We invited students participating in Berkeley Connect in Spring 2016 to enter our Berkeley Connect Student Voice Contest and share with us a memorable experience they had in Berkeley Connect. The first of three winning entries was written by Hoisum Nguyen, a junior transfer student who participated in Berkeley Connect in English.

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As a junior transfer, the feelings of “impostor syndrome” and relative incompetency compared to the entire school as a whole, were swift and merciless. During the first semester, I do not think I ever felt particularly safe in the quality of my academic knowledge, or even my experiences as an individual. In Berkeley Connect though, that was never the case. I was surrounded by individuals who not only all felt the same, but were also going through the same sort of dilemmas as me: “my writing is sub-par; I feel overwhelmed by the brilliance within the English department; I want to learn everything, and be a part of something, though I’m not sure where my skills will take me or even if they’re worth the effort.” I created friendships in my classes that were further nurtured in Berkeley Connect, and my fondest moment was when we had a heated discussion over something as singular (yet indefinitely vast) as the word “queer.”
Berkeley Connect allowed me to not only feel comfortable amongst my peers, but to also realize that my skills, intellectual curiosity, and yearning to bond with my fellow peers would be reciprocated. More so than that, they would be challenged to flourish by other brilliant writers and individuals who also all wanted to achieve the same goals and community of growth.