I’m A Berkeleyan: Ana Claire Mancia

woman and llama

Ana Mancia, a senior, is the Associated Students of the University of California’s official “llama coordinator.” (UC Berkeley photo by Tonya Becerra)

I believe the world is malleable. I believe that ideas can be transformed into tangible creations that will positively impact people on a mass scale. This is the single most important principle I’ve learned since I arrived at UC Berkeley 3 ½ years ago.

I’ve also learned that it’s crucial to take risks and not fear failure. On this campus, I’ve been urged by faculty to “think big” to create value for those around me. With my passion for social entrepreneurship, I am constantly wondering how we, as students, can creatively solve problems and evolve as a campus. By applying this passion to all my involvements, I’ve tried to make my time here truly count. I’ve chosen to pursue my entrepreneurial endeavors to the fullest extent, rather than solely focus on classes and graduation.

One of my big ventures has been to bring llamas to UC Berkeley each semester before finals. As the founder of the Llamapalooza festival, I’m striving to reduce academic stress on this campus and to help students find more balance in their lives. Petting and feeding llamas during finals season reminds students that Berkeley is an unconventional place where our ideas are limitless. In that sense, Llamapalooza goes far beyond the cute camelids that make us smile before an exam. They represent our power to create new realities.

I am also very passionate about ending domestic violence. As an incoming freshman, I was dismayed to find no specific organization focused on this issue. So, I started the ASUC Intimate Partner Violence Commission, and we’ve grown to impact thousands of people on campus and in our local community. We regularly go to East Bay high schools and educate students on dating violence, because the subject isn’t typically included in their curriculum. I just launched a new initiative where we facilitate professional development workshops in Oakland for women recovering from domestic violence, to help them achieve financial independence. Many of the world’s problems would be reduced if we ended domestic violence, because it is the first type of violence that children see. It teaches them that violence is an acceptable way to solve their problems.

I am a business major because I love turning problems into opportunities and challenging convention. As a Berkeley Haas student, I’ve been taught to step outside my comfort zone while thinking about the future of many social issues. I am learning that a responsible business leader must innovate for the benefit of society. I’ve changed my major three times while at Berkeley, but I know I’ve finally gotten it right.

In order to succeed at this university, don’t settle. If you are not pursuing the work you love, switch direction and don’t look back. If you are not in an environment where you can thrive, do something about it. Don’t get trapped in other people’s ways of thinking, and always do what is right for yourself. Remember that you do have control over your path and outcomes. What happens in your life is up to you!

This is part of 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.