Visiting UC Berkeley

A little more than 13 years ago I got a phone call that changed my life. It was one of the admissions counselors at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. She had called to tell me that not only was I accepted to their Full Time MBA program, I was being offered a full scholarship! Shortly after that my husband and I packed up and moved cross country so we could take advantage of this opportunity, and what turned into a future in the west coast.

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Graduating with my MBA and changing the course of my life

When visitors come, they often ask me to take them to visit the hallowed halls of Berkeley due to its international fame. Known by the people of my parents generation as the place where protests were abound and the educated were hippies, this school has a deep history of challenging the status quo and fighting for equality. I was proud to have spent two years there, so I’m also very proud to show my visitors this fantastic place.

Every good tour of Berkeley starts at Sproul Plaza and Sather Gate. Sproul Plaza is the seat of the college administration and student government. It’s a bustling place which, during school days, are filled with students, booths advertising student clubs, and the occasional demonstration. But this place is full of history as well, where the great protests of the 1960s occurred. When you see pictures of UC Berkeley during that era, you almost always see a picture of Sproul Plaza.

Sproul Plaza, the center of student life, bustling with activity

Sather Gate was originally designed and created in 1910, to honor Peder Sather, a trustee of the College of California, which later became UC Berkeley. It originally separated the university from the city of Berkeley, but then the campus expanded south, into what is now Sproul Plaza. However, it is still a popular attraction, and featured in many famous pictures of the plaza.

Sather Gate, the original gateway to the UC Berkeley Campus

If time permits, I will often try and get up to Sather Tower, otherwise known as the Campanile. Towering over all buildings on the main campus, this landmark stands out as the recognizable symbol of the university. Build in 1914, this was also built as a monument for Peder Sather. It houses 61 bells at the top, given as gifts from three different alumni classes. There are daily concerts where you can hear the bells in all their splendor. For a small fee, you can take an elevator up to the top, then can ascend 27 storeys to the observation platform. From the tower you can can see all of Berkeley, and the bells in all their glory.

The Famous Campanile, where you can see the 61 bells and views of Berkeley and San Francisco for miles and miles

The last stop in my tour is always my home away from home for two years, the campus of the Haas School of Business. Much has changed since I roamed the halls, but the energy is still the same. You can always find students in the common areas working together on group projects, or events where students, alumni and significant others gather to let loose and have some fun after a week of grueling hard work. Haas is unique place on campus, as it’s a few small buildings that are interconnected and surround an open air courtyard. This courtyard, as I remember from my days, is what helps make Haas feel like an oasis on campus. Here friendships are forms, bonds are made, and the seeds of many successful business ideas are planted. Every time I’m on campus I feel a wave of nostalgia, and remember fondly that time, and how much it truly changed my life.

Haas School of Business, where many friendships are formed and entrepreneurs big and small dream up the ideas of tomorrow

There is clearly so much more to see on campus and around the city of Berkeley itself. It can’t all fit in one blog post and one visit. But that’s the beauty of a place like UC Berkeley. It’s always alive, always changing, always thriving. It’s where change is made and the world is shaped. And just to be in that presence makes me feel truly blessed.

UC Berkeley

  • Address: Core campus is in Berkeley California, at the end of University Ave, surrounded by Hearst Ave to the North, Bancroft Way to the South, Oxford St. To the west and Gayley Rd to the east.
  • Parking: There are several paid lots around the campus, and street parking that is metered. Parking enforcement is strong, so make sure to read the signs and consider parking several blocks off campus.

Sather Tower

  • Address: South Drive, Berkeley, CA
  • Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 AM – 3:45 PM, Saturday 10 AM – 4:45 PM, Sunday 10 AM – 1:30 PM & 3 PM – 4:45 PM
  • Cost: (Cash Only) $4 general admission, $3 for Seniors, Cal Alumni Members, and Children 3-17. Free to current students, faculty and staff, and children under 3 years old.
  • Parent Tip: No backpacks and no strollers allowed. Both can be checked at the front desk for safe keeping.
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