As the Fall 2016 semester drew to a close, Berkeley Connect students were invited to share their favorite Berkeley Connect moments. All three posts that were selected for publication focus on a moment of connection. Here, Kevin Yang describes how a professor in Berkeley Connect in Environmental  Science, Policy & Management helped him see the faculty as more human and approachable.

My favorite moment at Berkeley Connect happened when Dr. Justin Brashares, the founder of Berkeley Connect in ESPM, visited my class for a Q&A session. He opened by explaining that he started the program because students at Berkeley always had a hard time approaching their professors. I asked him why he thought this was a problem.

He told me that at Berkeley, students put their professors on a pedestal. As a result, students feel that if they don’t have a real problem or question for their professor, they weren’t worth their professor’s time.

Brashares explained why such intimidation is unfounded. He said that more often than not Berkeley professors are more than willing to talk to students during office hours if they just ask. Moreover, he said that professors can often be intimidated by Berkeley students because the professors themselves often could not make it into Berkeley when they were applying for college.

This really resonated with me because it made professors seem more human. Brashares’s talk really allowed me to look beyond the accolades and advanced degrees that separated me from my professors and become more comfortable with approaching them.