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In case you missed it, below are the Berkeley Moments of a few folks in our GSE community.
Gary Mukai, ’76 (BA), ‘77 (multiple-subjects teaching credential), ‘13 (EdD, Leadership in Educational Equity Program)
Director, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE)
Photo: Charley Trujillo (l) and Gary Mukai (r), 2020
My favorite Berkeley Moment sticks with me to this day. It’s about making connections: academic, personal, and life connections that I made at Berkeley, and that stand the test of time.
During my first quarter at Cal in fall 1972, I took a course, Asian American Studies 183, by Professor Ronald Takaki that focused on a comparative analysis of race in U.S. history.
For the first time in my life, I was introduced to topics that were culturally relevant to my family’s history, including early Asian immigration to the United States; the Japanese American experience during World War II; and the Bracero Program, a 22-year initiative started in 1942 that allowed the United States to recruit temporary guest workers from Mexico.
I worked with braceros from the late 1950s to 1964. Professor Takaki’s class inspired me to apply to a multiple-subjects teaching credential program in the GSE that was called the Black-Asian-Chicano Urban Program or BAC-UP.
It was in the GSE that I got to know fellow student, Charley Trujillo, a Vietnam War veteran who spoke about his experience growing up as a Mexican American farmworker in the Central Valley. I felt like he was describing my childhood.
Charley and I were re-introduced by a mutual friend at Stanford in 2012, and for the first time since 1977, we met again in person. Since then, we meet periodically and reminisce about our experiences in the GSE.
I am so grateful for my Berkeley connections, and my Berkeley moments.
Photo (l to r): This special cohort calls themselves the Sesame Seeds: Korah Wiley; Vasiliki Laina; Laleh Coté; Deniz Dogruer.
What comes to mind extends beyond a single moment and into my entire graduate school experience here at Berkeley.
On the first day of orientation, the longtime administrative assistant informed us that we were special. Our cohort of four was one of the largest in a very long time. As we started the program, I quickly realized that I was a part of something truly special. My SESAME* cohort consists of four women who are all in the same stage in life: coming back to grad school after a career; or extended study; or time off from school. From the beginning, we formed fast bonds with each other as a group.
The friendship amongst my cohort has allowed me to get through some really, really difficult times, pulled me out of self doubt, and helped me excel.
Having people who remind you of things about yourself that you sometimes lose sight of, who help you see beyond that major disappointment that makes you want to quit, who re-orient you, re-ground you, and tell you “You are capable! You’re going to get through this. We’re going to help you through it.”--- That’s more than a cohort, that’s friendship for life!
I know no matter what happens from here on out, there are three women who know me, love me, and have my back.
We’re already planning a future Berkeley Moment – in Greece. We have committed to each other, whenever the last one graduates, we will reunite for a celebratory vacation in the Greek isles. #MoreThanACohort
* The Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education is informally known as SESAME, an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to a doctoral degree in science, mathematics, or engineering education.
My favorite Berkeley Moment happened when a high school recruit from Oakland, Calif. (my hometown) came into my office with his mother on his recruiting visit to Cal.
I shared my experiences with the recruit and his mother while providing context for the ways in which I would provide academic support for the prospective student. During our meeting, the mother burst into tears and was so appreciative of the candid nature of our conversation.
At that moment, I realized that my experiences at Berkeley were truly purposeful to empower the next generation of students to create their own legacy at Berkeley. Fortunately, that young man chose to attend Berkeley and he is a thriving student-athlete on the track & field team. He will graduate spring 2021 with a degree in Legal Studies.
More about Ed
Furthermore, I am excited to conduct research within the GSE as I complete my Master’s Thesis Project. I have had many incredible moments on campus over the last 15 years, and as a local kid from Oakland, I always envisioned myself coming to Cal. However, if it were not for my high school track & field coach, I would likely not have attended Berkeley.
My high school coach, Jeff Rogers, is still Cal’s record-holder in the high jump (7’ 5 3/4”) and his track & field coach during his time in the late 1980s, Ed Miller, ended up coaching me during my time at Cal. This connection certainly enhanced my undergraduate experience and I hope to continue making similar connections with other Cal students and student athletes in support of their educational pursuits.
Jenny Nhu Le
Photo: Jenny Le (top right) in a BE3 class.
My favorite moment at Berkeley was during a class in 2121 Berkeley Way with my classmates in BE3 (Berkeley Educators for Equity and Excellence). We were in our ELL/Multilingual Learners Methods Module and our instructor Suzi Mozenter pulled back the curtain that hid part of the white board. Underneath were the lyrics to "Lean on Me."
I didn't know that singing could be a literacy strategy to help newcomers in our classroom.
This was also during a tough moment in our program and the experience of singing this song together reinforced our shared experience and solidarity.
Even with the door closed, people outside the room could still hear us, but that didn't stop us from swaying to the lyrics by Bill Withers.
"Lean on Me" is probably our cohort theme song now.