We invited students participating in Berkeley Connect in Spring 2015 to enter the first-ever Berkeley Connect Student Voice Contest and share with us a memorable experience they had in Berkeley Connect. The winning entry was written by Christina Kaser, a first-year student enrolled in Berkeley Connect in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

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My favorite memory in Berkeley Connect did not actually necessitate my presence. During a heated conversation about the pros and cons of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), I remember looking around and seeing so much passion and intensity in people’s expressions. Students who had never even heard of GMO’s were able to form an opinion and share it with others; they were not afraid of saying what they believed in. To me, that was amazing. I am an intended Society and Environment major with an emphasis in Global Environmental Politics, and I want to travel the world and implement policy that can better the way we use natural resources and better human’s relationship with the environment. To see so many people be able to open up to new ideas and mindsets made me feel some hope for the future of our planet. I know it takes a lot to drop your guard and share either an unpopular opinion or an opinion that your past views didn’t let you believe, but every person who learns more and more about the issues our environment faces makes us one step closer to a cleaner and better world. This program allows people from any major or background to join. One can know nothing about hydraulic fracturing or deforestation in the Amazon, yet through Berkeley Connect we learn in an atmosphere that is both comforting and accepting. I feel this is why Berkeley Connect is such a rewarding program here at Cal.