Campus & community, People, Profiles

From Future Farmers of America to business at Berkeley

For new student Emily Arreola, raising hogs and attending leadership conferences during high school helped her break out of her shell and apply to Berkeley, where she plans to study business

portrait of a Berkeley student smiling and standing outside with trees and other students in the background
First-year student Emily Arreola is from Williams, California. "It’s a really small town — it has maybe 5,000 people — so being here is super crazy, but I’m getting used to it," said Arreola. "I make new friends every day."

Brittany Hosea-Small for UC Berkeley

This Q&A is part of a series of new student profiles for our 2023 back-to-school coverage. Have someone you think we should write about? Contact [email protected].

Berkeley News: What year are you, and where are you from?

Emily Arreola: I’m a first-year student, and I’m from Williams, California. It’s a really small town — it has maybe 5,000 people so being here is super crazy, but I’m getting used to it. Yesterday, I probably walked a good two miles around Berkeley, and now I’m less nervous about being here. I love exploring the city.

How is Berkeley different from where you grew up?

I make new friends, like, every day. I keep meeting new people. I love that because where I’m from, we already know each other. So, I don’t really meet new people every day. Like, I met this girl today who came from New York. I’m like, Oh, my goodness. It’s so far away.

What are you interested in studying at Berkeley?

I really want to go to Haas to major in business and see where that can lead me in the future. My dad actually owns a business. He’s an agricultural contractor, so he has all his financial papers that he needs to do. So, I want to help him and have a business of my own.

Were you interested in business in high school?

Yes, I was. I kind of already knew I wanted to do something in business. We’re from the agricultural fields it’s super aggie over there. I was in a program called FFA [Future Farmers of America] for my whole four years of high school.

I was an FFA officer during my junior and senior years. We would always go to competitions and officer retreats. We went to conferences all over California, where I’d meet new people and learn leadership skills. There was a lot of public speaking. I was super shy as a kid, but when I became an officer and started being way more active, I wasn’t shy anymore. It is what got me to come to Berkeley, honestly.

I remember talking to someone who was in FFA, and she raised cattle. Did you raise animals?

Yes! I raised hogs every year of high school, so I raised four hogs. We had a barn on campus, where we had pigs, lambs, goats, cattle and steers. Some students kept them at their houses on their property. In order to keep your animals at the barn, you had to meet certain requirements — you had to be passing your classes and be an active participant in the program. It was super fun. It was a big part of my high school experience.

Read more 2023 back-to-school stories.