Humans of Cal Rotaract Fall 2019

Interns make up a large part of Cal Rotaract’s internal functions. They have worked countless hours to bring you promotional and marketing materials for club events and help increase efficiency of club operations. Whether it be the photos you get tagged in, the banners on Facebook, planning the behind the scenes of Benefit Show, or even parts of the newsletter, interns offer so much to our club, and we want to recognize them as part of this special edition of Humans of Cal Rotaract. These are some of their experiences.


Humans of Cal Rotaract

Alumni of Cal Rotaract

Ameek Singh | Fremont, CA
Junior | Data Science

What is your favorite memory of Cal Rotaract?
“Definitely the Berkeley Project! I still remember that I had to flatten the sand down the ramp and also break the sandbag! I also enjoyed the Egg Drop Competition with my family because I can spend a lot more time with people!”

How has Rotaract impacted your time at Cal?
“It really helped me to give back to the community and meet a lot of incredible people, especially at the general meetings! It is also great to meet new speakers too! It was also great to see an event where Rotaract and the Food Pantry collaborated, so it’s amazing to see the two clubs that I’m involved together!”

What is one thing you’re proud you haven’t done?
“I never taught my dog to eat off the floor which is good because when I drop any raisins (which is poisonous to them), they will not eat them!”

Ethan Lam | San Bruno, CA
Senior | Molecular Cell Biology

What skills have you gained through Cal Rotaract?

Hands-on teamwork – most of my classes aren’t like, you know, go-out-and-do-stuff for the community, and Rotaract gave me the opportunity to do that!

Why do you like community service?

I started through interact, and back then it was high school so I had to do community service to look good for college. But I guess now it’s more of a selfless drive, I’m actually looking to help. There’s no community service requirements here so I’m doing this because I want to.

What are your favorite service events from Cal Rotaract?

I joined International and Local committees. I liked it and it let me know what was happening and the impact of our events. I liked the Prisoners’ Literature Project and the VIDA project.

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

I would be an eagle, I have a fear of heights but I think flying would be really cool. I would love to be able to fly.

What’s your favorite tv show?

What I’m most invested in is Game of Thrones. I watch a lot of different shows, but that’s the one I’m most invested in.

Naomi Pearl | San Diego, CA
Freshman | Global Studies

Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you decided to join Rotaract?

“I was in a couple different community service orgs in high school and I wanted to continue doing that in college so that’s why I’m here.”

What do you like about community service? What draws you to it? 

“I like helping people. It’s also cool to do community service with a great group of people, like it just feels so good. And I was actually in one [service] group in high school and the group of people wasn’t that great. I liked the community service but not the people so I was looking for a group in college where everyone wanted to be there and were just great people in general plus we would do community service together and that seems like what Rotaract is.”

 Can you tell me about what your major is?

“Yeah so I’m intended Global Studies, which is basically an International Relations major at Berkeley. I’m excited to do it  because I want to learn more about how the world works. There are different paths that you can take within the major so I think I’m going to do Global Societies and Cultures, which would be great because I get to learn a lot about that stuff and then hopefully I can work for some international organization or non-profit and travel the world, meet new people, experience new things, it would be great.”

What committee are you a part of? 

“I’m a part of International Committee. I like it a lot and the mental health focus is really awesome, I’m so down for that. It should be fun, I’m excited to see where that goes.” 

How do you like the city Berkeley?

“I love it. Coming from SoCal I hate the heat so the cooler weather up here totally fits me. I like the location. I like the rain. I like that there’s actually water up here.”

What’s your favorite thing to do in Berkeley so far?

“I enjoy getting to know the area. I think tomorrow I’m going to San Francisco with some friends so I’ll get to see the big city.”

Mark Maffeo |Clovis, CA
Freshman |Intended Applied Mathematics 

Why did you join Rotaract? 

“I joined Rotaract because I did a community service club in high school for three years that worked with Lion International called Leo Club. So Lion International was basically like this big community service organization and I ended up being an officer in that club and eventually the president in my last two years of high school. I really enjoyed the service projects that we did and I really enjoyed being a part of the community in general whether it was volunteering at the food bank, cleaning up the San Joaquin River, or the many community fundraisers we did. So just enjoying that experience so much was why I decided to join the first community service club I came across which was Rotaract.” 

