It’s never too late—or too soon—to give back to Cal.
Some alums start giving back to Cal from the day they graduate. Others wait years, even decades. Kevin Perkins ’08 is in the first group. He began donating to The CAA Fund within a couple years after graduation.
“It’s so easy to say, ‘I can always wait until I’m older and richer,’ but you’ll probably still be saying the same thing five or ten years from now,” says Perkins, an associate principal at Libitzky Property Companies in San Francisco. “So I thought, ‘Why wait?’”
Calvin Young ’79, on the other hand, didn’t become a donor until he moved back to California after many years, first as a Ph.D. student at Columbia and then as a professor at the University of Washington. He’s now a professor of biology at Fullerton Community College in Southern California.
“As my life started to take shape relatively successfully, I started to look back at my time in Berkeley, and it opened my eyes to how important Cal was to me,” he says. “I’d rather be late reconnecting to Cal than not reconnecting at all.”
Rather than pick from a dizzying array of scholarships and programs, both men prefer to donate to The CAA Fund and let the experts select where to appropriate their donation.
“CAA understands where the money is most needed, and they try to allocate their general funds in a way that maximizes success,” says Perkins.
Young adds, “The CAA Fund is a special entity. I like the independence it has, and I like knowing my donation is going where it will do the most good.”
Young wanted to be a Golden Bear almost before he could spell it. “My older sister was at Cal in the ’60s when I was a little kid, and I used to visit her in her dorm. The girls had to yell, ‘Man on the floor!’ even though I was only 5 or 6. My sister would always lose track of me because I’d be in all the other girls’ rooms, eating cookies. I thought, ‘What a great place to go to school!’”
Perkins, on the other hand, had to be coaxed into it. “I was headed to Penn; but my dad went to Cal, so I told him, ‘OK, if I get in, I’ll go visit the place.’ And I was just blown away by the diversity and the proximity to San Francisco and the special vibe that existed in the unique community that was Cal. So it was an easy decision.”
And the place more than lived up to their expectations. “My secret was reading the teacher recommendations; the course was secondary,” says Perkins. “I took as many one-unit courses as I could, to take maximum advantage of our esteemed faculty. I had a great time!”
Young says, “My students know I went to Cal because I tell them. Plus, they see all my Cal stuff in my office. And that’s great because the ones who are thinking about transferring to Cal come to me for advice.
“And I tell them Cal is much more than just the academics, as great as that is. I learned so much about life, too.”
Last Homecoming weekend, Young—who now prefers to be called “Cal,” not Calvin—attended his 35th class reunion. It was the first reunion he has ever attended. “I had such a great time!” he says. “I wondered, ‘Why did I wait so long?’”
— Martin Snapp, J.D. ’72