Why I Now Want to Attend Cal Berkeley

I want to be a Golden Bear. And my 17-year-old son Benjamin may want to also.

Yesterday, we toured the University of California at Berkeley. Benjamin is a rising senior at North Springs High School in Atlanta and he’s looking at colleges. Berkeley is on his list.

It was a beautiful day. A gorgeous campus. Perfect day to take a tour. But the real reason we were sold was Jenn, our tour guide, a third year student and terrific speaker. 

Now let’s be clear. She wasn’t particularly polished like someone who had been in business for years.  She was young, like an enthusiastic cheerleader. She had a few “likes” and “you knows” in her speech.

She wasn’t perfect. But she knew how to connect.  She was truly passionate about her school and it came through with her smile and her overall enthusiasm.   She grew on you. She was, as they say, irresistible. You couldn’t not like her.

In addition to her enthusiasm, she did another thing that great presenters do, she told stories.  As she took us around the campus, we learned about the plaque on the ground that you couldn’t step on because it’s bad luck.  We learned she is going to be studying in Chile next spring because “I’ve loved Spanish since I was in eighth grade. I want to be fluent so I’m going abroad. Now let me tell you about our study abroad program.  . . .”

We learned about which library is the best place to nap between classes. We learned about “Berkely Beach” where everyone works on their tans. We learned about the food and how “when my friends visit from other schools, they all tell me that our food is the best.” 

She also told about her favorite professors and how they have opened up her way of thinking.  We learned about the special parking spots reserved for the Nobel Prize winners. 

She didn’t mention the fountain where Benjamin Braddock sat while waiting for Elaine Robinson in “The Graduate.” But I guess that was before her time.  Benjamin Asher didn’t know about that either.

Of course we did learn about the special axe that is the trophy won by the annual Stanford-Cal football game.  “It’s a fun rivalry,” she said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win this year. But football season is lots of fun.”

Jenn showed that you don’t have to be a particularly polished to be effective and persuasive.  Just tell stories and be enthusiastic. 

Jenn got me so fired up that I went on YouTube to find a clip of the famous last minute football play in the 1982 Cal-Stanford game. I’ve probably seen it 50 times. But it’s still fun to watch. Go Bears.

On Saturday, we’re going to visit Stanford.


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