UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Who are your heroes? Why do you look up to them?

Class of 2006 grads
Commencement coverage >

– 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.

 Donnarcia Scurry and Shalina Casey'Both 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

 Stephany Molina'My 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
Sagar Khalsa'My professor of martial arts, Edward Lee, who taught me yong 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

 Hami Ramani'Ralph 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)
Janibel Melendez'I 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

 Rosie Nelson'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
Diana Ramos'My 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

Gagandeep Singh Rajpal'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
Diana Yee'My parents, first 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 person.'
-Diana Yee, molecular and cell biology. Hometown: Newark, CA

Alycia Hesse'Robert 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
Jeffrey Dela Cruz'My 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

Michael Hunter'The 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
Elizabeth Albee'My 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

Laurel MacKenzie'My 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
Janet Kendall'My 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 and support.'
-Janet Kendall, Native American studies. Hometown: Benicia, CA

Read responses to previous Point of View questions