What is your favorite memory of Rotaract?

“My favorite memory of Rotaract so far would be the intro to Family Night because I got to meet and talk to all the family members in the club. I also got to know all the current officers we have in a more social environment than compared to say the general meetings. It was basically a really nice time where we just played games with each other and bonded through that.

What skills have you gained from Rotaract?

“I learned how to dedicate my time to a project. It showed me a lot more about responsibility and commitment because it’s different from high school work. I was involved in so many different small time projects but with the committees like Interact committee, it’s one big project which was definitely a different perspective than I’m used to. So I learned time management which I used that to get my assignments done, teamwork to help my group out, and overall dedication because I am passionate about what I do, especially for service. Whatever I do, I’ll just stay in it and try my best.” 

If you could give your past self a piece of advice, what would it be?

“Get involved earlier in high school because I didn’t really do anything my freshman year and it was really a waste until sophomore year until I became involved. I would just say to myself during that period to just not be afraid to join new things, especially earlier in life because you’ll never know what you’re going to be passionate about. Like I didn’t know I was going to be passionate about community service until way down the line. The same goes for any other interest that I got through high school. So yeah, just don’t be afraid to try new things.” 

What character trait makes you instantly attracted to or respect someone?

“I appreciate people who are honest to others even though it means hurting their feelings sometimes. I just appreciate people who are straightforward and will tell it how it is regardless of how their opinions will affect somebody. I think that is definitely what makes me respect somebody more.” 

Shawn Tran | Dallas, TX
Junior | Business Administration

Why did you join Rotaract?

I joined Rotaract because I’m really passionate about community service and I just really wanted to give back to the community here because that’s what I did in high school a lot. I was going out to local organizations and organizing things with them so high schoolers would have an opportunity to reach out to their local community. We didn’t have Interact at my high school but we had a general community service club which I ran.

What is your favorite memory from Rotaract? 

It’s really just everyday when I get to go see people. I love interacting with Rotaractors and learning about their story, how they got to Cal, what their doing and what they’re gonna do in the future. It’s really interesting getting to know new people.

What was your first impression of Rotaract, and how has it changed since then?

At first I was kind of nervous to meet new people, but every since the first meeting, Kelly was a person that came up to me and talked to me a lot which made me feel welcome. Since then I’ve been able to meet new people who have changed my mind since the beginning. At first I wasn’t feeling that home environment, but now, I’m starting to feel that.

If you were a fruit what what would you be and why?

Maybe a strawberry? It’s funny because I used to be allergic to strawberries but now I like them a lot. I grew out of the allergies haha!

What TV character do you most identify yourself with?

I was a big fan of Drake and Josh, so maybe Josh. I definitely wasn’t a popular person like Drake getting girls all the time, that was not me. I was definitely a Josh lol.

Nick Melamed |Los Angeles
Freshman| Intended Haas 

Why did you join Rotaract? 

My dad is a Rotarian for about twenty years now, so I’ve seen all of the great things that they’ve done as an organization. I really wanted to do something similar to that so I started Interact in high school but I didn’t really feel like we had done enough. I wanted to do more, so when I came to UC Berkeley, I decided to join Rotaract and it’s been great so far. I value the mission that this club has and it is really beneficial to the community.

What is your favorite memory/aspect of Rotaract?

I think the best event that I went to so far was the Hot Meals for the Hungry because it was in a smaller group so it was a nice bonding time. It was also really nice to do something which directly impacts people’s lives. It’s like something small that makes all the difference for people who aren’t in the same privilege that we have. We don’t have to worry about housing or where our next meal is coming from, and I thought that doing this event was just a really good experience. 

What skills have you gained from Rotaract?

I’ve learned really good communication skills through experiences like Hot Meals for the Hungry and exercising that motto of “service above self”. You’re always constantly running around talking to people, doing events, going to meetings, it’s a big time commitment, and you’re doing it for a greater cause. You learn how to do things for the benefit of others while improving yourself. 

