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Welcome Bears! New Berkeley Haas students begin classes

Undergraduate students in the Haas courtyard
New undergraduate students gathered in the Haas courtyard. Photo: Noah Berger

The Berkeley Haas courtyard has sprung back to life. Over the past week, new undergraduate, full-time MBA, and PhD students arrived for orientations, getting a first glimpse of life in the classroom. Students in the Berkeley Haas Executive MBA and the evening & weekend MBA program, including the first Flex MBA class, came to campus for orientation last month.

Full-time MBA Program 

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(Photos by Jim Block)

Spirits were high among the entering full-time MBA students who gathered for the traditional Week Zero orientation Aug. 15-17. School and student leaders (including Week Zero Co-Chair Dingmi Gong, MBA 23) and Jamie Breen, assistant dean of MBA Programs, welcomed the group, who throughout the two days participated in sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion at Haas, productivity and time management, and an introduction to the case study method.  They also met their study groups for Teams@Haas, a program that’s celebrating its 10th year in the MBA curriculum with lessons on collaborative leadership.

International student at MBA orientation at Haas
International MBA students had a separate orientation session to learn about careers, financial aid, and housing— and just ask questions. Photo: Jim Block

MBA Association (MBAA) President Jude Watson, a former chef and community organizer from Seattle, introduced Dean Ann Harrison, who emphasized how important it is for students to lead on critical issues such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as climate change. She noted that both innovation and collaboration that will be required to solve the world’s toughest problems.

“The issue of climate change has become visibly real, and despite the important climate bill that Joe Biden has put in place, we have a very long way to go. It’s just a down payment on the change we need,” she said. “I believe that you, as business leaders, will lead the change.”

“I believe that you, as business leaders, will lead the change.” Dean Ann Harrison.

Orientation speaker Lo Toney, MBA 97, urged students to explore, celebrate, and focus during their journeys. Toney, founding managing partner of Plexo Capital, told students that they will learn the most from their peers–not just about the diversity of where people are from, but what they have done. “Look around you,” he said. “These are people who are going to be in extremely senior positions,” who will help you along your journey. 

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate students shaking hands in Spieker Forum
Berkeley Haas undergraduate students participated in ice breakers throughout orientation day in Spieker Forum. Photo: Noah Berger

In welcoming the new class, Dean Ann Harrison noted the sweeping changes coming for the undergraduate program, anchored by the recent $30 million gift from alumnus Warren “Ned” Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BA 66, (political science), that will be used to create the new four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program

In her welcome message, Emma Hayes Daftary, the new assistant dean of undergraduate admissions, expanded on the changes and the importance of enhancing collaboration among the students in the competitive program. “This program and our Defining Leadership Principles will challenge you to shift from what you, as an individual, can achieve, to what we, as a community, can accomplish,’ she said. “It’s for this reason that we’re focusing on culture this year, and we’re working to create a more collaborative, inclusive, and equitable culture in the undergraduate program.”

Hayes Daftary said the first order of business is to  eliminate the “Haas Curve” grading policy—which drew cheers from the students.

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Students cheered the news of a plan to eliminate the “Haas Curve” grading policy for undergraduates. Photo: Noah Berger

She said the policy of grading on a curve was adopted in 2011 across the MBA and undergraduate programs for ease and consistency. But in May 2021, the Undergraduate Program Committee voted to recommend that the policy be eliminated. Policies such as grade caps and grading on a curve are often criticized because they lead students to compete against each other, but in this case it was also deemed to be ineffective, she said.

 “I’m not a competitive person, so I think it’s good…It will definitely help.” said Gloria Gonzalez-Serrano, a continuing undergraduate student who plans to pursue a career in digital marketing.

Other program changes include the hiring of more staff to focus on the academic and student experience, funding the Haas Business Student Association (HBSA) at historic levels, renovating the undergraduate program lounge, and upgrading the Cheit Hall classrooms. 

Browse more highlights (photos by Noah Berger):

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Evening & Weekend MBA

The new class of evening & weekend MBA students arrived on campus in July for a jam-packed “WE Launch” orientation weekend of work sessions, team-building exercises, and an introduction to the Haas Defining Leadership Principles.

A few details about the Class of 2025: More than 40% of the new students have at least one advanced degree, including 21 PhDs. More than 40% of the class was born outside of the U.S. Nearly half—47%— are married or partnered, with 22% raising kids (altogether they have 80 children.)

Browse highlights from EWMBA orientation here. (Photos by Jim Block)

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Also, some fun facts:

  • The class includes a violinist who performed at Carnegie Hall, a former professional ballet dancer, and three published authors, including the author of the “Silicon Valley Dictionary.”
  • Among the students is a professional water polo player, a Formula One race car driver, and the general manager of a minor league baseball team
  • The class boasts the youngest elected city council member of a Bay Area City, the lead singer in a band that raises money for domestic violence victims, and a volunteer for the Yellowstone Wolf Project who helps with tracking wolves. There’s also a flight controller for NASA Mission Control, a pilot instructor for the Air Force, and a paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.

PhD

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Top row (left to right): Ockemia Bean, Amol Singh Raswan, Simoni Jain, Karin Li, Edgar Sanchez-Cuevas, Jacob Moore, Analexis Glaude, and Rui Sun. Bottom row (left to right): Sylvia Chin, Bernardo Lembi Ramalho Maciel, Patrik Räty, Silvia Farina, Minghao Yang, Dingzhe Leng. Photo: Jim Block

A total of 14 students joined the PhD program this fall, with an equal split between men and women. The group hails from around the world, including the U.S., Brazil, China, Colombia, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, and Singapore.

The students’ area of study is equally diverse, including accounting, business and public policy, finance, marketing science, management of organizations, and real estate.

A record-breaking 2022 for fundraising at Berkeley Haas

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Berkeley Haas raised $69 million from more than 4,300 donors in fiscal 2022. Campus photo: Noah Berger

The Haas School of Business announced its best fundraising year in the school’s history, raising $69 million from more than 4,300 donors in fiscal year 2022. 

The banner year was anchored by a $30 million gift to transform the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program.

This year’s efforts bring the total raised for the past two fiscal years to a record $116 million, the most ever raised in two consecutive years.

“So many alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends went beyond themselves this year, providing unbelievable support for Haas,” Dean Ann Harrison said. “Their generous gifts will be used to do important work within our community, work that will help Haas build the next generation of Berkeley leaders, stay connected to and support our alumni community, and remain a top business school. We are truly grateful.”

Fundraising highlights from the past year:

  • $69 million raised from donations by 4,339 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends.
  • A $30 million gift, the largest single donation in the school’s history, from Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BS 66 (political science). Their gift will be used to launch the four-year Spieker Undergraduate Program in Fall of 2024.
  • The addition of seven new Builders of Berkeley—donors who given at least $1 million to Berkeley—including Haruki, MBA 12, and Mikiko Satomi, Kevin, BS 82 JD/MBA 85 and Eileen Shields, John Hokom, BS 59, MBA 60, Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89, Roshni and Jagdeep Singh, MBA 90, Joanne and Jon Goldstein, BS 82; and the Liang-Kuo Family.
  • The 2022 one-day Big Give campaign, which raised $2.475 million from a record 911 gifts.
  • A record number of gifts of $2,500, the new gift level for the Haas Leadership Society.
  • A record $4.86 million raised for the Haas Fund, the most raised in one year. Gifts to the Haas Fund are used for scholarships and program enhancements, as well as our Alumni Network podcasts, lifelong learning, and alumni programming.

Alumni engagement highlights from the past year:  

Alumni engagement also thrived in 2022, with a record-breaking group of nearly 1,700 alumni returning to campus for their makeup and in-person MBA reunion weekend celebrations. Together, the MBA reunion classes of 2020 and 2021 donated $2.2 million and gave 11 lead gifts. At the annual Alumni Conference, the combined virtual and in-person events allowed alumni from all over the world to tap into Haas thought leadership. In-person events fostered community-building and connections.  

More alumni engagement highlights:

  • Alumni affinity groups increased programming for women graduates as well as programming in real estate and growth industries like cryptocurrency and blockchain.  
  • Alumni sourced and shared 474 jobs with the school as part of the Hire Haas campaign.  
  • More than 3,700 alumni accepted a call to action, volunteering for Haas by assisting with admissions, meeting with students for career conversations, serving as guest speakers or panelists, or leading and arranging events and programs for fellow alumni.  
  • The OneHaas Alumni Podcast produced 42 podcasts featuring alumni in conversation about their Haas experience and career trajectories.
  • Three new mentoring programs were launched to support student career planning and help build greater alumni connections.
  • A self-paced alumni lifelong-learning management platform was launched which provides video content curated for intellectual curiosity. The first two courses focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources for alumni. 

