In 2018, the San Francisco Foundation funded the first set of African American Initiative (AAI) Scholarships. For the past four years, the AAI Scholarship has been administered by the Cal Alumni Association (CAA) and, in that time, more than 100 students have received the award. This year, we celebrate the very first graduating cohort of AAI scholars. Continued alumni support for the AAI Scholarship is part of CAA and UC Berkeley’s ongoing commitment to Black and African American student success.
The African American Initiative is UC Berkeley’s effort to address the underrepresentation of and campus climate for African American students, faculty, and staff and includes steps to improve recruitment, yield, retention, and graduation rates of African American students. The scholarship grants $8,000 annually for up to five years of undergraduate study. Students also receive supportive programming through the African American Student Development Office.
30 undergraduate students will receive the AAI Scholarship for the 2022–2023 academic year. This year’s recipients come from all around the world: 24 California students, five out-of-state students, and one international student. Given uncertainties around COVID-19 during this past year, finalist interviews were held virtually, hosted by alumni volunteers around the country.
Introducing the 2022 – 2023 Cohort
Hey, my name is Destiny Aka. I am originally from Los Angeles but I am excited to start my life in the Bay Area. I plan on majoring in Public Health on the pre-med track.
Moorea Alanna is from Chicago, Illinois, and is planning to major in Molecular and Cell Biology on the neuroscience track. She is passionate about serving the Black community, and currently is a Program Development Intern at Police2Peace, where she founded and developed the Collective Conversation Program for high school students and police officers to rebuild trust through open dialogue.
Tiffany Rose Batty
I’m a first generation high school graduate and college student. To keep things simple, I answer to Rosa, Tiffany, Tiff or Tiffany Rose. I’m of mixed, African American (maternal) and Belizean (paternal), descent. I love science and engineering and am looking forward to being a part of UC Berkeley’s aerospace engineering programming launch. One of my goals is to be the first female of color on the moon. I also have a bit of a creative side and enjoy designing and fabricating artistic pieces of clothing and jewelry. I own a very small business, Rosa Designz, and enjoy selling my art pieces at vendor fairs all over the Bay Area, including such spots as the So-so Vintage Market here in Berkeley.
Camryn Bryant is a senior at Geffen Academy at UCLA, where she currently serves as a lead for her school’s Black Student Union (BSU) and as a representative for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC). As a part of the DEIC, she organized speakers, talked about current events, and held discourse panels surrounding DEI for her high school community. Cal is her dream school, and her intended major is Biological Sciences. She strives to contribute to creating a more equitable workforce by applying what she learned about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Following the pandemic, she was inspired to become a psychiatrist and increase the representation of her community within the field. Outside of school, she is an avid swimmer, using her passion for swimming to benefit her community by serving as a certified Los Angeles County Lifeguard and swim instructor. There is a lack of representation of Black youth in the competitive swimming field and even fewer matriculate into lifeguards. She aims to help change this narrative by inspiring her students and demonstrating that Black urban youth can succeed in this field despite a lack of representation.
Mbakwe Chimkasinma Cheryl
Chimkasinma, who was born and raised in Nigeria, is a 17-year-old looking forward to attending Cal. Throughout secondary school, she held various leadership positions, including Student Government President, where she became a voice for the large student body to the administration and staff. Chimkasinma hopes to improve educational and health opportunities in Africa. She even started a foundation, KidInNeedsociety, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to provide some children in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe with educational materials. She plans to major in Bioengineering to discover more about the applications of the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering principles to define and solve problems in biology, medicine, health care, and other fields. During her time at UC Berkeley, Chimkasinma is excited to make new friends and utilize all opportunities given to her.
I am the daughter of Eritrean immigrants and a first-generation college student from the Bay Area! I aspire to become a Civil Engineer, joining the small percentage of Black women engineers. After my time at Cal, I hope to give back to the Black community and other marginalized communities by reducing the homeless population through affordable housing alternatives.
