Justin Hogenauer ’22 isn’t certain how he ended up on-stage at the 34th Leadership Award Recognition Lunch this March. “As a freshman, sitting among people who were so much older than me, I remember thinking the entire time, ‘What can I share with these people that they don’t know or they haven’t heard before?’” he recalls. A student who comes from a single-parent home, Justin has a lot to share and offer to the community around him.
Justin grew up in Cerritos, California and early on, discovered his passions for volunteering and making a difference in others’ lives. While he was still in high school, Justin was already finding ways to combine these passions with his interest in the environment. He helped establish an ecological education program at his school and planted three different gardens on campus. Two are drought-tolerant gardens and the third is a produce garden, “because California has been in a drought for so many years,” Justin adds, “and because it’s important to me to know and care about water issues after my dad passed away from dehydration.”
During Justin’s senior year of high school, he found himself debating between two choices for college: the Air Force Academy or UC Berkeley. “I was really on the fence because I was offered a full ride to the Academy,” he explains. “I want to become a pilot and my mom is retired, so financially, going to the Academy made sense.” This was all before he was invited to Senior Weekend, a program where he was able to visit the Cal campus before he had to SIR, and realized just how many opportunities he would be turning down if he didn’t attend Cal.
Justin went home after that weekend with his heart set on Berkeley. His mom was far less enthusiastic, and so, the financial responsibility of paying for tuition fell onto his shoulders. “I applied for financial aid and all the scholarships I could find,” he says. This was how he became a recipient of the Cal Alumni Association’s Leadership Award and The Achievement Award Program (TAAP).
“The community on campus at Cal and the community that CAA has made for students and donors constantly inspires me to continue challenging myself and aspire to be better.”
“Having the financial support of both these scholarships is such a huge help,” he emphasizes. “Without them, I wouldn’t be at Berkeley doing all the things that I am doing now, on top of working toward becoming a pilot.”
The long list of accomplishments Justin has tucked under his belt in just two semesters includes everything from being a part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and intended double major in society and environment through the College of Natural Resources and business administration at Berkeley Haas, to serving as hall president for his residence hall and group leader for the Cal Alumni Student Association’s Overnight Stay Program. Already on his to-do list is a summer internship as a camp counselor at Space Camp Turkey, a youth camp that brings together kids from different nationalities to study STEM and space education.
Justin recognizes how many different moving parts had to line up for him to have landed this opportunity. As an Alumni Scholar at the Cal Alumni Association (CAA), he was able to meet alumni donors and endowment holders—including Mary Tuncer ’63, longtime CAA donor, Justin’s TAAP endowment holder, and co-founder of Space Camp Turkey. By connecting with Mary, Justin was able to share his interests with her, which led to her offering him this incredible opportunity. “I’m so excited to go,” Justin beams. “I always love working with kids, plus I get to work internationally, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I never imagined I would be doing something like this.
“As a scholarship recipient at CAA,” he adds, “I feel so fortunate to have so many opportunities to form relationships with alumni donors. They all invest in you and help to bridge the gap from school to the professional space, which students often struggle to get access to.”
While Justin might view his relative youth as a disadvantage, particularly when looking for a way into the professional world, he’s already found his own ways to help bridge gaps and provide access to those who are still younger than him at Cal: new admits. After the Overnight Stay Program (OSP), Justin remembers standing quietly in awe of the night sky over the Big C with his fellow OSP student leaders and new admits. It was there that many of the high school seniors shared their concerns, like balancing the rigorous schedule of Cal and deciding between schools.
“Because I went through a similar process of choosing between Berkeley and the Air Force,” he shares, “I feel like I was able to relate better to them and really address their concerns about coming to Cal, whether it was about financial aid or the opportunities they’d find here.
“The community on campus at Cal, and the community that CAA has made for students and donors, constantly inspires me to continue challenging myself and aspire to be better.” Justin recalls, “One of my high school teachers once told me his goal was to make an impact on just one person’s life each year and hope they would go on to make an impact on someone else’s life, and so on. I want to be able to do that too.”