For more information about investing in the schools priorities and/or becoming a volunteer please contact Howie Avery, assistant dean for Development & Alumni Relations, or the Development and Alumni Relations office.

Largest gift in Berkeley Haas history will transform undergraduate business program from two to four years

Berkeley, Calif.— The Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, today announced that its top-ranked two-year undergraduate business program will expand to become a four-year program, supported by the largest single gift in the school’s history.

In recognition of the $30 million gift from Haas alumnus Warren “Ned” Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, BA 66, (political science), UC Berkeley will name the Haas School’s four-year undergraduate business program the Spieker Undergraduate Business Program. The first four-year cohort of students will enroll in August of 2024.

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Ned Spieker, BS 66, and his wife, Carol, gave a record $30 million to Haas to transform the undergraduate program. Photo: Karl Nielsen

“A four-year undergraduate business experience will provide remarkable new opportunities for students,” said Ned Spieker, a Haas School Board member who is founder and former Chairman and CEO of Spieker Properties, one of the largest owner-operators of commercial property in the U.S. “My hope is that this gift will help build a program that’s second-to-none in the world, cementing Haas as the top undergraduate business school for generations to come.”

“This is a historic, game-changing investment in undergraduate business education,” said Berkeley Haas Dean Ann E. Harrison. ”We are so thrilled that Ned and Carol have made a commitment to Haas toward building the next generation of business leaders.”

Historically, students have applied to the Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program as sophomores and enrolled as juniors. Now, prospective Berkeley students will have the option to apply directly to Haas and enter as freshmen, giving them an additional two years for deeper learning, including career development, study abroad opportunities, entrepreneurship programs, capstone projects, mentorship engagements, and internships. While the majority of undergraduates will enter as freshmen in the future, continuing UC Berkeley and transfer students may continue to apply for acceptance to the program as sophomores.

Delivering impact

The Spiekers’ gift will be used to deliver impact in five areas critical to supporting the program, including:

  • Endowing a new scholars program
    The new Spieker Scholars Program will attract the best and brightest undergraduate students. These students have challenged themselves academically throughout their high school experience and demonstrated exceptional leadership skills through athletic and co-curricular pursuits, their commitment to creating a positive social impact in their communities, and their curiosity for learning outside of the traditional academic setting. Spieker Scholars, three to four chosen per class, will receive significant financial support and enrichment opportunities. In addition to the Spieker Scholars Program, this gift will fund an expansion of the scholarships available for students who may have financial barriers to attending UC Berkeley.
  • Building outreach and support
    Outreach efforts will be expanded to ensure that high-performing students from all backgrounds consider Haas. A first-year academic advisor will work with admitted students, providing the knowledge and resources required to navigate the university system. Students will also have access to preparatory courses that will build their foundational knowledge around business concepts and strengthen their quantitative skills.
  • Creating a life-changing student experience
    Haas will increase staffing for academic and admissions advising, mental health services and support, marketing and admissions, alumni outreach, and student orientation. These additional touchpoints will ensure that undergraduate students are maximizing their time within the ecosystem of Berkeley Haas and developing deep relationships with the alumni community.
  • Providing new co-curricular opportunities
    Funds will be used to support student activities such as experiential learning workshops, international research, travel opportunities, social gatherings, student conferences and competitions, and additional leadership opportunities.
  • Enhancing classroom technology and infrastructure
    To provide students a state-of-the-art learning experience, classrooms in Cheit Hall, where many undergraduate students take classes, will be upgraded with the latest audio, visual, and media equipment.

A crucial role in campus planning

Ned Spieker, who is also founder and chairman of Continuing Life communities, which operates large-scale communities for seniors in California, met his wife, Carol, at UC Berkeley. Their four children are Cal grads. Carol Spieker, an Emeritus Trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation, has served on the governing board of Filoli, a National Historic Trust property, and as chairman of the board of Sacred Heart Schools.

For years, Ned Spieker has played a crucial role in Haas campus planning, convincing the administration of the importance of maximizing its campus footprint. Spieker served as a catalyst and champion for the construction of Haas’ newest building, Chou Hall. Recently, Spieker shifted his efforts to the undergraduate program.

The undergraduate program has added three multidisciplinary programs and one minor outside of the core program over the past several years. The new programs include:

Early support

The expanded four-year undergraduate program has also received a number of gifts from other generous supporters, which helped bring the total raised so far to more than $45 million (including the Spieker gift). Early supporters include Janelle Grimes, BA 86, (political science), and Michael Grimes, BS 87, (electrical engineering and computer science). Michael Grimes, the M.E.T. program’s founding donor, played an instrumental role by working with Berkeley Haas as a founder of the four-year undergraduate program. Additional program supporters include Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89; Maria and Gene Frantz, BS 88; Joanne and Jon Goldstein, BS 82; Melissa and Clif Marriott, BS 99; Adria and Brian Sheth; Roshni and Jagdeep Singh, MBA 90; and Melody and Jerry Weintraub, BS 80, MBA 88.

The Berkeley Haas Undergraduate Program was founded in 1898, the same year the business school (then called the College of Commerce) was established. As the second-oldest business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas provides research, thought leadership, and talent development to lead the way to a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Read an FAQ about the new program here.

 

Q&A: Yue Chen, BS 20, MFE 23, pioneering Division 1 women’s basketball player, aims to be a Triple Bear

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Undergraduate alum Yue Chen, BS 20, is currently studying in the Berkeley Haas MFE program and plans to enter the MBA program in 2025.

Yue Chen, BS 20, MFE 23, is the first-ever Chinese national to play on a NCAA Division 1 Women’s basketball team. At 6’6” and the daughter of professional basketball players, Chen played center for the women’s team at Cal for five years before returning to China to play professionally for 18 months.

Now, the pioneering athlete is back at Berkeley with sights on becoming a Triple Bear. Chen is studying in the Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) program, among a record 32% women in the Class of 2022, along with a diverse group of students from 17 different countries. This fall, Chen will intern as an associate at

After Chen finishes the MFE degree, she plans to begin the full-time MBA program in 2025, accepted under Accelerated Access, which allows students to apply as seniors and defer for several years. We talked to Chen recently about her basketball career and why she chose to do three degrees at Haas.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?

Yue Chen: I was born in Beijing and spent my first 18 years there. Both my parents met in college. They used to be professional basketball players in China so I was born into a basketball family. I started playing basketball when I was a little kid and it was a big part of my life. During high school, I was facing the decision of either going to play pro or going to college. It was always a dream for me to come to the States and to play ball and also pursue academics simultaneously.

When was the first time that you visited the U.S. ?

I was fortunate to attend a Junior NBA camp when I was 12. Three teams played each other from Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. The winning team got the opportunity to come to the States and watch the All Star Games. I played for Beijing, the winning team, and we came to the States to watch the All Star Games in Dallas. That was my first time in the US. Kobe Bryant was there and people were truly enjoying basketball with others and celebrating. That was really a culture shock, and I was like, “Oh, I want to stand on this course one day, and also play here.” So that’s always been a dream, a goal, from then on.

How did that experience lead you to Cal?

In high school, I needed to choose a college. I looked at places like Berkeley, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and did official visits as an athlete. Of these three schools, Berkeley was my first choice. While the others are definitely great universities, I felt like the culture, the people here are just awesome. The coaches and players were warm and welcoming. I said, “Oh, I’m coming here.” I still keep in touch with a lot of the staff and coaches.

Yue Chen playing center for Cal Women's basketball
Yue Chen played center for the Cal Women’s Basketball team for five years as an undergraduate before playing professionally in China.

You were among the first group of students to apply for the Accelerated Access Program at Haas in 2020. Then you decided to do an MFE degree before the MBA. What led to that decision?

Berkeley has one of the top MFE programs in the world. As an undergrad, I was a double major in statistics and business administration and those subjects have been a passion for me. I’ve loved math since middle school and I’m really good at it.  The MFE is a really interesting intersection of mathematics, statistics, and finance. So that’s how I came to the program. It’s a perfect combination of my interests.

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Yue Chen (right) with Cal Women’s Basketball teammates at senior night.

How are you finding the MFE program so far?

