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the achievement award program


Meet the 2023 – 2024 Cohort of The Achievement Award Program (TAAP)

The Achievement Award Program supports high-achieving, community-minded, low-income, first-generation college students in their pursuit of a UC Berkeley education. The Cal Alumni Association (CAA) congratulates all twenty-two members of our incoming 2023 – 2024 Alumni Scholar cohort.


To Receive Is to Give: TAAP Scholars’ Legacy of Service

TAAP Scholars John Lam ’24 and Alishba Sardar ’23 both came from nontraditional education backgrounds. Their experiences laid the groundwork for their advocacy efforts.

Jayden Zheng ’23. / Hey Zinah Photography

Becoming Yourself through the Struggle

As a first-generation student from a low-income background, Jayden Zheng ’23 attributes the resources and support he found at Cal for allowing him to achieve his goals.

Alishba Sardar ’23 delivering her speech at the 2023 TAAP Graduation Brunch / Hey Zinah Photography

Building Hope

Alishba Sardar ’23 found community and empowerment at Cal as a foster youth through Berkeley Hope Scholars.

Rona Osmani ’06 (left) and Jesse Ante ’68, M.S. ’70 (right). / Courtesy of CJ Poloka

The Tale of Two Scholars: A Mentorship Story

By Chinwe Oniah

As one of a few Filipino students at Cal, Jesse Ante ’68, M.S. ’70, guided himself through his own path toward success. Years later, his mentorship supported Rona Osmani ’06 as she paved her own Cal journey.

Neil Arcellana (second from right) and his dance club perform a Philippine folk dance in 2022 at the University of Pacific’s 25th Pilipino Cultural Night. “Pilipino Cultural Night is an annual tradition that many colleges and high schools participate in…to celebrate and showcase Pilipino Culture and history.” / Courtesy of Neil Arcellana

Finding Your Story

TAAP and TLA Scholar Neil Arcellana ’24 shares his story of overcoming obstacles and hopes to advocate for other students facing similar challenges.

Giving Back

“Pursue Your Dreams Fearlessly”: An Entrepreneur’s Wisdom for Graduating Scholars

Ten years ago, I was exactly where you are right now: graduating with big dreams and aspirations ahead.


Yuner Evelyn Lu ’21 Urges Class of 2021 to Realize Its Power

I’m a senior studying electrical engineering and computer science at Cal, and I am honored to share my UC Berkeley journey with you.


What Pedro De Anda Plascencia ’21 Wants His Fifth-Grade Self to Know

Dear Fifth-Grade Pedro: I want to begin by telling you that I love you. You are valid, and you are worthy of love and protection.

Director’s Chair

A Letter from the Executive Director | Fall 2019

Reflections on an epoch-making year for diversity and student excellence

Image courtesy of Spencer Le

Freshman Scholar Takes Flight at Berkeley

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 […]

Cal Alumni Association

Creation of The Achievement Award Program

In 1996 California voters approved Proposition 209, which prohibited the consideration of race, ethnicity, or sex in the admission process at public universities. Immediately, the percentage of students at the University of California, Berkeley from low-income, minority communities decreased dramatically. As a result, the Cal Alumni Association (CAA), encouraged by Chancellor Robert Berdahl, formed a task […]