In Fall 2020, most or all of Berkeley Connect will be delivered remotely. No in-person presence is required..

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The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the majors in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies. We’re excited to get to know you!

About Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies & African American Studies

Do you enjoy the discussions you have in class and wish you could continue them in a supportive and grade-free environment? Do you ever wonder what professors and graduate students actually do and how they made their way into the academy? Want to learn more about your campus, its resources and history?If so, then join Berkeley Connect in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies. Berkeley Connect offers you an opportunity to build an on-campus community with your fellow students in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies.

The University of California at Berkeley is still the greatest public university in the world. But it can also be overwhelming. It can be easy to feel small and to get lost.  Which is why building an on-campus community, one connected to student mentors, engaged faculty and campus resources, is so important. These connections are especially important for students of color, under-represented minorities and anyone dedicated to building a just and equitable climate here at Berkeley. For these students, those of you engaged in the complex, on-going conversation about race, diversity and identity, finding a supportive community of students who share these questions and experiences can make a critical difference in the quality of your time here at Cal.

Berkeley Connect in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies offers a range of activities from one-on-one meetings to small group sessions, study breaks, and field trips. What is unique to our program is that our topics are designed specifically for students interested in our fields: How does the intellectual work of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies relate to communities of color in the politics of the everyday? How do differences in social class impact our experiences at the university? How do we care for ourselves and each other when we are dealing with difficult histories, awkward encounters and institutional structures? And what does one do with an Ethnic Studies or African American Studies major?

There’s more of course to Berkeley Connect — we serve food at every group meeting, there are opportunities to interact in a casual atmosphere with professors, and we host all sorts of field trips and special events. Best of all: no homework and no grades! Sign up and enjoy the conversation and companionship, connect to your friends,  the university, and your future.

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Ethnic Studies and African American Studies majors as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies is that you have an interest in these fields of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared their majors.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Ethnic Studies or African American Studies, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Ethnic Studies and African American Studies as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.

Berkeley Connect Mentors


Gabrielle WilliamsGabrielle Williams (Senior Fellow) recently received a PhD in African American Studies from UC Berkeley.

Where did you grow up?

In both Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

The New School. My major was Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

My research explores the philosophical significance of themes surrounding hunger in well-known 20th Century African American novels. My research largely raises questions concerning how either enslaved, or ex-slave African American characters own (e.g., have agency relative to) their fullness, as well as their hunger given that they live in circumstances where they either do not own, or feel that they do not own their bodies, and, therefore, their (full or empty) bellies.

Rachel Lim is a PhD candidate in Ethnic Studies.

Where did you grow up?

Lawrence, Kansas and Burke, Virginia (Washington D.C. suburbs).

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

English Literature and American Studies major, University of Virginia.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?       

I study Korean migrants who move to and from Mexico. Many are temporary or transit migrants, and I analyze what social institutions and resources help them build community.

Semester Activities

Welcome to Berkeley Connect! The premise that people learn best when they learn together underpins not only all activities at UC Berkeley, but also those of the Berkeley Connect program. Over the course of your time as Berkeley Connect fellows you will receive continued mentorship support, expert insights from graduate students and faculty, as well as encouragement from each other to help you navigate the challenging path of your undergraduate matriculation at UC Berkeley.

As your Postgraduate and Graduate Berkeley Connect Fellows for the Departments of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies, respectively, I (Gabrielle), and Rachel invite you to connect with us as mentors, and also to connect critically and compassionately with one another. We invite you to engage, and also learn how to better engage with faculty in your various Departments. Most importantly, we invite you to spark lively conversations, and ask any questions that you’ve always wanted to ask about topics ranging from how your given Departments “tick,” to how you and your fantastic peers can support each other in making your undergraduate experiences feel more communal.

During our time together, our small cohorts will meet weekly to discuss topics related to the nuts-and-bolts of your undergraduate paths as students interested in topics of African American and/or Ethnic Studies. We will also meet for events such as exploring (landmark) UC Berkeley campus venues, as well as being an audience to panels of UC Berkeley undergraduate alumni, as well as UC Berkeley departmental “Professors in Dialogue.” Basically, our time together in the Berkeley Connect program will create community among you and your fellow students, allow you to share ideas with your cohort about your similar academic interests, and, finally, encourage you to learn new skills as a way to foster friendships that alleviate feelings of isolation that can arise for undergraduate students on a campus as big, bustling, and intellectually demanding as UC Berkeley.

There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, our small group meetings aim to strengthen your connections to your individual student experiences, and also to each other as a strong student community.

Yet, you will get the most out of your Berkeley Connect experience if you participate fully: engage with your peers at our small group meetings, attend scheduled (2 meetings during the Fall term) one-on-one mentoring meetings with your Berkeley Connect Postgraduate or Graduate Fellow, take advantage of open mentoring hours, and attend any-and-all special events outside of our regular class meetings. All of these activities have been organized to give you connections, knowledge, and experiences that will enhance your time at UC Berkeley.

Berkeley Connect Course Requirements

Berkeley Connect is offered Pass/Not Pass. In order to receive a Pass you must:

***Attend all small group meetings
***Participate in both occasions of one-on-one mentoring meetings with your instructor
***Attend the special events noted on the syllabus
***Complete the required Exit Survey at the end of the semester

Course Schedule

Week 1—Thursday, January 23
***Welcome Event for African American Studies and Ethnic Studies Berkeley Connect Students***
***Location for the Welcome Event is 602 Barrows Hall. ALL STUDENTS: Please arrive at any time between 5pm and 7pm—Food and beverages will be supplied!

Week 2—Thursday, January 30
First Small Group Meeting—Getting to Know You, Getting To Know Your Interests in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies

Week 3—Thursday, February 6
Second Small Group Meeting—How to Read Effectively & Think Critically in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies

Week 4—Thursday, February 13 One-on-One Mentoring Meetings

Week 5—Thursday, February 20
Third Small Group Meeting—How to Use Criticism & Grading Feedback Constructively

Week 6—Thursday, February 27 One-on-One Mentoring Meetings

Week 7—Thursday, March 5
UC Berkeley Undergraduate Alumni Panel

Week 8—Thursday, March 12
Fourth Small Group Meeting—How to Use African American Studies and Ethnic Studies Beyond the Classroom

Week 9—Thursday, March 19
Fifth Small Group Meeting—Conducting Research in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies

Week 10—Thursday, March 26—SPRING BREAK Week 11—Thursday, April 2
Sixth Small Group Meeting—What are African American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Anyway?

Week 12—Thursday, April 9 Open Mentoring Hours

Week 13—Thursday, April 16 Professors in Dialogue

Week 14—Thursday, April 23
Seventh Small Group Meeting—Balancing Studies, Work, and Life in General at UC Berkeley

Week 15—Thursday, April 30
Eighth Small Group Meeting—Key Insights & Takeaways from our Berkeley Connect course/***Close of our Spring Berkeley Connect Course


To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors) in either Ethnic Studies or African American Studies.

To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To participate in Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies, you enroll in a designated section of Ethnic Studies 98 BC or 198BC or African American Studies 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  Please see the Berkeley Connect sections listed above under “Schedule.”

**Read the schedule notes carefully—different sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.

If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs. If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies, please contact: Gabrielle Williams, Senior Fellow,

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office at or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources