Thirteen current UC Berkeley Latinx students were awarded scholarships from the Los Angeles chapter of the UC Berkeley Chicanx Latinx Alumni Association, or CLAA.
CLAA is an organization committed to building a community of Chicanx and Latinx alumni and students through social gatherings, cultural events and fundraising efforts, according to the CLAA website. This year’s scholarships were sponsored by Joe Kapp and his family. Kapp, a former NFL football player and UC Berkeley head football coach, was referred to in Sports Illustrated as “the toughest Chicano.”
The students who were awarded the scholarship were required to demonstrate financial need and have attended or graduated from a Los Angeles County high school or community college, the CLAA website adds.
Additionally, students were asked to answer a number of questions regarding their background and their Latinx identity, and those who passed on to the final stage were asked to make a video reflecting Kapp’s personal philosophy, according to the CLAA website.
The scholarship prize for students who got first place was $1,000, according to campus sophomore and scholarship recipient Daisy Flores. Scholarship recipients also received access to CLAA’s resources and alumni network.
“They have given me a scholarship that has been really alleviating my financial stress and has allowed me to work and really focus on my studies while advocating for students,” Flores said. “They partnered me with a mentor who’s also a Berkeley alum who has gone to law school and is practicing immigration law, something I want to practice.”
Joanna Cardenas, a campus senior, was also awarded the scholarship. As a child in South Central Los Angeles, Cardenas took her education very seriously, attending a magnet school and taking several Advanced Placement courses.
According to Cardenas, her father was emphatic that her education would allow her to have a better future for herself.
“He currently is serving a life sentence,” Cardenas said. “That in itself, I think, motivates me to want to continue the path that he told me I could take.”
Moving forward, Cardenas hopes to pursue a law degree and a Ph.D. and hopes to use the scholarship money to pay for her exams. Like several of the students who were awarded the scholarship, she intends to use her education to serve her community. Cardenas is currently working on a research paper on women in South Central Los Angeles.
“Financial aid, in a way, is allowing me to be able to work,” Flores said. “Berkeley is new to me. I learned to find resources and connect with people like me who may also be first generation and show each other the way.”
Contact David Villani at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @davidvillani7.