UC Berkeley Web Feature
Who are your heroes? Why do you look up to them?
BERKELEY – Commencement is a bit like the Academy Awards, a chance for graduates to thank those who got them through four (or more) years of university and into that cap and gown. We asked the students sweating outside the Greek Theatre yesterday to name their heroes — personal or famous — and what about those people they found inspiring. This was apparently a tougher question than usual, and many demurred. However, a clear favorite emerged among those who were willing to respond: Mom, with other family members right behind her. We hope the graduates who spoke so highly of their maternal mentors will remember her this Sunday, May 14, on Mother's Day.
of us would have to say our moms. We live
with them (separately). My mom gives me life
lessons in decision making. She seems to always
be right. So I listen to her advice and I hope
that I'll be like that someday. And she always
has my best interests at heart.'
-Donnarcia Scurry (left), sociology. Hometown: Richmond, CA
'Mine inspires me because I can see she always does her best under the circumstances that she has to work with. We don't have a lot materially, but she's very giving. If she has transportation for the day, she'll say, "I'll take you anywhere you need to go."'
-Shalina Casey, sociology. Hometown: Oakland, CA
grandmother, Abuelita Rosa. She's really smart,
and she didn't even go to school — she
just picked up some books and started reading.
I have all these resources, but she did it on
her own. Her example really motivated me, and
made me appreciate the chance to get an education.'
-Stephany Molina, social welfare. Hometown: San Francisco, CA
professor of martial arts, Edward Lee, who taught
mudo, a form of hapkido. He's
spent the last two or three years stressing
to me the importance of humility and respect,
while teaching me how to break things on people.
He also has a really quirky sense of humor.'
-Sagar Khalsa, political science. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. They are
the real Americans, the revolutionaries. Thoreau's "Civil
Disobedience" has strongly influenced me — I
think it's more relevant now than when it was
written. Emerson and Thoreau talked about people
losing touch with nature. This is happening,
even here at Berkeley.'
-Hami Ramani, molecular and cell biology. Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA (by way of Teheran, Iran)
have always had a hero: my mother. That hero
has never changed. She is a strong, independent
woman with the strength to overcome obstacles.
There were five of us in my family, and we emigrated
here from Peru. I am the first from my family
to graduate from college.'
-Janibel Melendez, psychology. Hometown: Concord, CA
|'I look up to Beverly Cleary [author of "Ramona the Pest" and other children's books]. She used to live in the same co-op, Stebbins, that I lived in. She survived it, and so did I.'
-Rosie Nelson, sociology. Hometown: Santa Monica, CA
grandmother. I had been a student here at Berkeley
and withdrew. She was one of the reasons I decided
to come back here, after a year and a half away,
to get my degree. She died shortly after I reentered
the university. I am her only grandchild to go
to college. I wanted to finish it for her.'
-Diana Ramos, Native American studies. Hometown: Barona Indian Reservation, CA
|'Guru Nanak, the leader of the Sikh faith. The strength I got from him is what got me through college.'
-Gagandeep Singh Rajpal, political science and interdisciplinary studies. Hometown: Madeira, CA
and foremost. Also, my aunts and uncles — always
calling me up and supporting me — and my
close friends, who try to help me be a better
-Diana Yee, molecular and cell biology. Hometown: Newark, CA
Hass. I really admire him. He makes a sacrifice
to give so much of himself to students, whether
helping with their poetry or just listening.
There are so many students who want his time,
and he always tries to give it.'
-Alycia Hesse, English and interdisciplinary studies. Hometown: Berkeley, CA
mom. I've usurped all my character traits from
her, whether it's staying up all night studying
or getting up early to study some more. She worked
two jobs to raise me and my sister.'
-Jeffrey Dela Cruz, molecular and cell biology and ethnic studies double. Hometown: Daly City, CA
Biology Scholars Program has been a big influence
on me. [BSP Director] John Matsui and the others
there have helped me get through a lot of rough
times as well as figure out where I wanted
to go and how to get there. They told me, "Go
for it; we'll always be behind you." That meant
a lot. And my family, too, has been a key factor;
they've always been supportive.'
-Michael Hunter, sociology and philosophy. Hometown: Inglewood, CA
mom. But in terms of somebody who has influenced
my generation, I would say Jon Stewart [host
of the "Daily Show" on Comedy Central]. Most
of us fall asleep to Jon Stewart. He makes politics
feasible to us, and he makes fun of people who
say our generation doesn't get it.'
-Elizabeth Albee, political science and mass communications major, Hometown: San Diego, CA
parents, for sure. Really, anyone who has overcome
any kind of adversity is a hero. Right now, immigrants
are certainly worthy of recognition.'
-Laurel MacKenzie, French and linguistics. Hometown: College Station, TX
heroes would have to be my husband and two daughters.
They're the ones who told me it was time to do
something for me, and finish my education. I
would not be here if it weren't for their love
-Janet Kendall, Native American studies. Hometown: Benicia, CA
Read responses to previous Point of View questions