Cal Opportunities

Volume 1, Issue 1


UC Berkeley's faculty established the Cal Opportunity Scholarship (CalOp) in 2000 with the goal of attracting to Berkeley high-achieving students who have overcome challenging socio-economic circumstances. Faculty select candidates from high-achieving prospective freshmen with financial need who have been admitted to UC Berkeley from one of the program's partner high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

De Luca

Anne De Luca
Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment

UC Berkeley's faculty established the Cal Opportunity Scholarship in 2000 with the goal of attracting high-achieving students from our partner high schools in the Bay Area. Since the beginning of the program, almost 700 “CalOp” Scholars have received a four year scholarship award that meets their full financial need.

The CalOp Scholars make a profound impact on our campus community by shaping and informing each incoming class of freshmen with their experiences in overcoming challenging socio-economic circumstances.

This proven and highly successful program promotes “giving back” by encouraging Scholars to do outreach in local high schools with the support of Berkeley's Center for Educational Partnerships. The Scholars act as important, aspirational role models for the high school students.  With training and support from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Scholars also help out at college information sessions at various events.

One CalOp Scholar, Oakland High School alum Ada Chao is in her third year at Cal double majoring in Psychology and Social Welfare, and was recently hired to serve as a College Advisor for the East Bay Consortium’s Pre-Collegiate Academy to advise 8th – 12th grade students on how to pursue a higher education.

The CalOp Scholars inspire and motivate me to be a bridge for young people to achieve the dream of getting a college education at a premier research institution, regardless of their economic background. This program needs the help of far-sighted donors to sustain and grow this worthwhile program and I hope the CalOp Scholars will inspire you, too, to be a bridge for these deserving students.

Duerr Berrick

Jill Duerr Berrick, Ph.D.
Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor
School of Social Welfare

Grit, determination, optimism, curiosity. These are the characteristics of our CalOp scholars. They come to Berkeley with wide-eyed wonder about the opportunities that might lie in store for them, at the same time, holding firmly to the communities that have shaped their childhood. When I interview these students the semester before they arrive at Cal, their generous spirit is evident. They tell me about the future they intend to build, using Berkeley as their springboard for success. And they speak about the value of giving back to the families who have nurtured their dreams, and to their home communities that need strong minds and powerful advocates. CalOp students bring remarkable academic talents into our Berkeley classrooms. These gifts, combined with their persistence, fresh outlook, and hard work  guarantee their success.



Mitzi Iniguez M.S.
CalOp Alumna
Opportunity Program (EOP)
Academic Counselor

I cannot believe I got accepted to Berkeley!
But it’s too expensive.

That is the exact conversation I had with my family. Coming from a low-income community in Oakland I was not going to put my family under more stress with school cost.

My decision about attending Berkeley completely changed when I received the Cal Opportunity Scholarship (CalOp). Knowing I did not have to worry about my finances was something I could not believe. CalOp is why I decided to attend Berkeley.

As a first generation college student I felt lost on campus. I was struggling academically and personality but didn’t know where to go. Fortunately, I had Catherine Guzman and Cruz Grimaldo who, with time, became great mentors to me. They taught me how to navigate the campus and also challenged me in different ways to become a leader. After 4 years at Cal I graduated with a double major and a minor. I have obtained my Masters in Counseling and currently work as an academic counselor at the Educational Opportunity Program.

I thank CalOp for their help in my success. CalOp is more than a scholarship; it’s a program that shaped me into a scholar and leader.

Mitzi Iniguez M.S. – CalOp Alumna
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
Academic Counselor


Andrea Mejia Valencia
Cal Opportunity Scholar, Psychology Major, Spring 2015

Just six years ago, I moved from El Salvador to San Francisco and began my freshman year of high school at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School. I didn’t speak much English, but I knew that I would have to learn it quickly if I wanted to go to college. Learning a new language and adapting to a completely new culture was very difficult for me, but I knew that if I worked hard, I could do it. My hard work paid off when I received my acceptance letter to UC Berkeley along with the Cal Opportunity Scholarship. Attending UC Berkeley as a first-generation college student has been a life changing experience, and it brings much pride to my mother, to my family and to myself. An opportunity like this does not come often and I feel amazingly blessed and grateful to have received it. The Cal Opportunity Scholarship has given me access to a Berkeley education without the financial pressures that many students have. I have also found a place of belonging through the Cal Opportunity Scholars Association where I am surrounded by fellow scholars who are a great support system to me.



Nicholas Dirks
UC Berkeley Chancellor 

Chancellor Dirks recently visited Richmond High School, one of CalOp’s partner high schools, where he spoke to a group of aspiring college students as part of a systemwide initiative - Achieve UC, which is designed to help students better prepare for higher education. To read more about this powerful visit, please click here.