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The Campanile looms over Doe Library. The Campanile and Doe Library. / Keegan Houser/ UC Regents
Cal Culture

CAA Staff and Board Members Share Favorite Locations at UC Berkeley

Every UC Berkeley experience is unique, including the spaces on campus that people grow to love and carry in special memories.

September 29, 2023

We asked staff and board members of the Cal Alumni Association (CAA) to share their favorite locations at UC Berkeley. Here are some of their responses and personal connections to the campus.

Entrance view of Morrison Reading Room.
Located inside Doe Library, Morrison Reading Room provides students with a tranquil spot to get away from the bustling campus. / UC Regents

Amanda Chiu ’17, B.A. English

Digital Marketing Manager 

Location: Morrison Library Reading Room  

“I loved going to the Morrison Reading Room as a student to do some deep-focus work for my classes or a quick break in between classes. As much as I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, I’d usually go solo to Morrison. I appreciate that UC Berkeley had different quiet nooks in the midst of all the campus activity. My experience of UC Berkeley has been that it’s both a space of social activity where you can have new experiences and a thoughtful space where you can be as quiet as you need to mull over things that matter to you. At the Morrison Reading Room, you get both! 

“During my senior year, I volunteered for the Lunch Poems series. My fellow volunteers and I would regularly turn the Morrison Reading Room from a deep focus room into a more open space for different guest poets to read their work. It was a highlight that year when my poetry classmates and I got to read our own work in Morrison for a special Lunch Poems student day. 

“Now, as a working professional, I still value solo, deep-focus work and times of exciting collaboration with my colleagues.” 

Fun Fact: “Technically, Morrison Reading Room is a device-free space. (But, I’m pretty sure I snuck my laptop in a couple of times!)”

The plaque on Founders Rock at UC Berkeley.
At the intersection of Gayley Road and Hearst Avenue, the plaque on Founders’ Rock commemorates UC Berkeley’s founding. / Steve McConnell / UC Regents

Pat Joseph

Editor in Chief of California Magazine

Location: Founders’ Rock 

“Ever since writing about Bishop Berkeley and his philosophy of immaterialism, the Rock has been invested with meaning for me. I like to go there and imagine you could still see all the way to the Golden Gate, as the founders did when they decided to name the university after a long-dead Anglo-Irish clergyman who believed that nothing exists without a mind to perceive it.” 

Fun Fact: “The Rock is just west of the San Andreas Fault Zone and therefore moving northward at a rate of roughly three centimeters per year, or about as fast as our fingernails grow!”

Jim Kirk ’78, B.S. Business Administration and Accounting 

CAA Board of Directors 

Location: Sproul Plaza

A view of Sproul Plaza with the Campanile in the background.
Sproul Plaza serves as a special spot that welcomes people to campus and brings together students for a variety of events. / Keegan Houser / UC Regents

“[I remember the] entrance to the Cal campus the first time I visited. [It’s] always full of energy and a great place to people-watch. The activities have changed significantly over the years from members of the Hare Krishna movement and People’s Park protesters when I was in school to taiko drummers performing the last time I visited.” 

Lizz Campos Frost ’11, B.A. Anthropology, Music Minor 

Senior Program Manager, Alumni Programming and Executive Office 

Location: The Big “C” 

A view of the Big "C" on the hills of Berkeley.
Overlooking UC Berkeley, the Big “C” stands as a reminder of the strong presence of Cal spirit. / Keegan Houser/ UC Regents

“The Big “C” is one of the most recognized areas of campus. It is up on the hill for all to see, and it even inspired one of the many fight songs at Cal. When I was just starting in the Cal Band during the Fall Training Program—before I had even started classes—we hiked up to the Big “C” together. That struggle up the hill and being supported and encouraged by other band members solidified my feeling on the campus of being a part of something bigger than myself. 

