Ethnic Studies Alum Challenges and Inspires Students

Robert E. Canedo shares his story with ES Berkeley Connect Students.

Ethnic Studies Berkeley Connect invited alum Ruben E. Canedo, described by faculty director Michael Cohen, as “irrepressibly inspirational,” to share his undergraduate experience and provide insight into his post-graduation path.

Canedo began the session by asking the group two questions: “Who here is the first of their family to attend college?” and “How many of you have one or more dependents?”

As students around the room raised their hands, Canedo’s questions brought an immediate sense of intimacy and vulnerability to the room. His straightforward introduction–finding the experiences that he and the gathered students had in common–transitioned easily into his discussion of stepping outside of the familiar, approaching faculty, and asking tough questions.

As a student, Canedo found that when  he moved beyond focusing strictly on course curriculum, he was able to  develop more personal relationships with his professors, forming lasting mentoring relationships in the process. These connections enabled him to surpass the limits of the curricula and explore the links between what he was studying and  the immediate issues around him. For his remaining years as an undergraduate, Canedo kept returning to  the question, “How might we apply decolonialism within the context of our public institution?”

In striving to understand the problem at hand, Canedo conducted research as an undergraduate. Upon graduation, this experience helped him land a job where he continues to pursue his goals: he now works at UC Berkeley as a Research and Mobilization Coordinator in the Center for Educational Equity & Excellence (CE3).

Canedo concluded his presentation by imparting some wisdom for the attendees to soak in. He reminded the students of the role stories play in breaking ideological barriers or person-to-person conflicts. He encouraged them to cultivate a village of peers and mentors. Finally, he called on the students to mobilize, to make deliberate efforts to achieve change within the context of their personal lives or larger community. It was indeed an inspirational evening!

posted by Gloria Choi

Berkeley Connect Communications Assistant