By Amy Cranch
During graduation season, parents may think back to the day their child was accepted at Berkeley. That rush of excitement and promise for what was to come in college is now transforming into excitement and promise for what life after college may hold — as well as deep pride for the knowledge, memories and degree their child worked hard to earn.
To honor the Class of 2021, about 200 families paid tribute to their graduating students last spring with special gifts to the Cal Parents Fund — raising nearly $83,000 for scholarships, mentoring, career support and other undergraduate opportunities. Their support makes it possible for the next class of Cal parents to trust Berkeley, as they did, to provide opportunities for students to learn and grow.
Along with a gift to the Cal Parents Fund, Matt and Carmen Reid also gave to the Rausser College of Natural Resources (RCNR) as a token of appreciation for educating their daughter Mary, who graduated in molecular environmental biology.
“She enthusiastically enjoyed her four years at Cal, especially as a community member of RCNR,” says Carmen. “Her transformative experience sparked an interest in the natural world and solidified critical thinking skills that inspired her to take the next steps to pursue graduate school.”
Carmen says that even as students move on, Berkeley will always be a part of their life, and it’s important to cultivate a sense of belonging and appreciation for the university community. “Giving back is a value we firmly believe in, and hope to support incoming students as they embark on their academic journey at Cal,” she says.
Parents were not the only ones who seized the moment to give back. Since 1874 — when students raised $48.10 — seniors have rallied to raise money for UC Berkeley as a way to celebrate their experience and leave a mark on the place that changed their lives. This year, more than 200 seniors from the Class of 2021 raised about $40,000 for Berkeley. Participants could choose where to direct their gift, including a favorite academic unit, student group, or service. Altogether, 104 funds were supported.
Eric Manzo ‘21, who co-led Cal Student Philanthropy, says everything felt like a blur during the last year. “But when it mattered most, the Class of 2021 always came together — not only for each other, but for our greater Cal community,” he says.
Eric donated to the UC Rally Committee, the official guardians of Cal spirit and traditions. “It’s where I found my home,” he says, “helping me spread Cal spirit to the student body.”
Douglas Wickham ‘21, former president of Cal Student Philanthropy, supported the libraries. “I missed studying in places like the East Asian Library,” he says. “Whether it was the quiet calm I found there or the joy of looking out the windows, East Asian had it all for me.”
Eric and Douglas presented a check on behalf of the class to Chancellor Carol Christ during the university’s virtual commencement. In their speech, Eric said, “Whether you made a donation, volunteered your time, or helped a fellow bear, these are all forms of giving back that keep Cal golden — and I’m so proud to be part of such a golden class.”