Meet Derek Fitzgerald! He’s a third-year Civil and Environmental Engineering major, and has been the Executive Director of LASA this past year!

“Hey y’all! My name is Derek Fitzgerald and I am a third year from Corpus Christi, Texas, and I am studying Civil/Environmental Engineering. In addition to playing Phonez in Cal Band, I spend a lot (and by a lot, I mean basically all) of my free time serving as the Executive Director for the Leadership Award Scholars Association. During the month of April, our organization joins the rest of campus in welcoming a whole batch of new students through our Overnight Stay Program. The Overnight Stay Program (OSP) invites admitted high school seniors to the Berkeley campus for a 24 hour program to experience what life is like as a student here at Cal! We run three programs throughout the month of April, and see 750 students and parents come through our doors during those sessions. The students and parents who attend the program hear from student, parent and alumni panels, enjoy a “taste of Berkeley,” the campus dining commons, as well as the famous Top Dog for meals throughout the program, have fun with an Acappella group at our evening dessert reception, and take a hike up to the Big C for that spectacular view we all know and love. By the end of the program, most students leave with a new friend (or more commonly, 20 new friends), a desire to submit their intent to register, and a new love for Cal.
The program is completely student run, and we as a staff really pride ourselves in that. Planning begins during the Fall semester, and most of the details are hammered out throughout the Spring semester. We have a board of 11 amazing directors, some 20 odd coordinators and an amazing group of volunteers that put in hundreds of hours to make this program possible. Parent and student participants are impressed at the professionalism of the program, and though that is quite important to our group, it isn’t our main focus. We are there to show these students what Cal is like, show them that we have a good time, and in the end, help them make an informed decision about whether or not Berkeley is the right place for them! It’s amazing to watch these students fall in love with Cal in just 24 hours. I have to say, it’s pretty crazy (and awesome) that in that short amount of time, we change the lives of these people who attend. Making those college decisions is no easy feat, and our ultimate goal is to help make that decision a little bit easier. Watching the program come to life, working with an incredible group of friends, and watching students and parents leave a little bit less worried, and a lot more excited leaves us all feeling a little happier. I could not be more grateful or humbled to have worked with such a dedicated, loving and supporting team. And at the end of the day, I feel inspired myself, and reminded of the reasons I fell in love with this University.
Though the programs have come to a close for the month, the excitement still lingers, many of the participants are gearing up to join the bear family in the fall, and we are already looking forward to another three great programs in 2014.
Stay happy, and as always, Go Bears!” ~ Derek Fitzgerald