Every year, the competition for the University Medal – the award given each year to the graduating senior who best embodies the highest ideals of UC Berkeley – is fierce. Candidates for the medal, which was established in 1871, must have overcome significant challenges, had an impact on the lives of others and carry a GPA of 3.96 or higher.
Like the winner, the runners-up – Sahil Chinoy, Morvarid Mehdizadeh, Will Sandholtz and Alissa Stover – are extraordinary students who have demonstrated excellence. Here is a brief introduction to these distinguished scholars:
Hometown: San Diego
Majors: Physics and economics
What’s next: After graduating in December, Chinoy moved to New York for an internship with The New York Times, producing data and visual stories.
Berkeley moment: “I started at the Daily Cal my first semester freshman year. I remember walking into the office and grabbing the managing editor – without knowing who they were or how busy they were – and peppering them with questions about how to join the paper. I started as a copy editor, but I wanted to report and write stories. I started working as an assignment editor covering protest and tuition hikes and then transitioned to higher education – covering things like the Office of the President and the Board of Regents. Eventually I was able to bring together my academic background start work on data projects at the paper. My favorite memories of Berkeley revolve around working on those big projects with my fellow reporters and editors, meeting deadlines, and hitting publish at 4 a.m.”
Hometown: Pinole, CA
Major: Public health
What’s next: Mehdizadeh will continue working as a research associate in the laboratory of Jeffrey Bluestone in the Sean Parker Autoimmune Research Laboratory at UCSF, where she is contributing to efforts to find a treatment for type 1 diabetes. Later she plans to go to med school.
What Berkeley means to me: “At Berkeley, you feel empowered to shape history, rather than being passively shaped by it. Over the course of four years, you’re intellectually transformed and you become more and more eager to change the world. The empowerment that Berkeley gives you makes you believe that not only are you capable of doing so, but you have an obligation and a duty to use your education not just for individual success, but to help other people as well. You realize that success is rewarding — but even more rewarding than individual success is when your successes have a positive impact on the people around you.”
Majors: Economics and statistics
What’s next: Sandholtz will begin a Ph.D. program in economics this fall here at UC Berkeley.
What I love about Berkeley: “There’s a vibrancy and a diversity here that doesn’t exist at other schools I’ve been to. When you step onto Berkeley’s campus, you can see that there’s so much happening here. Sproul is always lively and there are so many different people and different voices that exist here. It’s something that I deeply appreciate about the community at UC Berkeley. It’s one of the main reasons why I decided to come in the first place and why I decided to stay for my Ph.D.”
Hometown: New York City
What’s next: Stover is continuing her work at UC Berkeley’s Cognition and Action Lab within the psychology department.
The most important thing I learned at Berkeley: “Learning how to balance working on myself as a human being and a person while simultaneously pushing myself intellectually. Coming into school, I was much more focused on academics, but I pretty quickly realized that that wasn’t giving me the full experience. I pushed myself to make time for other people around me.”