The class material is really hard. The professors are great and you are surrounded by talented, smart students. So it’s just awesome to be with them, to learn with them, and to learn from them. Every day I’m improving at something and that feels really great.  This semester, I am taking a class on Fixed Income with Professor Richard Stanton, who has won Haas’ Cheit Outstanding Teaching award three times. He is enthusiastic and engaging, sharing not only his knowledge about knowledge but his experience in the financial industry. 

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Yue Chen meeting a role model, Alibaba CEO Joseph Tsai. “He’s someone I really look up to when I envision my future.”

A great mentor for me at Haas is Stephen Etter, a finance lecturer for 10 years. He respects the potential of all students from diverse backgrounds.I met him when I was 17 when I first visited Cal and he’s been a great support both on and off the court—with my professional career, my Haas application, and career development.

Why did you choose to combine the MFE with the MBA degree?

It’s really hard for undergrad students to say what they want to do in the future. We’re really young. So the deferred MBA program gives us time to try out different things, and to gain different experiences to be sure about what I really want to do for the future. This gives an option to come back to Haas and make more connections and improve my skills and see how business is run from a leader’s perspective.

What kind of career are you thinking about?

After just finishing my basketball career, I’m trying different things right now and the MFE is preparing me to enter the finance career path. I’m looking forward to gaining more experience in the finance world and eventually, maybe, doing some business involving sports. Someone I really look up to is Joe Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba, who owns the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty basketball teams. He was a student athlete at Yale and played lacrosse, and he’s a really successful businessman. So he’s someone I really look up to when I envision my future.

Do you still play basketball?

Although I’m not playing sports anymore I am still close to Cal Athletics. I hope I can help out and offer support to young student athletes. I want to use what I’ve learned on my journey, and what I’ve gained here at Berkeley, to help young people who are facing challenges—so that they will be able to celebrate their journey at Cal long after they graduate.

Boost@BerkeleyHaas 2022 high school grads heading to college

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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.

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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. 

Faculty, Graduate Student Instructors honored with 2022 Cheit Awards

Collage of the Cheit Award winners from 2022 commencement
Clockwise from top left: Cheit Award winners Ricardo Perez-Truglia, Panos Patatoukas, Veselina Dinova, Richard Huntsinger, Eric Reiner, Ned Augenblick, Max Auffhammer

Seven faculty members and five Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) were honored at 2022 commencements for excellence in teaching.

Students in each degree program choose faculty each year to receive the Cheit Award, named after Dean Emeritus Earl F. Cheit, who made teaching excellence one of his top priorities.

This year’s winners include:

  • Evening & Weekend MBA program: Max Auffhammer (evening cohort), for Data and Decisions, and Ricardo Perez-Truglia (weekend cohort), for Macroeconomics
  • Full-time MBA program: Associate Professor Ned Augenblick, for Strategic Leadership
  • Undergraduate program: Distinguished Teaching Fellow Richard Huntsinger 
  • PhD program: Accounting Professor Panos Patatoukas 
  • Master of Financial Engineering (MFE): Finance Lecturer Eric Reiner
  • Executive MBA program: Distinguished Teaching Fellow Veselina Dinova
  • Graduate student instructors (GSIs): Paige Wahoff (undergraduate)  Griffin Grail-Binghman (FTMBA), Kimberlyn George (EWMBA), Nicolas Corthorn (MFE), Jonathan Wong (EMBA)

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.

Norman Y. Mineta, BS 53, first Asian-American federal cabinet secretary, dies at 90

Photo of Norman Mineta at the Capitol
Norm Mineta, BS 53, former U.S. Transportation Secretary, speaks during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., on March 31, 2005. Mineta died Tuesday, May 3, 2022. He was 90. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Norman Y. Mineta, BS 53, a 10-term Democratic congressman from California and the first Asian American to become a federal cabinet secretary under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, died Tuesday at home in Edgewater, Md., at 90.

Mineta, who as a child was interned with his family and thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II, died of a heart ailment, according to the The New York Times.  

After graduating from Haas in 1953 with an undergraduate degree in business administration, Mineta joined the U.S. Army and served as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea.

Mineta broke racial barriers for Asian Americans in becoming mayor of San Jose, Calif. in 1971, according to his AP obituary. Elected to Congress in 1974, he became popular with voters by supporting transportation projects and fostering public-private partnerships that created explosive growth in Silicon Valley.

After 9/11, Mineta guided the creation of the Transportation Security Administration.

In an interview about the aftermath of 9/11, recorded by The Japanese American National Museum, Mineta discussed concerns over some public calls for “putting Arab Americans and Muslims in camps.” Recalling a Sept. 12 cabinet meeting, he said a Michigan congressman shared that his Arab American constituents were concerned about fallout from the attacks. President Bush responded that he was also concerned. “We want to make sure what happened to Norm in 1942 doesn’t happen today,” Mineta recalled in the interview, adding that after the meeting he told his staff that “one of things we have to make sure we do is no racial profiling.”

After leaving public service, Mineta became vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton. San Jose’s airport was renamed Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in 2001; in 2007, Mineta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a statement, President Bush called Mineta “a wonderful American story about someone who overcame hardship and prejudice to serve in the United States Army, Congress, and the Cabinet of two Presidents.”

Read Mineta’s New York Times obituary.

Listen to a 2008  NPR interview with Mineta, who talked about his road to White House leadership and leading the nation through acts of terror on Sept. 11.

 

Berkeley undergrad student team wins global venture capital final; EWMBAs take 3rd

Undergrads holding check at VCIC finals.
The UC Berkeley Undergraduate student team took first place at Global VCIC: Victor Li, David Wang. Carol Xie, Allen Wang, and Blair Wu.

A group of UC Berkeley undergraduate students’ stellar startup-vetting skills netted them first place against a field of 120 teams at the Global Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) finals.

Members of the winning team that competed at University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School on April 8-9 included Berkeley Haas student David Wang, BS 22, (Business & Chemical Engineering); Victor Li, BS 22, (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), Carol Xie,  BA 22, (Computer Science & Statistics); Allen Wang, BA 23, (Economics & Data Science);  and Blair Wu, BA 24, (Economics & Biology).

A team of Berkeley Haas evening & weekend MBA students took third place, including Andrew Celin, John Eastman, Shenshen Hu, Terrence Tse, and Georgia Wright-Simmons, all EWMBA 22.  

Photo of EWMBA team
The Berkeley Haas EWMBA team, left to right: Georgia Wright-Simmons, John Eastman, Terrence Tse, Andrew Celin, and Shenshen Hu, all EWMBA 22.

“I’m blown away by these wins,” said Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program (BHEP). Shrader, who accompanied the students, said she was pleased that VCIC returned as an in-person event this year. 

More than 120 university and graduate school teams compete at VCIC. The competition has a two-fold mission: to make students VCs for the day and allow startups to jumpstart their fundraising. Since the competition’s inception in 1998, more than 800 founders have received 1,500 practice term sheets from student investment teams.

At the finals, the Berkeley undergraduates performed due diligence on three startups. After writing up term sheets, the team recommended a $5.25 million investment in agriculture technology startup Atira. Atira is developing an indoor system that promises to grow vegetables 40 percent faster without energy waste or pesticides. 

“The business has a lot of potential,” said Wu, who took a gap semester off to work at a venture capital firm last year and met her teammates through Berkeley’s Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs (ACE). “They’d already acquired patents and had a strong team. Their product was solid and there’s strong market demand.”

Photo of the undergrad team at worka
The UC Berkeley undergraduate team at work during the competition.

David Wang, BS 22, said he believes that two key factors helped with the win: team dynamics and mentorship. “We purposely looked for folks with diverse functional and industry experience ranging from energy consulting to healthcare investment banking to tech entrepreneurship,” he said. 

“We purposely looked for folks with diverse functional and industry experience ranging from energy consulting to healthcare investment banking to tech entrepreneurship.” —David Wang.

Wang also credited Haas MBA alumnus Elan Tye, a principal at JAZZ Venture Partners, and Matt Kirmayer, a partner at law firm Perkins Coie, for spending “countless hours preparing us for the competition…We could not have done it without them,” he said.

Shrader said the team “crushed” its partner meeting round, nailing both the startup valuation and the Q&A session.

“Everybody had a role and everybody spoke at the finals and you could see that their emphasis was on team work,” she said.”This team definitely had confidence without attitude.”

Three alumni business leaders named as undergraduate & MBA commencement speakers

QuantumScape CEO and Co-founder Jagdeep Singh, EWMBA 90, will speak at the combined Berkeley Haas Full-Time and Evening & Weekend MBA commencement ceremony, and corporate leader, entrepreneur, and author Aaron McDaniel, BS 05, will address undergraduates at commencement.

