Skip to main content

Staff Spotlight

Daisa Marie Pimentel
Marissa Berwick
Jessica Arevalo Hillen
Tran Nguyen

Staff Spotlight: Daisa Marie Pimentel

This issue’s spotlight features Daisa Marie Pimentel (she/her), a Project Analyst in the Student Affairs Finance Group. She has worked in Student Affairs for more than five years, but her ties go back much further, starting with her mother’s roles in the division (both pictured). You can also read Daisa’s Staff Spotlight in Chinese or in Spanish.

Describe your role. What do you do? How does your role impact Berkeley, its staff and/or its students?
My role as a project analyst entails managing departmental budgets, taking on process improvement projects, and supporting the CFO and our team’s administrative needs. As a team, we facilitate equitable and accessible financial systems and services that support the student experience.

What is your favorite part of your job?
An aspect that I love and appreciate is that there’s always something new that can be learned with the scope of this position. The budget work is fairly cyclical and can still throw us some curveballs, while varying projects keep the day- to-day fresh.

What do you want other staff to know about the services you and your team provide to campus?
I like to think of our team as behind-the-scenes artists. The entire finance department includes budget, procurement, and financial services. Anything from learning the appropriate chartstring, to negotiating a contract, to cutting a check – we’re your people. The work we do supports our colleagues’ goals of bettering the overall student experience.

Tell us a little bit about your community outside of work (i.e. family, chosen family, friends, loved ones, community, etc.). Where do you find support? Who do you like to spend your time with?
My family and friends are undoubtedly the people that I lean on. I’m extremely fortunate to have so many uplifting and supportive individuals in my corner, from my parents and brother, to cousins and best friends, to my partner. Whether it’s confiding in them during the hard trials, celebrating the amazing triumphs, or anything in between, they are always there.

What is one thing about you that people might be surprised to know?
My tie to Student Affairs actually goes back to when I was in grade school, accompanying my brother to pick up our mom from her night shift at The Den. My mom, Bethsaida, also currently works within the division. Her journey with Student Affairs began in 2007 with Admissions and after a couple of years she moved over to being a cashier in CalDining. She says she enjoys interacting with the students and her colleagues and appreciates getting to use her bubbly personality everyday. Thanks to her ability to make lasting impressions (along with her persistence), she paved the way for someone to take a chance on little ol’, fresh-out-of-undergrad me, leading to my own professional journey here. Feel free to drop by the Student Union Eateries to say hi! 🙂

What is one thing outside of work you feel passionate about?
Fostering an environment and society that values future generations. Why not strive to leave things better than you found them?


Staff Spotlight: Marissa BerwickMarissa Berwick

Marissa Berwick (she/her), Executive Assistant, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students

How long have you been working in your department (and in Student Affairs in general)?
One-and-a-half years in my current role/department and five-and-a-half years in Student Affairs.

Describe your role. What do you do? How does your role impact Berkeley, its staff and/or its students?
I’m the Executive Assistant for the Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, Sunny Lee. We are dedicated to creating an inclusive environment that helps all students reach their educational, aspirational, and personal goals. We advocate for the needs of students and help community members navigate UC Berkeley. We support student health and well-being and facilitate belonging, community, and leadership development.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is interacting with amazing students and learning about their UC Berkeley experience. Whether it’s providing information for students to be successful, or to provide resources for a student in need, I get the opportunity to see and hear the realities of being a Berkeley student.

What do you want other staff to know about the services you and your team provide to campus?
The Dean of Students has a wide variety of services for students within our portfolio. Departments in our portfolio include Berkeley Career Engagement, Student Legal Services, Center for Student Conduct, Center for Support and Intervention, Public Service Center, and many more.

Tell us a little bit about your community outside of work (i.e. family, chosen family, friends, loved ones, community, etc.). Where do you find support? Who do you like to spend your time with?
My biggest support system is my husband, Sam, and our energetic 3 ½ year-old son, Maverick. Since all of our family is in Southern California, my Berkeley family has also been a major support system.

What do you like to do outside of work? On a perfect day off, what would we find you doing?
I love to travel, so I’m always planning my next adventure. If I’m not at work you can find me at Disneyland, Disney World, or on a Disney cruise. Anywhere Disney I’m there!

What is one thing outside of work you feel passionate about?
Prioritizing your own mental health over work and family expectations is not only important but also essential for your overall well-being. When you take care of your mental health, you are better equipped to fulfill your responsibilities at work and in your family life.


Staff Spotlight: Jessica Arevalo Hillen

Jessica Arevalo HillenJessica Arevalo Hillen (she/they), Deputy Director of Development, Student Experience & Diversity

How long have you been working in your department (and in Student Affairs in general)?
Five years

Describe your role. What do you do? How does your role impact Berkeley, its staff and/or its students?
I focus on wealth redistribution, i.e., fundraising, which involves connecting our passionate alumni, parents, and friends of campus to areas where they can make a positive impact on the student experience. My roles impacts Berkeley staff and students by funding critical areas of support and providing financial relief.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is the community I get to bring together.

What do you want other staff to know about the services you and your team provide to campus?
SED’s vision is to ensure equity in education and experience for all students.

