Born and raised in Oxnard, California, an agricultural community of Hispanic and Filipino immigrants, Cesar Arroyo ’17 did not encounter the idea of a university education in his childhood. Yet, he never doubted his intent to go to college, and his sister helped pave the way. “She helped me to realize the possibility, and my parents were always supportive.”
In high school, Cesar was accepted into Upward Bound, where he gained the mentoring needed to sustain his dream. He served as the vice president of Students Against Animal Cruelty and as vice president of the French Club, was co-captain of his wrestling team and a senior advisor for the California Scholarship Federation.
Today, Cesar is a business administration major at the Haas School of Business and a recipient of CAA’s The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) scholarship. “The TAAP Scholarship has been a blessing. If I have worry about something financially, it has completely removed that burden,” says Cesar. As a TAAP scholar, he helped develop a pilot program for TAAP alumni to mentor current TAAP scholars. The program identifies students’ professional interests and links them to alumni in matching fields, where they receive help in obtaining internships or research projects and gain access to resources within the alumni network.
Cesar has taught writing courses at Cal’s branch of Upward Bound, helping first-generation college students polish their skills. “People feel sympathy for first-generation college students, but I look at it with a sense of pride that I get to be the first person in my family to attend college.” An active member of the Latino Business Student Association at Haas, he encounters other students who share his passion for serving the community. He is part of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a national program with more than 200 corporate sponsors who identify and develop minority talent at universities across the country.
“My best memory at Cal is when I brought my family up for their first visit. I was able to show my siblings that college is something to aspire to.” Cesar helps his younger brother stay on track and inspires his cousins toward higher education. “My goal is to build a Berkeley dynasty among my siblings.”
Cesar finances his education through his TAAP scholarship, internships at companies including Google and Wells Fargo, and the support of his parents. After graduation, he plans to work in finance or technology before returning to school for an advanced degree.
College was never an ‘if’ for Cesar. Thanks to the generous gifts of alumni and friends who support TAAP, it is possible for Cesar to achieve his dreams.