In the fall of 2008 — the same week of the Wall Street collapse — Berkeley announced the public phase of a campaign to raise $3 billion to benefit its students, faculty and research projects. In such challenging economic times, The Campaign for Berkeley was considered an audacious endeavor. Nonetheless, its results have exceeded all expectations: the final tally was $3.13 billion. These funds are already helping to provide UC Berkeley students with life-changing opportunities.
For graduate student Yael Segalovitz, a native of Israel with a passion for both Brazilian and Hebrew literature, a privately funded fellowship made pursuing her Ph.D. possible. In spring of 2012, on the verge of earning her Master’s degree in comparative literature and struggling to make ends meet, Segalovitz began to question her ambition for a doctorate. “I made up my mind that if I wouldn’t be able to receive a full scholarship for my Ph.D. studies, then maybe I didn’t have a future in the humanities,” she recalls.
Her answer came in the form of a prestigious Regents’ Intern Fellowship at Berkeley. Funded in part by a generous gift from the Irving and Helen Betz Foundation, the fellowship would guarantee Segalovitz five years of funding. “This was more than financial help,” Segalovitz says. “It was an affirmation that what I do is important.”
Similar stories of success resonate throughout the campus. Fellowship funding was invaluable for Sarah McClure, who is pursuing her Master’s degree in Journalism. Last year, McClure was awarded a Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, which is partially funded by The Rosemary Derrough Seal Endowment. Instead of working to pay tuition bills, she has been able to collaborate on outstanding journalism projects including the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Investigative Reporting Program, as well as writing for the Center for Latin American Studies. Currently, she is working on a documentary in India, after receiving a travel grant to report in Mumbai.
“I’m a first-generation college student and I’ve worked my entire life to earn my education,” said McClure. “Receiving this graduate fellowship has made all the difference when it comes to opportunities, and for that I’m eternally grateful.”
Segalovitz’s and McClure’s stories underscore the importance of fellowship funding to recruit and nurture outstanding graduate students. “By supporting and retaining the best graduate students, we also attract the best faculty to our campus, which makes Berkeley a stellar research university,” said Andrew J. Szeri, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies, who led the campus’ effort to increase giving to graduate fellowships during the campaign. “We know that the best graduate students receive highly competitive fellowship packages from our private university peers. The Campaign for Berkeley has been extremely important in helping our campus compete for top talent.”