Letters to a transfer student: Nate Tilton

“You’ve come a long way and I am terribly proud of you.”

Fung Fellowship
3 min readJul 7, 2020

Fellow Alum Nate Tilton shares a letter addressed to his younger self right after he was admitted to Berkeley as a transfer student. He discusses acclimating to the school as a veteran, learning about and applying to the Fellowship, and the human-centered design foundation he acquired through the experience.

Hey Nate,

So…you got into UC Berkeley! Who would have thought a high school dropout with a GED would be able to transfer to Berkeley! You’ve come a long way and I am terribly proud of you. I know you are having some anxiety about Berkeley and about your future, but I promise it won’t be that bad. A lot of people think the school is anti-military, but do not believe the rumors. The Cal Veteran Services Center is great and the ROTC cadets on campus make it feel like you’re back on base. In reality, Berkeley is really chill and like everything else, you get what you put into it.

Sometime in June, you’re going to get an email from Luis at the Veteran Center. It’s an email about a health, design, and leadership fellowship… the Fung Fellowship. It sounds interesting, but is it for me? Isn’t UC Berkeley hard enough without the Fung Fellowship? The fellowship is funded by a veteran and is looking for veterans! You’ve had a lot of experience with health, leadership, and thinking outside the box in the military. Why not give it a shot?

You will get an email that says “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to the Fung Fellowship.” In August, Bear Pact will be tiring and overwhelming, but later that week you’ll attend your Fung Fellowship orientation and things will be a lot less stressful. You will meet the fellowship faculty, staff, and other fellows who will offer stability, support, and guidance over the next year of the program. Being a transfer student at Berkeley can be hard; you may deal with bouts of imposter syndrome and the “Cal Face punch.” However, you will find people in the Fung Fellowship will be priceless allies in your journey at Berkeley.

Your first fall semester will fly by— it will be frustrating and stressful, but you will find yourself in the midst of the chaos. What you learn that first semester in the Fung Fellowship will lay your foundation in human-centered design, which will prove to be a critical asset for you in the future. In December, near the end of the semester, you will rediscover your love for public speaking and presenting. The spring semester will fly by and prove to be a challenge. However, your team will work together, pull close, and get it done. Your leadership experience and outside the box thinking will come in handy and lend to a successful prototype presentation at the Fung symposium.

Through the Fung Fellowship, you will successfully acclimate to UC Berkeley, learn how to be kind to yourself, and gain a great network of people from all walks of life. Trust me when I say that this fellowship will prove to be an integral part of your entry into academia and will lay the foundation for your future.

— Nate

“Through the Fung Fellowship, you will successfully acclimate to UC Berkeley, learn how to be kind to yourself, and gain a great network of people from all walks of life.”

About the Author

Name: Nathan Tilton
UC Berkeley class of 2020, Alumni of the 2018–19 Fung Fellowship Cohort

Major: Anthropology (now pursuing a master’s in Medical Anthropology)
Hometown: West Pittsburg, CA
Transferred from: Diablo Valley College (DVC)
Branch of Service: US Army/ California Army National Guard
Rank: Sergeant First Class

Connect with Nate.

Applications for the Fung Fellowship are now open for the UC Berkeley transfer class of 2022 until July 31, 2021.

Learn more about the Fung Fellowship at fungfellows.berkeley.edu.



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