Fung Fellowship 2020–21 Cohort Profile
In August 2020, a new cohort of 116 undergraduates from across Berkeley’s campus began their journey as Fung Fellows. Handpicked from the largest applicant pool yet, these students were chosen for their passion for health and conservation, unique creativity, ability to think outside the box, expertise in their field, and drive to make a difference.
With the launch of the new Conservation + Tech track, this year’s cohort welcomes twice as many first-year fellows as last year. Across tracks, these fellows joined the program with a natural curiosity and propensity for innovation. While these attributes unite the 2020–21 cohort, their collective strength and capacity for impact are founded in their diversity of perspectives, areas of study, and life experiences.
Fung Fellowship 2020-21 Cohort Profile
Class Size: 116 (59 Conservation/57 Health)
First Generation Students: 25%
Junior Transfers: 29%
# of Unique Languages Spoken: 32
# of Unique Majors: 42
# of Double Majors: 33
Our new fellows aren’t afraid of meeting obstacles head on.
Ziyuan Lee (Health + Tech): “I find myself appreciating obstacles more in hindsight because they have taught me to work harder for my goals. In the moment it might seem rough, but you emerge more informed and resilient from the experience.”
Fellows have a wide range of passions, interests, and majors, and enjoy the intersections between different topics.
Spencer Staggers-Elmore (Health + Tech) on Anthropology: “Anthropology allows me to look at the world through a holistic lens. There are so many interesting phenomena all around us, and for me, my major allows me to be as curious and draw upon what is around me to study it.”
Dao Xayalath (Conservation + Tech) on Philosophy: “Philosophy gave me a new set of lenses to view the world through. It broadens my understanding of people and various cultures.”
Ellen Kwok (Conservation + Tech) on Cognitive Science and Data Science: “As someone who has diverse interests but struggles to pinpoint a field to dive deep into, the interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science and data science appealed to me. I got to learn practical coding and research skills while enjoying simulating lectures on Linguistics and Philosophy at the same time. It is exciting to see how each field ultimately intercept and grow together.”
Fellows come from different parts of the world and bring their varied experiences and goals to the program.
Anara Myrzabekova (Health + Tech): “As a new transfer student and a mother of a toddler, my challenges include managing my family responsibilities on top of succeeding in my classes. Moreover, I am sensitive to prejudice toward student mothers; therefore, I do not feel comfortable talking about my challenges sometimes. But, as a woman in STEM, I am currently advocating for student parent’s needs at Berkeley, and I truly believe that education is a source of empowerment and development.”
Ojasvi Khanna (Conservation + Tech): “I grew up at the banks of a polluted water stream in a rural North Indian town. The water of that stream runs black and no wildlife lives near, or inside of it. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to do something in the field of sustainability and knew that technology was the way out. My experience at UC Berkeley is shaped by my upbringing in India and has allowed me to bring a personal, and new perspective to the table. I have been able to model a really interesting educational journey consisting of research projects, Cal’s competitive Environmental Engineering team, hackathons, clubs, and of recently, the Fung Fellowship — all of which intertwine technology and sustainability in unique ways.”
Fellows take their experiences from the past and use them as lessons for the future.
Jazalyn “Jazzy” Cruz (Health + Tech): “When I went to community college, it was blurry to see where my next steps might have been taking me; being in a low-standard environment. Looking back, I feel that experience was necessary for me to grow and learn about myself as a student and take on my future. It might sound cheesy, but I really learned that every setback is truly a setup for a comeback, which will always stick with me as I move forward as both a student and adult!”
Together, fellows work together to approach problems with empathy and design innovative human-centered solutions
Fung Fellows are bound by their diversity and passion to make an impact beyond the university. Throughout the fellowship, fellows are well poised to develop as leaders and innovators as they design breakthrough technology solutions to society’s most pressing health and conservation challenges.
Learn more about the Fung Fellowship at fungfellows.berkeley.edu.