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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.