In 2018, the San Francisco Foundation funded the first set of African American Initiative Scholarships. Administered by the Cal Alumni Association, these scholarships were awarded to 28 deserving undergraduate students in support of the university’s commitment to Black and African American student success at Cal. The African American Initiative (AAI) 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, or a maximum of $40,000 total.
For the 2019–2020 academic year, 12 talented students will receive the AAI Scholarship alongside 26 continuing recipients. This year’s recipients come from eleven different high schools, ten of which are based in California while the eleventh is in Texas. Three students intend to major in computer science, two intend to major in political science, two in psychology, and others express varying interests across several fields of study.
Meet the 12 incoming recipients of the African American Initiative Scholarship.
Farhiya Ali was born in San Jose, and is the daughter of two refugees from a country undergoing a civil war. She credits her drive to pursue higher education to the lack of opportunities her parents have received.
Anthony Carter is a Bay Area native and a sibling of six who is gearing up to graduate from Berkeley High School. He is gleeful to be around family as he continues his education journey at one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions. He will major in computer science.
Abel Feleke is an Ethiopian from San Jose who is going to be studying computer science. He plans to be involved in the Black community, make new friends, and make a difference at Cal.
Timothy Henry is a natural leader from Los Angeles, and is both persistent and resilient in all his endeavors. He hopes to bring in more diversity and increase the Black population in higher education. Timothy is an outstanding individual who demonstrates what it means to be a role model.
Amanda Hill is a seventeen-year-old who identifies as half Mexican and half African American. She is from Pasadena, and she discovered her passion for social justice through her experiences in her community. Amanda will be majoring in genetics and plant biology and intends to minor in political science.
Alexis McCall is a seventeen-year-old student who was born in Salinas and grew up in the Central Valley. Leading a life battling sickle cell disease and Moyamoya disease, she is dedicated to advocating for historically underrepresented communities, and believes her determination will make possible doing so at Cal.
Suaad Nour is a first-generation Muslim Somali American. She was born and raised in San Diego. Suaad aspires to be a civil rights lawyer in order to better support underrepresented communities, as well as her own communities. Her siblings and hardworking parents inspire her to work to achieve her goals.
Yota Omosowho is a rising freshman at UC Berkeley. She is most passionate about social justice and immigration issues, having immigrated to West Oakland from Nigeria herself four years ago. Yota seeks to learn from the diversity represented in Oakland and challenge herself to serve her new community.
Sundiata “Chaka” Tellem aspires to study political science, psychology, business, and African American history, ultimately ending his education career as a law school graduate. His goal is to maximize his time here at Cal in order to have a career serving society and helping the Black community on a grand scale.
Joelle Walley is personable, resilient, and an advocate for human lives. She is from Los Angeles and intends on studying linguistics, ultimately becoming a speech therapist. This next chapter for her means foundation and growth while giving back.
Kiarah Young is from Sacramento. She is the oldest of five siblings. During high school, Kiarah maintained above a 3.6 GPA, and she played four years of varsity golf, participated in College Track, and was the ASB President. Kiarah is a part of Men and Women’s Leadership Academy and Source Media Agency.
Mohammed Zareef-Mustafa is a young African American Muslim man from Oakland. He is currently interning at Salesforce, which teaches him technology skills and business skills, and allows him to pursue his interests. He is very passionate about working in computer science, running his own business, and giving back to his community.
Learn how you can get involved and support students through the Cal Alumni Association.