Skip to main content

January 2018 Cal Parents Ambassador Newsletter


Cal Parents Volunteer Newsletter
January 2018 Edition

Greetings Cal Parents Ambassadors!

Welcome to 2018!  We hope your student is thriving in their new semester at Cal, and we look forward to sharing with you many opportunities this spring to engage with prospective and incoming Cal families. Thank you for all that you do for Berkeley, and please click here to download the newly updated Cal Parents Ambassador Handbook.

This month we introduce a new column (see below), “Ask David,” featuring Berkeley’s Director of Parent Services and Communications, David Ortega. David has served the campus for more than 25 years, holds a wealth of knowledge about Cal, and is our point person for the parents helpline.

150 Years of Light

Throughout 2018, Berkeley is celebrating its sesquicentennial. Check out the Berkeley 150 website to brush up on Cal history, share your own Berkeley memories, and learn of events to celebrate Berkeley’s 150 years as a beacon of opportunity. The Berkeley 150 Road Show will feature Chancellor Carol Christ and distinguished faculty at locations throughout California, as well as New York and Washington, DC.

Feeding Our Bears – A New Thanksgiving Tradition

Cal’s Rec Sports Facility (RSF) sponsored its second annual Thanksgiving meal for 250 grateful Cal students unable to return home for the holiday.  Heartfelt thanks to the eight parent ambassadors who greeted and served diners: Poonam Girdhar; Joanne Harano; Milan Kaur; Beth and David Marks (and student McClain and sister Meghan); and Kristin and Tim Shore.
 Third from L to R: Beth Marks, P ’20; Christine MacDonald,
P ’16, ’18, ’20; Meghan Marks (sibling), David Marks, P ’20
Cal Parents Tim and Kristin Shore, P ’20

Ambassadors Staff Food Pantry During Dead Week / Finals

In the final two weeks of the fall semester, 20 parent volunteers rolled up their sleeves to staff the campus food pantry, which logged more than 1,300 student visits (a record!) during this period. Ambassadors advised and checked-out pantry visitors, referred students to the Cal Fresh (food stamp) program, cleared, stocked and organized shelves, swept floors and broke down boxes. Special thanks to those who held down the fort on multiple occasions. We could not have done it without you!

Bravo to this stellar cohort for your generous service to Cal students: Karen Bhandarkar (3 shifts); Carol Ohara (2 shifts); Carmen Reid; Christine MacDonald (2 shifts); Randy Shingai; Joanne Harano; Beth Marks (3 shifts); Gia Barsell; Kristin Shore; Justine Weinberg (2 shifts); Beth von Emster (2 shifts); Carolyn Palmer (2 shifts); Rachel Goldblatt; Barbara Oseroff (3 shifts); May Chen; Julie Chiu; Eileen Ong-Osmond (2 shifts); Aniluz Mariano; Julia Viskanta; Perissa Clark.

Newly-trained pantry volunteers L to R: Eileen Ong-Osmond, P ’19; Justine Weinberg, P ’20; Rachel Goldblatt, P ’21; Carol Ohara, P ’21; Karen Bhandarkar, P ’20; Barbara Oseroff (former UCB staff)
Carolyn Palmer, P ’16, ’19 organizes fresh produce

Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship Interviews – Volunteers Needed!

Offered to the top 10 percent of entering freshmen within California, the Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship is the highest academic honor awarded to undergraduates at Berkeley. This impressive group of applicants are the first to be admitted. Volunteers are needed to staff an informational table and answer questions from these newly-admitted students’ parents while their children are being interviewed by faculty. Help Berkeley continue to recruit the best and the brightest students to campus!  You do not have to be a parent of an RC Scholar to volunteer.

To sign up, click below on the date/location of your choice. The Berkeley interviews will be held on campus. The SoCal interviews will be held at hotels.

February 22-24, March 2:  Berkeley campus

March 10-11:  San Diego

March 17-18:  Arcadia/Pasadena

David Ortega, ’90, P ’18
Director of Parent Services and Communication

Dear David – Help With Housing

Cal Parent: “My student is looking for housing for next year, what should s/he be doing now?”

David Ortega: This question usually comes from the parent of a student currently living in a campus residence hall. My advice is based on which type of housing, on or off-campus, your student’s desires and when you are prepared to begin paying rent. Most of the information I provide can be found on Berkeley’s housing website, which I strongly recommend you take the time to explore!

If your student is interested in living in a campus residence hall, s/he must fill out the housing application, available from February 1–15.  If offered campus housing, your student will be notified in March. Once a housing contract is signed, your student is committed to living in the residence hall for the 2018-19 academic year.

For students interested in off-campus housing, the general rule is to look four to eight weeks prior to desired move in date. Most students find housing in a month or less. However, if students are new to renting in Berkeley they should give themselves an extra few weeks. Starting your search early can also prevent competing for housing at the same time as many other students at the end of the semester. While now might be too early to search for housing in June or in August, it is wise to begin planning and investigating neighborhoods/areas early. Then, eight weeks prior to their intended move in date, students should begin looking for rental signs throughout the community and utilize the listings on Cal Rentals.

In April, the campus will hold a Housing Fair, designed to assist students in their search and provide a unique opportunity to connect with resources, including local property managers, financial aid, co-ops, and Cal Rentals.

