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Cal Parents Fund: Supporting students on their academic paths

Dark haired smiling man standing with hands in his pockets.

Courtesy of Kjellin Parker-Elder

“It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m still enrolled at Cal,” says Anna Luc ’20 of UC Berkeley’s Student Learning Center (SLC). For more than 45 years, the SLC has supported Berkeley’s undergraduates in navigating the high academic expectations of a top-tier research university and empowers them to realize their full academic potential.

Luc, a junior pursuing a double-major in economics and media studies, is a first-generation UC Berkeley student from Los Angeles and comes from a low-income community with under-resourced schools. Like many students from these low-income areas, she experienced a tough transition at Berkeley, competing against students who have been top performers at more well-funded high schools. “I had a C+ or B- average when I started,” she remembers. “But the SLC gave me the personal attention I needed and showed me how to develop more effective study habits. It helped to level the playing field.” Anna now makes A’s and B+’s.

One of the reasons Cal students have a resource like the Student Learning Center is because of donations to the Cal Parents Fund. “Generous gifts to the Cal Parents Fund have enabled the SLC to expand our services in a meaningful way,” says SLC Executive Director Cara Stanley. “Just one example is the Mathematics/Statistics Adjunct Program, which now serves 1,900 students per semester— quadrupling the number of students we served in this format four years ago.”

The SLC—which employs 20 professional staff with disciplinary expertise, 300 trained undergraduate tutors, and 20 graduate student instructors—hosts a wide range of programs that honor students’ unique starting points and help them excel on their own academic paths. Today, the SLC is the primary source of academic support at Berkeley and is one of the few learning centers in the world that is staffed almost entirely by undergraduates. It also presents opportunities for Berkeley’s extraordinary students to give back, both on campus and in the larger community.

Parker Kjellin-Elder, a 2017 graduate of Berkeley, has tutored more than 200 undergrads at the SLC, primarily teaching academic writing skills. He’s helped students improve their analysis, outlining skills, thesis structure, and intellectual expression,which has greatly helped him in his own academic career, he says. “I hadn’t been certain before about grad school,” he explains “But working with these inspiring young minds fueled my own passion for education and the writing process.”

Luc cites peer academic tutors and graduate student instructors as an especially effective learning approach. “Other students are closer to our own experience and learning process,” she says. “They explain things in ways we can better understand and they feel more accessible.”

Kjellin-Elder agrees. Asked about one of his most gratifying moments at the SLC, he says, “There are way too many to count. It’s so inspiring to watch students feel genuinely excited about their own education for the first time, to want to run to the library to do further research on their projects. And I’ve learned so many new skills and methodologies as I’ve helped others to navigate the whole process.”

Gifts to the Cal Parents Fund support undergraduate programs with the greatest need or the greatest potential to enhance student life. Each year, the collective support of Cal Parents Fund donors provides flexible funding for all aspects of the undergraduate experience, and makes a great impact in students’ lives. Please give to the Cal Parents Fund today.

At the Student Learning Center:

students supported annually

service hours logged per academic year

students served since 1973


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