Scholar Connection | April 2021


Apr 2021


A Message from Sherry

Dear BCS Scholars,

I truly hope this finds you in a moment where you can breathe deeply and have a glimpse of hope and safety.

As I sit and wonder about the future, both tomorrow, next year, and the next decade, I am filled with so many mixed emotions.  I want to have hope. I want to believe. I want to have certainty for your future and mine.  I am not there yet.  And I won’t stop trying to get to a place where I believe that those thoughts and feelings and REALITIES can happen for you.
A few of our national leaders shared their thoughts and this is what struck a chord with me:
Joe Biden said, “we cannot let them (George Floyd’s words) die with him … we need to keep hearing them – not turn away from them”
Kamala Harris said, “we are one step closer to making equal justice under the law a reality.  It will not heal the pain that has existed for generations or for the family.  We must commit to fight for equal justice”.
The Obamas said, a” jury did the right thing, true justice requires much more.  True justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial”.
Oprah said, “I was relieved in ways I didn’t expect – grateful for the witnesses and their testimonies”.
And someone much closer to your station in life  – Amanda Gorman said, “a reminder that victory would be if George Floyd was alive.”
I am sure we all have some of these feelings and so many more in between.  I hope you can take a moment to feel, dream, to hope and decide what makes sense for you to be the difference you want to see in the world.  We are here to listen, support and share for and with you in this ongoing fight.

Still in deep thought and with the desire to be better,

Sherry Smith
Executive Director

Scholarly Advice

Do you have a skill, hobby, or idea that you would like to leverage into a business? BCS Scholars Alexandra Puga and Abril Fonseca did just that. They have some advice to share on how to get started. 

Alexandra Puga | Alexa’s Delights

In August of 2020, I started a bakery business where I sell Peruvian delights, traditional Peruvian alfajores – dulce de leche filled cookies topped with powdered sugar – and many other sweets with a Peruvian twist! 

My family and I own a Peruvian and Italian restaurant in El Sobrante called El Chalan Restaurant. Ever since I was little, I have been helping my parents in every way that I can. My fathers Peruvian food has always felt like comfort, as it has allowed me to connect to my identity as a Peruvian. Having grown up around such talent and delicious food, I always had aspirations of accomplishing more for my family. Starting Alexa’s Delights was my way of being able to create freely, and to show my parents that the possibilities are endless for us.

My first experience selling alfajores was during my junior year at Berkeley High School. With the help of my father (who makes them) and my lovely friends, I would sell mostly to my peers. It was never in huge quantities; people would order 1-3 alfajores. However, his exposure allowed me to realize the things I was doing wrong, like underselling my product. And things that I was doing right. 

Having had experience during high school, I felt confident about starting my business in August. I had already gained support from the Berkeley High School (BHS) community. I operate mostly on social media, and, when I started out, my clients were mainly from BHS. Before launching, I had to complete many things, such as a logo design, photos of my product, and setting prices. There was a lot of preliminary work involved, before launching my business. When I was ready, I announced the start of my business on my main Instagram account in order to gain supporters.

Tips or Advice for Students Thinking About Starting a Business

Like anyone who is thinking of starting a business, I was afraid of peoples’ judgments or of not being successful. My advice, if you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur:

  1. Do something that brings you joy! As long as you are passionate about what you are doing, success will follow. 
  2. Reach out to people who may be able to help you in the industry. Don’t think that you are alone! There is always someone who is willing to help and advise you on what to do.

As long as you have a passion to create something, go for it! What do you have to lose? 

