Chaka Tellem.
Chaka Tellem.

UC Berkeley Scholar Advocates for Peers, Promotes Diversity as Student Government President

Spring 2022 | Los Angeles

Posse Scholar Chaka Tellem is the President of Associated Students at the University of California, Berkeley. In this top campus leadership role, he represents more than 30,000 undergraduate students in one of the largest self-governing student organizations in the nation.

Chaka entered student government as a first-year, serving as the associate for the external affairs vice president and was later elected as a senator in the Associated Students of the University of California.

“My love for student government stems from my desire to make real change on campus, advocating for those who don’t feel seen or heard.”

“My overall experience at Berkeley has been very rewarding, but also challenging due to these unprecedented times,” Chaka says. “My love for student government stems from my desire to make real change on campus, advocating for those who don’t feel seen or heard.”

Beyond student government, the political economy and law major has been involved in a wide range of activities and organizations on campus. Chaka has interned for the leadership development director of the Black Student Union (BSU) and at the university’s Black Recruitment and Retention Center (BRRC). He says the range of experiences have only deepened his passion for campus diversity recruitment and retention efforts.

As a member of the Racial Justice Now campaign, Chaka traveled to multiple University of California (UC) campuses across the state, hosting workshops focused on racial justice and equality. Chaka also had the opportunity to lobby at the California state capitol in Sacramento, serving as an advocate to voice UC student issues.

“I’ve noticed that most people pay the closest attention to issues that affect them or their community,” Chaka says of his drive to serve his peers in student government. “Although I strongly believe that advocating for one’s self and community is important, I also recognize that many of our struggles, battles and eventual liberations are intertwined.”

“Posse is a network of people you can depend on.”

Chaka believes he has more work to do in continuing to uplift the University of California, Berkeley, campus community—and throughout the journey, his fellow Posse Scholars have been by his side.

“Posse to me means family and support,” he says. “It’s a network of people you can depend on.”

Looking towards the future, Chaka aims to eventually attend law school. First, though, he is running for re-election to serve as president for a second term in the 2022-2023 school year.