Both ceremonies will be held at the Greek Theatre, with the undergrads tossing caps on Monday, May 16, and the FTMBA and Evening & Weekend MBA students graduating together on Saturday, May 21. 

A makeup commencement for the full-time MBA classes of 2020 and 2021—who had to forego in-person ceremonies during the pandemic—will be held Friday, April 29, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA/JD 85 and a senior vice president of sales for the East, Canada, and Latin America regions at ServiceNow, will address the graduates.

Additionally, the PhD hooding ceremony will be held May 6, and Executive MBA commencement will be held June 4. Laura Adint, EMBA 14, an operations and strategy executive, is the commencement speaker.

Jagdeep Singh, EWMBA 90, to speak at FTMBA/EWMBA commencement

Jagdeep Singh headshot
QuantumScape CEO Jagdeep Singh

Singh is co-founder and CEO of QuantumScape, an energy storage company that supports the global transition toward a lower carbon future.  

Prior to founding QuantumScape, Singh was co-founder and CEO of Infinera Corp, a telecommunications equipment company and developer of the first large-scale, photonic integrated circuit. He led the company from startup through an IPO.  

Previously, he was founder and CEO of Lightera Networks, acquired by CIENA Corp. Before that, he founded and led several communications companies, including OnFiber and AirSoft. 

Singh is also founder and CEO of Deep Valley Labs, a venture laboratory and incubator focused on a hypothesis-driven approach to founding, validating, and spinning out high-impact technology companies. 

He holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an MBA from Berkeley Haas.

Aaron McDaniel, BS 05, named 2022 undergraduate commencement speaker

Aaron McDaniel headshot
Aaron McDaniel, founding partner at Grow Scale.

McDaniel, BS 05, is a former AT&T sales executive, serial entrepreneur, and has been an entrepreneurship lecturer at Berkeley Haas for the past five years.

He began his career at AT&T and rose to regional vice president of sales at age 27, among the youngest at the company to do so. In this role, he managed a team of more than 60 people and oversaw all sales operations, IT support, and data and mobility solutions for small- and medium-sized companies. He graduated from AT&T’s flagship Leadership Development Program and was a member of AT&T’s Diamond Club for the top 1% of sales leaders worldwide. 

McDaniel went on to found and sell three companies, including Pong360, an e-commerce company that sells college and tailgating products; Tycoon Real Estate, a real estate crowdfunding platform; and Velocity Capital Group, a real estate private equity firm. 

He is currently  a founding partner at Grow Scale, a commercial real estate private equity firm, and co-founder of 10X Innovation Lab, a Silicon Valley-based consulting agency that offers entrepreneurship programs and services to government and corporate leaders.

Tapping his expertise as a sales executive and entrepreneur, McDaniel has authored three self-help books, including The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World, The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing, and Global Class, forthcoming this fall. It explores how the world’s fastest-growing companies expand globally.

Laura Clayton McDonnell, MBA/JD 85,  will speak to MBA classes of 2020 & 2021

Laura Clayton McDonnell photo
Laura Clayton McDonnell, senior vp at ServiceNow.

McDonnell is senior vice president of sales for the East, Canada, and Latin America regions at ServiceNow, and serves on the board of directors of Zuora.

With extensive sales management, global experience, and legal expertise, McDonnell has held executive positions at leading companies in the high-technology industry as vice president of Microsoft’s New York region; senior vice president of North American sales at at Aspect Software; vice president of strategic services at IBM; and vice president of business development at Rational Software. She’s also held various senior sales and legal roles at Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Apple and practiced private, corporate, and securities law.

McDonnell received a BS with distinction from San Jose State University, and an MBA/JD from Berkeley Haas. She was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and the State of California.

She received the 2008 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award and serves on the board of directors and membership committee of the Women’s Forum of New York and is a member of Women’s United of the United Way of New York City. She’s also an advisory committee member of the 92Y Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact.

Boba dreams: Undergrad student to open Aura Tea in downtown San Francisco

Photo of Kashish Juneja, BS 22
Kashish Juneja, BS 22, is opening Aura Tea shop in downtown San Francisco at the end of March.

Kashish Juneja, BS 22, is learning about running a business in real-time as she prepares to open startup Aura Tea’s first shop in downtown San Francisco on March 27. In between juggling a mid-term and going to class she’s taking calls from her contractor and interviewing for counter help at the shop that will serve boba tea with a twist: It’s sugar free, made with plant-based milks, and under 100 calories. 

“It’s insane from the operational side,” said Juneja, whose first shop is strategically located on Spear Street across from Google and Databricks offices, where employees are starting to trickle back. “We need to make sure there’s a demand and that we’re making sure the product is good enough so that people will continue showing up.”

In many ways, Aura Tea has been a team effort from the start. Juneja recruited 22 interns from the UC Berkeley community who help with marketing, TikTok, and Instagram, where she’s drawn support from NFL players to local musicians. Students and Cal athlete ambassadors helped her host on-campus events that offer “boba for de-stressing”—and she recently held a pop-up on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, giving away Cal-themed boba tea drinks.

Aura Tea space on Spear
Aura’s new shop will open March 27 on Spear Street in San Francisco. Photo: Kashish Juneja.

Kaitlin Dang, BS 24, an intern who serves as business growth lead at Aura Tea, said her favorite Aura flavor is mango pineapple.

“Before I started working here I was an avid milk tea connoisseur, trying new places,” said Dang, who is in  her second year of the Berkeley Haas Global Management Program. “My taste has changed from sweeter teas and now I drink a lot of fruit teas. Most fruit teas are very sweet and not refreshing. Aura tea has a refreshing taste.”

Solving her own problem

Juneja, who grew up in Cupertino, has always loved boba. “Our high school was boba central, with a boba shop across the street that was open during lunch every day,” she said. “I played tennis every day so it balanced out.”

Photo of Kaitlin Dang drinking boba
Kaitlin Dang, a sophomore in the undergraduate Global Management Program at Haas, is Aura’s business growth lead.

Her boba addiction continued at Berkeley, but drinking those 500 extra boba calories without her usual tennis playing led to an unwanted 30-pound weight gain. Aura Tea, she said, was founded in part to solve her own problem.

The idea to start making healthier boba tea emerged during a Plant Futures course that she took with Will Rosenzweig, the faculty chair of the Center for Responsible Business at Haas who co-founded the Republic of Tea.

She’d already taken an entrepreneurship bootcamp and was interested in starting a company. Plant Futures, a collaboration between Berkeley Haas, Public Health, Engineering, Public Policy, and the Berkeley Food Institute, pushed her idea forward.

Throughout the pandemic, Juneja could be found crafting tea in her apartment, testing different oat, almond, and pea milks, which make her tea drinks vegan, and sweeteners, using fresh loose leaf green and black teas from the grocery store. (Boba pearls are naturally vegan, as they’re made of tapioca starch, which comes from cassava root.)

Juneja tested her teas on friends and classmates. In the early recipe days, she conducted a blind taste test: her milk tea against the Boba Guys’ tea and others. (Boba Guys was co-founded by Andrew Chau, MBA 11.)  “We didn’t win but it was a good start,” she said. “Our taste was nowhere that it is now.” 

It took time to get Berkeley-based impact investor David Jiang to take a chance on her venture, she said. Jiang’s wife’s father was a tea farmer in China, and they all shared an interest in tea. “There was a lot of making it and taking it back to them,” Juneja said. “I was taking what I learned in class and bringing them my tea and my pitch deck.” 

I was taking what I learned in class and bringing them my tea and my pitch deck.

Valuable startup experience

The shop, which will take to-go orders online, will offer a combination of grab-and-go and fresh-brewed drinks with boba tea in flavors including strawberry, matcha, pineapple, and mango. Aura will offer coffee drinks, too, and a masala chai with infused with spices and CBD for relaxation. (Aura’s boba pearls are made by US Boba Company in nearby Hayward, Calif. Her tea is sweetened with Purecane, which she says she chose for its lack of an aftertaste.) 

Students drinking boba at an Aura Tea rooftop party.
Students sample the tea on a campus rooftop last week during Aura Tea’s launch party.

Dang said she’s getting valuable experience working for Aura. “There’s a lot of creativity involved,” she said. “I have the space to try the things I want to try. We’re appealing to a certain wide demographic: corporate employees, health influencers, healthcare professionals, and foodies. I like to try things I’ve seen work in other industries, casting a wide net.”

