Reflections of Public Service
In honor of the Public Service Center’s 50th anniversary, alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends celebrate Berkeley’s legacy of public service. Here they reflect on their ideas about public service, their experiences, and how service has transformed their lives. Whether they call it by its original name of the Community Projects Office, or Cal Corps, or by its current name of the Public Service Center, they all share their passion and commitment to creating a more just and equitable world.
Daniel McIntosh, ’67 Former ASUC President
Public service is a real two-way street. I think whatever you give you get back, and you get it back by virtue of being part of your world, being part of determining what direction your community or state, whatever venue you pick, will go.
Carol T. Christ, Chancellor, UC Berkeley
Public service can be a bridge between people. The tangible actions we can take together improve understanding and unite us.
Dick Beahrs, ’68, ASUC President 1967-68
My interest [in public policy] grew out of a trip to Africa in 1971. We were fascinated by the challenges and the tremendous efforts being undertaken to build just societies by the African people. One involvement led to another. I came to appreciate how much the university has to offer the world in addressing environmental and hunger issues.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, ’75, Cal in the Capital Alumna
Change happens. And so we just have to fight. That’s what inspires me.
John Gage, 1st Student Coordinator, 1967, Community Projects Office ( now PSC)
Everyone who has gone to an American high school knows what I’m talking about. The Future Farmers of America when they ate lunch, they ate over there. The football team ate over there. The socialites ate over there. Seeing how people segregate themselves voluntarily always made me think there’s a power in bringing people together outside their normal orbits. The point of a university and the point of building a community is to bring people together. And that was the goal of the Community Projects Office.
Jennifer Granholm, ’84, Former Michigan Governor
I wanted to be a champion for people who did not have a champion. I did not think that would turn out with me being Governor or Attorney General of Michigan. It did, but that notion of the tool of government to be able to lift people up who would not otherwise be lifted up is really what drives me.
Roseanne Fong, ’76 Former Director of Cal Corps, now PSC
When my daughter started middle school, we had to fill out this form on back-to-school-night: “What is the most important thing you want your child to learn at this school?” And I remember writing compassion. And I remember the teacher saying, “What?” I think we’re better citizens when we’re more compassionate. Whether students were going on to medical school or law school or dental school, or any profession, the public service they were involved in made them much more compassionate.
Jose Luis Bedolla, ’92 Former Cal in the Capital Director
My parents taught me that if you have something, you give back. No matter how little you have, you always give back.
Martin Perez, ’10, Co-Founder of Arizona 2030
My experiences as a literacy mentor taught me to assess a challenge, take action, and discover my career in education. I love my job because it is an avenue to make my community a better place, to empower children to know there is no barrier to their success.
Angad Singh Padda, ’17, Berkeley-Haas Commencement Speaker
We want to use our education to go beyond ourselves to make this world a better place; we want to unify this world.
Adena Ishii, ’14 PSC Participant
Knowing that our campus had this amazing history of free speech—that we had programs like our ethnic studies program, that we have things like the Public Service Center—really gave me a lot of opportunities to connect with the history of the past and find the service that I wanted to give to the community
Calixtho Lopes, ’17 Political Science
The Public Service Center really feels like a family. Public service was a way to educate myself, while being able to address some of the most pressing issues within my community.
Esteem Brumfield, ’18, PSC Participant
I wanted to give back and be a part of an institution that was driven to do that and do more. We need people asking the questions that haven’t been asked. We need people approaching problems from a different angle and finding new solutions.
Greta Bedekovics, ’18, Cal in the Capital Participant
My family has seen a great deal of social injustice. I’m from Hungary and my great-grandparents were forced out of their ancestral homes and threatened with death after WWII. Then my parents had to grow up under communism. Having my family live through all of this and then seeing how this is still happening in the world has made me passionate about correcting social injustices by being a public servant.
Corena M. Longland, ’18 PSC Participant
Public service has impacted my life because it got my family off the streets, a roof and protection (Salvation Army), and it helped my mom get a job, and get us legal protections. Now, it helps me to teach purposeful living to my children and of utilizing our privileges, assets, and strengths for community benefit. Because someone else took a chance on me, I’m alive and well today to do it for another.
Elvira Morales Molina, ’18, PSC Participant
As an immigrant and a woman of color, it is imperative for girls growing up in similar situations to mine to know that they are necessary, important, and valued by their communities. I think by being at a school with girls from different backgrounds, I can be a concrete support and presence showing them that even with all the factors that are trying to keep them from their educations and goals, there are women like them out there doing the impossible.
Giselle Serafin ’19, PSC Participant
Public service has impacted my life by bringing together like-minded individuals that are passionate about creating change. It has made me feel like I have a purpose in life and makes me really happy to be able to engage with others and the community.
Jasmine Sozi, ’21, Intended Political Science
If we were to increase public service, destigmatize helping one another, we could become a unified world. We could move as one planet to being the greatest version that we could be.