Beverly Cleary ’38

There are no wizards, superheroes, or princesses in Cleary’s literary world — just normal kids with normal lives. But that hasn’t stopped her from becoming a phenomenon among decades of young readers worldwide. From the adventurous Henry Huggins to the plucky mouse on a motorcycle to the ever-popular, pesky Ramona Quimby, Cleary’s characters speak to such universal kid concerns as homework, family, and pets. Declared a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, she has sold more than 91 million copies of her books in more than 20 countries. Although kids’ lives have changed dramatically since she published her first book in 1950, Cleary, who majored in English, said in a New York Times interview that “children want the same things my generation wanted — a home with loving parents, and children to play with in safe neighborhoods.” Not to mention “funny books about children like themselves.”

Arts and Entertainment, Education, Honors and Awards

Julia Morgan 1894

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.

Design, Innovators

Giovanni Dubois ’02, M.S. ’05

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.

Business and Economics, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Nina D’Amato M.E. ’08

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.



Education, Honors and Awards

Hector “Hecdog” Perez ’94

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.

Arts and Entertainment

Ed Roberts ’64, M.A. ’66

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

Kenneth Taylor M.B.A. ’59

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

Oren Jacob ’92, M.S. ’95

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 2A 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.

Arts and Entertainment, Innovators

Carol Liu ’82

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

Space Travelers

An early trailblazer in social networking, Tom Anderson ’98 (left) co-founded Myspace in 2003 and gained widespread popularity when new accounts designated him as a default “friend.” Believing that “everything got better when it was social,” Anderson remained with the company, which focuses on interaction via music and other entertainment, until 2009. Follow him on Twitter @myspacetom. A veteran of three shuttle missions, NASA astronaut Rex Walheim ’84 (right) has logged millions of sky-high miles. His expeditions to the International Space Station included the program’s final voyage in July 2011 and a handful of spacewalks. “It’s important to keep pushing our boundaries,” says Walheim, who dreamed of space travel as a boy growing up in the Bay Area.