A native of Northern California, I spent my high school years in Houston, Texas where I was usually one of the only African American students in my STEM classes. I want to be a part of changing that. I am passionate about advocacy for underrepresented minorities in STEM, particularly black women in STEM. I plan to work to ensure we are equally represented in the tech field. Being raised in a single-parent home by a mother who is also a military veteran taught me to be self-motivated, challenge the status quo when it needs challenging, and to never let an obstacle deter me. I am a Youth Mentor at our local Community Outreach Center. As a trusted mentor, I get to help support the kids and motivate them to work hard and overcome obstacles. I love meeting new people and learning about different cultures. I play the violin, chess, and video games, but my favorite pastime is coding. I am excited about returning to my home state and I am ecstatic about becoming part of the UC Berkeley community.
Young and motivated kid out of a small town hungry to grow as much as possible.
Yazmine Simone Gornail
Hi I’m Yazmine! I aspire to be a writer and director in the arts industry. I believe that your voice can be heard through art and we can make a difference in the world if we all work together. I aspire to be a genuine and inspiring leader. I want to create an environment where people can see me as a figure of safety to guide them through the path of endless possibilities. My goal is to encourage women to feel good in their bodies, gain the confidence to really put themselves out there, and inspire the black community to not be afraid of using our voices when fighting for what we believe in.
Hello! My name is Dayna Hassan and I am from Castaic, California. I am a Somali-American child of two refugee parents. My parents sought asylum in both the United States and Canada after the Somali Civil War. I am beyond grateful for the sacrifices my parents made in order to provide me with so many opportunities and they have shaped me into the person that I am today. A little about me personally: I am Muslim, I love to play and watch basketball, read, and listen to music. My favorite book is The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which I have read 5 times and my favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happyness, which makes me cry every time I watch it. I am very thankful to have been chosen as a recipient of the African American Initiative Scholarship and I will use it to form connections with very intelligent and like minded people. Additionally, I will use this scholarship to help me pursue my goal of becoming a licensed architect because I am a firm believer that sustainable design is essential for our future.
Hi! My name is Kennedy Haynes and I was born and raised in Fresno, California. My favorite subjects are math, astronomy, and history, and I really enjoy puzzles, sleep, and playing with my dog. I am very excited and proud to soon be attending UC Berkeley. My major is astrophysics and I am just overall really excited for Cal’s rigorous curriculum and multitude of extracurriculars.
Hi! My name is Aaliah Hose and I am a first year at UC Berkeley. I am entering as a legal studies major with future aspirations of becoming an attorney and later on a judge. I look forward to becoming an agent of social change on the Berkeley campus and moreover making an impact on the African American community.
Noma Irene is a 17 year old student from Bakersfield, California, who is pursuing her dreams of becoming a doctor. She is very passionate about her education and will do anything to help her succeed in achieving her dreams. She loves to read fictional novels and wishes to make several new memories at UC Berkeley.
At UC Berkeley, Jasmyn will be pursuing a degree in Business Administration through the Haas Global Management program. She also has interest in data science, global studies, philosophy, and language. She hopes to eventually pursue a dual graduate degree in business and law and work in the global business sector in tech, fashion, or music marketing. In her free time Jasmyn enjoys reading, spending time with friends, learning languages, and listening to music.
Agodi is a young man who has always believed that the best way to effect change is to be a part of it. He aims to major in film and media studies to give a voice to silenced communities. He hopes to be able to effect positive change within and beyond the community at Berkeley. He is excited about the many opportunities Berkeley will provide to make new memories with new friends.
Gracie Siaw Osborne
Born in Accra, Ghana, and raised in Oakland, I am a product of the hard work of my family and the endless support of my community. I aspire to be a resource to those in need by being a doctor and public health officer and addressing the disparities prevalent in marginalized communities.
Kristian Prevost is from New Orleans, LA and is a scholar athlete. He has been the captain and team member of the Benjamin Franklin H.S. varsity Baseball, Basketball and Football teams. Traveling and spending time with close friends and family are some of his favorite activities. Community improvement and volunteerism is important to him. Kristian is trilingual with Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and English and enjoys learning about cultures of diverse persons. He is an incoming Civil Engineering major and hopes to pursue an MBA and eventually be an entrepreneur and leader in Real Estate development in both residential and commercial markets, especially in low-income communities. It is his passion to help lead others to achieve success on their own level especially in culturally diverse neighborhoods. It is particularly important to him to teach diverse persons about the self-sustaining wealth, financial independence, and self-empowerment possible through real estate.
