Twenty Years of Achievement: Stories from the TAAP Community

Over the past 20 years, The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) has supported more than 400 students in earning their Cal education. Many of these scholars are underrepresented and first-generation college students. Their stories include academic and personal challenges that shaped their time at UC Berkeley, as well as the career they chose to pursue after graduation.

As TAAP alumni, these scholars have continued to demonstrate their ambition and community-mindedness through their commitment to inspire and transform their communities and the world around them.

Read their stories here:

“Some things in life: you cannot put a price tag on them. The value of being around like-minded people, people who come from the same background as you and have the same aspirations as you—I don’t think you can put a tag or value on it.”
Jarvis Givens ’10, M.A. ’12, Ph.D. ’16, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, credits the small communities he joined at Cal for successfully supporting him through his academic journey.
Coming from a tight-knit immigrant family in South Central Los Angeles, Sara Bachez ’06 nervously awaited her first day at UC Berkeley.
Growing up in Carson, California, Liliana “Lili” Iglesias ’12 remembered her mom saying often to her, “When you go to college….” This message ingrained in Lili the thought that she would go to college someday.
When Manuel Buenrostro ’06 was a senior at UC Berkeley, he won the election for Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) president.
“I got a call on April Fool’s Day, and someone told me I’d gotten into Cal. I remember thinking, ‘Someone’s prank calling me. I’ll believe it when I get a letter in the mail,’” Salvador Limon ’10 recalls. The official letter arrived the next day.
Omar didn’t think he would attend college—much less graduate from UC Berkeley and become on-campus staff for the next 12 years.
“It took an entire village to get me to college,” Rosa says. Her high school teachers and a TAAP program manager had to convince her mom it was a good idea to move 300 miles to attend UC Berkeley.
People never expected much of Itzel Cortes Tena ’18 where she grew up. Now a Cal alumna, she’s working to put together support systems for students.