UC Alumni Charity Gala Student Speaker – Karly Graf

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This past Saturday we had the pleasure of attending the annual UC Alumni UK Charity Gala at the stunning Law Society venue in central London. The elegant evening included a sparkling reception, delicious three course dinner, and dancing, plus a raffle and silent auction for some really amazing prizes! Proceeds from the raffle and silent auction go towards study abroad scholarships of UC students, and it was great to see the generosity from everyone in the room.

During dinner, there were also speeches by Pulitzer Prize winner Mr. Albert Scardino, a UCB alumnus, as well as Senior VP and CFO at Digital Reality, Wendy Will, a UCLA alumna. Finally, the last speaker was one of our UCEAP students, Karly Graf, who is currently studying at the London School of Economics while abroad from UC Berkeley.

We are so proud of Karly for her amazing speech! Read the transcript in full below and click on the video for some live footage of her speech:

Good evening, it is an honor to be speaking to you all tonight as a representative of the many wonderful UCEAP scholarship recipients.

My name is Karly Graf, I am from UC Berkeley and I am currently an exchange student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I chose to study abroad here in London for two primary reasons. The first is that I wanted to be exposed to the politics that had been the subject of my studies. As a student analyzing international affairs in California, very few of my interactions outside of the classroom related to my major. While my perspective had been stretched by Berkeley’s politically charged campus, I was ready to be tested on an international level. The second reason is that after four years of playing Division 1 soccer for Berkeley, I was ready to open a new chapter in my life. I wanted to set new, professional goals and challenge myself in a competitive, international city. I also wanted the opportunity to pursue these new goals with the same passion that I had spent my life dedicating to sport. My experience abroad has been all of these, and so much more.

As expected, the LSE made it clear why it is renowned for being a rigorous institution. I had to learn quickly how to adapt, both my writing and study habits, to fit the new criteria I faced. What I did not expect was how ubiquitous international affairs would be in my life. I found myself challenged in the classroom by Russian and Iranian students on the effects of US foreign policy. I learned in a pub what happens when the Euro Crisis is brought up between German and Spanish friends. When I used the words “political uncertainty” to describe US politics in front of my Brazilian teammate, I was reminded of what the phrase can actually mean. IMG_6227And I was questioned about my own ethics, and morals as an American citizen, and learned to ask about Brexit, and other crises, with the same careful nature I wish others had used. My convictions have been pushed, stretched, scrapped, amended and ultimately reshaped by my experiences at the LSE in ways I could never have experienced in California.

In the pursuit of my professional career, the city has helped me to develop in many ways and opened many doors. Not only have I been able to attend public lectures at the LSE where I was mesmerized by the brilliant minds of people like Amartya Sen, but I have also been encouraged to engage with current events by reaching out to professionals across industries. Despite their brisk, London exterior, the people I’ve met have been nothing but kind and helpful. My invitations for coffee to ask for advice, information or a friendly political conversation, have never once been turned down and I have been humbled by their generosity. The greatest influence on my development has been from the mentor that I was received through UCEAP. In addition to her constant career advice, Amy has pushed me to be fearless and strong in networking and interviewing alike. Through it all, my growing network has been pivotal in guiding my career development. From their kindness, I know I walk into the working world a little less naïve than I was before.

The events, lectures, coffees, soccer games and moments of growth would not have been possible without my scholarship. As a student-athlete at Berkeley, I worked part time to help with costs. With the help of my UCEAP scholarship, I was free from having to work a part-time job. I was able to use the time I would have been working to develop myself as an academic, as a professional and as a person. I could not be more grateful for the moments of free time with new friends and acquaintances that have ultimately shaped me as a person.

I am graduating this year, and while my exact plan isn’t certain, I could not be more grateful for the growth and development I have experienced in this year. I want to thank all of those who have contributed to UCEAP scholarships and have made my time in London possible. From my experience, I go forward towards my goals with confidence.