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Freshman Scholar Takes Flight at Berkeley

August 19, 2019
Justin Hogenauer Image courtesy of Spencer Le

Justin Hogenauer ’22 dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot, but when it came to choosing where to go to college, he wanted a top-tier school—one that provided the kind of broad academic, professional, and social advantages for which Cal is so well known. “The Air Force Academy was an option,” he says. “But the focus at the Academy is much narrower.” Participation in Senior Weekend sold him on Berkeley. “The Mixed Recruitment and Retention Center showed me the opportunities for low income students,” he recalls. “This was a welcoming community. Seeing other diverse faces was encouraging and I liked the energy.”

A recipient of both The Leadership Award and The Achievement Award Program scholarships from the Cal Alumni Association (CAA), Justin is motivated by both learning and teaching others. He tutored other students while still in high school and spent this summer as a camp counselor at Space Camp Turkey, teaching science to groups of international STEM students. “Next year I will work at an elementary school, taking kids who don’t get out to nature to national parks, teaching them about the environment.”

Justin comes from a highly educated family. His father was a professor at Loyola Marymount University. His mother, an immigrant from Thailand, has advanced degrees, and his older sister is a graduate of UC Irvine and a civil engineer. All motivated his love of learning. “My sister was an early woman in STEM,” he says. “Now I can see some of the struggles she had to face to be a woman in engineering.”

Justin’s dad passed away when he was 12 years old. “He was a huge mentor in my life,” he recalls. After his father passed he had to figure much out for himself. “I needed to be independent.”

A graduate of Whitney High School in Southern California, Justin excelled academically; ran track and cross country; and was active in the Ecology and Wildlife Club, where he founded three gardens, two drought-tolerant gardens and an organic produce garden. He also tutored elementary students in a hands-on environmental studies program that introduced young students to diverse ecosystems. At Berkeley he is a student in the College of Natural Resources, with a focus on society and environment, and is considering a double major in business.

During his freshman year, Justin became very involved in CAA’s The Achievement Award Program, taking full advantage of the support system offered to CAA Alumni Scholars. A constellation of other scholarships allows him, so far, not to have to take out student loans. He is also enrolled in ROTC and will commit to ten years of military service upon graduation. “ROTC supplements my education. It reflects the military experience through a college lens. The 6:00 a.m. training sessions provide plenty of exercise, and the program teaches me a lot about leadership and discipline.” He will graduate with a commission as a second lieutenant. His goal is to become a KC-10 tanker pilot, fueling planes from the air.

Justin served as president of Blackwell Hall, his residence hall, during the 2018–2019 academic year. He is currently the Residence Hall Assembly Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach and leads the student governing board, a position that has made him very aware of the housing crisis faced by Berkeley students. He is part of with CASA—the Cal Alumni Student Association, a campus organization where alumni and students connect—helping newly accepted students learn about the campus and orienting them to the Cal culture. He epitomizes the spirit of “Bears Give Back”—unusual for someone who has only recently completed his freshman year, but Justin has been doing it all his life.