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‘Your Network Is Your Net Worth’: Connecting the Next Generation of Leaders

March 1, 2021

Jacob Neel ’20, who started his first job during the coronavirus pandemic, shared that at Cal, he learned how to “normalize rejection as redirection.” Austin Drake ’18 reminded everyone that “you have to have the audacity to ask.”

In honor of Black History Month, alumni looked to our future, hosting a virtual event in which Black Cal alumni connected with Alumni Scholars, current UC Berkeley undergraduate students in The Achievement Award Program and recipients of The Leadership Award. “Black History Month is about honoring our Black leaders who have paved the way. Most importantly, Black History Month is about raising the next generation of leaders,” said Executive Director Cloey Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79.

“Black History Month is about raising the next generation of leaders.”

Alumni covered career paths in technology and law, talked about pursuing graduate and professional degrees, and shared career preparation tips. Dana Lang MBA ’77 shared, “Do what you love, because you’ll be better at it and more enthusiastic than anyone else.” Naomi Wright ’18 highlighted the campus resources she tapped into as she prepared for her career, including the Educational Opportunity Program office, the College of Letters and Sciences, and the School of Public Health. Scholars also received advice on handling unexpected detours in life and preparing for their careers.

Lang and Wright emphasized the benefits of building community and maintaining those relationships over time. “The connections you make may become your biggest supporters as you continue on your path,” Lang said. Drake put it succinctly: “Your network is your net worth.”

Black Alumni Career Panel

Above: Speakers at the Black Alumni Career Panel shared their experiences navigating the road from Cal to career.

The Alumni Scholars Program continually develops programming that connects current scholars and recent graduates with alumni. If you are interested in speaking with us, please contact Fritzie de Mata at