time coaching football at Cal.
In soccer, Alex Morgan tied for California’s third-highest scorer of all time while playing for Cal. She now plays as striker and leads the team as captain of San Diego Wave FC. In 2011, she was the youngest player on the FIFA Women’s World Cup roster at 22 years old.
Science and technology
Many know Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore are former Golden Bears. But did you know that engineer Rube Goldberg also attended UC Berkeley? To this day, students continue to create Rube Goldberg machines, which complete trivial tasks in complicated ways (I myself have made one).
For biology, Shyamala Gopalan, mother of Vice President Kamala Harris, graduated from UC Berkeley with a doctorate degree. Her work in oncological and biological research brought pivotal advancements to breast cancer research.
Activism and politics
It must run in their blood, because the Harris family makes UC Berkeley proud. Maya Harris, the sister of Kamala Harris, also graduated from UC Berkeley and gears her work toward civil rights protections.
Judy Heumann also advocated for civil rights hoping to increase accessibility for disabled people. Known as the “mother” of the disability rights movement, she held major influence in the passing of policies such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Fourteenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren also attended UC Berkeley both for his bachelor’s degree in political science and his law degree. His landmark decisions in legal cases — such as Brown v. Board of Education and Miranda v. Arizona — forever changed the landscape of law.
Igor Fetch — a house dog at Bowles Hall — might not speak human, but he did graduate from UC Berkeley with a sociology degree! His career while alive was professional dog. If he can make it through, then here’s to hoping you will too.
I dedicate this to my mom, brother and partner — UC Berkeley alumni that might not have a Nobel Prize or Oscar, but are always winners in my heart.