Here are some additional housing suggestions:

    • Students may have to start paying for housing in June.  If a student wants to secure off-campus housing and doesn’t want to take a chance searching the last minute in August, they’ll need to commit to pay rent in June.


    • If students are set with roommates for the following year, each person should help with the search. Parents do not need to come to campus to help. Many resources are online, and students should do the legwork to investigate area neighborhoods.


    • Students should expect to commit weekends and free time to the process.


    • Students should connect with seniors who are moving out of their apartments (and their landlords) to seek an opportunity to take over the senior’s lease.Students may want to seek out friends who are Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars to see if they are interested in rooming together, as RC Scholars are guaranteed four years of on-campus housing.



  • Bowles Hall Residential College is a newly-renovated dormitory that reopened last year and admits student from any class and for multiple years. Bowles begins accepting applications for multi-year housing in February.  It is privately-owned and -operated by the alumni-initiated Bowles Hall Foundation.

David Ortega is Berkeley’s director of parent services and communications. A Cal alumnus, former Cal football player, and proud parent of a fourth-year student, David assists parents with all parent services, concerns, processes, and works with Cal Parents’ social media.

Golden Bear Orientation (GBO) A Success

Golden Bear Orientation for spring admits and transfers occurred this month as Cal welcomed students to the spring semester. And, with the help of the Office of Planning & Analysis, New Student Services recently surveyed participants from the inaugural Fall 2017 GBO to assess their experience and satisfaction. Of the 7,000 students surveyed (77% of the total incoming class), 91% better understand their role as a member of Berkeley and understand how to get involved with the community, and 88% feel confident in their ability to navigate around the city.

Click here to view a short, inspiring video from the fall GBO. Go Bears!

Nominate a GBO Student Leader

Critical to Golden Bear Orientation’s overall excellence are our student leaders; in fact, 92 percent of last year’s GBO participants considered their leaders as resources on campus. If you would like your student to be nominated to be a leader, please email Rose Hsu by February 8.

Orientation Leaders will receive real-world leadership experience; facilitation, public speaking, team building, and professional skills; exclusive career development opportunities; special campus rewards and recognition; and swag and memories to last a lifetime. The position is open to undergraduate students of all colleges, majors, and personal attributes.

Golden Bear Orientation is designed to welcome new undergraduates to the UC Berkeley community, to lay the foundation for fostering their intellectual identity, and to facilitate a sense of belonging. The campus will host the multi day (August 15–21) comprehensive orientation for all 9,000+ incoming undergraduates.

Seize the Moment – Big Give Is March 8!

From your student’s acceptance letter to their graduation day — and beyond — the UC Berkeley experience is made up of a million little moments. Moments of realization. Moments of glory. Moments of truth. A-ha moments and moments they’ll remember for the rest of their days.

As Berkeley celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2018, we’re inviting you to make Berkeley moments like these possible during Big Give, our annual 24-hour fundraising event taking place on Thursday, March 8. Last time, Cal raised $11.7M to support students, faculty, cutting-edge research, and campus programs. This time, we’re asking for your help in making it momentous.

Visit today to learn about the fun contests that make Big Give so impactful and exciting, to check out the “Berkeley moments” the Cal community is sharing, and to learn how to share your own. Then come back March 8 to join thousands of parents, alumni, students, and friends in giving us a head start on the next 150 years.

Advocate for Berkeley in Sacramento and Washington – Volunteers Wanted!
The Cal Alumni Association (CAA) needs your help fighting for UC Berkeley! CAA is partnering with the campus’ Office of Government and Community Relations to mobilize parents, alumni, and friends to advocate on behalf of the university.

Join the UC Advocacy Network to be among the first to know about legislative issues affecting Berkeley and to voice your concerns and tell elected leaders why Cal matters to your family, and to California. Your individual stories will combine in a powerful voice that political leaders need to hear as they make decisions that impact current and future Golden Bears.

Learn more about this important effort, then click the yellow “Join” button to register. Please be sure to mark your affiliation with Berkeley to allow us to track participation.

Not too Early to Plan for Summer!

Is your student interested in studying abroad or doing a global internship this summer? Applications open February 1 and close the first week in March. Explore Berkeley’s Summer Abroad site now to learn about the many exciting opportunities available through Berkeley and the UC system.

Keeping Up with the Latest

Campus News and Events

Upcoming Dates to Note:

  • February 19: President’s Day
  • March 23: Charter Day for Sesquicentennial
  • March 26-30: Spring Recess
  • April 21: Cal Day
  • April 27: Classes End
  • April 30 – May 4: Reading/Review/Recitation Week
  • May 7-11: Final Exams
  • May 11: Spring Semester Ends
  • May 12: Commencement

If you have problems replying to any links or have questions about the Ambassador Program, please contact Rose Hsu. As always, we are grateful for your continued commitment and enthusiasm for Berkeley! Go Bears!

Cal Parents Staff

Check out the Cal Parents website and Facebook page for more information just for parents. Stay up-to-date with the latest news and events at Berkeley: Berkeley News CenterUC Berkeley Events.


Notice - The latest updates on the evolving COVID-19 policies and resources for the campus community.  View Details.