Juneja, who will work in the shop part-time until graduation, said she’s grateful to her entire community of classmates, professors, and advisors for all of their help with Aura’s creation.

 “When I wrote my essay to get into Haas I said I wanted to solve a problem,” she said. “My dream came true.”

Viva la mujer: A Women’s History Month message from Chief DEI Officer Élida Bautista

This month, as we celebrate Women’s History Month and prepare to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, we are called on to imagine a world where women across all intersectional identities have equal access to opportunities, income, safety, political representation, and choices.

Viva la Mujer image by Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes
“Viva La Mujer” graphic image credit: Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

Throughout our history, despite seemingly insurmountable barriers, women across the globe have strived and sacrificed to be seen for our capabilities, and fairly valued for our contributions. Women of all intersectional identities have organized and been a part of many movements to gain equal rights, and to advocate for reforms that impact everyone, including safe working conditions and labor practices, improved accessibility for people with disabilities, obtaining and protecting voting access, and other civil rights. However, women—here in the U.S. and around the world—continue to face epidemics of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.

Yesterday, President Biden signed the Ending Forced Arbitration Act, a landmark piece of legislation spurred by the #MeToo movement, ending the use of hidden language in contracts that prevented employees from suing in the case of sexual assault or harassment. It is a victory, with so many more battles ahead.

March 24 is All Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how far into the new year women must work to be paid what men were paid the previous year. On average, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar men are paid. Disaggregating the data shows a deeper disparity.

Asian American women are paid 85 cents for every dollar white men earn, making March 9 their Equal Pay Day. For Black women, Equal Pay Day doesn’t come until August; for Native American women, it’s September. For Latinas, the date comes near the end of October, with their average pay being 57 cents for every dollar paid to white men. The disparities do not stop there.

Women with disabilities make 72 cents for every dollar paid to men with disabilities; but as a whole, people with disabilities make only 68 cents for each dollar earned by able bodied people. Mothers earn 75 cents for every dollar fathers make.  There is not precise national data on equal pay for lesbian, bisexual, queer, or trans women, indicating our need to advocate to include all of our sisters in the data.

Important research insights uncovered by our faculty point to real-world solutions to pay inequity. In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Professor Laura Kray and post-doc scholar Margaret Lee highlighted their findings that women are given smaller teams to manage on average than men, which contributes to the pay gap; Kray is working with Dean Harrison to dig into why the pay gap between men and women MBA graduates increases over time. Assistant Professor Solène Delecourt is studying inequities in business performance; three of her recent studies have pinpointed the factors that cause women-owned businesses to underperform men’s around the world, and how that can be fixed. Former Dean Laura Tyson was the co-author of a key UN report on women’s economic empowerment. Kellie McElhaney, founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership (EGAL) and EGAL Assistant Director Genevieve Smith co-authored a teaching case focused on the importance of pay transparency in closing the gap.

We know the progress toward equity took a giant step backwards during the pandemic. By the end of January, men in the U.S. had regained all of the jobs they had lost since February 2020. But 1.1 million women who left the labor force during the same time had yet to return, pointing to long-standing structural inequities (with caregiving responsibilities topping the list) that make it harder for women to return to work. Recognizing that women in heterosexual dual-career couples, with or without children, still do most of the household/care work, EGAL developed 7 evidence-based ‘plays’ to support dual career couples. 

Burnout brought on by the pandemic has pushed many women to reevaluate and identify new approaches to career and personal life. That re-evaluation is the focus of this weekend’s “Re:set, Re:imagine, and Re:build,” the 26th annual Women in Leadership Conference at Haas. Conference organizers intentionally have integrated intersectional identities throughout the program. The conference will be held tomorrow, March 5, in Chou Hall’s Spieker Forum. You may register here.

We have incredible representation of women in senior leadership roles at Berkeley Haas, including our Dean, our chief operating officer, our chief financial officer and several assistant deans and program directors. Yet we have more work to do to achieve balanced gender representation among our faculty and students. Our senior leaders are working to continue to foster a climate of belonging, and strategizing on outreach, recruitment, and yield to increase representation of women among our faculty and students.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme #BreaktheBias, I treasure all of the accomplishments of women around the world and I am grateful to have benefitted from the progress achieved by those who came before me. I also realize that “la lucha sigue” (the struggle continues), as we say in my community. Women with multiple marginalized identities often have even longer, bumpier roads to travel.

We each have the responsibility to continue unlearning the gender bias we have absorbed throughout our lives and we must hold ourselves accountable at an individual level. We have the power to use our leadership to create structural changes at all levels. Collectively, working together, let’s #BreaktheBias.

Sí se Puede,

Élida

Resources for further learning:

Promoting an Equitable Learning Environment

Stop AAPI Hate

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

National Domestic Workers Alliance 

Male allyship at work

81cents Pay Equity Advisors

Equal Pay Day 2022

“Viva La Mujer” image credit: Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes

‘Driven by our own mission’: Blackbook University builds community and belonging

Blackbook’s co-founders and supporters attend a pre-launch presentation. From L-R: Maya Hammond, former BSU president; Farhiya Ali; Imran Sekalala; Ibrahim Baldé; Nahom Solomon; Hana Baba, NPR; Joy Dixon, Salesforce; Marco Lindsey, associate director of DEI at Haas; Nicholas Brathwaite; and Chase Ali-Watkins. Photo courtesy: Ibrahim Baldé.

As an undergraduate, Ibrahim Baldé, BS 20, said he faced many challenges on top of managing a rigorous course load. They included battling imposter syndrome, experiencing microaggressions from peers, and feeling pressured in class to be the spokesperson for his race as he was often the lone Black student.

After speaking with friends and classmates who also identified as Black, Baldé learned that they faced the same hurdles. A 2019 campus-climate report published by UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity, and Inclusion also confirmed Baldé’s experience, which found that many Black students experienced exclusionary behaviors from peers, including being stared at or singled out to represent their race.

Wanting to improve the Black student experience at Berkeley, Baldé co-founded Blackbook University, a website and mobile app that provides educational and professional resources to help Black undergraduate and graduate students navigate their journey at Berkeley. Blackbook’s other co-founders include Nicholas Brathwaite, Chase Ali-Watkins, both BA 20, Nahom Solomon, BA 21, Farhiya Ali and Imran Sekalala, both BA 23.

The app, which launched Nov. 18 and is a revival of a Black student handbook published in the 1980s and 1990s, includes a calendar with extracurricular and career-related events, a student-alumni-faculty directory, a live chat feed for users to interact, and a scholarship and internship database. The website features student profiles and an internship program for students interested in entrepreneurship and tech. 

Brathwaite manages product development, Ali and Sekalala handle data analysis and design, Solomon serves as the director of operations, Ali-Watkins is the chief marketing officer, and Baldé is CEO.

Student Profile – Adaeze Noble from Made By Chase on Vimeo.

The journey

The son of an imam, Baldé was instilled with a “beyond yourself” mindset at an early age. Growing up in Alameda, Calif., Baldé knew that he wanted to combine his three passions: social impact work, business, and tech. Once at Haas, Baldé took Haas Lecturer Alex Budak’s leadership class called Becoming a Changemaker

“That class allowed me to think about my mission and purpose and to understand that leadership isn’t a defined trait,” Baldé said. 

Following that class, Baldé began to lay the groundwork for Blackbook University. He teamed up with his co-founders and formed an advisory board of faculty and staff across campus, including Budak, Marco Lindsey, associate director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Haas; Miya Hayes, BA 92, associate director of Campus Partnerships & Engagement; and staff from the African American Student Development Office. 

Baldé surveyed about 150 Black Berkeley and Haas students to assess if he had a winning idea. The answer was a resounding yes. 

While Slack and GroupMe are useful networking tools, 90% of surveyors reported that it was important to have a tool that was designed for them.

“Students can’t take ownership of Slack and GroupMe, but they can take ownership of Blackbook,” Baldé said.  

A copy of the original UC Berkeley African American Student Handbook published in 1996.

Successes and challenges

Baldé and his team have had some successes. They participated in UC Berkeley’s Free Ventures pre-seed accelerator, allowing them to test and tweak their business model. They also were one of the Big Ideas Contest grand prize winners, earning $10,000 in prize money. 

But they’ve also had some setbacks, including finding the best developer who could deliver the app they envisioned. Another setback was validating their business model to potential investors. Currently, Blackbook is free to download. 

