UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Diversity scholars honored

– Three graduating seniors at the University of California, Berkeley, who are the first graduates of the Initiative for Diversity in Education and Leadership (IDEAL) scholarship program will be honored by Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau and others tomorrow (Friday, May 20) at a special reception.

IDEAL is a privately funded scholarship and leadership development program for Bay Area African American, Latino and Native American students at UC Berkeley.

"The IDEAL scholars program was born out of an effort of a number of our alumni and friends to help us in the post-Proposition 209 era to maintain diversity on campus," said Mark Richards, dean of the Division of Physical Sciences in UC Berkeley's College of Letters & Science. "It involves not only generosity, but a research-based program to pay attention to what students from these backgrounds really need to be successful at Berkeley."

Proposition 209, passed by state voters in 1996, made it illegal for public universities to consider sex or race in admissions or hiring.

The IDEAL program is funded by the Level Playing Field Institute, a non-profit organization co-founded by UC Berkeley alumna Freada Kapor Klein and by Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3. Klein and three other UC Berkeley graduates created the IDEAL scholarship program, originally known as the Bay Area Scholarship Awards, in 2001.

"Each of these unique IDEAL graduates shows - in her own way - how diversity strengthens higher education for everyone," said Cedric Brown, the director of Higher Education Programs at Level Playing Field.

The three graduating students are:

- Alexandra Creer. Born and raised in the East Bay, Alexandra said she came to UC Berkeley "because of the wonderful opportunity [IDEAL] provided." She majored in English with a minor in education; she aspires to be a school superintendent. Alex enjoys mentoring middle and high school students. Last semester she co-headed an independent outreach program called GECOS (Gauchos Exploring College Options).

- Ijeoma Okeigwe. Raised in Martinez, Ijeoma majored at UC Berkeley in molecular and cell biology with an emphasis in cell and development. Ijeoma plans to go to medical school and to pursue a master's degree in public health, with the hopes of becoming an obstetrician. She also hopes to initiate more research projects that address minority health issues. In addition, Ijeoma has also worked in the field of anthropology, where she researched and analyzed current issues in minority education. She is also active in the Berkeley African Students Association.

- Corrine Van Hook. Raised in Hayward, Corrine now lives in Oakland. A former debater, Corrine majored in political science and plans to attend law school. She is interested in learning more about different types of law, from entertainment law to community-based advocacy.

"Their academic excellence, contributions to the campus environment through their leadership, and determination to overcome obstacles is truly inspiring," Brown said. "After working with these young women and helping them to blossom for the past four years as IDEAL scholars and Cal students, everyone in the IDEAL community looks forward to witnessing our graduates' future successes."

There are 32 IDEAL scholars currently at UC Berkeley. This fall, another eight Bay Area students will join the program as freshmen.

IDEAL scholarships range from $2,000 to $8,500 for an academic year, replacing the loan and work/study portion of financial aid that the student receives. In addition, the scholars are mentored through a comprehensive support program, which includes a computer loan program, bi-monthly meetings with IDEAL staff and other scholars, tutors as needed, an annual leadership retreat and summer internship assistance.