We invited students participating in Berkeley Connect in Fall 2017 to enter our Student Voice Contest and share with us a memorable experience they had in Berkeley Connect. The winning entry below was written by first-year Sean Tseng, who participated in Berkeley Connect in Music. Pictured: Sean displays the cupcakes she won for her Berkeley Connect classmates.

Music fills the classroom, and a hush falls across the room. It’s as if all at once, we’ve leaned in to listen. I’ve never heard this song before, but somehow, it feels familiar in my bones. As Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” pours out of the speakers, the strangers sitting around me are suddenly not so strange anymore.

This is my first Berkeley Connect music session, and I am enthralled. Despite joining late in the semester and missing several previous sessions, I feel more connected in this moment than in all the classes I attend regularly. In these four minutes of guitar riffs and haunting vocals, we all get to know each other more deeply than expected, in ways I never anticipated.

To me, this is the significance of Berkeley Connect. I walked out of that class energized, inspired, and awed at the depth of a subject I’ve always loved. Our class discussion only kick-started a broader conversation, and experiencing such ideas in quality company embodies Berkeley Connect’s spirit. To be given a constructive and supportive environment to ponder these ideas without pressure is one of the truest forms of education I have encountered in my time here at Berkeley.