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Award Recipient Profiles

Congratulations to the 2021-2022 award recipients!

Shani Shay

African American Studies; Minor: Education

Mather Good Citizen Award

Shani Shay is a statewide leader for the Berkeley Underground Scholars and the founder and director of Incarceration to College and Black Underground Scholars. Shay created Incarceration to College to help incarcerated youth get access to post-secondary education. The program serves youth incarcerated in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and provides support, stipends, and laptops to previously incarcerated youth scholars. Shay developed a curriculum that allows students to earn credits towards high school graduation for participating in Incarceration to College. “For those who have been criminalized and pushed out of education, Ms. Shay has created accessible pathways from jail to the university that will have truly transformative outcomes,” says Azadeh Zohrabi, director for Berkeley Underground Scholars. Shay was previously incarcerated and a survivor of self-mutilation and domestic violence. Shay was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii and moved to the Bay Area when she was 15 years old. She suffered violence at the hands of her ex-partner at age 16. Shay was 15 years old the first time she was arrested and 28 years old the last time she was arrested, spending most of her adult life on felony probation.

Tina Marie McClain

Social Welfare

Undergraduate Award for Civic Engagement

Tina M. McClain is majoring in social welfare here at UC Berkeley. The mother of three and grandmother was featured in the East Bay Housing Organizations Affordable Housing Guidebook 2010-2011 after being homeless and finding sustainable housing. McClain earned an associate’s degree in substance abuse counseling and is a former parent advocate for Alameda County Social Services Agency and United Advocates for Families and Children. McClain also provided support at A Better Way, a nonprofit that provides services to children in or at risk of entering foster care. McClain is a recipient of the Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay Work Ability Award and a previous key speaker for the Mission Celebration and Fundraising Gala in Oakland, California. “She has been engaged in all these endeavors because of her personal experiences, her identity, and the struggles she faced in the past,” says Professor Jill Duerr Berrick. “She is driven to identify resources that can help families recover from their pain.”

Alex Mabanta

Law/Jurisprudence and Social Policy (PhD program)

Graduate Award for Civic Engagement

Alex Mabanta is a Ph.D. student in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at Berkeley Law. The treatment of immigrants has been an important issue in much of Mabanta’s campus based work, including his recent work on the Chancellor’s Building Name Review Committee, in which he has investigated, reviewed, and recommended the unnaming of four campus buildings since 2018: Boalt Hall, LeConte Hall, Barrows Hall, and Kroeber Hall. As a Chancellor’s Public Fellow with the American Cultures Engaged Scholars Program, Mabanta has guided students’ learning experiences by working with Professor Kathryn Abrams to offer direct services and community-engaged research opportunities for students interested in immigrant rights, undocumented activist-led movements, and state and federal migration policy with community partners and legal aid organizations across Northern California. He also serves on multiple non-profit boards at the campus, county, state, and national level. “The issue of justice for immigrants has been a natural interest for Mabanta as his family originally migrated from the Philippines,” says Professor Abrams, who nominated Mabanta for this award.

Charles D. Brown II

Physics Research

Staff Award for Civic Engagement

Charles Brown earned his bachelor’s with honors in physics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He then earned his Ph.D. in physics at Yale University, where he performed experiments with superfluid helium-filled optical cavities and constructed and characterized a new experiment for studying magnetically levitated drops of superfluid helium in vacuum. Brown is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Ultracold Atomic Physics Group in the Department of Physics at UC Berkeley, where he performs experiments with ultracold atoms in various optical lattice geometries. Brown is co-founder and co-director of BlackInPhysics, and he co-leads #BlackinPhysics week, a week dedicated to celebrating the historical contributions of Black physicists, helping to paint a more complete picture of what physicists look like. He was recently awarded a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Quantum Creators prize. In January 2023, he will start as an assistant professor researching and teaching physics at Yale. “Berkeley should be proud that it has supported Dr. Brown as an activist Black scientist during this profound moment in history,” says Professor Dan Stamper-Kurn.