“We just tune out the noise,” Baldé says. “We’re driven by our own mission and that is to build community and to make our resources and networks available to Black student communities.”

Despite the hurdles, the team continues to press on. Their goal is to make customized versions of the app for Black student communities at colleges and universities nationwide. 

Faculty and staff advisors praise Baldé and his team for creating a sense of belonging on campus.

“I’m inspired by how Ibrahim can readily imagine a better future and then rally the people and resources needed to turn these ideas into reality,” said Budak. “We talked about how one of the greatest acts of changemaking is creating the opportunities for others that we wish we had for ourselves and Ibrahim is doing just that.”

Hayes agreed. “I’m in awe of their innovation–taking both the best and most challenging aspects of their time at Berkeley to create something that sustains and nourishes our sense of belonging,” she said. “They’re giants in their own right.”

Classified: Using data and art to inspire conversations about climate change

“Classified” is a series spotlighting some of the more powerful lessons faculty are teaching in Haas classrooms.

George Milanovic,
George Milanović and Laila Samimi, both MBA 22, in the beginning stages of creating a hopscotch game that will reflect global warming. Photo: Jim Block

High above campus in Memorial Stadium last Wednesday, George Milanović, MBA 22, is lying on the pavement drawing hopscotch squares. It’s the first sign that this is not the usual business school class.

His project partner, Laila Samimi, MBA 22, stands nearby. She translates what Milanović is doing.

“The shorter path is the point of no return if the earth’s temperature rises two degrees Celsius—the path of corporate greed and individualistic behavior,” Samimi says. “The other is a path of sustainability. It’s a longer path and it’s harder.”

Heavy stuff for a child’s game, but the hopscotch project makes perfect sense as art created in a new course called Sustainability, Art & Business. 

Clark Kellogg speaks to student in class.
Continuing Lecturer and Haas artist-in-residence Clark Kellogg (right) chats with undergraduate Alexis Mullard about her project, which explores the idea that earth is melting like an ice cream cone. Photo: Jim Block

The course calls on 25 undergraduate and MBA students to explore the meaning of sustainability—and the human response to global warming—through art. 

My hope is that this art will help people to see things differently–to reframe problems and challenge our comfortable assumptions,” says Clark Kellogg, a continuing lecturer with the Haas Professional Faculty and the Haas artist-in-residence. “We’re using art to invite people into a new relationship with sustainability, to inspire a different conversation that’s not about guilt or shame.”

“We’re using art to invite people into a new relationship with sustainability, to inspire a different conversation that’s not about guilt or shame.” — Clark Kellogg

The course, taught in the Berkeley Haas Innovation Lab, builds upon a series of classes Kellogg has taught at Haas over the past decade—from Creativity Lab to Art from Business to the pioneering Design Thinking class. 

Kellogg’s classroom method combines experiential learning-by-doing coupled with deep collaboration and peer-to-peer-critique, all on display in the new course. This morning, the class is focused on design, which is the second step of the three-step process for making public art that includes research, design, and execution.

Kellogg grabs a large roll of paper and starts cutting. 

“Let’s just start to play,” he says, as the class splits into small groups, clutching chalk, recyclable materials, and other supplies. 

Students in Memorial Stadium making art
(Left to right) MBA students Casey Dunajick-DeKnight, Rosa Huang, and Jesse Ruiz cutting recycled cans into flat aluminum that will be used to craft sea creatures. Photo: Jim Block

Preparing for the pop up

The idea is to finish something today that can be transferred to the Haas Courtyard next Wednesday to share during a pop up show.

Casey Dunajick-DeKnight and her team sit outside cutting recycled seltzer cans into shiny, flat metal pieces that will be used to craft sea creatures that are disappearing from oceans. Dunajick-DeKnight says she’s inspired by origami and found that aluminum is a flexible material “that cuts like paper.” Kellogg says he’s pleased that the cans are finding a second life as aluminum squid and crabs. “If it’s single use, and we use it twice, we cut the problem in half.”

Meanwhile, Zarine Kakalia, BS 22, is using chalk to draw a river that’s been diverted so many times that there’s no water left for the salmon. “I thought this was an interesting way to address resource constraints,” says Kakalia.

Samiya Mehreen, BS 23, presents her drawing, which explores how women artisans in developing countries are balancing business and sustainability. Photo: Jim Block

The class spends an hour working on projects before gathering for storytelling, where one group member describes the project to the class. Rachel Stinebaugh, MBA 22, shares an idea for a game of courtyard twister, with the dots representing vanishing coral reefs. Samiya Mehreen, BS 23, explains a drawing that explores the role of women artisans in developing countries, who are balancing sustainability and business. And Vincent Chang, MBA 22, says his drawing should provoke people to think about the future of a sky obscured by greenhouse gases. “It’s rainbow versus anti-rainbow,” he says.

Vincent Chang shows his artwork.
Vincent Chang, MBA 22, says his drawing—rainbow versus anti-rainbow—addresses the impact of greenhouse gases on the sky.

Kellogg offers praise and gentle prompts for students to take their ideas to the next level.

Before class breaks up, the students head outside to check out the hopscotch game. One student asks Kellogg if he remembers how to play hopscotch. Kellogg pauses, but then obliges, skipping through the squares as the group cheers him on.

Making a plan

Afterwards, the students must decide whether to transfer their projects in some form to the Haas courtyard or recreate their projects on site. The group votes to create their art on site. “Drawing time will be critical,” Kellogg warns, and the group agrees to plan more during the week on Slack, and meet at the courtyard by 10 a.m. on Wednesday. 

“It will be so great to look at the chalk drawings on the ground and think: ‘We did this,’ ” Rosa Huang, MBA 22, says.

Clark Kellogg's art
A work from Clark Kellogg’s 365 Art project—of making art daily for a year.

After next Wednesday’s event, a second courtyard pop-up show is planned for December, followed by a final gallery reception of student art.

Throughout the course, the class will read books like “Think Like an Artist” and “In Pursuit of Inspiration” and news articles that detail the links between taking walks and creativity and the importance of taking time to be alone to just think. (One of Kellogg’s personal projects was to document his commitment to making art daily.) 

Among the students, many of whom are involved in sustainability-focused student groups and working at environmentally-related internships, the consensus is that the class is fresh and fun, tapping a different part of their brains.

“As business school students we are often comfortable with data and frameworks and this class helps us break away from that and be creative and think of things on the spot,” says Alejandra Arrué, MBA 22. “That’s why we enjoy the class.”

Startup Ashita brings NYC flair to jewelry line

Ashita Dhadda
Ashita Dhadda started fine jewelry company Ashita last year and hired 14 interns to help her expand.

When Ashita Dhadda was in eighth grade, she designed her first piece of jewelry, a decorative arm cuff. Her parents, who owned a jewelry business, helped her manufacture the cuff in India, and she quickly sold most of them to her Fort Lee, New Jersey, neighbors. 

“I wanted to get started on something, mainly for young girls to wear to festivals or dinners,” said Dhadda, BS 23. “I sold 80 of them in the building just for fun and gave the profit to charity.” 

Dhadda’s early success planted an entrepreneurial seed. Last year, the Haas junior launched online fine jewelry startup Ashita, an e-commerce business that offers  unique, high-quality, 14 karat gold jewelry that she designs.

Pops of color

Pops of color are Ashita’s staple—gold necklaces flecked with turquoise and orange stones; drop earrings with baby pink stones, and aqua enamel bands studded with a tiny diamond. Dhadda manufactures all of her jewelry in New York City, where she works on Fifth Avenue in the summer. She names her pieces of jewelry after New York locations like Brooklyn and the Hamptons.

“A lot of the inspiration comes from what’s around me,” said Dhadda, a double major in business and data science. “Everything around us is super colorful in New York—with SoHo and all of the shopping.”

Ashita jewelry
Pops of color are a staple of Ashita’s jewelry.

Last summer, Dhadda decided to expand, and assembled a group of 14 interns from East and West Coast colleges to help her with business development and marketing Her crew includes Paloma Aguilar, BS 21 (Media Studies, Political Economy), who models the jewelry and serves as an Ashita Instagram influencer. With the interns’ help, Ashita has hit some milestones, including passing the 300 customer order mark and reaching $50,000 in revenue.

More good news arrived when Ashita was approved to sell one of its trademark Manhattan rings on Amazon’s website. Dhadda just ordered 500 bands to fulfill orders. 

