Cynthia Ladd-Viti and Linda Miyagawa, two long-serving staff members of the Graduate Division, are retiring. Below are summaries and highlights from their time at UC Berkeley.
Cynthia Ladd-Viti, Associate Director, Office for Graduate Diversity
Ladd-Viti took a circuitous path to Berkeley, entering as a transfer student and student parent. Her prior experiences included working as a professional print and runway model, then serving as an active PTA mom and volleyball coach to be more involved with her children’s education. Possessing an enduring passion for life-long learning, Ladd-Viti came to Berkeley with a desire to critically examine the issues of race, identity, history, and culture, all of which further informed her diverse experience having been born abroad and raised on multiple U.S. military bases before finally settling in San Francisco. This route to higher education directly informed her professional mission to ensure future Berkeley students would have the same access, support, and opportunities she was able to find at Cal as a non-traditional student.
As an undergraduate student majoring in American Studies, Ladd-Viti found her campus home in the Transfer Center, known at the time as the Transfer Re-entry Student Parent Center. “I was fascinated by the trajectory of students who came through the route of the transfer experience, particularly underrepresented students, who, like me, found their way into Berkeley with no real plan,” she shared. “I wanted to understand and support them to go further, and I really enjoyed assisting those who had that dream.” So much so, that upon graduating with highest honors, she seamlessly moved into her first staff role as Assistant Coordinator focusing on transitional services for community college transfers.
In keeping with her love of mentoring and supporting students, she then applied for a role at the Graduate Division as the Outreach and Summer Research Program Coordinator, pairing students from around the U.S.and Puerto Rico with faculty mentors to engage in their research passions in preparation for graduate school.
“I’m still in touch with many of those students across the nation — many are professors, researchers, and professionals in the fields of medicine, law, politics, and the arts. I loved that work and intense experience every summer — it was probably the best part of my job,” she reflected. “To be honest this experience was a model for how I would guide my own children towards college attainment, career satisfaction and success.”
Ladd-Viti has since served in various roles within the Office for Graduate Diversity, which has gone through “too many transitions to list.” Her most recent endeavors include the direction of GiGS (Getting into Grad School program/course) and the development of STEM*FYI (STEM first-year initiative).
As a constant throughout her career at Cal, Ladd-Viti cherishes the time spent working with historically underrepresented students in her various campus roles: “The brilliance, the activism, the energy, and the spirit of the students that I’ve had the privilege to work with, or to follow, has enriched my life on so many levels.”
Denzil Streete, the Graduate Division’s Assistant Dean for Diversity, acknowledged the hole left by Ladd-Viti’s departure, as well as the influence and legacy of her efforts, “Her involvement in directing many of the Office for Graduate Diversity’s initiatives, and more importantly, wise counsel, have been essential in creating a welcoming community for students and expanding the diversity of of our graduate student body,” he stated. “She will be sorely missed in OGD, but we all will be better as a result of her body of work, as the fruits of her labor will continue to transform the academy and the country.”
In her retirement, she looks forward to taking time to start a new chapter of creative endeavors, and enroll in classes at her local community college — “where it all started,” she said.
Linda Miyagawa, Publications and Production Specialist, GSI Teaching and Resource Center
Just last week, Linda Miyagawa celebrated her 21st anniversary as the Publications and Production Specialist in the Graduate Division’s GSI Teaching and Resource Center. She was hired by Assistant Dean Linda von Hoene shortly after she took the helm as the center’s director in 2000.
While she first began by designing print materials for the center’s many events, workshops, and communications, she quickly took on more responsibilities, including designing and managing the center’s website and video archive, coordinating purchasing, supporting events, developing building signage, and overseeing office logistics.
“Linda Miyagawa’s departure is a significant loss to the GSI Center, the Graduate Division, and the campus,” shared von Hoene. “In addition to excelling in all aspects of her work, she has been the heart of the GSI Teaching & Resource Center for more than 20 years, always making the extra effort to support students and staff alike. She will be sorely missed by our team.”
Miyagawa was awarded the Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award in 2010 for her efforts ranging from reconfiguring office space for improved air circulation to redesigning the signage in Sproul Hall.
Her favorite memories at Cal relate to supporting graduate students in their professional and academic journeys, both within and beyond academia. “Seeing students progress in their education at Berkeley and towards their future careers has been extremely gratifying. It brings me joy to see them develop as new professors, contributors to organizations, or supporters of the environment or social causes, and know that I helped contribute in some way to their growth,” she shared
Peter Phan, one of the many student employees who Miyagawa welcomed and supported, drew attention to her knack for community-building: “Thank you so much for making such a positive impact on the office environment,” he said. “You were the light for me that always brightened up my day whenever I stepped foot into the office. I am truly grateful to have been in your presence.”
Blue and gold run deep in her family — her daughter attended Berkeley as an undergraduate and her son-in-law is also an alumnus. She plans to stay connected to the Berkeley community in her retirement, and looks forward to continuing her volunteer work with the San Francisco Ballet, discovering other volunteer opportunities, and spending time with family.
“I’ll be sad to leave [Cal], but I’m grateful that I contributed in some way to its continuing success as the number one public university in the world. And meeting our wonderful faculty and staff communities. It’s been extremely humbling,” she added.