Pathways to Four-Year Universities 

Campus-Community Partnership Award

Pathways to Four-Year Universities is a multi-party initiative between Berkeley Summer Sessions, UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP), and many local community colleges and districts. The program provides distinct and important ways for underserved and international students to gain access to information, advising, and coursework that will better support their transfer from community colleges to four-year universities. As part of this program, Berkeley Summer Sessions provides additional resources to CEP and expands the presence and support of transfer specialists at these community colleges to identify and support students seeking transfer. Along with this enhanced advising and guidance, the students can improve their portfolio for admission by taking Berkeley Summer Sessions courses, utilizing any available financial aid through the Pathways financial aid consortium. In addition, co-branding agreements between UC Berkeley
and each Pathways community college partner enhance opportunities for student engagement and outreach and raise awareness around transfer resources and the transfer pathway. Overall, the program has assisted in better preparing community college students for successful transfer to UC Berkeley as well as other four-year institutions.

The California Health Professional Student Alliance Berkeley (CaHPSA)

Student Group Award for Civic Engagement

The California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA) at Berkeley aims to cultivate leadership and advocacy skills among students to affect change in the healthcare system, primarily through grassroots efforts, education, and community outreach. The group organizes conferences, workshops, and presentations aimed at helping students develop effective health advocacy skills, promote a sense of social responsibility, and encourage collaboration. CaHPSA at Berkeley also supports efforts by partners to improve the current healthcare system by participating in legislative visits, community education, and outreach events. The alliance is committed to helping people get health coverage now. Through its Project White Coat program, CaHPSA at Berkeley has helped over 400 families enroll in Medi-Cal or another form of health insurance. “Our counselors practice cultural humility, express compassion, and approach difficult cases with empathy,” notes recent Berkeley graduate and former alliance member Kat Cook.

Underground Scholars Initiative (USI)

Student Group Award for Civic Engagement

The Underground Scholars Initiative works in direct partnership with Berkeley Underground Scholars, which is the academic support program housed within the Division of Equity and Inclusion at UC Berkeley. Together, both organizations work to support students affected by incarceration through a three-pronged approach of recruitment, retention, and advocacy efforts. Recruitment efforts consist of the Incarcerated Scholars Program, the Incarceration to College program, the Ambassador Program, the Cross Enrollment Program, and the Transfer Program. These programs provide outreach,
academic advising, transfer application assistance, and opportunities for community service. Retention efforts serve formerly incarcerated students attending UC Berkeley. These efforts consist of tutoring and advising; financial support; employment and leadership development; and hosting community space and events. Meanwhile, advocacy efforts are aimed at increasing the number of students in higher education. Over the last three years, the initiative has contributed to the passage of four bills in the California State Legislature that expands access to higher education for people affected by the carceral state, which included providing expert testimony and community organizing.

Joseph Lewnard

School of Public Health

Faculty Award for Research in the Public Interest

Joseph Lewnard is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Berkeley Public Health with a research focus on vaccine-preventable and respiratory pathogens in the United States and around the world. His focus pivoted largely to COVID-19 in response to the ongoing pandemic. He has led studies in California with the CDC, Kaiser Permanente, and the California Department of Public Health as well as studies focusing on COVID-19 in India. This work has provided seminal insights into the natural history, transmission dynamics, and control of SARS-CoV-2 in real time, including the real-world effectiveness of both face masks and vaccines; the differential clinical severity and vaccine effectiveness associated with the Omicron variant; the role of differing age groups and exposure settings in driving transmission; and the vast undercounting of pandemic-associated mortality in India. “His work has led to more focused and effective prevention and control strategies for COVID-19 as well as empowered the communities with which he has worked,” says Arthur Reingold M.D., who is the chair of the Epidemiology Division at Berkeley Public Health.

Steven Weber and the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity

School of Information

Faculty Award for Research in the Public Interest

Professor Emeritus Steven Weber and the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC) are both honored with this award. Weber has made many contributions for the public interest in his storied career and recently retired following 32 years as a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information and the Goldman School of Public Policy. Currently, Weber is a partner for Breakwater Strategy, a firm that advises companies and nonprofits on how to navigate business crises. Recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in scenario planning, Weber has worked with more than 50 companies and organizations to manage uncertain business environments. He established the CLTC in 2015 at the School of Information as a cybersecurity research and collaboration hub. In 2018, under Weber’s leadership, CLTC established the Citizen Clinic, a trailblazing, public-interest digital security clinic that, like clinics in law and medicine, helps prepare and deploy student teams to offer pro-bono cybersecurity assistance to nonprofits, journalists, human rights defenders, and social justice activists. Due to the influence of Weber and the CLTC, cybersecurity has emerged as an important arena in the evolving public interest technology field and has gained visibility across the 43 colleges and universities that comprise the Public Interest Technology University Network, of which UC Berkeley is a founding member. The CLTC is currently led by executive director Ann Cleaveland and current faculty director and I School and Law professor Chris Hoofnagle.

