Cal Op Newsletter Version 3

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.   Dirks


UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas 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.

Cal Opportunity Scholarship Partner High Schools:

  • Alameda County Office of Education
  •  - California College
  •    Preparatory Academy
  • Oakland Unified School District
  •  - Arise High School
  •  - BayTech Bay Area
  •    Technology School
  •  - Castlemont High School
  •  - Envision Academy Arts &
  •    Technology
  •  - Fremont High School
  •  - Lighthouse Community
  •    Charter
  •  - Lionel Wilson College
  •    Preparatory Academy
  •  - McClymonds High
  •    School
  •  - Oakland Charter High
  •    School
  •  - Oakland High School
  •  - Oakland Military
  •    Institution College
  •    Preparatory
  •  - Oakland School for the
  •    Arts
  •  - Oakland Technical High
  •    School
  •  - Oakland Unity High
  •    School
  • San Francisco Unified
  • School District
  •  - Abraham Lincoln High 
  •    School
  •  - Balboa High School
  •  - City Arts and Technology
  •    High School*
  •  - Galileo Academy
  •  - Gateway High School*
  •  - International Studies
  •    Academy
  •  - John O'Connell High
  •    School
  •  - Mission High School
  •  - Phillip and Sala Burton
  •    Academy
  •  - Raoul Wallenberg
  •    Traditional High School
  •  - Thurgood Marshall
  •    Academy
  • Sequoia School District
  • East Palo Alto Academy
  • East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy
  • West Contra Costa Unified School District
  • John F. Kennedy High School
  • Leadership Public School Richmond
  • Richmond High School

* Charter high schools that currently operate independently within school district boundaries




De Luca

A Message From...
Anne De Luca
Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment

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 BerrickFaculty Mentor
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.
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)
Academic Counselor

I cannot believe I got accepted to Berkeley! But, how can I ever attend, it’s so expensive.

I remember very clearly having that exact conversation with my family, and coming from a low-income community in Oakland, there was no way I was going to put my family under more stress with school expenses.

My decision to attend Berkeley completely changed when I received the Cal Opportunity Scholarship (CalOp). The scholarship relieved me and my family of our concerns and stresses about financing my education and allowed me to focus more on my studies.

As a first generation college student I felt lost on campus. I was struggling academically and personally. 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 the CalOp community for their many contributions to my success. CalOp is more than a scholarship; it’s a program that shaped me into a scholar and leader.




Current Scholar
Andrea Mejia Valencia
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.