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Berkeley passion shows.

I am sifting through my chair at 6:45am, in my apartment, on a Tuesday morning before the sun has risen. I woke up abruptly and was unable to fall back asleep. Despite having a hefty workload today, I am instead writing on here for the first time in eleven days – a big deal considering how often I [used to] write.

Three weeks ago, a friend of mine – long-time Berkeley alumnus – shared lunch with me and other cohorts. He said something that will stick with me forever. He said, and I don’t mean to butcher this quote in any way but am trying to retain it word for word, “It wasn’t just right, but logical for you to have chosen Cal. Berkeley students are passionate. Each person is passionate about something. And they are hungry and chase it. You won’t find that at many other places.” He relayed his post-grad experiences at Stanford and Cornell and said that students there evoked different interests.

I believe he’s right. Most students I know here are passionate about something. Whether it be engineering innovation, problem solving with computer science, dancing, taking humanities courses to help “answer” ethical problems, the student diversity here is second to none. They’re all in the process of chasing something, and many eventually fulfill those goals and pursue a new area.

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This applies to me. I’ve finished many chapters of my life in a multitude of areas and proceed to conquer the next target. I spent three years dancing for a wonderful performing studio called Alohi’s. They just finished their 45th annual show! Although it’s unfortunate to be staring at the sidelines via internet medium, I’m grateful that they took me in with such welcoming hands, and am glad to see they’re still a functional, competitive group.

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43rd Annual Recital, Winter 2011

I continued dancing with Cal Hawaii Club last year in which we had a successful 29th Annual Lu’au. The club has a strong presence on campus this year and I am looking forward to attending their 30th end-of-the-year show.

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29th Annual Lu’au, Spring 2012

I unexpectedly stumbled onto Polynesian dancing. My friend dragged me to one of their practices and introduced me to a wonderful art. One of the dancers introduced me to her friend at Berkeley, who happened to be the president of Cal Hawaii Club. We met in person and I ended up dancing for them as well.

Which is what brings me now to crew. A dear friend of mine dragged me to California Lightweight Crew’s first general meeting. It was there that the club president delivered such a Oscar-worthy presentation that my immediate skepticism was met with unequivocal enthusiasm to challenge myself with something new.

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Head of the Lagoon Regatta, Fall 2012

Seven months later, the sport and the team has become an integral part of my life. I did not expect to have completely revamped my lifestyle this year. My original plans were to sleep the college norm of 2am, wake up late except for classes, and party it up as a senior. The first two plans have been dispelled, but I am indeed partying it up!

To me, sleeping at 10:30pm and waking up at 4:30am six days a week to practice with such dedicated team members is a party. We then celebrate all our accomplishments: from being able to have 4/8 people row in sync without tilting the boat, to 6/8, and to all eight. From seeing the most despicable erg (indoor rowing machine) times to constantly improving, cramping or throwing up during workouts, to competing and defeating heavyweight teams. I couldn’t have asked for more.

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Sac State Invitational, Spring 2013

I bought the coolest, most functional gadget on Black Friday. It’s called a GoPro, which is a sports camera that can be attached to any surface. I wore it on my head this entire semester and spent one week editing footage to create a California Lightweight Crew promotional video. I poured my passion into the sport, team, and this video and I’m hoping it will do great things.

May is coming fast. I’m graduating this semester. It’s sad, really. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life in Washington DC. I really am. But, my time here was too short. Whereas I was able to dance with the same group of wonderful folks for three years, I will only be able to row with Cal Lights for one year. Failing all my classes to stay and row another year has been a lukewarm, but rather dreamy alternative of mine.

The coaches have been not just patient and supportive, but also personable. Rather than keeping the relationship on a coach-to-athlete level, they dwell deeper into revealing their own lives and aspirations. The veteran rowers on the team have welcomed in the new blood, and they have remained patient and inspirational throughout the year. All these individuals are passionate not just about rowing, but on other areas as well.

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Morning practice, Fall 2012.

I’m so lucky. Really. As I sift through this chair, reading the time now at 8:06am, feeling all sentimental and shit – com’n now, we needed some comic relief to retain my alpha manliness you know what I’m sayin’ brah? – I am so thankful for all the people in my life who drive me to wake up every day. Who help manifest my goals from unreachable places to within grasp. Who motivate me when I reach occasional trenches.

The passion shows.

Thanks for reading.

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