If you want to place an order or see what I’m up to, you can follow me on Alexasdelightss

Abril Fonesca | Abri(e)l’s Delicias

Hello everyone, my name is Abril Fonseca. I founded and run a small, Latina-owned and operated business – ABRI(E)L’S DELICIAS, with an emphasis on the ‘E’ because one of my favorite cheeses is Brie. Many of my family and friends know that I have a love and passion for cheese. I could literally just eat cheese by itself, and I would feel content. That joy of eating cheese led me to create small cheese boards for family and friends, whenever I would go on picnics or even at home watching a movie. It was something I did for fun. Not only did I enjoy making and eating cheeses, but it also brought me a sense of happiness when I would see that a board of cheese could bring people together to bond and enjoy the small things in life. Like my mother says, “Vida hay una y hay que disfrutarla.” (There’s only one life so one must enjoy it). This led me to continue enjoying and embracing the small things in life like these charcuterie boards/boxes. I clearly remember my best friend Alexandra Puga (small-business owner – Alexas Delights) telling me I should start up my own small business of charcuterie boards/boxes. She would always tell me how successful it would be, but I was always too nervous. I also didn’t really want to start a business, because I just enjoyed making them for fun. But with plenty of love, support, and motivation from family and friends, I built up the courage to open up my small business. 

The purpose behind my business is to spread love and joy through charcuterie. It is for family and friends to be able to take the time to enjoy each other’s company while eating a variety of sweet and sour items that are intentionally placed into the charcuterie boxes that I offer. Although I have barely commenced my journey as a small business owner, it has taught me plenty of things, and it has allowed me to meet astounding people who I now see as mentors. Additionally, even though I don’t see myself doing this as a career, I can envision myself doing this on the side and continuously spreading love and joy through the small things in life. 

My tip for anyone who would like to start their small business is  – to go for it, often we are our own biggest enemies. We tend to limit our own potential. In order not to do that, let go of all those fears and doubts. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out or it doesn’t go the way you planned, the important thing is that you went for it and you must always reflect and ask yourself “what do I need to learn/take away from this experience?” Everything in life is a learning experience so just go for it, be your biggest supporter. Remember that there is only one life, so you must enjoy it to the fullest by doing the things that will make you happy. 

If you want to check out my business, you can follow me on ABRI(E)’s Delicias


Wonder what it takes to run for public office? 

This Friday, come meet local councilmembers, community leaders, and assemblymembers of color as they share their experience and advice on civic engagement and running for office. Learn how they decided to get involved in local government. Sign up here to reserve a spot and get the zoom link: They really want you to join them!

Internships and Job Opportunities

1. Joy Street Design, Oakland
Seeking a Social Media Intern. Submit a creative one-page explanation of why you are the ideal candidate. Paid hourly.  MORE INFO

2. Monument Impact – Marketing and Outreach Intern
Social justice nonprofit offering a six-month, part-time, paid internship. Looking for an undergrad who is social media, data-savvy and bilingual in English and Spanish. Temporarily remote. APPLY HERE

3. Oakland Rising – Healthy Futures Canvasser (temporary, part-time position)
May-June position canvassing the Flatlands to provide education around vaccination. Application deadline is April 26. $21 per hour. APPLY HERE

4. Color by Design Fellowship – Info Session May 5th
RepresentEd in partnership with IDEO designed this 9-month fellowship to provide professional development skills, mentorship, and on-the-job training to pursue a career in design. Applications open May 3rd. Sign up for the Info Session HERE.

Click HERE for a running list of internship opportunities. Please keep checking back for updates and let us know if you need help with completing an application and/or updating your resume

Advice for Graduating Seniors

7 TIPS for Graduates Entering the Workforce During COVID
We know this is a challenging time to be graduating and conducting a job search. If you need help thinking through options, making connections or you just need some encouragement, BCS has your back. Reach out to your college success advisor to develop a plan.

Here are 7 great tips to consider when starting your post-college job search.

Important Reminders

  • BCS Emergency Fund: If you have a financial crisis, you can apply for the emergency fund. Contact your College Success Advisor (CSA) for help completing the application or if you have any questions.
  • Finish Line Fund: Students who have exhausted their funding and plan to apply for a grant to complete an additional term/year of college can apply for the Finish Line Fund. Applications are due by May 28th. Please contact your CSA for details. 

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