The Heart Of Haas: An Interview With 3 Haas Students — Diversity On Display

Picture of Haas Courtyard, Haas

If you walk through the Haas campus on any given day, you can catch sight of a diverse spread of people. Each person passing through has their own story, their own roots, and their own reasons for why they chose Haas. Some hustle along, nearly running to their next calling, while others stroll peacefully in thought. Diversity adds vibrancy to the Haas experience – the array of different humans at Haas creates our foundation, built on details and determination. All along, there are unique traits that tie us all together as a community. In ode to diversity, let us hear from 3 different Haas students on their unique opinions about success and the Haas School of Business.

First, let me introduce Naomi. 

Naomi Jacobson is a junior transfer student. She was born in Israel, grew up in Berkeley, and has lived around the Bay in Oakland, Walnut Creek, and San Francisco. Prior to Haas, she spent several years in the workforce as a chess teacher at Berkeley Chess School; a software engineer and data analyst in the tech industry; and a waitress at her favorite restaurant in Berkeley: Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen. Of all the places she has been, Naomi has never felt that she belonged somewhere more than she does at Haas – and is grateful to have found her niche.

Here are Naomi’s thoughts:

Naomi Jacobson

What would you tell a prospective Haas student? 
“You might find yourself feeling an intense pressure to choose a career as soon as possible. It’s great to have a sense of direction and to already know what you want to do. If you don’t know, that’s OK too. Who knows if they enjoy Investment Banking until they’ve actually worked as an analyst? Don’t feel like you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life right now. If you do decide and later have second thoughts, don’t fall for the fear that it’s too late to change your mind. Strong opinions are your friend, but only when held loosely. These are some of the best days of your life. Remember to be grateful for your youth and even the pressure of possibility.”

What have you learned while studying at Haas? 
“I have never felt I belong somewhere more. I’ve learned a lot about who I am and what I want. Most importantly, I’ve learned the kind of environment that is conducive to my own success, and the immense power of recognizing and placing oneself in such an environment.”

How do you define success at this point in your life?
“To act in such a way that aligns with my beliefs as often as I can. To have developed the set of tools needed to recognize what those beliefs are. It isn’t about my career or wealth or achievements. Wherever I go, there I am. Success is a feeling, not a thing to be acquired.”

What is your favorite thing about Haas?
“At Haas, I am constantly surrounded by highly motivated, extremely intelligent people. It’s a whole culture here. It might sound dramatic, but I truly have not met a single person here that did not have either (1) a quality I admire or aspire to, or (2) has expressed something that I found insightful or aided me as I consider new ideas. This place is a hub for new ideas. There are some professors and lecturers I identify with more than others, but all of them make their genuine interest in student success extremely clear. Check out the Haas faculty bios and you will also find that they bring a wealth of experience – not just formal education – to the table.”

Next up, is Joseph. 

Joseph Arujo (he/him) is a 19-year old Latinx mental-health activist and content creator based in Los Angeles, CA. He is a freshman student at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, who hopes to combine his interests in Business Administration and Media Studies to create a purpose-driven career that makes a difference in his community. As a Community Leader in the TikTok Diversity Collective, Joseph uses his energy to advise companies on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This has led to developments such as “Pronouns on profiles,” crediting creator tools, and more on TikTok. He has steadily grown his online fan base to over 860,000 followers, creating a community centered around spreading positivity and kindness.

Joseph Arujo

Here are his words to share:

What is your favorite thing about Haas?
“One of my favorite things about Haas is the school’s emphasis on experiential learning. The curriculum is designed to provide students with hands-on experience and real-world business challenges, which help us develop practical skills that are critical for success in the business world. Last semester, I was sent to London with my cohort to study Global Management and learn how international business is conducted. Through these opportunities, we had the chance to walk through case studies at Goldman Sachs, learn about the British business landscape, and immerse ourselves in European culture. This approach has allowed me to apply the theories and concepts that I have learned in the classroom to real-world business problems.”

What would you tell a prospective Haas student?
“If you’re thinking about coming to Haas, my advice would be to go for it! It’s a great place to learn, grow, and make some amazing connections in the community. The professors truly care about their students, and everyone is incredibly passionate about the fields they work in. No matter if you plan on going into finance, consulting, or even entertainment, there’s a spot for you at Haas!”

What have you learned while studying at Haas?
“As a Haas student, I’ve learned that business isn’t just about making money ─ it’s about making a positive impact on the world around you. Through both my coursework and extracurriculars, I’ve learned a lot about social responsibility and how businesses can use their resources to create a better future for everyone. I believe being purpose-driven is so important, and it’s definitely an idea that encompasses the four Defining Leadership Principles at Haas.”

How do you define success at this point in your life?
“Success is a journey that we embark on all throughout our lives. It involves setting goals for ourselves and being determined to keep reaching for the bigger and better. While some people believe success comes down to financial stability or career advancements, I believe success is ultimately found when we are at our happiest points. If you’re solely aiming for a final ‘destination’ as your ultimate form of success, you’ll have nothing to look forward to once you reach your goals. Success will always be the long-term journey we go on that fulfills us throughout our lives.”

Last but not least, is Katherine. 

Katherine Zhang is a current third-year undergraduate student at the Haas School of Business. She hopes to enter management consulting after graduation and work on projects in the intersection of business, tech, and social impact.

In her free time, you’ll often find her watching video essays on film and TV, listening to music, trying to find the best matcha latte in the Bay Area, or spending time with her friends and family.

Katherine Zhang

Here are her insights:

What is your favorite thing about Haas?
“I personally love Haas’ commitment to ethical leadership and social responsibility. I see these values and the four defining leadership principles embedded within coursework and the culture among my class. I truly am confident that Haas is building effective future business leaders because of the values that guide the student experience.”

What would you tell a prospective Haas student?
“Take advantage of all the resources available to you at Haas! Looking back, there are so many opportunities I didn’t maximize in my first year. Haas has world-class faculty that are industry experts, and you can get involved in cutting-edge research. Also, connect with your classmates—you never know who could lead you to what you pursue next.”

What have you learned while studying at Haas?
“Effective communication and collaboration is key to business. Many leaders can come up with great ideas, but strong communication is essential for maintaining relationships, managing teams, and generating impactful change. Learning this has made me more intentional and empathetic in my daily life and will definitely guide me post-graduation when I start working full-time.”

How do you define success at this point in your life?
“I think if you asked me this a year ago, I defined success as achieving my academic and professional goals and nothing more. However, as my first year at Haas comes to a close, I feel like building strong relationships has been what leads to success in my life. Right now, treasuring the people I have in my life is what success looks like in my eyes since I’ve grown so much from maintaining these relationships.”

I know, right?! Naomi, Joseph and Katherine are some super cool people. My peers at Haas empower me day in and day out, pushing the limits, innovating beyond expectations, and always being thoughtful as they move forward. After all, isn’t college really all about the humans you meet, admire, and build professional and personal bonds with? 

Ayushi Bhardwaj is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley (fondly known as “Cal”), where she is studying Business Administration with a Global Concentration, along with Cognitive Science. She is interested in consumer psychology and cognitive learning theory, and aims to work in startup consulting on an international scale. Ayushi dreams to fuse empathy and strategy in her life trajectory, uplifting the world with intentionality.

You can often find her editing articles for the Haas Undergraduate Blog, jotting down the random entrepreneurial ideas in her mind, listening to podcasts about ethics, snacking on quirky Trader Joe’s delicacies, or scrolling through way too many photos of her dog, Joey.



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