If you could give your past self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to try anything new. I think a lot of times I was in a situation where I was uncomfortable putting myself out there when I do things. Now that I look back at it, I listened to my own advice here at UC Berkeley and it had helped a lot. I’m more active in Rotaract and I think I wouldn’t have been if I didn’t put myself out there and change my past mindset. 

What character trait makes you instantly attracted to or respect someone?

People who are straightforward and honest. I really appreciate that because sometimes the truth isn’t the easiest thing to hear but I think people who don’t try to run you around and gives it to you straight are the type of people I respect the most. Especially if they do it in their best self-interest.

Alumni of Cal Rotaract:

Steven Ryoo|Pleasanton, CA
Year Graduated: 2015| Integrative Biology
Career: Upenn Dental School
Email Address: [email protected]

How has Rotaract helped you professionally?

It helped me so much. So during my experience at Cal it kinda got me through being less of an introvert and branching out and being able to socialize. It helped me a lot with networking and made me more confident as a person, and reaching out to a community. I’m sad that i don’t do it as much anymore, but it helped me understand that reaching out to the community is a big aspect of everybody’s lives. So with the positions that I had, I was fellowship chair and eventually became the president, speaking to mentors and members just made me more comfortable speaking to all these groups.

What skills have you learned?

It’s okay to be yourself. When I came to Berkeley I didn’t really know what to expect. I remember my first semester I just wanted to do my own thing, get adjusted, but one of my friends actually was the one who dragged me out to the club, and it made me realize that it’s one thing to try and be an adult and try to be more professional, but when you’re yourself you surround yourself with people who are like you, and those are the genuine friendships that you make, and I still keep in touch with my close friends from Rotaract, and actually most of my friends from Berkeley are from Rotaract. I think just being yourself opens up a lot of doors and opportunities and makes you build relationships that will last a lot longer than if you are not yourself in the beginning.

Any advice to current Rotaractors?

I would say just sacrifice your time. I mean it’s not really a sacrifice but give up going out on weekends every now and then and immerse yourself in community service events. Bring out friends from other parts of your college experience and I would say just put yourself out there, don’t be reserved. I know it’s a big club and especially as a new member, I’m always intimidated by the sheer size of the club and how it seems that a lot of people are close already, and if you’re not a part of board it seems more intimidating, but throw yourself out there. Everyone in the club is very welcoming, and you’ll find your niche. It could be Rotaract, it could not be, but once you find it, it is very rewarding.

If you were an animal what would you be?

My favorite animal is an elephant. I think elephants are loyal creatures. Individually they’re strong, and when you’re in a pack they’re a lot stronger. Kinda like how Rotaract is, they’re very essential to their environment. By them being there, they have a big influence on their community!

What do you look for in a friend?

Someone I don’t have to hold back anything to, I can just be myself and I know at  the end of the day they would have my back and I would have their back. It would also be someone who, if there is ever a gap in time, who would communicate because when they’re busy, being able to pick up right where we left off even if it’s 5 years down the line, 2 years down the line when we see each other time. Just knowing that no matter where you are, what stage of life you are, you’re always gonna have somebody who’s gonna be in your corner. I guess that’s the biggest trait I have looking for a friend.

Stacie Vance | Year Graduated: 2014 
Major: Conservation and Resource Studies (Minor in Global Poverty and Practice)
Career: Financial services, works as a client service associate for an investment advisor
Email Address: [email protected] 
Linkedin profile: 

Why did you join Rotaract?

I joined rotaract the fall of my freshman year because I was looking for a community service club. I found rotaract from all the flyers on all the tables on sproul. I first made a list and I sorted them out between community service clubs and things that I thought I could get into, like longboarding. I basically went through and I laid out all the flyers and went to the one that had the earliest meeting date, which was rotaract. I fell in love and I didn’t go to any other club meetings. I had known of interact when I was in high school but I didn’t know whether it was active or not. I did see a flag in my English class, and I saw the word, ‘Interact’ so I connected them together. I applied for rotary scholarships, so I thought Rotaract was kind of familiar. I found out what they did, and when I met the people here, the rest is history.

