In spring 2008, Stefan Montouth was deciding where he wanted to go to college. He liked UC Berkeley, but worried he wouldn’t fit in. But then he went to Cal Day and knew he’d found a home.
“It eased my own tensions of being nervous and having that imposter syndrome,” said Montouth, who is now an associate director of marketing in Berkeley’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. “If it wasn’t for Cal Day, I may have made a different decision.”
Twelve years later, Cal Day is taking a new form as Berkeley shifts many essential operations, from research to education, to the online world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of opening its doors for a single day to showcase the wonder of UC Berkeley for an in-person crowd of some 40,000 visitors, more than 100 digital events will be spread over the newly named Cal Week.
“As we adapt to extraordinary times, we remain committed to helping students navigate their journey at Berkeley,” said UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. “While new uncertainties may continue to arise, our newest to oldest Golden Bears know that this community is characterized by scholars of extraordinary creativity and resilience.”
Running this Saturday, April 18, through Friday, April 24, Cal Week will feature online live and pre-recorded video streams to give the more than 15,000 newly admitted first-year and transfer students a virtual space to learn about the richness of Berkeley’s academic and student life from current students, faculty and staff.
The festivities will kick-off at 9 a.m. this Saturday with a virtual welcome from Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, along with a panel including Dean of the College of Engineering Tsu-Jae Liu, Cal Parent Board Member Deidre Thorpe and ASUC President Amma Sarkodee-Adoo.
A “Virtual Visit” will follow at 10 a.m. led by Berkeley’s student campus ambassadors, who will take questions and provide a “walk” through Berkeley’s more than 1,200-acre campus, giving prospective students, wherever in the world they currently live, a lay of the land.
Cal Week attendees can also tune in to interactive online student panels and video webinars featuring Berkeley student leaders and academic groups.
Some of those virtual offerings will include perspectives from students of color, the LGBT community, student parents, transfer students and a host of other scheduled events.
For students with an entrepreneurial itch, SkyDeck, Berkeley’s startup accelerator will hold a webinar Wednesday for those interested in interning for a startup or launching their own companies. Current Berkeley startup founders and interns will be on hand.
Prospective students who do not have access, or are unable to attend the live online sessions, will be able to watch recordings of the events.
“Instead of trying to attend a bunch of different sessions in just one day, Cal Week gives students more time to interact with the campus community, to get an understanding of what Berkeley has to offer, and how they fit in,” Montouth said.
Newly admitted students looking to get a sense of what it’s like to sit in a Berkeley classroom can also attend several virtual faculty lectures during the week that will be conducted by a variety of Berkeley scholars.
On Tuesday, for example, Berkeley social welfare professor Jill Berrick will give a lecture for future changemakers on navigating child protection as a social worker in the welfare system.
Montouth said he hopes Cal Week’s diverse online offerings give newly admitted students that same feeling of reassurance he himself received as a prospective student on Cal Day 12 years ago.
“As a former student myself, I have experienced all that Berkeley has to offer,” he said. “We want our future students to know that we chose them for a reason, and that Berkeley has the resources and opportunities to help them not only survive, but thrive as students in whatever they want to pursue.”
Cal Week will offer various sessions in Spanish and Mandarin/Cantonese. For more information, and to view all scheduled Cal Week events, visit UC Berkeley’s admitted students site here.