Fung Feature: Chris Gould

“I will do everything I can to work directly on the solutions to our environmental crises.”

Chris Gould is a junior transfer in the Fung Fellowship Conservation + Tech track studying economics. Here, he shares his experience in the Army, goal to become a CPA and vision to combat the environmental crisis.

My name is Chris and I’m a junior studying Economics at UC Berkeley. I’m in pursuit of my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license and will be taking courses through Haas this upcoming summer to help facilitate the CPA requirements.

I graduated high school in 2015 and went to Cal Poly SLO to study aerospace engineering. Luckily for me, Cal Poly is unique in that you begin taking major-specific courses during your first year. Therefore, in my first year I realized I had no interest in designing rockets or planes and came to the conclusion that I had no idea what I liked or what I wanted to do with my life. Since I’m not one for wasting time, I dropped out of school and joined the Army in 2016 to do something productive while I figured myself out. Three and half years later and with a new perspective on the world, I “retired” from the military and spent two semesters at a community college finishing up my requirements to transfer to a four-year university. Next thing I knew I was moving to the Bay Area to begin my classes at UC Berkeley!

I came across the Fung Fellowship through an email from the veteran’s department at UC Berkeley. It highlighted that there were positions reserved for transfer students and that really caught my attention. Since I came to UC Berkeley as a transfer, I felt behind everyone else, especially regarding knowledge of clubs and organizations. So it was very relieving when I discovered that the Fung Fellowship was transfer-friendly.

My position as Project and Curriculum Lead on the Fung Fellowship Student Leadership Board is to help the teaching and administrative staff constantly improve the fellowship experience. I get feedback from students each week through surveys and brief one-on-one Zoom meetings with other students. I try to take the “pulse” of how everyone is feeling, what they are liking, not liking, and everything in between. I then bring this information to the staff during our meetings where we discuss ways to improve and what the curriculum will look like moving forward. It’s awesome because the staff really listens to what the students have to say and adjust their plans and methods accordingly. I like to think of myself as the unelected representative of all the students in the fellowship since I’m typically speaking on their behalf. I do my best to help steer and mold the fellowship into something that everyone involved will enjoy and benefit from.

I was in the Army for about three and a half years and during that period I had a serious amount of free time. I decided to make good use of it and began to just devour books. I quickly realized that economics was something I could spend my free time learning about and enjoying. I now have a deep-rooted interest in economics and in how the world works. It has piqued my interest more than any other subject and I especially like how it can be tied to any topic or industry in the world. I’m a very curious person, and learning about economics has given me a lens through which to view the world. Regardless of my future career path, I plan to always be a student of economics.

I’ve recently been admitted to Berkeley Haas’ BCPA program. It’s a summer program that allows creation of relationships with large professional service firms in the Bay Area in addition to the training necessary to be eligible for the CPA exam. After completing this program and working in consulting/audit for around a year, I’ll sit for the CPA exam and receive my license. I think that working in the professional services industry will give me ample opportunities to learn more about the inner workings of many businesses and the interconnectedness of our economy. From there, I’ll be able to make a more informed decision on where my career should go next.

After I get my CPA license, I’d like to work with some of the companies and organizations that are going to really make a difference in facing the environmental crisis. That might mean creating my own business or supporting environmental groups to create tangible solutions. Too many motivated and well-educated individuals go into finance and not enough go into the places where society needs them most. I don’t want to fall into that trap. I will do everything I can to work directly on the solutions to our environmental crises.

Nature is my playground. I’m passionate about outdoor activities including mountain biking, bouldering, and hiking. I also enjoy reading, traveling, and birding.

Get out of your comfort zone and just do it. You’ll gain a lot of skills that will make your transition into the “real” world much easier through the Fung Fellowship. Take advantage of the opportunity to get college credit in doing something that can have tangible benefits to our environment or health system.

The Fung Fellowship at UC Berkeley is shaping the next generation of health, conservation, and technology leaders for a better world. 🌱

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