If she does not convince a student to choose Cal, no one will. Allyson Gipson’s (B.A.’84, M. Arch. ’86) passion and dedication are more than inspiring, they are genuine. A volunteer for more than ten years, Allyson is part of CAA’s program Cal Student Recruitment—YES Berkeley! This program provides potential and incoming Cal students opportunities to interact with alumni around the country. CAA is responsible for training alumni to serve as College Fair Alumni Ambassadors, and for organizing Calling Campaigns, Prospective Student Receptions, New Student Receptions, and Summer Welcome Parties.
Allyson has participated in every aspect of the Cal Student Recruitment program. During the fall she spends an average of 80 hours volunteering for CAA and devotes additional time with fellow alumni to visit high schools in Los Angeles’ underrepresented minority districts. One year she attended every government class at Westchester High School and spoke with approximately 300 students in the junior class. Her commitment to ensuring the best and brightest students attend Cal is matched by her fondness for the students she meets. “It is awesome when you know students are Cal material. YES Berkeley! is a chance to talk with students one on one and get them excited about Cal.”
Allyson volunteers because she considers her Cal experience life changing. “I understand how important my Cal education was. Berkeley allows you to realize your dreams and broaden your mind.” She also wants students who need acknowledgement to realize their own potential. “When you see a diamond in the rough and you know they have ‘the goods,’ sometimes all it takes is saying, ‘You can do this.’” Allyson adds this is only half the reward. “Hearing, ‘I can do it’ from students and them believing it is what I enjoy most about volunteering.”
For Allyson, the interaction with students and their reciprocation make all the difference. Recently she received a picture from twin sisters whom she met at an event and who chose UC Berkeley. “Getting the photo from the twins in their Cal sweatshirts was my most memorable volunteer moment.” The twins graduated with the Class of 2011.
Allyson exemplifies the power of being a volunteer and understands that programs like Cal Student Recruitment rely on private donations. “We cannot reach out broadly enough. There are kids who do not get to explore their potential. And it is those kids who won’t have the opportunity to have the blessing of the Cal experience.”