“I have hiked up there many times throughout the years, and in 2013 I brought my new boyfriend (now husband) on that hike during spring break from grad school. When I told him where we were going he said, “This C better be big,” joking that if it wasn’t he would be upset. He wasn’t, and we watched the sunset from up there that day. Now, my husband works up the hill from there at the Lawrence Hall of Science, and we always reference that tour of campus I gave him.” 

Fun Fact: “Constructed in 1905, the Big “C” has been painted over so many times that you can see the layers of paint going back decades and decades. Someone once told me the paint got so thick that they stripped it off, but I bet it had more to do with it being lead paint. Every year, the UC Rally Committee protects the “C” from being painted by other institutions (the one across the Bay is the usual culprit), and will paint it yellow again if they are thwarted.” 

Deirdre Henry ’78, B.S. Business Administration

CAA Board Member and Audit Committee Chair

Location: The sun deck on the top of Hearst Gym 

“As a business student prior to the Haas complex, I used to use the sun deck of the old Hearst Gym as a quiet space to study and to stay close to the Social Sciences Building where most of my classes were. I would relish the shade provided by the redwood trees and be reminded of the beauty around me while I was learning about new and difficult accounting concepts.” 

A family poses next to a bear statue at UC Berkeley.
Rachel Stewart poses with her children next to the bear statue next to Strawberry Creek and the Cal Band rehearsal hall, which she associates with many memories from her time in the Cal band. / Courtesy of Rachel Stewart

Rachel Merkhofer Stewart ’06, B.A. Mass Communications and Anthropology

Senior Director of Membership 

Location: The bear statue across from Cal Band’s rehearsal hall in the Cesar Chavez Student Center 

“When I was in the Cal Band from 2002 through 2006, we had a tradition of rubbing the bear’s nose for good luck before each home football game. It sure seemed to work as I had a great time in the band watching many Cal victories, making lifelong friends, and meeting my husband Daniel Stewart ’04. Now, our whole family visits the bear statue when we are on campus. This photo was taken on the way to a CAA Hoops Party in 2018.” 

Fun Fact: “You had to rub the bear’s nose wearing your full Cal Band uniform. If you did it with your gloves or spats missing it would not work.” 

A patch of flowers at the UC Botanical Garden.
The UC Botanical Garden is home to thousands of different plant species and is a good escape from city life. / UC Botanical Garden / UC Regents

Yoyo Romero ’15, B.A. Peace and Conflict Studies, Global Poverty and Practice Minor

Senior Program Manager, Student Support, Alumni Scholars Program

Location: UC Botanical Gardens 

“As a student, I had free access to visit the Botanical Gardens. I also had a volunteer gig there for about a year. One of my focuses within my major was food justice and food sovereignty in the Bay Area and the shared movements to food justice and sovereignty in Central America. I loved learning about plants from around the world [in the Botanical Gardens], and it reminded me of my roots in El Salvador and that I come from a lineage of land stewards and campesinos. I am very proud of that.” 

Fun Fact: CAA members receive a discounted membership fee to the garden!

Sarah Juckniess ’02, B.A. English Literature

Senior Director, Marketing and Communications

Location: Class of 1908 bench

Th plaque on the bench at Alumni House that says: "Come you again along her paths: Her nurture raised and still sustains.”
A gift from the Class of 1908, the bench at Alumni House provides a quiet space away from the busy campus. / Courtesy of Sarah Juckniess

“Among the paving stones facing Alumni House, there’s a plaque and a long stone bench given to the university by alumni from the Class of 1908. It’s a peaceful nook beneath redwood trees that is a quiet contrast to busy neighbors Haas Pavilion and Lower Sproul. I picture the campus layout more than a century ago, and I am thankful that students then and today could enjoy its landscape. The message on the plaque reads ‘Come you again along her paths: her nurture raised and still sustains.’”

Fun Fact: “Though given by the members of the Class of 1908, the bench was installed in 1955, one year after Alumni House was built. You can find more alumni gifts hidden around Alumni House too, including two stone lanterns donated to the university by the University of California Alumni Association of Japan.”

If you’d like to share a memory of your favorite location at UC Berkeley, complete this form.