Cornelia Julia Scott
Hi! My name is Cornelia Julia Scott. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am from Los Angeles, California, specifically the South Bay area. At UC Berkeley, I will be majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology. With my degree, I plan to apply for medical school. My biggest goal that I want to achieve is becoming an OB/GYN. When I am not stressed from my classes or work, I love to watch Netflix and YouTube. Some of my favorites shows on Netflix are Stranger Things, Pose, The Umbrella Academy, Orange is the New Black, and Cobra Kai. Additionally, I love listening to music, specifically Hip-Hop, R&B, and Alternative. Some of my favorite artists in these genres are Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, Fleetwood Mac, Mother Mother, and Baby Keem. Listening to music reduces my stress by helping me relax. A person that I look up to is my mother because she is a very hard-working, determined woman. My mother pushes me to do my best everyday of my life and always believes in me. Obtaining this scholarship helps her out so much with paying for my college expenses. I am extremely grateful to have been considered for this scholarship.
Sydney Alyce Shaw
Sydney Shaw is a dynamic young woman from Northern California and an intended business & marketing major, African American Studies minor. With a passion for uplifting others, she thrives at the intersections of activism and advocacy. Sydney is a business owner, doula, mentor, visual artist, and priestess in the La Regla de Lukumí religious tradition. Sydney is ecstatic about attending Cal Berkeley as an AAI scholar and elated to share space and build networks and friendships while contributing to the Black at Cal community in any way she is able.
Portia is from Goleta, CA, and is attending UC Berkeley to major in Environmental Engineering Science. She is also fulfilling her dream of being a D1 beach volleyball athlete as well as her passion for the environment. She is looking forward to meeting new people and bridging the communities of beach volleyball and environmental engineering as well as the issues facing underrepresented females and African Americans in our society. Her mom and dad are pivotal in her academic and athletic endeavors.
My name is Britnee Erykah Stephen and I am a 17 year old high school senior attending Pittsburg High School in the Bay Area California. To have been presented with such an honorable award that is the Cal Alumni African American Initiative Scholarship is beyond anything that my family and I could’ve asked for. We are more than appreciative to receive this award, and a great feeling of relief has overcome all of us with this large weight that has been lifted off of our shoulders. I applied to this scholarship with great hopes because I knew that the original financial aid given to me by the university wouldn’t cover even half of the costs and my family would have to resort to taking out loans and potentially falling into debt in the future. As a result of receiving this scholarship alone, over a quarter of my expenses at the University of California, Berkeley have been decreased. I am so thankful for the Cal Alumni Association for awarding me with this scholarship, and my family and I are more confident going into this fall knowing that we are much closer to affording the costs of attending UC Berkeley.
Hi, my name is Aminah Todd. I am from Oakland, CA and an incoming freshman at UC Berkeley. I attended Oakland Technical High School. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, going on hikes, and dancing.
Hello, my name is Ernest Turner and I am from Fairfield, California. I will be majoring in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. I fell in love with engineering from a young age, and I have made it my mission to eventually become an engineer. I am an ambitious, determined, and empathetic person. I enjoy being a team player and learning about people and their different perspectives. I am thrilled to be apart of the Berkeley family.
Hello! My name is Liyah Gebre, and I’m a rising senior at Piner High in Santa Rosa, California. I was admitted to the College of Letters and Science at UC Berkeley, and am majoring in Computer Science. I’m incredibly grateful for being offered admission and cannot wait for the next upcoming four years!
Aaron Bush Wegulo
I am Aaron initially moved from Uganda to Los Angeles. I stay with a single mom and two sisters. I am so thankful for this grant because I am financially unstable and this means the world to me.
I grew up in Southern California, I love to stay active and be involved by taking advantage of all the opportunities given to me. I am so excited to be in this community and create lifelong friendships. I will be attending the College of Letters and Science as a first gen student at Berkeley.
Hello my name is Loreal Wilson and I am currently a senior from a high school in the Northwest Suburbs of Illinois. I spend most of my time playing on my school’s varsity volleyball, basketball, and track and field team. When I am not playing sports or doing schoolwork, I enjoy giving back to my community through volunteer work. My goals for after high school consist of majoring in business and eventually completing law school. Making a change in the black community is one of my biggest passions and I can not wait to continue to do this at Berkeley.
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