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Boost@BerkeleyHaas 2022 high school grads heading to college

2022 Boost grads
Boost@BerkeleyHaas grad Jayiontae Williams, second from left, takes time out for a family photo at the Boost commencement. Photo: Ute Frey

Since its founding 33 years ago, Boost@BerkeleyHaas has helped more than 1,000 Bay Area high school students make it to college, almost all of them the first in their families to go.

Tapping faculty and student mentorship resources from Haas, Boost provides academic and financial resources, college workshops, and professional development to economically disadvantaged students throughout all four years of high school.

The Boost class of 2022 continued to excel, boasting the second-highest number ever of students accepted to UC Berkeley as freshmen.

Lucas Abbott has served as the director of Boost@BerkeleyHaas for eight of the 17 years he has been involved with the program. We recently asked him a few questions about Boost.

Lucas Abbott
Lucas Abbott, director of Boost@BerkeleyHaas

Where are the graduating students going this year?

We’re so proud of our 35 grads. Historically, almost 100% of Boost students pursue higher education, aside from a few who took a gap year or went into a trade instead of college. We always have at least one of our graduates get into UC Berkeley. This year we had our second-highest number of students accepted to Cal, with seven program graduates getting in. Last year, there was a record number of 15 students accepted to Cal.

What was remarkable about this group? Could you highlight some standout students?

Every Boost student is remarkable to me. To name a few, Amber Nolazco-Torrez applied and was accepted to 16 colleges and universities and will be attending Harvard in the fall; Estaina Resendiz Ortiz will be studying aerospace engineering at UC Davis; Steve Leke, who is the third sibling out of four in his family to come through the Boost program, will be the first Boost student enrolled in the Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (M.E.T.) program at UC Berkeley; and Yenifer Garcia, who is a QuestBridge Scholar, will be attending the University of Pennsylvania.

Overall, as a cohort, they went through the toughest years of high school in a pandemic and all came through with their high school diplomas and bright futures ahead. These students are amazing and all so successful already, and each of them have exciting  futures ahead of them. I am immensely proud of them all.

Group photo of Boost Class of 2022
The Boost@Berkeley Haas 2022 grads celebrate. Photo: Jim Block

What do you love about your job?

So much. Being able to provide a safe, positive, encouraging, and supportive youth mentoring program for the amazing Boost high school students to guide them on their path to a brighter future for themselves and their family through higher education is at the core. But we can’t do this impactful work without an amazing team of staff, volunteers, partners and donors. This spans from our recruiting coordinator Trinity Wilson to our partnership with Destination College Advising Corps (DCAC) and their college advisers (currently that’s Kassy Vang) and the many amazing Haas students (undergraduates, MBA and PhD students) who each year give their valuable time on Saturdays to mentor the Boost students. Lastly, but critically important, are all the donors to support the Boost program.

Boost@BerkeleyHaas is supported by donations. 

ImagiCal club students head to national advertising competition finals

Undergraduate presenter for the imagiCal club presented clockwise in photo
imagiCal club members who will present at the finals: Jasmine Zheng, BS 24 (business), BA 24 (art practice); Claire Shao, BS 24 (business) BA 24 (media studies); Sydney Fessenden, BA 25 (global studies); and Anika Srivastava, BS 24 (business) BA (psychology)

Extensive research, creative storytelling, and purposeful design helped a team of undergraduate students make it to the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition this month. 

The students, presenters for the 30-member Haas-sponsored imagiCal club, will compete against eight other teams in the finals June 3-4 in Nashville, Tenn. They will pitch a marketing campaign to promote the Meta Quest 2, a headset by virtual reality systems maker Meta Quest. 

The presenters include Jasmine Zheng, BS 24 (business), BA 24 (art practice); Claire Shao, BS 24 (business) BA 24 (media studies); Sydney Fessenden, BA 25 (global studies); and Anika Srivastava, BS 24 (business) BA (psychology). ImagiCal is UC Berkeley’s official American Advertising Federation chapter.

This year’s team heads to the finals for the first time since 2016. According to Continuing Lecturer Judy Hopelain, imagiCal’s faculty adviser since 2013, “the team recommendations were based on a solid strategy, keen user insights, and creativity. The Meta Quest clients said their beautiful design and clever execution were key to the team’s success in this year’s competition.”

