In late April, I had the privilege of traveling to Sacramento to discuss the inclusion of higher education in California’s state budget. I joined UC Berkeley leaders like Chancellor Carol Christ and UC Regent Jason Morimoto ’02 to meet with those working on the budget to advocate on behalf of students and their needs.
While there, I was asked by many, “What is the value of a Berkeley education? What is the impact that Cal has on the state economy?” These questions now remind me of my recent trip with Cal Discoveries Travel. The tour, “Paris: Featuring the African-American Experience,” taught travelers about the city’s Black history by taking us to key locations where African American artists and intellectuals gathered during the segregation era in the United States.
I felt fortunate to go on this eye-opening trip with a diverse group of UC Berkeley alumni. Our identities spanned racial groups and professional roles to include professors, educators, journalists, psychologists, nonprofit leaders, lawyers, judges, politicians, and even film producers. Many of these esteemed individuals hail from low-income backgrounds like my own—which was what led me to make the connection between Paris and Sacramento.
My fellow travelers reveal through their own success and career paths the value of a Cal education. They all have had a significant impact on California, leading their respective industries and organizations to help make our state the fifth-largest economy in the world. I see the same leadership potential in each one of the Cal Alumni Association’s Alumni Scholars. These students were hand-selected by Cal alumni to receive one of several awards based on their abilities to effect change and lead their communities. By channeling their own drive, and with the support of their Cal education, these students will undoubtedly become the next generation’s leaders.
It’s important also to recognize that the impact of Berkeley extends beyond the university’s world-class education. The culture of Cal attracts students and alumni who are dedicated to improving the world around them. UC Berkeley has the unique ability to unite people from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities in recognizing their shared humanity as a dynamic force to address state and global problems. l look forward to furthering the work of the Cal Alumni Association in fostering relationships with students and alumni who champion these values in their own lives and communities.
Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79