Although Morgan is best known for designing the European-inspired Hearst Castle, she was a trailblazing definer of California’s distinct Arts and Crafts style. She studied civil engineering — before the architecture department existed — and became the first woman to earn a certificate from Paris’s prestigious Ecole de Beaux-Arts. After returning to the Bay Area, she worked on Berkeley’s regal Hearst Mining Building and Greek Theatre, among other gems. She then started her own firm and designed an estimated 700 buildings, including, most notably, many women-commissioned projects — cementing her reputation as California’s first prominent female architect and one of the West Coast’s greatest designers of all time. An unassuming woman, Morgan said, “My buildings will be my legacy. They will speak for me long after I’m gone.” View an online exhibition on her life through Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library.
As an engineering student at Berkeley, Dubois felt the sting of being the only Hispanic in his fluid dynamics class, driving a need that still continues to build community and share his love for Latin American culture. What started off as informal gatherings with friends has evolved into the Bay Area’s No. 1 social network for Latino professionals, the LAM Network. With nearly 5,000 members, the organization offers educational, social, and philanthropic activities and plans to expand nationwide, starting with Los Angeles and New York in 2013. The South by Southwest Interactive Festival has nominated Dubois for its El Innovator Revolucion Award, which recognizes Latinos using social media as a platform for change. Dubois, who was born in Guatemala and moved here at age 14, met his wife, Sara Bakhtary ’04, at Berkeley’s International House. They have traveled to more than 40 countries and maintain a blog with photos, accounts, and tips.
With her helmet, flak jacket, and rifle in hand, Maj. D’Amato spent 2010–11 in Afghanistan’s violent Helmand province rebuilding schools and persuading families that it was safe to return. When the Marine reservist and graduate of Berkeley’s Principal Leadership Institute arrived for duty, no children were attending school. She worked with military and international partners to repair and construct schools, train teachers, and develop curricula. Today, more than 25,000 children are in school — including 1,000 girls — and enrollment is rising despite ongoing security concerns. In a San Francisco Chronicle interview, Maj. D’Amato said that functioning schools increase the perception of security. “Schools evoke a lot of hope in people,” she said. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. on how technology can alleviate learning challenges in the United States. She received the Cal Alumni Association’s 2013 Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a.
Hector “Hecdog” Perez is a rare composer who meshes the traditional music of Veracruz, Mexico, with the hip, chill beats of electronica. His debut album, Sistema Bomb Presenta Electro-Jarocho — a 21st-century re-imagining of the Afro-Mexican son jarocho style — oozes so much cross-genre cool that it grabbed a 2013 Grammy nomination for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. Hecdog also co-produced the album Sembrando Flores by Los Cojolites, which scooped up a 2013 nomination for Best Regional Mexican Music Album. In addition to his award-worthy work, Hecdog is the founder of Music Orange, a commercial music company that counts Apple, Sony, Gap, eBay, and VISA among its clients. Listen to Sistema Bomb on SoundCloud, or follow Hecdog on Twitter @SistemaBomb.
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.
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.”
As a teen, Jacob found his calling at the movies, where he was entranced by Luxo Jr., the now-iconic short film about a pint-sized desk lamp. He landed a dream internship at Pixar as a Cal undergraduate that led to more than 20 years with the animation studios, most recently as CTO and director of the studio tools group. Jacob lent his talents to Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, and Finding Nemo. In 2011, he heard the call of the startup and co-founded ToyTalk, a family entertainment company “powered by characters and conversation.” While mum’s the word on its forthcoming product — a talking teddy bear that uses artificial intelligence to communicate via an iPad — media reports are speculating over its technological innovation. Jacob’s company bio says he will “drop all of this in a heartbeat to become a pro snowboarder the minute that first sponsor shows up.” Follow Jacob on Twitter @orenjacob or ToyTalk on Facebook.
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.
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.
Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Shlain founded and led the Webby Awards — the global bellwether for honoring excellence on the web — for almost a decade before shifting her passions toward filmmaking. Her last four films premiered at Sundance, including Connected, an acclaimed feature documentary that explores the links among complex issues such as consumption, technology, and human rights as Shlain searches for her place in a fast-changing world. She is currently working on a new series of 15 short films aimed at inspiring global change. Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks, the newest film and a TED Book, examines the parallels between the development of a child’s brain and the development of the Internet. Shlain gave the keynote speech at UC Berkeley’s commencement in 2010. Visit her website, or follow her on Twitter @tiffanyshlain.