The students competed against teams from over 200 universities at the district and regional levels to make it to the finals. In Nashville, they’ll pitch to a panel of judges including brand and marketing leaders from Meta, and advertising, marketing, and communications professionals. 

Members of the imagiCal club at Haas
Members of the imagiCal club at Haas, which made it to the national finals for the first time since 2016.

Asked what sets the team apart, Zheng said it was about putting together a group of “the most eccentric, worldly, empathetic, creative individuals in a room together” and asking them to create a marketing campaign.” 

“We’re telling a story,” she said. “We’re connecting with our audience. And we’re seeking to expand the capacity to be empathetic and creative at every step of the journey.”

This year’s competition will be the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that teams will be presenting in front of a live audience, rather than a computer screen on Zoom. While nerves are understandably high, imagiCal’s philosophy is to “go big or go home,” Zheng said.

Two Berkeley Haas students chosen for Auschwitz professional ethics fellowship

Kanyinsola Aibana and Danielle Dhillon, MBA 22
Kanyinsola Aibana and Danielle Dhillon, both MBA 22

Kanyinsola Aibana and Danielle Dhillon, both MBA 22, will travel to Germany and Poland this summer to participate in Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE), an intensive 12-day program for students studying business, journalism, law, medicine, or religion. 

Fellows learn about the roles played by people in their professions in Nazi Germany, and explore the ethical issues facing those professions today. Daily seminars are led by specialized faculty who engage fellows in discussions and critical thinking about both the historical and the contemporary.

We interviewed both students about the fellowship.

What led you to apply to the FASPE Fellowship? 

Kanyinsola: I applied to the FASPE Fellowship because it would allow me to go beyond my core Ethics course and explore practical ways to address ethical issues as a business leader. I was intrigued by the structure and setting of FASPE, which provides a unique opportunity to delve into topics in business ethics, both historical and contemporary, and a forum to engage and learn from fellows from different graduate programs to create a genuinely enriching and impactful experience. FASPE will serve as a great capstone to my MBA.

Danielle: I applied to the FASPE fellowship because I truly see it as a culmination of my educational journey. I’ve always enjoyed my ethics and philosophy classes in undergrad and here at Haas. In college I minored in German and had the chance to study parts of the German economy via my finance and international business major. Being part of the FASPE Business Fellows community will give me a community to share with and learn from as we examine the role of business and capitalism in making the world a better place through a lens of the harm that it once contributed to.

What do you hope to take away from the trip?

Kanyinsola: I hope to take away tools to help me resolve, avoid, or prepare for the nuanced ethical issues I will face as a business leader. In addition, I hope to leverage the multidisciplinary discussions and different perspectives of other fellows to examine and better understand the actions and complicity of business executives during Nazi Germany and other contexts to reinforce my professional responsibility to promote ethical and moral decision-making.

Danielle: I hope to take away a renewed sense of what business ethics can and should look like, particularly given the ambiguity created by context and time. I hope to walk away with a better understanding of how systemic evil can make it impossible to make the right choices, especially for businesses. But I also am eager to hear stories of businesses that did the right thing—because we don’t tend to focus on those or have good, accessible examples of what ethical business leadership looks like.

How does the fellowship align with your career goals?

Kanyinsola: I aspire to be a business leader in the sustainable food and agricultural space. I am driven by a desire to promote individual well-being by facilitating access to nutritious food products while minimizing the detrimental impact of large-scale food production on the climate and environment. While I hope to be an innovator in this arena, I anticipate tension will sometimes arise in balancing my ultimate mission with the fiscal responsibilities of running a business. I want to be a business leader who continuously reflects upon and confronts ethical issues in all aspects of my business operations. FASPE will provide a great foundation to accomplish this goal.

Danielle: I came to Haas to pivot to a career in impact investing, where I will be responsible for advising and structuring investments that have a double or triple bottom line. In July I’ll be joining the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation where I’ll source, evaluate, and select early stage, high impact social entrepreneurs to support via the model of venture philanthropy. This fellowship will give me an additional lens to truly become a prudent impact investor because business isn’t inherently ethical or unethical: business will always have the ability to perpetuate good or harm. An ethical capital allocator needs to be able to dissect and understand the potential harms as well as see the bigger picture if they choose to go forward.