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BESAC Digest 5/1/21

BESAC Communication Officer's Message

In this issue of the BESAC digest we look at the beginning and history of BESAC today. We are inviting you all to continue to help make more memories and impact in the years to come.

Rori Abernethy

BESAC Communications Officer

Cal Alumni Association Update

The African American Initiative Scholarship in the media!

They didn’t think they could afford Berkeley; African American Initiative made it possible.

BESAC Highlights

The Black Engineering & Science Alumni Club of UC Berkeley History

On February 10th, 2018, Kirk Tramble and Miller Allen with the help and support of the Black Alumni Association, BGESS, the College of Engineering, and the CAA organized a Celebration of Diversity to commemorate the 50th anniversary of BESSA and the 30th anniversary of BGESS. The day began with an amazing Symposium organized by Dr. Carlos Biaou which was open to the public, including NSBE Jr. attendees, and featured alumni speakers, Dr. Melody Ivory, Dr. Omoju Miller, Dr. Fatima Alleyne, Dr. Nerayo Teclemariam, and Elmer Whitehead. Smoothly hosted by guest emcee, Cheryl (Hurd) Perry of NBC's Bay Area affiliate, KNTV, the evening started with a welcome from Cal Mechanical Engineering professor, Dr. Grace O'Connell. The evening's opening speaker was Dr. Kamau Bobb, founder of the Constellations Center at Georgia Tech, and the keynote speaker was Dr. Gary May, BGESS co-founder and Chancellor of the University of Davis. The event brought close to 200 students, alumni, faculty, staff, family, and friends together at the Alumni House to celebrate these notable milestones. During the Reflections portion of the program speakers including Dr. Lorraine Fleming, Dr. John Harkless, Dr. Michele de Coteau, Dr. Reggie DesRoches, Dr. Diane Gates-Anderson, Dr. William Lester, Carl Homes, Dr. Wade Sisk, and Deena Mangrum shared their experiences at Cal and with BESSA and BGESS.

Inspired by the turnout and energy at the event, Kirk and Miller, joined by Rori Abernethy, Dr. Josephine Agbowo, Dr. Leon Daniels, Kelvin Vivian, Kevin Jones, Dr. Nerayo Teclemariam, and Dr. Sheila Humphreys formed an executive team to create a new chartered alumni club of the California Alumni Association in 2019.

BESAC was officially chartered on March 29, 2019, approximately one year after the 2018 Celebration.

Since 2019, BESAC has hosted several events including two Summer Welcome Weekend Events for incoming students, two homecoming events, and one Cal Day event. BESAC members have also been especially excited to connect with BESSA and BGESS members and participate in several of their meetings and events.

See the BESAC Timeline below!


  • 30 - 50 year Anniversary Celebration & Symposium organized by Carlos Biaou, Kirk Tramble, and Miller Allen 2/10/18

  • Dr. Miller Allen & Kirk Tramble are on the AAI Scholarship Selection Committee 4/18

  • BESAC Picnic at Lake Merritt 9/18

  • BESAC Homecoming Alumni Gathering 10/18

  • Kirk Tramble spoke on the CAA Panel How To Plan For Professional Success While in College 2018

  • Rori Abernethy is a CalTeach Mentor for 2017-2018 academic year

  • BESAC Scholarship/ Endowment Exploration 2018


  • BESAC/BEGESS/BESSA Study Group Program kick-off event 2/27/19

  • Chartered 3/28/19

  • BESAC Website Launch 3/19

  • Cal Day with BGESS/ BESSA 4/19

  • Dr. Miller Allen & Kirk Tramble are on the AAI Scholarship Selection Committee 4/19

  • First General BESAC Meeting 4/20/19

  • Rori Abernethy coordinates the NBA Hoops Science Fair with BGESS 5/19

  • BGESS End of Year Event 5/19

  • BESAC Summer Welcome Party for new students 8/4/19

  • BESAC mentors Cal students 9/3/2019

  • Sather Gate Young Volunteer Award Ceremony. Winner - BGESS President Carlos Biaou (Nominated by BESAC ) 10/18/19

  • BESAC Homecoming Listening Session 10/19

  • BESAC Homecoming Engineering Panel 10/2019

  • Rori Abernethy is a CalTeach Mentor for 2018-2019 academic year

  • Scholarship/ Endowment Exploration with CAA 2019


  • Dr. Miller Allen & Kirk Tramble are on the AAI Scholarship Selection Committee 4/20

  • Cal day with BGESS/ BESSA 4/20

  • Kirk Tramble spoke on the CAA CAL Week Diversity Panel 4/20

  • Summer Welcome 8/20

  • BESAC Membership Meeting 9/20

  • BESAC/ BGESS/ BESSA Leadership Summit 9/20

  • Kirk Tramble spoke at the 2020 Berkeley Charter Gala 10/20

  • Rori Abernethy is on the CAA Town Hall Panel 10/20

  • Dr. Miller Allen is on the CAA Homecoming Panel for students 10/20

  • BESAC Homecoming Engineering Panel (Black in the face of two Pandemics) 10/20

  • Scholarship/ Endowment Exploration with CAA


  • BESAC Black History Panel COVID Vaccines: Science and Facts 2/28/21

  • Dr. Miller Allen and Kirk Tramble are on the BESSA's 2021 All About STEM -Data Science Day Panel 3/21

  • First BESAC Digest sent to members 3/21

  • Rori Abernethy is a CalTeach Mentor for the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • Scholarship/ Endowment Exploration with CAA 2021

BGESS Highlights

Go to the Berkeley Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students Facebook page for highlights and updates.

BESSA Highlights

Go to the Black Engineering and Science Student Association website for highlights and updates.

BESF Highlights

Dr. Pete Bragg: Materials science pioneer

Whether he was studying the characteristics of materials or working to expand diversity within the engineering profession, materials science and engineering professor Robert “Pete” Bragg Jr. knew that each component of a unit was important to the strength of the whole. A passionate researcher, Bragg established himself as a leading expert in X-ray crystallography, X-ray diffraction and the electronic properties of carbon materials.

When he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1969, Bragg was the only African-American in the materials science and engineering department — where he served as department chair from 1978–81 — and one of six African-American faculty members on campus. Over the ensuing decades, he demonstrated a deep commitment to science as well as to the African-American community. Bragg fought for the increased hiring of minority faculty members; oversaw key diversity programs, including the Chancellor Minority Fellowship; was the first sponsor of the Black Engineering and Science Students Association (BESSA) and served on the advisory board of the Black Studies program. Among his many honors, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and was a fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists.

Read More about Professor Bragg and also here

Black Engineering and Science Faculty (BESF)

There is currently a historic number of Black Engineering and Science Faculty at Cal. Learn more about Black STEM faculty by checking out the Black Engineering and Science Faculty slides

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