My parents are first-generation immigrants from Cuba who came to this country with little more than their suitcases. They didn’t go to college themselves, but my dad made clear the importance of education. UC Berkeley was always the goal for his four sons. Three of us went to Berkeley, and my twin brother Alex chose Davis. UC opened up the world to all of us.
Now I work as Berkeley’s director of state government relations, advocating for reinvestment in the university to preserve access and affordability for the next generation of students. This past spring, the budget proposal put forward by the governor was less than what the university had anticipated. Tuition increases seemed inevitable. I worked with student leaders, faculty, and alumni to show Sacramento just how important our university is to California. I would swing by campus and pack my car with amazing and diverse student leaders who shared powerful stories about Cal at budget hearings in the Capitol. Our advocates were persistent and persuasive, and their testimony helped deliver a funding increase above and beyond the Governor’s initial budget proposal.
Caring about public investment in California’s university and working to ensure its excellence and affordability — that’s what makes me a Berkeleyan.
This is the first in a series of thumbnail sketches of people in the UC Berkeley community who exemplify Berkeley, in all its creative, scrappy, world-changing, quirky glory. Are you a Berkeleyan? Know one? Let us know. We’ll add your name to a drawing for an I’m a Berkeleyan T-shirt.