In 2011, the Division of Equity & Inclusion (E&I) helped launch an initiative from SLAS/EOP and several campus partners that sought to capture the experiences of our low-income and first generation student communities through art and its many forms (video, songs, poetry, music, dance, photography and other). Current undergraduates were encouraged to submit works of art that represented their individual and collective experiences as members of low-income and first-generation student communities. This project allowed the greater campus community to see, through the eyes and voices of students, how the experience of being low-income and/or first generation is lived and felt on this campus. By showcasing and including representations of the many diverse experiences of our low-income undergraduates, we hope to promote better understanding and help foster a “healthy and engaging campus climate.” Into the Light not only recognizes the unique experiences of students but also celebrates the artistic creativity present among our low-income and first-generation communities. 


  • Describe your experience as a low-income or first generation student.
  • What would you like the campus to know about your experience?
  • What are the biggest challenges that you face on this campus?
  • What motivates you when things become difficult?
  • Tell a story about a unique experience you have had while at Cal. 
  • What inspires you as a low-income or first generation student?
  • What helps bring joy to your experience?

Awards and Showcase

The Into the Light "Student Showcase" was held Tuesday, April 24th at the Berkeley City Club. The project committee selected the best works (from the pool of completed project proposals) as finalists to be featured as part of the program. The event included the announcement of first, second, third, and fourth place winners selected from among the finalists.


Throughout the 2011 grant cycle, project committee members offered support to students creating and submitting works of art. Students were encouraged to take advantage of the experience and guidance provided by committee members to help develop their projects. Several computer workstations equipped with editing software were also made available to students. Committee members were also available to share and discuss useful tips and examples of successful project submissions.


Project Committee 


Cruz Grimaldo, Associate Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships, Poet and Performer: 
Cruz is passionate about keeping Cal accessible and affordable for all students.  In addition to her role in the Financial Aid Office, she facilitates an annual course in Chican@ Studies for new students.  She is also a regarded poet and performer who has performed at the Hip Hop Theater Festival, UC Berkeley, La Peña Cultural Center, Saint Mary’s College, Los Medanos College, Teatro Vision, YBCA, Galeria de la Raza, Brava Theater, USF, University of Illinois, Self Help Graphics, and CASA 0101.

Julian Ledesma, SLAS/EOP Academic Counselor, Video/Audio Producer:
Julian is a Cal alum and staff member of over 10 years. As an undergraduate, Julian hosted public affairs programming for Berkeley’s KPFB radio and Wild 94.9 FM. With a background in communications, Julian moved from radio/audio to independent video production. For the past 6 years, Julian has worked as an Academic Counselor for Student Life Advising Services/Educational Opportunity Program.

John “Quame” Patton, SLC Coordinator, Instructor, and Recording Artist:
Quame’s experience on the Berkeley campus includes stints as Major Advisor for African American Studies and Academic Advisor for the Athletic Study Center. Quame currently works as a Coordinator for the Student Learning Center and as a part-time instructor for the African American Studies department teaching courses dealing with African American issues, hip-hop, and metaphysics. Quame is also an accomplished DJ and music recording artist. His most recent album, “Invisible Man,” was voted underground hip-hop album of the year for 2009 (source:

Maria Victoria Ponce, Independent Filmmaker/Teacher:  
Maria Victoria's work includes the documentary Engage Her: Getting Minority Women to Lead and Vote and the short fiction narratives Chuy and Mago; she has also produced independent features. She enjoys all aspects of filmmaking, but storytelling is her true passion, whether in documentary or fiction narrative styles. While at it, she tends to share pieces of the colorful communities and characters she grew up around. Maria Victoria is currently working on a documentary about the after-school program at Grant Elementary School in Richmond, California, and is also teaching filmmaking basics to students there.

Nikki Reyes, Undergraduate Student:
Nikki is a fourth year American Studies Major whose interests include media analysis, film production and education. Nikki was a member of UC Berkeley's CalTV as an Entertainment Reporter. She has also served as Peer Academic Counselor for SLAS/EOP and is currently working with the unit on communications/media strategies.

Rod Santos, Academic Achievement Counselor; Musician/Creative Director:
Rod spends his day at Cal with the Incentive Awards Program as an academic counselor.  His past interests and roles in the arts range across the board: color guard choreographer, drum major instructor, writer, songwriter, and film commissioner.  He is an accomplished pianist having performed with vocalists for the past two decades (including a performance on The Filipino Channel).  Most recently he produced and directed a nationally recognized music video entitled "FY Glee" that highlights First Year Experience programs at his previous university.

Ray Telles, Producer/Director/Writer, Assistant Professor:
Raymond Telles is a veteran producer of many award-winning programs includingThe Fight in the Fields, the biography of Cesar Chavez, Inside the Body Trade (National Geographic), Children of the Night (Frontline, PBS), and Race is the Place (PBS). He has produced and directed programs for ABC, NBC,PBS, Discovery, and National Geographic. Telles has won numerous awards including Emmy Awards, the DuPont-Columbia Gold Baton, PBS Programming Awards for News and Current Affairs, The Ohio State Award, ALMA Award, top honors in the San Francisco, Chicago and New York Film Festivals, as well as numerous other awards for his work in film and broadcast journalism. Telles is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies, U.C. Berkeley.


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