I came to Berkeley in the 1970s totally unhip. I had worked in 'management' for six years and wanted to study organizations. After feeling the power of corporations to shape lives, and having lived through a massive reorganization, I wanted to learn more and take a break from wearing suits. Todd Gitlin told me one day that I looked 'suburban,' and it wasn't a compliment. It was also true.

I grew up in Harlem, or as it was called at that time, The Ghetto. By the time I was 15, I was a mother and a school dropout. After spending a few years working in factories and offices, I decided to return to school. I arrived at Berkeley in the summer of 1979, eager to learn more about people like me and to learn from people like Blumer and Blauner. There were so few students and faculty of color in the sociology department that I began to feel lonely and frustrated.

Teresa Cordova is Chair and Associate Professor of The Community and Regional Planning Program at The University of New Mexico. She received her Master's and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and her undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. Among her awards and fellowships, she was a National Research Council Fellow and a National Science Foundation trainee.

Professor Cordova teaches Foundations of Community Development, The Political Economy of Urban Development, Community Economics for Planners, and Introduction to Community and Regional Planning.

Susan D. Toliver, Ph.D., CFLE, is Professor of Sociology and Department Chair at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where she previously held the positions of Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Science, Director of Women’s Studies, and Coordinator of Peace and Justice Education. She holds a doctoral degree in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Like all sociologists, my occupational history has a context. It began with my entrance to Berkeley. Looking back, my acceptance as a graduate student was one of the few times I remember feeling that a world of possibilities had suddenly opened before me. Those possibilities began first and foremost with the friendships I made with fellow students and faculty during my first year on campus.