On Wednesday, April 19, Berkeley graduate students Esther Cho and Alexis Shusterman participated in UC’s 8th annual Graduate Research and Education Advocacy Day. Joining a delegation of 18 graduate student counterparts from the nine other UC campuses, they traveled to Sacramento to talk about their work and re-acquaint legislators with the tremendous contributions to the state’s vitality made by University of California scholars and researchers.
Rounding out the UC Berkeley contingent were Fiona Doyle, Dean of the Graduate Division, and Michelle Moskowitz, Director of Government and Community Relations. Participants encouraged lawmakers to help “grow California together” by providing more access to graduate education through greater funding to help meet enrollment demand at UC.
Esther Cho, a doctoral student in Sociology, explained her studies of how undocumented young adults navigate social and educational institutions in California and form their sense of belonging. Alexis Shusterman, a doctoral student in Chemistry, discussed her work on a low-cost, high-density web of carbon dioxide sensors in the Oakland metropolitan area that provides a highly-localized view of climate pollution and how it changes daily in relation to traffic, weather, and other conditions.
Dean Doyle was excited by the Berkeley students’ level of engagement and the legislators’ reception: “I was heartened by the welcome that we received from our legislators. Esther and Alexis did an outstanding job of describing their research succinctly and its implications for California. We left each meeting confident that we’d made a compelling case for the importance of graduate student research and the benefit that the University of California provides to the state.”
Her thoughts were echoed by Alexis: “All day long, we were met with nothing but warmth and genuine interest from the California legislators and their staff. I hope they see the value in the amazing graduate research happening at Berkeley and will work to ensure support for it well into the future. My fellow graduate students inspire me every day; it was truly an honor to represent and advocate for them!”