Paulo Amaral, former ASCC president at Cerritos College, returned home last summer to his parents’ home in Artesia after spending his first year at UC Berkeley, where he is double majoring in peace and conflict studies and development studies.
Even after carrying a heavy academic load all year at UC Berkeley, Amaral was eager to take a few summer courses at his former campus, Cerritos College. He signed up for two summer classes: a microeconomics class in the business division along with a triathlon class.
Amaral, who is trilingual in English, Portuguese and Spanish, says he is enjoying his time at UC Berkley while majoring in development studies, which examines developing regions and nations, as well as interpersonal, local and international conflicts.
“I was very prepared by my classes at Cerritos College,” says Amaral, who majored in business while attending the institution. “I am proud to say that I came from a community college. The Cerritos College faculty is just as phenomenal as at Berkeley.”
When he began in fall 2006 at UC Berkeley, Amaral cut back on his previously busy life. Less than a year and a half ago, he was committing vast amounts of time and energy to his role as Cerritos College’s ASCC president and student trustee while concurrently managing his own business, Jump for All, which rents bounce houses for parties and events.
During his first year at UC Berkeley, Amaral focused on adjusting to university life. But even after initially placing a focus solely on his studies, it didn’t take Amaral long to be recruited by UC Berkeley officials to assist in serving in a student advisory and leadership role at the campus.
“One of the things I do is to serve as a founding member on an advisory board of five students representing the peace and conflict studies (PACS) major to the faculty and administration,” he explains.
“We meet twice a month. Our present academic year, 2007-08, will include outside review for department accreditation. We’ll be taking a major part in analyzing the courses and suggesting changes. My experience serving in the curriculum committee and as a student trustee at Cerritos College was really good preparation for this new job.”
Amaral points out that of the five founding members of the PACS advisory board, three transferred from community colleges.
This fall, Amaral is serving on an additional advisory council of 16 undergrads who meet once a month to talk about student life and provide feedback to administration.
Amaral credits his two years at Cerritos College for helping him to mature and to gain leadership skills. A graduate of John Glenn High School, he regularly meets former Cerritos College students at UC Berkeley.
“Cerritos College, for me, was a learning experience,” he says. “Academically and socially it helped me grow as a person, a leader, a community person and a citizen.”
One particularity about UC Berkeley that Amaral says surprised him was the higher costs at the student health clinic on campus. At Cerritos College, most services at Student Health Services are free for students. He says he wants to use Cerritos College as an example in encouraging UC Berkeley to adopt free or subsidized health services for students.
Next semester, Amaral will again have an intensely full academic load of 17 units, including a graduate course from the UC Berkeley International and Areas Studies Department. He plans to graduate from UC Berkeley in fall 2008 and is planning to enroll in a program would enable him to concurrently complete a master’s degree in public affairs and a law degree. Before he commits to graduate school, however, Amaral hopes to spend a semester “off,” possibly volunteering at Cerritos College.
“I willing and ready to do anything to help my alma mater,” says Amaral. “I am grateful to Cerritos College for all it provided me.”