Born in Grass Valley and raised in Auburn, in the heart of California’s Gold Country, Isabel is one of three siblings who studied within the UC system. Her sister is a junior at Cal, while her brother studied engineering at UC Davis. College was always part of Isabel’s life plan, but Berkeley seemed a distant dream because money was an issue. Isabel knew scholarships and hard work would play major roles in her trajectory.
Drawn to math, Isabel excelled in Advanced Placement Calculus, and was inspired to establish the Omicron Math and Engineering Club at Placer High School. The club tutors and supports students struggling with math. “Sometimes people didn’t take me seriously as a math student,” explains Isabel. This was her opportunity to develop her leadership skills and encourage girls to explore math and engineering. “To be able to help kids who struggled with math explore it allowed me to use my passion to help others,” adds Isabel.
Isabel also used her emerging leadership skills in her role as the Jazz Band Saxophone Section Leader at Placer. She created free saxophone clinics and team-building practices to develop future soloists among younger student musicians, and learned the importance and power of treating others with respect and encouragement. While volunteering at her local hospital and the Auburn-area Animal Rescue Foundation, Isabel discovered her interest in medical care.
Today, Isabel is a math and pre-med student at UC Berkeley, and a member of the Cal Band. She is eager to find greater ways to continue her community service through humanitarian groups like The Suitcase Clinic and the SAGE Mentoring Project, Cal’s largest tutoring and mentoring program. CAA is proud to provide students like Isabel with merit-based scholarships through The Leadership Award. For more information about making a gift to The Leadership Award, please visit alumni.berkeley.edu/give/leadership-award.
When I first visited Cal, I was in awe of the aura of intellect I felt in the air here,” says Isabel Honda ’19, a recipient of The Leadership Award. “It is such an experience to be part of this campus every day.