Despite hardships growing up in El Salvador, Broz showed an insatiable hunger for learning that has defined her entire life. She immigrated to San Francisco in 1943, eventually graduated from Berkeley, and became a teacher in California. After retiring in the late 1980s, she decided to give back to the country “that shaped my soul.” At age 65 — amidst a raging civil war — she started a school under the trees in the conflict-ridden community of El Barío. Drawing support from her Quaker community, including money for books, uniforms, and computers, the El Salvador Projects (the program’s current name) has opened more schools serving some of the country’s poorest children and expanded its focus to sending the very brightest students to college. Perhaps contemplating the difference one person can make, Broz wrote in a poem, “I thought I was a speck of dust dancing along a ray of sun. I thought I was a child of chance. But now I know I am as wide, as brown, as warm as the earth, mother of all, and the sun’s mate.” Read more about Broz, or follow the project on Facebook.
Education, Public Service and Activism
Lured into acting while a pre-med student at Berkeley, Peck was so poor as a young actor in New York that he often slept in Central Park. Little did he anticipate that he would become one of the greatest movie figures of all time. Known for characters who personified bravery and kindness, Peck is primarily remembered for his Oscar-winning portrayal of Atticus Finch — a Southern lawyer defending a black man accused of rape — in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. He swept Audrey Hepburn off her feet in Roman Holiday, confronted anti-Semitism in Gentleman’s Agreement, and teamed up with Alfred Hitchcock in Spellbound, among numerous unforgettable roles. A staunch supporter of liberal causes, Peck was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1969. Approaching age with dignity, he was quoted in the LA Times obituary as saying: “I’m aware it’s autumn. But I’m not bothered. … I love my work and my wife and my kids and my friends. And I think, ‘You’re a lucky man, Gregory Peck, a damn lucky man.’”
Arts and Entertainment, Public Service and Activism
Can inmates who’ve spent years behind bars adapt to life outside of them? Silbert’s organization, Delancey Street, has proven the answer is “yes.” Founded in 1971 in San Francisco with $1,000 and a dream to help addicts, felons, and the homeless turn their lives around, this residential self-help program is now located in five states and has served more than 18,000 people to date. Graduates leave after two to four years with a GED, marketable skills obtained by working in Delancey’s restaurant, moving company, or other enterprise, and, most importantly, a powerful sense of hope. Drawing upon her Berkeley education and activist nature, Silbert believes in building on strengths over weaknesses, thus enabling graduates to become productive participants in society. Reflecting on her career, she said, “I have the best life of anybody.” Hear four recent residents talk about how they rebuilt their lives in a 2011 New York Times interactive.
Public Service and Activism
Hailed as the father of the independent living movement, Roberts arrived on campus in 1962 with his wheelchair and an 800-pound iron lung he needed for sleeping. A quadriplegic since contracting polio as a teen, he encountered discrimination as the first student with significant disabilities to attend Berkeley. With other students called “The Rolling Quads,” he pressed for improved campus accessibility and services. In 1972, Roberts co-founded Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living, a groundbreaking advocacy and services program. A MacArthur Fellow and president of the World Institute on Disability, he fought until his death in 1995 to ensure that those with disabilities could fully participate in society. In honor of his birthday and trailblazing contributions, California observes January 23 as Ed Roberts Day.
Public Service and Activism
In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took 52 hostages. But six Americans escaped — a story made famous today by Ben Affleck’s award-winning film Argo. Taylor, played by Victor Garber, was the Canadian ambassador to Iran who sheltered the fugitives in his home and helped smuggle them out of the country under the guise of a sci-fi film crew that had been scouting locations. Washington awarded Taylor a Congressional Gold Medal for his heroism. Although Argo has been criticized for giving Canada short shrift, Affleck invited Taylor to rewrite the postscript, which says, “To this day the story stands as an enduring model of international cooperation between governments.” Taylor and his wife, Patricia Ph.D. ’60, met at International House and have been named the 2013 I-house Alumni Couple of the Year. “I-House,” he said in a 2010 interview, “was the launching of my diplomatic career.”
Honors and Awards, Public Service and Activism
From the classroom to the senate chambers, Liu has remained steadfast in her commitment to education. After two decades as a history teacher and school administrator in Richmond, Cali., Liu transitioned into politics and completed three terms with the California State Assembly, where she authored legislation on promoting career and technical education, cleaning up groundwater, and deterring gang activity. The first Asian American woman elected to the California State Senate, she has built upon her agenda to strengthen community college access, advance environmental initiatives, and champion services for children and seniors. A 2013 recipient of the Cal Alumni Association’s Excellence in Achievement Award, Liu said of her lifelong calling to care for others, “That’s just part of how I see the world.” Visit her website for more information.
Education, Public Service and Activism
In October 1964 — after a student had been arrested for setting up an an unauthorized table on campus — Savio grabbed the public’s attention when he climbed atop a police car to defend free speech at UC Berkeley. As students nationwide were organizing around racial justice and America’s intensifying involvement in Vietnam, Savio inspired thousands of fellow students to protest limitations on political speech — spawning the Free Speech Movement. In one speech, he famously compared the administration to a machine: “You’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels … And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it … that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” Faculty voted to drop the restrictions after nearly 800 protesters were arrested on Dec. 2, 1964. Savio taught at Sonoma State University and continued to fight for justice until his death in 1996.
Public Service and Activism
After running social service programs for 20 years — and painfully realizing that most of them don’t work — Lim Miller founded the Family Independence Initiative (FII) in Oakland in 2001 to help low-income working families get themselves out of poverty. Instead of forcing participants through job training and other conventional programs, FII encourages families to form small support groups and track their progress toward economic independence. It also pays them a small stipend for each achievement. FII has expanded to San Francisco, Oahu, and Boston and is seeing debts go down and incomes go up, among other promising successes. Lim Miller was one of 23 Americans to receive the coveted MacArthur Fellowship in 2012. Raised by a poor Mexican immigrant, he said of the fellowship, “I do this work to honor my mother’s struggle.” Follow FII on Twitter @FIInational or Facebook.
Honors and Awards, Innovators, Public Service and Activism
Life is very hard — and not very safe — for most agricultural workers around the world, but Rice is trying to change that. Founder of Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of fair trade products, he gives consumers an easy way to make a difference with their dollars. Buying fair trade products, whether it’s a cup of coffee, bar of chocolate, or bunch of bananas, improves the wages, working conditions, environment, and development efforts for farming communities worldwide. What consumers gain in taste, millions of workers gain in hope and pride for solving their own problems — what Rice calls the “the invisible dividend.” Though corporate skeptics once scoffed at the idea, Rice has gotten hundreds of companies to rework their supply networks. He is frequently recognized as one of the world’s top social entrepreneurs. Follow the company on Facebook or Twitter @FairTradeUSA.
Business and Economics, Innovators, Public Service and Activism
After pursuing a business degree amid turbulent campus protests in the 1960s, Alexander went on to blaze new paths for women on Wall Street. Throughout her career, she climbed from stock analyst to senior executive at Paine Webber and accumulated many “firsts” along the way, including the first woman to head a top-ranked research department and the first woman to run a major trading floor. She later chaired the Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that invests in small enterprises, emerging leaders, and breakthrough ideas to address global poverty. Alexander says, “Berkeley taught me that business can and should benefit society.”
Business and Economics, Public Service and Activism