Staff Spotlight: Jan Carmelo Bautista (he/him)

November 8, 2023

Assistant Director for Degree Completion Pathways
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) 

How long have you been at Berkeley?

Berkeley has been my home since 2012 when I arrived on campus as a Summer Bridge student. Throughout my undergraduate experience, I had a chance to serve in different leadership roles with the bridges Multicultural Resource Center and with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). After I graduated, I started my Master of Science in Counseling at San Francisco State University and continued my work at Cal by serving as a Graduate Intern for EOP and for the College of Environmental Design (CED) Advising office. Now, I get to continue working with EOP students in my role as the Assistant Director of Degree Completion Pathways! It’s been an incredible honor to have had so many opportunities to nurture equity-oriented work the past 11 years here at Cal.

What do you love most about working here?

I cultivate a deeply rooted belief in the capacity for education to be a vehicle for transformative change. Of course, that sort of change doesn’t come easy. To play a small role in that shift of narrative for our first-generation and low-income students, to encourage agency and hope, to have the privilege of witnessing our students thrive despite systemic barriers - that’s what I love the most about working at UC Berkeley.

What's your job?

As the Assistant Director for Degree Completion Pathways at EOP, I get to lead programs that serve our first-generation and low-income students who are navigating academic difficulty. In this work, we know that students do better academically when they are able to engage authentically and that authentic engagement entails personal and communal risk. EOP students, as a facet of their possible experience, have many valid reasons to be wary of being vulnerable in academic spaces. My job is to be curious about that vulnerability and co-create spaces in which our students can courageously try out different ways of navigating that.

What's a great day at work look like for you?

I look forward to the moments in my work when I get to witness EOP students take ownership of their experience at Cal. It’s sort of like watching someone come home in a way. There’s a feeling of relief that you can actually see in their faces, that they’re in a place where they can be loved and be taken care of, that they’re worthy of it too. Any day when I get to witness even a glimmer of that is a great day!

What do you hope will be different in your work this time next year?

For every ten EOP students navigating academic difficulty I get to work with through our seminar, there’s a hundred more we don’t get to serve due to capacity constraints (no, really, we looked into the data). We’re a small but mighty team but our coalition does keep growing and we’re so thankful for all the wonderful partners across campus we get to work with in EOP. My hope next year is that this coalition just keeps growing both in number and in our approach to better taking care of our first-generation and low-income students.

Where’s your favorite place on campus?

The walk from the Downtown Berkeley Bart Station to my office at Lower Sproul takes you through oak trees, the eucalyptus grove, and an actual babbling brook courtesy of Strawberry Creek - a real life fairytale of a commute to work :)

What advice do you have for other first-generation college students?

As a possible part of our shared experience, I would bet that if you do encounter academic difficulty, that would not be the first hardship you and your loved ones have navigated in the past. I would guess that part of your inheritance is resilience and tolerance for the unknown. You may likely have seen your loved ones or even yourself navigate through more dire situations. Many other things have tried to break you even before Cal and yet here you are. I would encourage our first-generation students to be reminded of that and also, that they’re not alone. We’re here with you. Let’s take on this journey together.

Fun fact about me:

I got through graduate school in part because of stress-relieving shows like the Great British Baking Show and got myself a refurbished KitchenAid stand mixer as a graduation gift to myself. I’ve since had to buy a new one with how much baking I’ve done since then and continue to love bringing in baked goods for my students and co-workers!

Headshot of Jan Carmelo Bautista