I arrived at Berkeley midyear in 1964, after graduating from San Francisco State College. Being a Mexican-American born in Berkeley and raised in Oakland, going to graduate school at Berkeley was an intimidating experience in terms of the repute of the faculty and the backgrounds of fellow students, who were from all over the country, as well as being bright, articulate and especially well read. The intellectual environment of Berkeley provided an exceptional opportunity to be a symbolic interactionist, a structuralist or a Marxist and to move fluidly among these ideologies. Blumer, Bendix, Glock, Goffman, Matza, Clausen, Lowenthal, Smelser and Selznick created an intellectual environment rich in ideas and embracing of theoretical exploration.
In the midst of this intellectual feast, however, two events proved exciting, yet disruptive. The first was the Free Speech Movement, and the second was the Vietnam War and its protests. For those of us who experienced the former, I think we were different students than the cohorts before us, for no matter what we focused on in our individual studies, we were all students of social movements, institutions and politics. Unfortunately, some of the cohort did not survive -- finding the Era of the 60's too disruptive and chaotic. As a first year student it was difficult knowing whether to cross the picket lines or not, and if you did, not knowing whether the faculty would be in class.
The second event was the Vietnam War. My time at Berkeley was cut short because I selected an alternative service rather than be drafted. In one respect it was beneficial because I was assigned to NIH and was able to collect dissertation data. Yet, I missed not being at Berkeley with my cohort, fellow students and the faculty. John Clausen, however, was the most reliable distant dissertation advisor anyone could have. He was so quick in reading chapters I called him 'The Flash.'
I completed my dissertation while at De Pauw University and when finished I came to Ohio State University where I have enjoyed a quiet career of health research and teaching greatly informed by my work with Blumer and Goffman and my all too brief years at Berkeley.