As the Haas undergraduate class of 2013 reflects at commencement on their UC Berkeley experiences—and their futures—they will also take the time to appreciate each other.
This year marks the first time that four students will be recognized with a Champion of Culture Award, one for each Berkeley-Haas Defining Principle. The awards were the brainchild of Tyler Wishnoff, BS 13, who, in his leadership role as Haas Business School Association President, connected his fellow students to Haas values through a series of blog posts, a cohort system revival, and other initiatives.
Four winners were selected from more than 30 nominations: Brandon Pham for Question the Status Quo, Lanny O’Connell for Confidence Without Attitude, Hedy Chen for Students Always, and Michael Bloch for Beyond Yourself.
As a Berkeley freshman, Brandon Pham boldly ran for and won a Senate seat in the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), running on a platform that championed the local business community. Pham interned in the Berkeley Mayor’s Office and with the White House, where he worked on such projects as Race to the Top and the American Jobs Act of 2011, producing research that has been cited in the New York Times and contributing to large-scale federal programs.
“It is his desire to effect change on the large-scale that highlights Brandon’s nature of Questioning the Status Quo,” said a classmate in the nomination.
Lanny O’Connell, recognized for having Confidence Without Attitude, played a critical role in a project that required a business model and proof of forecasted success, a classmate recalled in the nomination. When the team’s model collapsed one week before final presentations (due to legal issues), O’Connell, having startup experience, persuaded the group to incorporate that failure into their presentation, fostering a learning opportunity for the team.
Said his classmate, “His expertise coupled with his humility make him the ideal champion of culture.”
Hedy Chen, a Student Always, was the first ASUC sophomore executive chief of staff in Berkeley history. While at Haas, she has juggled a double major with political science, devoted time to researching the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, and served as a delegate for the Forum for American-Chinese Exchange at Stanford. She also served as the only undergrad on a team in the Berkeley MBA Social Sector Solutions experiential learning course working with a nonprofit organization.. She also worked with KPMG on a corporate social responsibility program.
“She has a passion for learning that is unrivaled,” said a classmate. “She seeks out new opportunities to challenge herself in every area of her life.”
Michael Bloch, recognized for going Beyond Himself, was hailed for service to the UC Berkeley community that has ranged from organizing a coalition of student groups to raise money for Haitian earthquake reconstruction to serving as an ASUC senator and president of his fraternity, Sigma Nu. This semester, Bloch was also recognized for a nonprofit consulting group he launched in Lecturer Daniel Mulhern's leadership class. Consult Your Community provides pro bono consulting services to low-income, small business owners in college communities.
“His rationale was synergistic,” said Mulhern. “Students win by gaining great experience, businesses gain quality affordable help, Cal wins in its relationship to the community.”
Other students being recognized at the Undergraduate commencement include Departmental Citation Winner Stephen Hwang and Haas Community Fellows Winner Shuonan Chen. Rebecca Hui was selected by her classmates to be the student speaker. (For more on these students, please read our story on Undergraduate Commencement at https://newsroom.haas.berkeley.edu/article/hundreds-bid-haas-farewell-undergrad-mba-and-phd-commencements.)