UC Berkeley’s graduate programs have, historically, operated siloed recruitment initiatives within each of Cal’s 14 schools and colleges. As part of a new and unified approach to diversity recruitment and in recognition of the multidisciplinary interests of many applicants, UC Berkeley’s Office for Graduate Diversity hosted its first universitywide Graduate Diversity Admissions Fair on Oct. 22, with more than 2,000 registrants, 1,500 virtual attendees, and 53 participating departments.
This fair aligns with the Graduate Division’s expanded emphasis on increasing diversity within Berkeley’s applicant pool, student body, and future faculty, and creating a culture where students from all backgrounds feel welcomed and supported.
In her welcome remarks, Vice Provost Lisa García Bedolla underscored the urgent nature of ensuring Berkeley’s graduate student body reflects California, our nation and the world: “I decided to go to graduate school because I believe ideas matter and who creates knowledge matters. As an undergraduate I had only one Latina professor. […] My job is to leave the door open a little wider for those that come after me. To make that happen, I try to provide students with the mentorship, support, and advice that I didn’t get.”
A recurring exhortation to prospective students was: apply, and apply fearlessly. García Bedolla noted that first-generation and Black, Indigenous and students of color often undervalue themselves and will choose not to apply to programs they think they can’t get into. “Don’t make that mistake,” she emphasized. “Apply and let them say no, rather than closing the door without trying.”
In addition to welcome remarks, an overview of funding opportunities and diversity programs, and department presentations, students were invited to attend special sessions on the “Do’s and Don’t Do’s” of putting together arts and humanities applications, and how to overcome imposter syndrome in the application process.
Denzil Streete, the Graduate Division’s Chief of Staff and Assistant Dean for Diversity, highlighted several upcoming events for prospective students, including an “Application Hackathon” that will pair prospective students with current Berkeley graduate students for 30-minute help sessions. Dr. Streete also announced the hiring of an Undocumented Graduate Student Specialist. This role will focus on stewarding Cal’s UndocuGrad program, Firebaugh Scholars Program for undocumented undergraduate students interested in graduate studies, and other graduate student initiatives.
Recordings from the fair are available on the Graduate Division’s website.