Cal gymnast Leilani Alferos has become involved in a number of community projects at Cal and in the surrounding community. She also was last spring's recipient of the Walter A. Haas Jr. Commumity Service Award. This week's Olympic Sports Report focuses on her impressive community work.
A Golden Opportunity
By: Taylor Dutch (Cal Track & Field ’13)
"Cal believes in true well-rounded individuals, excelling not just in the athletic arena, but also in academics and the community." - Cal athletics mission statement
Leilani Alferos is a Cal student-athlete that truly embodies this statement. The Cal women’s gymnastics senior received the Walter A. Haas Jr. Community Service Award last year for her work on the Golden Bear Advisory Committee, has managed to excel in the business administration major, and plans to work as a senior audit assistant at Deloitte upon graduating in May.
You could say Alferos is "well-rounded."
Her career as a Golden Bear began once Alferos transferred to Cal after attending Oregon State her freshman and sophomore years. She has never looked back and continues to seize every opportunity to make a difference in the Cal community.
“Community service has been embedded into my lifestyle and I just really wanted to carry on that tradition by giving back to the community,” Alferos said.
Since arriving in Berkeley in 2011, Alferos has acted as a key member of GBAC, first as vice president of marketing and now as the vice president of activities, helping organize community service events for student-athletes such as a beach clean-up, graffiti clean-up at the park, and College Sports Day, her personal favorite, which allows kids grades K-6 to have the opportunity to be coached in sports drills by Cal athletes.
"College Sports Day gives children and the community a chance to interact, and it puts a face to each sport," Alferos said.
Alferos’ community service involvement can be traced back to high school, where she attended weekly after-school clubs at Trabuco Hills. She was a member of the National Honor Society, an honor roll club dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service. She was also involved with recycling and clean-up organizations such as Surfrider Foundation, which focuses on the protection of oceans, waves and beaches, and Party for the Planet, a club that involves heavy student participation in recycling.
“Community service has always been really big for me since high school so I just wanted to make sure that I was still involved, helping out with the community, and just representing Cal in the best light,” Alferos said.
As vice president of activities this year, Alferos is able to focus more on the execution and details for each community service event, a role that she is thrilled to fill. Alferos has big goals for the GBAC such as more student involvement, as she credits the committee for helping her develop skills and get in touch with numerous student-athletes from multiple sports.
"I would recommend it for anyone who wants to do something more," Alferos said.
Alferos’ teammates also follow her in community service involvement as the women’s and men’s gymnastics teams currently lead the Cal athletic department in the Cal Cup, a point system that tracks Cal student-athletes’ participation in community service and athletic events.
“We’ve always been really involved in giving back,” Alferos said. “It’s part of the expectation to be involved in community service and help out in any way that we can.”
She has certainly benefited from being involved. Paul Savage, director of student-athlete affairs, helped Alferos navigate the post-graduation job search by giving her career advice as well as helping her prepare for an interview with Deloitte. Alferos eventually landed the position of senior audit assistant, which she will occupy after graduation.
"I'm excited because there are a lot of parallels between gymnastics and auditing as an occupation," Alferos said. "Auditing is an occupation of consistency."
As Alferos competes in her final season as a Golden Bear after being injured for two years, the senior reflects on the great opportunities presented to her as a Cal student-athlete and what she wants to accomplish in her final push.
“Since I wasn’t able to compete, I was able to put my time into other things like getting a job, doing community service, and helping out Cal Athletics in other ways, not just through my sport, but hopefully this year will be a good one to end on,” Alferos said.