Tell us a little bit about your community outside of work (i.e., family, chosen family, friends, loved ones, community, etc.). Where do you find support? Who do you like to spend your time with?
I live with my amazing family in Oakland that includes my wife, Sarah, daughter, Simone (age 8), and dog, Xena.

What do you like to do outside of work? On a perfect day off, what would we find you doing
Spending time with friends, trying new restaurants and pop-ups, volunteering at my kids school (Peralta Elementary), and caring for plants

What is one thing outside of work you feel passionate about?
Public education


Staff Spotlight: Tran Nguyen

Tran NguyenTran Nguyen (she/her), External Executive Director of bridges Multicultural Resource Center

How long have you been working in your department (and in Student Affairs in general)?
I have been involved within the bridges Coalition my entire four years as an undergraduate. My time began as an intern, then evolved into being the K-12 Recruitment Co-coordinator, the External Executive Director for REACH! (Asian and Asian American Recruitment and Retention Center), and entering my senior year as the External Executive Director for bridges Multicultural Resource Center.

Describe your role. What do you do? How does your role impact Berkeley, its staff and/or its students?
bridges Multicultural Resource Center is a coalition of seven identity-based Recruitment and Retention Centers (RRC). We are UC Berkeley’s only student-initiated, student-run, student-funded organization dedicated to outreach and recruitment of first generation, low-income, underrepresented, Black, Indigenous and students of color into higher education, as well as providing access and resources to retain our peers. As the incoming External Executive Director, I serve as a community liaison between the coalition, on-and-off-campus organizations, administration, and student-initiated programs at other University of California campuses. This includes convening and facilitating at-large conversation, decision-making, and ensuring students’ needs are elevated and supported. I want to note that every RRC has the agency and collective ownership over their multiculturalism projects and programming, and partnership with additional cultural student organizations.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Every year, the needs of students at Berkeley varies, and this is exciting as we are constantly evolving and responding to community needs. Whether it is advocating for students’ well-being, physical space, or strategizing more ways to increase a diverse student population, I am honored to be in this position, leading the conversation on behalf of the coalition, to ensure we are heard, seen, and valued.

I am grateful to stand on the shoulders of my predecessors and ground this work in extensive collective history, while also striving for the sustainability of our coalition as we move forward into the future. Being a part of the bridges community has empowered me to find myself, my voice, and demonstrate my leadership to campus.

What do you want other staff to know about the services you and your team provide to campus?
One of my wishes for the campus to understand and recognize about bridges is that we truly strive to cultivate an intentional space of belonging at UC Berkeley. Whether it is through serving free hot meals at our events, all-expenses paid graduate student tours to the East Coast, or providing free academic resources and health products to community members, we do it all. Since joining bridges, I have had the opportunity to push the boundaries of collaboration and creativity because our coalition is ever-evolving.

Additionally, I wish campus partners and administrators remember that as student leaders with intersectional backgrounds, we are committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive campus, but we are also students with responsibilities inside and outside the classroom. Student leadership can be seen as non-traditional, but this approach centers the student needs at the forefront of campus priorities.

Tell us a little bit about your community outside of work (i.e., family, chosen family, friends, loved ones, community, etc.). Where do you find support? Who do you like to spend your time with?
When I first got into Berkeley at the peak of COVID-19, I did not know what community meant until I came to a welcome event hosted by REACH!, the Asian and Asian American Recruitment and Retention Center. Being a part of a community with shared stories and values, I felt safe and validated. I remembered only being able to discuss political topics, such as affirmative action, gentrification, and anti-Asian hate, through the community at REACH! because I cannot have discussions with my conservative family. In addition to bridges, my family in Southern California, roommates, and close friends are my pillars of support and strength.

What do you like to do outside of work? On a perfect day off, what would we find you doing?
On a perfect day off, I enjoy exploring Oakland Chinatown and San Francisco through public transportation, thrifting, and simply resting. This work to me is personal and intensive as a student. Self-care is not a bubble bath or fancy sheet mask for me, but rather getting to know myself when I am alone. Lately, I find joy in going on solo adventures, reading, and cooking different recipes I find on Tik Tok.

What is one thing about you that people might be surprised to know?
I enjoy watching international beauty pageants in my free time to learn about feminist movements, culture, and social impact initiatives. I started off only keeping up with Vietnamese beauty queens and their extravagant fashion, but behind the opulence, I realized that some beauty pageants can be a force of good in seeding changes in women across the world.

What is one thing outside of work you feel passionate about?
To say that this work exists outside of who I am, at my core, would be a lie. My identity is not something I can leave at the door when I step into a room with campus administrators. I feel passionate about coalition and relationship building, in which bridges continues to lay the foundation and roots within a garden for our community to enter and find shade, water and peace.

Beyond college, I see myself being a lifelong learner and advocate for educational equity. I am devoted to expanding the table for other student leaders to sit at and will always make the choice to radically imagine better possibilities for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. Like we always say at bridges, we do this work to not have to exist one day. Regardless of what the Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action or Prop 209 says, we have and will continue to forge a future of student-led recruitment and retention.