What is your favorite memory from Rotaract?

My favorite memory was a clothing drive fashion show that we had as a family competition. It was to promote the fellowship of the families, to promote some friendly competition, and all the clothes that were donated and used in the fashion show was given to Shelter Inc. It was family, it was social, it was fellowship, it was community service. It was probably one of the most fun community service projects that we had done. I remember that because I’m pretty sure we went out to eat afterwards at Gypsy’s and it was just a really fun time.

Have you learned any skills from Rotaract that has helped you professionally? Or in your day to day life? 

Oh boy have I ever. One of the most important things that I’ve learned was being able to work with different people with different communication styles and different leadership styles in an environment where we’re all trying to accomplish the same goal, but we’re coming at it at different perspectives and different tactics. This is definitely how every workplace functions and being able to learn those different skills like time management. You learn this through your extracurriculars and your academics, and you learn how to balance your family, your job, and your adult extracurriculars. It’s definitely something I could say my time in Rotaract helped me develop and I was lucky enough to start getting that my freshman year and apply it through the years.

What is a pet peeve that you have?

Where do I start? I think people who are not polite in a very basic sense of like moving out of the way, holding the door open, and/or saying thank you. I was at Peet’s, on Monday, and I reached over for the cream, and I poured it and by the time I was done, there was somebody standing there. So I said, ‘excuse me,’ and she said, ‘thank you for being so polite,’ and I told her back, ‘I’m sorry that you have to notice that.’ So overall, basic pet peeve is people who lack common courtesy.

What do you look for in a friend? 

A good listener. I have found that the strongest and the longest lasting relationships that I’ve had in my life are with people that make me feel valued, that my time is valued, that my opinion is valued, that we have that mutual respect and understanding of confiding in one another. I think how that displays itself is do this thing, and not talking over each other. It’s one of those things that I have found that different people have different reasons have found that mindfulness by practicing gratitude and being helpful. To be a good friend you have to first start of with your mental health and what someone said to me once was to ‘treat yourself with as much compassion as you would treat a friend,’ but that will only work if you are compassionate towards your friends. To wrap it up, you have to be considerate, thoughtful, a good listener, not flaky, that’s what I look for in a friend.

 Lawrence Vo |  San Jose, CA
Year Graduated: 2016 | Political Economy 
Career: Work in financial service company, asset management

How has Rotaract helped you professionally?

I was very involved in working with Rotarians who taught me to communicate with business professionals and put myself out there! I got my first internships with the help of my Rotarians, so they definitely guided me towards my career path now.

What skills have you learned?

Social Entrepreneurial skills from my work back when I helped with the Interact Stayover. At first, the program did not have a lot of plans and structures so I had the opportunity to build this for Cal Rotaract! I also helped build the Professional Development pillar for Cal Rotaract. The other skills would probably be tackling problems and challenges, and building scalable solutions in long term.

Any advice to current Rotaractors?

Now that I’ve been working for a while and looking back, I think Berkeley students should chill a little bit! I know that everyone is a go-getter but you should also take a lot of breaks. Everything will come together as time goes by! As long as you work hard and try your best, everything will be great. Also, I would say grab more opportunities that Berkeley gives you like studying abroad or research as we have one the best professors in the world here already. Don’t be afraid to email them and ask for opportunities! Also all many companies out there are very interested in Berkeley students, so put yourselves out there and grab opportunities

What was your favorite memory from Rotaract?

Stayover was definitely my favorite! It was my first time running the Stayover and we made a lot of changes to the structures and plans of it!

What is one thing you’re good at that people don’t expect?

I’m good at telling you which mattress you should buy based on your weight and height! It is actually a very useful skill!

If you could be good at any profession without having to receive the accompanying education or trade experience, which would you choose?

Being able to speak many languages!

If you were an animal what would you be?


What do you look for in a friend?

The friend should be accepting of who I am as a person and make me be better as a person! Also, a friend who can make me chill and relax.