Against All Odds

couple rainbow2.pngWhat do you want to do with your life?

Or, rather, what are you studying to become? As Berkeley City College students, the path before us is vast and full of opportunity. From where we are now, we could become literally anything, do any job, make any amount of money. And BCC is as good a place as any to start. It’s been done before.

The Peralta Community College District — and the four colleges it operates: Berkeley City College, Laney, Merritt and the College of Alameda — have produced a fair amount of noteworthy alumni.

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, co-founders of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (later shortened to the Black Panthers), met at an Afro-American Association meeting on the campus of Merritt College during the 1960s. They formed the organization to secure protection and equal rights for African Americans. According to the biography “Africa Within,” Newton is credited with helping to add the first African-American history course to Peralta’s curriculum.

Frank Oz was studying journalism at Laney College when he was hired by “Muppets” creator Jim Henson, according to an interview with People Magazine. He went on to provide the voice for some of the most famous characters in movies and TV, including Yoda from the “Star Wars” saga; Bert, Grover and the Cookie Monster on “Sesame Street;” as Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Animal on “The Muppet Show;” and as an actor in the movies “The Blues Brothers” and “Trading Places.”

Master P, the rapper otherwise known as Percy Robert Miller, whose $350 million net worth makes him the third-richest hip-hop artist of all time, according to Forbes Magazine, started at Merritt College.

Peralta has also produced its share of professional athletes, with six members of the NFL, along with Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Glenn Burke, the first major league baseball player to publicly identify as homosexual.

Even U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums, who served in the House of Representatives before being elected Mayor of Oakland, started here. Though it could be argued that Mr. Dellums was more infamous than famous.

Certainly, these results are uncommon. The odds of becoming a Hollywood movie star are roughly 1 in 1.5 million. But, simply through the law of averages, more of our students will someday become famous. And in the end, we’re all in control of our own destinies.

And if that doesn’t give you some perspective, here are the chances of finding yourself in some high-profile positions, along with a few other random odds of things happening to you in this world, courtesy of the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, Forbes Magazine, “The Book of Odds,” by Amram Shapiro, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. National Safety Council:

  • Hit by a meteor 1 in 182 trillion
  • Winning the Powerball jackpot 1 in 292 million
  • Killed by vending machine 1 in 114 million
  • Bitten by a shark 1 in 11.5 million
  • Elected President of the U.S. 1 in 10 million
  • Killed by a tornado 1 in 5.5 million
  • Becoming a movie star 1 in 1.5 million
  • Struck by lightning 1 in 1 million
  • Dying in a bathtub 1 in 840,000
  • Crushed by a meteor 1 in 700,000
  • Dealt a royal flush in poker 1 in 650,000
  • Becoming a YouTube star 1 in 500,000
  • Becoming a professional athlete 1 in 24,000
  • Injured by a toilet 1 in 10,000
  • Dying in a car accident 1 in 6,700
  • Writing a best-selling novel 1 in 220
  • Marrying a millionaire 1 in 215
  • Having sex before you go to bed tonight 1 in 3
  • Dying from heart disease 1 in 3

So, regardless of where you want your journey to end, the odds you’re already in the best place to start are pretty good.


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