Launching a new line 

Juggling a growing business with her heavy course load is tricky, Dhadda said.  She logs many work hours between study sessions, answering customer emails, doing outreach with influencers and brand ambassadors, and crunching the data required to figure out what’s selling on her site and how her customers are finding her.

Paloma Aguilar wearing Ashita necklace
Paloma Aguilar, BS 21, (Media Studies and Political Economy), models Ashita jewelry as an Instagram influencer for the startup.

This fall, her interns, who assist with everything from Midtown photo shoots to visits to small Soho boutiques, will help Dhadda plan the launch of the spring line. The line includes 40 new pieces of jewelry she designed. 

Analyzing sales data is helping Dhadda to figure out her company’s niche. “I’ve realized that most of what we sell is in the $200 to $300 price point so we are focusing on that,” she said. 

This semester, she said she’s planning to join a Data Science Club at Haas. She’s also a member of Berkeley Women in Business, which connected her to her mentor Tanvi Lal, MBA 20. 

Lal introduced her to other MBA students who have advised her on everything from accounting to marketing her startup.

“I talked to her every week last semester and that was very helpful,” Dhadda said. “She’s had a huge influence on shaping my business.”

Dhadda added that she tries to take on projects in her courses that will help her improve different aspects of her business. She also continues to network.

“Now that I’m taking Haas classes I am looking to grow and network with students and alumni,” she said. “Learning from other people’s stories and experiences has had a huge impact.” 

Together again! Undergraduate Class of 2020 celebrates belated commencement

Dean Ann Harrison with 2020 Haas undergrads
Dean Ann Harrison celebrates with the 2020 Haas Business School Association (HBSA) leadership team at a reception in the courtyard following commencement. (Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small)

On Sunday,  some 4,250 undergraduates, including about 230 from Berkeley Haas, returned to Berkeley for a promised Class of 2020 In-Person Commencement at the Greek Theatre. 

For many, the outdoor event — held at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., depending on one’s major—served as both a joyful celebration and a reunion after the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to finish senior year with quick, if any, goodbyes, as they finished their classes remotely. 

Ishan Sharma
Ishan Sharma, BS 23, (middle) said the commencement brought closure to his time at Haas.

“The small act of walking across the stage, going to a ceremony, getting the Haas gift bag, meant so much to me,” said Ishan Sharma, BS 20, who worked at McKinsey & Company after graduation and just started a new job at healthcare company Athelas. “It probably took 15 seconds (to cross the stage), but it brought closure to over four years of my time at the university.” 

Sharma and the Haas 2020 undergraduate class were invited to walk the stage with the 9 a.m. group. About 231 members of the 376-member class of 2020 signed up to walk.

Robert Paylor’s journey

Dry eyes were hard to find when former Cal rugby player and 2020 Haas grad Robert Paylor’s name was called. (Watch Cal Athletics video below by Laura Furney)

Told he’d never walk again after suffering a catastrophic injury while playing rugby as a sophomore, Paylor crossed 10 yards of the stage on foot, using only a walker, and received a standing ovation.

“I’m so beyond excited to be able not just to receive my degree, but to be able to physically do this,” said Paylor, who lives in El Dorado Hills and is writing a book about his journey. “This is one of the happiest days of my life.”

Tom Billups, associate head coach of the UC Berkeley rugby team and Paylor’s trainer when he was on campus at Haas, walked behind him as six family members cheered him on. His long-time girlfriend Karsen Welle, walked behind Paylor, receiving her degree in social welfare. She held back tears as Paylor rose from his wheelchair and fellow grads clapped and shot photos and video.

As he left the stage, the crowd roared and Paylor, waved, grinned, and offered a “Go Bears.”

Paylor’s mother, Debbie Paylor, said she was both nervous and excited for her son, who has lived and trained at home with her since the pandemic began. “He’s an inspiration,” she said in an interview before commencement. “His ability to overcome this, it’s an inspiration to me. I don’t think there was a time when I thought he’d give up.”

Robert Paylor crosses the stage at commencement.
Robert Paylor, BS 20, crosses the stage at commencement with the help of Tom Billups, Paylor’s former associate head rugby coach at Cal, who has helped him through rehabilitation. (Photo: Tenny Frost)

After the accident, Paylor underwent intense rehabilitation in Colorado before returning to UC Berkeley to finish his business degree, navigating the hilly Haas campus in his wheelchair.

He hit the gym with Billups for hours each day, measuring each week’s walking improvements in small increments. In October 2017, 16 months after the accident, fans cheered him on at California Memorial Stadium when he walked during the first quarter of the football game.

Paylor’s walking has dramatically improved since that game, Billups said. 

If you go all back to the catastrophic injury, he had no movement from the neck down—hands, fingers, nothing. That was pretty bleak,” he said. “When he walked at the Cal/Oregon game, he used a high walker, but the walker supports his forearms. Now he uses a low profile walker… He’s able to take more steps, more clean steps.”

At Haas, Paylor launched a business as an inspirational speaker, although the pandemic quickly pushed his engagements online, where he speaks to employees of Fortune 500 companies. He’s also started writing a book, which is part memoir, part motivational advice, tentatively titled “Paralyzed and Powerful.”

Robert Paylor at commencement.
“This is one of the happiest days of my life,” – Robert Paylor, BS 20, at commencement. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser).

“The message is that you look at me and see my challenges, it’s not difficult to see that I have a lot to deal with every day, but everyone has challenges,” he said. “I believe that many people are paralyzed physically or mentally and the tools I use to overcome my challenges can help people in their lives.”  

“I believe that many people are paralyzed physically or mentally and the tools I use to overcome my challenges can help people in their lives.”  

For the past year, Paylor has been executive director of The Big C Society, an organization representing 14,000 Cal varsity athletics letter holders. Paylor said he’s honored to be part of the history and tradition of The Big C Society, which was founded in 1908. 

“Coach Clark and Coach Billups came to the hospital after my injury and gave me that Cal letter,” he said. “The meaning of the letter is something I really care about so I immediately said yes.”

For achieving what some believed wasn’t possible, Paylor’s undergraduate community chose him to receive the Question the Status Quo award, one of the school’s four Defining Leadership Principles.

“While many may have treated that prognosis as an insurmountable challenge, Robert chose the path of perseverance, as he can now walk using his walker and graduated from the Haas School of Business,” said Steve Etter, who teaches finance at Haas and mentors student athletes. “His story has inspired thousands and serves as a living example that our limits are not determined by what others say we can do.”

Mia Character and Jordyn Elliot, both Defining Leadership Principles award winners, at commencement.
Mia Character (left) and Jordyn Elliot, both Defining Leadership Principles award winners, at commencement. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small

Award winners named

At a separate Haas undergraduate reception held in the school’s Courtyard at noon Sunday, Dean Ann Harrison congratulated the graduates and introduced Etter, who served as master of ceremonies, celebrating each 2020 award winner, including: 

Departmental Citation winner (which goes to the student with the most outstanding academic achievement in the field of business): Cubbie Christina Kile, who graduated with a 4.0 while serving as a coxswain for the Women’s Rowing team. She was also a student athlete tutor, managed the Men’s Swimming team and was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. An analyst at Altamont Capital Partners, she recently closed her first deal, Intermix, a carve out from Gap, Inc.

Cubbie Kile
Steve Etter, who teaches finance at Haas and mentors student athletes, hands Cubbie Kile the Departmental Citation. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

The Defining Leadership Principles awards followed, including (in addition to Paylor):

Students Always:  Mia Character, whose nominator wrote: “Mia constantly strived to learn from others around race and ethnicity, and challenged herself to re-investigate her own beliefs as a marginalized person of color, striving to dig deeper on intent, while NOT tamping down the impact on her. She shared her vulnerabilities and self-challenges out loud in class, thereby inspiring others to do the same.”

Beyond Yourself: Kiara Taylor, whose nominator wrote: “Kiara made it her mission to make students attending California community colleges feel confident about transferring to Haas. Through the “Envision Haas” transfer outreach program, Taylor invited Haas transfer students with non-traditional backgrounds to speak to prospective transfer students, empowering both parties.”

Confidence Without Attitude: Jordyn Elliott. “Without asking, no one would know that Jordyn was a Soccer Team Captain at UC Berkeley and a graduating senior from the Haas School,” her nominator wrote.  “After watching her lead the case team for the National Diversity Case Competition in Indiana, it was clear she understood the principle of Confidence without Attitude.”

Berkeley News editor Gretchen Kell contributed to this story.

