UC Berkeley program provides pathway for underrepresented

Representatives from transfer resource inform on application process, tips for success


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

UC Berkeley Experience Director Kenny Gutierrez explains the application process for Experience Berkeley in the College Skills Center computer lab rm-125 on Wednesday.

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

Two Experience Berkeley Transfer Program (EBTP) representatives visited the College Skills Center on Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m. to inform students about the possibilities of attending UC Berkeley and the opportunities available to obtain resources.

Aiming to increase and retain African-American, Latino and Native American students, EBTP works to ease the transition from a community college to a four-year university.

“You’re going to face some adversity when you come to UC Berkeley, when coming to a place where being the smartest and brightest is the average,” UC Berkeley Experience Director Kenny Gutierrez said.

Although UC Berkeley is seen as a prestigious university, he said he urges students to take advantage of the program.

To qualify for the program, a student must have a minimum 3.4 GPA, attended a California community college, have completed 30 transferable units and be African-American, Latino or Native American. The program was a response to Proposition 209 of 1996, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, which prohibits discrimination by public institutions based on race, sex or ethnicity.

“There are two things I’ve realized that are barriers for students applying to Cal. One, they don’t think they are Berkeley material, and two, they think they can’t afford it,” Gutierrez said.

Deemed as one of the top four-year universities in the state, many students shy away from adding it to their list of choices.

“It is expensive to be shy,” Gutierrez said. “I didn’t have the privilege to say I am shy. My connection to higher education was community college, and I had to tap into those resources out there.”

Since 2005, the program has connected community college students with coordinators who mentor students to build competitive applications and guide them through their transition to UC Berkeley.

Students connect with one of the 10 UC student mentors on a personal level by receiving help with personal statements, feedback from admission officers and information about financial aid, housing and other resources on campus.

“It’s important to create that personal relationship with students,” Gutierrez said.

Communication studies major Daniel Santos, who attended the event, said he likes the idea of having a mentor.

He said, “They are resources who I feel connected to.”

Santos said he is waiting for a response from UC Berkeley for his fall 2016 application. If accepted, he will join the program.

Although the event had a low turnout, the few students present received important information and motivation to see UC Berkeley as an option.

Biology major Marta Rivera said it is important to bring awareness about EBTP to let students know that they can go to UC Berkeley.

“There are so many things that I didn’t know,” she said.

Before the event, she said she wondered if she even had a chance to attend UC Berkeley.

Gutierrez said there are many opportunities for transfer students such as the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan financial aid program, which ensures free systemwide tuition to qualifying students.

There are resources for undocumented students, co-op housing plans, EOPS and more.

“If you are an EOPS student, you might as well apply to UC Berkeley,” Gutierrez said.

He said he is a resource for his students if he or she needs a letter of recommendation.

EBTP Program Coordinator and UC Berkeley student Jeanette Rios said there is a class offered at Cal to transfer students through the program.

The class gives students resources such as counseling, EOPS, fellowships and scholarship information.

She said the coordinators care about students’ well-being and mental health.

“School is a stress producer,” Gutierrez said.

He said they offer space at the four-year university for tense students to meditate to ease the stress.

Students who are interested in the program can contact Gutierrez at [email protected].