Stephanie Campos-Bui

Berkeley Law

Faculty Award for Community Engaged Teaching

Professor Stephanie Campos-Bui is a deputy director in the Policy Advocacy Clinic at Berkeley Law. Since joining the clinic in 2015, Campos-Bui has researched and documented the effects fees and fines have on communities of color. She has worked with community groups across multiple states on fee abolition bills in the juvenile and criminal justice systems and currently co-leads a national effort to abolish all fees and fines imposed on youth in the justice system. Previously, Campos-Bui served as a public interest fellow at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) where she held school-based legal clinics in Oakland and provided special education representation to youth at risk of dropping out of school and entering the juvenile system. During law school, she participated in EBCLC’s Health/Welfare Clinic and then-Policy Advocacy Clinic and received the Brian M. Sax Prize for Excellence in Clinical Advocacy, honorable mention, in recognition of her work. Campos-Bui graduated from Berkeley Law in 2014 and from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s in English and minor in ethnic studies in 2011. “At every stage of her teaching, research, and service, Campos-Bui works to remove barriers and increase participation for underrepresented groups,” says Professor Jeffrey Selbin.

Anibel Ferus-Comelo

Labor Center, Goldman School of Public Policy

Faculty Award for Community Engaged Teaching

Professor Anibel Ferus-Comelo draws upon nearly 25 years of community engaged research and teaching in her joint appointment at the Labor Center and the Goldman School of Public Policy. She directs the labor studies program at UC Berkeley through courses, internships, and collaborative research initiatives. In 2018, Ferus-Comelo was recognized as a Chancellor’s Public Scholar–Faculty Fellow for her design of service-learning internships and collaborative research projects with community partners involving graduate and undergraduate students. Her research interests focus on labor standards and corporate social responsibility, gender, migration, the political economy of India, and the governance
of global supply chains. Through her courses at Berkeley, Ferus-Comelo has partnered with 29 organizations in the Bay Area that have focused on various challenges such as housing, climate justice, teacher unions, and more. “Anibel has been one of the most important contributors to undergraduate curriculum development at UC Berkeley over the past five
years,” says Victoria Robinson, director of the American Cultures Center.

Stephanie Rodriguez

Sociology

Robert J. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Recognition Award for Service to Undocumented Students

Stephanie Rodriguez is passionate about making higher education accessible. Being first-generation, queer and undocumented, accessibility has always been something of which they were always passionate. They work with Bears for Financial Success and the Haas Undocumented Community Resource Center centered on providing one-on-one support to students, with a focus on expanding resources to the undocumented community at UC Berkeley. Their biggest project is the expansion of financial literacy to encompass undocumented students. Stephanie plans to attend graduate school in the fall, with plans to work in higher education serving underrepresented communities. “Stephanie faced different barriers while at community college and to get to Berkeley. Stephanie supported students so that they could attain and navigate higher education successfully with so many different life circumstances,” notes Liliana Iglesias, program director for the
Undocumented Student Program.

Arlyn Y. Moreno Luna

Graduate School of Education

Robert J. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Recognition Award for Service to Underrepresented Students

Arlyn Luna is a doctoral student in the Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Her scholarly interests include access and equity in higher education for first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students; students’ higher education pathways; students’ experiences when transferring from community college to four-year institutions; and bachelor’s degree attainment for students who begin post-secondary education at a community college. Moreno Luna was born and raised in Mexico, migrating to the United States as a teen. She started in a new educational system without knowing English and experienced first-hand how historically marginalized students are encouraged to pursue technical careers and not college. “ Arlyn’s sustained personal engagement with undocumented and underrepresented communities in academia has been part of who she is as a young scholar,” says Associate Professor Tolani Britton.