New undergrad, MBA, and PhD students arrive to start classes

MBA students jumping
New FTMBA students celebrate being together on campus. Photo: Jim Block

Berkeley Haas welcomed more than 750 new students to campus over the past week, kicking off the start of fall semester with a flurry of online and in-person events.

The new students, among the first to return to class in person since the COVID-19 pandemic, join the evening & weekend and executive MBA students who arrived earlier this summer.  

Full-time MBA Program

A total of 291 new full-time MBA students in the Class of 2023 arrived for Week Zero, which is five days of sessions on topics including academic life at Haas. diversity, equity, and inclusion, and career planning.  Second-year MBA students Vaibhav Anand, Jose Philip and Jessica Hwang served as Week Zero co-chairs. 

Dean Ann Harrison welcomed the class at Andersen Auditorium during Monday’s kickoff. “Getting here is not easy,” said Harrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in economics and history and served as a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics from 2001 to 2011. “You’ve selected the right school and you really belong here.” 

Dean Ann Harrison
Dean Ann Harrison welcomed the new class. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

Harrison said the MBA program would challenge students both academically and personally. “We know that every single one of you has what it takes to succeed in this program,” she said, noting that the smaller program gives students the opportunity to  get to know each other well.

Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the full-time MBA program and admissions, discussed the meaning of resilience, quoting Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington, who described resilience as the ability to not only bounce back, but bounce forward.

“The fact that you are sitting here today shows that you have the capacity to bounce forward, and it’s a critical skill that’s going to enable you to be strong leaders now and in the future,” he said. 

Throughout the week, students met with cohort members, joined “ask me anything” sessions with professors, took a sunset cruise, and performed community service at the supportive housing community Alameda Point Collaborative and its social enterprise, Ploughshares Nursery.

Students in design thinking class at Haas
MBA students collaborate during a design thinking workshop. Photo: Jim Block

During orientation breaks, they gathered in the courtyard.

“It’s so nice to see everyone here,” said Anhelo Benavides, MBA 23, who grew up in Mexico and worked as a management consultant at Kearney in Dubai before coming to Haas. Highlights of orientation for her included meeting her cohort and hearing from Bree Jenkins, MBA 19, a leadership development associate at Pixar, who spoke to students about making their “house” at Haas into a true home. 

Bree Jenkins
Bree Jenkins, MBA 19, a leadership development associate at Pixar, shared some advice to the new FTMBA class. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

Benavides added that she loved the heartwarming welcome video from Haas alumni around the world, who greeted the students with a “Welcome to Haas” cheer. “This video brought joyful tears to my eyes,” she wrote on her Linkedin page. 

A diverse group

The new MBA class is a diverse group composed of 38% women and 37% international students. About half the class are U.S. minorities, with 23% of the students identifying as underrepresented minorities (Black, Latinx, and Native American). Sixteen percent of the students are first in their families to attend college, and 14% of the class identifies at LGBTQ+.

The class is academically exceptional, with average GMAT scores of 726 and average GPAs of 3.67. 

MBA students in courtyard
New MBA students socialized in the courtyard between orientation sessions. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

With an average of 5.4 years of work experience—about 19% of the students are from the consulting industry; 16% are from banking/financial services; 12% are from high tech; 7% are from nonprofits; and 7% are from healthcare/pharma/biotech.

Tomoe Wang, who joins the MBA program from Australia, said she’s planning a career pivot at Haas, so she found the Career Management Group’s orientation panel useful. Organized by MBA Career & Leadership Coach Julia Rosoff, the panel was led by second-year MBA students Caroline Shu, Shane Wilkinson, Lisa Chen, Rachel Stinebaugh, and Kayla Razavi.

 “I had no idea what to expect with the hiring process, so it was good to have panelists walk you through it,” Wang said.

Haas students volunteering
FTMBA students help weed the gardens at the Alameda Point Collaborative. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small.

Thirty-nine students are enrolled in dual degree programs in public health, engineering, and law, including 19 MBA/MPH students, 18 MBA/MEng students, and two MBA/JD students.

John Thompson, MBA/MEng 23, of Shrewsbury, Mass, said he’ll be taking his first engineering courses at UC Berkeley, alongside his business courses. Thompson said he’s looking forward to joining the Food@Haas club, and is interested in exploring the intersection of agriculture and technology as a dual MBA/engineering major. “It’s an area ripe for innovation and growth,” he said. 

Undergraduates

Undergrads in the courtyard
New Haas undergrads joined events held today in the Haas courtyard, including a team-building activity and a networking mixer. Photo: Natasha Payes.

Dean Ann Harrison and Erika Walker, assistant dean of the Undergraduate Program, gave a warm welcome yesterday on Zoom to the 457 new undergraduate students. The group includes 245 continuing UC Berkeley juniors and 101 transfer students.

Continuing students hold an average GPA of 3.79, and the transfer students’ GPA averages 3.91. The class was accepted from a total of 3,304 applicants.

New undergraduate students
Haas undergraduate students met in the courtyard to network today. Photo: Natasha Payes.

Joining orientation were 31 students in the undergraduate Global Management Program (GMP), a selective, four-year international Berkeley Haas program that launched in 2018, along with 25 students in the Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship program. The Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology  (M.E.T.) program, a collaboration between the Haas School of Business and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, admitted 55 freshmen.

Orientation sessions on Zoom included a lecture by Distinguished Teaching Fellow Janet Brady, who discussed tools students need to be successful academically; an intro to career resources by Karen Lin, assistant director of career counseling; and an overview of the fall schedule.

Cohort events were held today in the Haas courtyard, including a team-building activity and a networking mixer.

PhD Program

The 2021 PhD cohort includes 12 students—seven women and five men. This year’s class includes two students in Accounting; three in Business and Public Policy;  two in Finance; three in Marketing—one in Marketing Science and two in Behavioral Marketing; one in Management of Organizations (micro) and one in Management of Organizations student (macro).

The new students are from the U.S., India, France, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Canada.

The Berkeley Haas PhD program is a five-year, full-time, in-residence program, leading to a PhD in Business Administration. There are a total of 69 students in the program.

Erika Walker named senior assistant dean of instruction

Erika Walker
Erika Walker is the new senior assistant dean of instruction at Haas.

Erika Walker, who directed the Berkeley Haas undergraduate program for the past 16 years, has been named the school’s new senior assistant dean of instruction.

Walker, a UC Berkeley alumna, began her new role July 1. She succeeds Jay Stowsky, who held the position for 13 years.

“Erika has demonstrated outstanding leadership as assistant dean of our top-ranked undergraduate program,” said Dean Ann Harrison. “She is a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, student affairs, and leadership development. I am pleased that she is both the first woman and the first woman of color to serve in this position.” 

In her new role, Walker will be a key member of the dean’s senior management team, responsible for leading instructional programs in the school’s six degree programs.  She’ll oversee admissions, curricular innovation and planning, professional faculty hiring, academic advising, student services, and faculty teaching evaluations.

“Erika has demonstrated outstanding leadership as assistant dean of our top-ranked undergraduate program,” — Dean Ann Harrison.

“I am honored and excited to continue my journey at Haas in this new position, drawing on my undergraduate program experience to help lead the school during these transformative times,” Walker said. 

Three new undergrad programs launched

As head of the two-year undergraduate program, Walker was in charge of all academic and student affairs. Most recently, she oversaw the addition of three innovative new undergraduate business programs: the Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology (M.E.T.) program, a partnership with the UC Berkeley College of Engineering; the Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship (L.S.B.E.) program with Biological Sciences; and the Global Management Program, (G.M.P.), which features a semester abroad.  

Deeply committed to diversity at Haas, Walker developed and taught the undergraduate course Diversity in the Workplace, which provides a forum for students to explore equity and inclusion issues. She also served as the first Haas Student Equity Officer, responsible for co-leading the school’s diversity and inclusion strategy. She also coached traveling international case competition teams each semester. Walker will continue to guide the undergraduate programs until the school names her successor. 

A first-gen Cal grad

Prior to Haas, Walker was a manager at INROADS/Northern California, served as a program administrator for the Summer Youth Development Program at the McKesson Corporation, and as a project coordinator in Community and Government Relations at the regional offices of Kaiser Permanente. 

Walker earned a BS in American Studies, with an emphasis in Health & Education for Minority Youth, from UC Berkeley. A first-gen college student, she was an inaugural recipient of UC Berkeley’s Incentive Awards Program, now called the Fiat Lux Scholars. She also holds an MA and EdD in Educational Leadership from Mills College. Her research area is intercultural pedagogy in higher education.