Alumni Pay It Forward


Apr 2020


It has been a long month of sheltering-in-place. We hope you are finding ways to stay safe and sane. We also hope this newsletter provides some perspective in the heavy moment we are enduring. This crisis has shown that we are at our best when we come together as a community. We are proud that our High Hopes Scholars (and you) exemplify this. Please enjoy this week’s article.

BCS alumni at 2018 Awards Ceremony

BCS High Hopes Scholarship Alumni Pay it Forward

In August 2018, a group of BCS alumni informally gathered with several questions: What could we offer to an organization that supported us through our college journey? And how could we as alumni stay connected with this community post-graduation? Our desire to form an alumni group was twofold. As those who had gone through the BCS program and were on the other side of our college experiences, we felt like we had a unique perspective to offer to our younger peers. We also wanted to create a space where BCS scholars could stay connected to the organization and build community post-graduation. For many of us at that meeting, the period immediately after graduation was characterized by anxiety and uncertainty. We were searching for jobs, we missed our college friends, and we felt lonely. We recognized that these were some of the very challenges facing many BCS alumni. 

Founding the Alumni Council

Five months later, we formalized the BCS Alumni Council with 10 founding members from the 2010-2014 scholarship cohorts. Our inaugural event was a fundraiser at a local favorite, Spats, a bar in downtown Berkeley. Alumni and BCS staff served as bartenders, collecting tips throughout the night. We were thrilled to see so many friends, family members, alumni, and community members show up to support the Alumni Council’s endeavors. Thanks to the plenteous tips (and one very generous donation) we raised nearly $3,000. This money has funded the Council’s projects thus far.

BCS alumni at Spats fundraiser

Our Mission

The Alumni Council is committed to connecting, supporting, and building BCS’s impact beyond college for graduates of the High Hopes Scholarship Programs. We plan events and develop resources to continue to support and build community with BCS alumni beyond graduation. These include our Annual Summer BBQ, a Professional Clothing Closet, care packages, workshops, and more. In the coming months, we will be piloting a professional development workshop series, organized by Eric Jung, a 2010 High Hopes Scholar and newly minted member of the BCS Board of Directors. Although the current state of the world has forced us to postpone some of our projects momentarily, the Council is thinking about how we can help support BCS alumni and current students during these challenging times, and continue to build the community we saw a need for and need ourselves. The Council is hosting a Virtual Potluck this coming Friday for all BCS alumni to come together in community. We also sent out a Needs Assessment to get a better understanding of how the ongoing crisis has impacted alumni of the BCS High Hopes Program. 

Facing Uncertainty Together

We do not know what the post-graduation experience will be like for the class of 2020 (or the classes that succeed them). They will face unprecedented challenges. The Alumni Council finds itself in a unique position to support graduates through a period of heightened uncertainty, one already experienced by many of our scholars but exacerbated by a precarious future.  And it is truly amazing to watch a group of people under 30 years of age coming together to enrich the lives of their peers and those that share their beginnings and follow in their footsteps. 

As a member of the Alumni Council, I am proud of the work we have done so far, and I am looking forward to developing new initiatives that will help ease the transition from college for BCS alumni in the years to come. To learn more about the Alumni Council, go to

Colleen Sparks
BCS Program & Marketing Assistant
2013 High Hopes Scholar
UC Santa Cruz, Class of 2017

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