Mecca Shakoor-Cook

Job title: 
L&S Assistant Director
Bio/CV: 

Title: Assistant Director, L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising

About Mecca

Joined the L&S Office of Undergraduate Advising in
January 2020

What is your approach to advising?
I want to provide a supportive, comfortable environment where students can communicate their concerns and know I am there to support them, explain policy, and provide options with a clear discussion of the pros and cons.

Education

M.Ed. Urban Education, Holy Names University, 2013
MFA, Graphic Design, Howard University, 2002
BA Architecture, minor in African American Studies, UC Berkeley, 1998

How did you get here?
As an undergrad at UC Berkeley, all of my jobs were in education and supporting students.  I naturally gravitated toward working with students.  I was active on campus as part of UC Berkeley’s Black Recruitment and Retention Center (BRRC), doing workshops for middle school and high school students, and the Black Environmental Design Students Association (BEDSA). These two student groups were passionate about giving back and cultivating the next generation of students.  In addition to my student group involvement, I participated in the Striving for Excellence program at Carter Middle School in Oakland, the Break The Cycle Program at Malcolm X Elementary, worked several summers as an instructor in the Eureka program with Girls Inc. of Alameda County, served as the Reading Room Clerk for the African American Studies Reading Room, supported phone banking efforts for admitted students at the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, worked at UC Berkeley Extension as a Customer Service Associate/Cashier, then later as a Program Assistant for a certificate program in the Education Department, and worked as a STIP Substitute for Oakland Unified School District.  I always enjoyed interacting with students, encouraging them, and found I could successfully explain challenging policies. 

It took me a while to find a fulfilling career path.  I loved design and majored in it, but I did not necessarily get personal fulfillment in my career in design. It did not occur to me until much later to seek a career in education and student support services.  That process of reinvention, shifting, and having transferable skills is something I can pull from when working with students who are uncertain of what they want to do. I know what that is and I enjoy helping them determine what will bring them joy. 

What's your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is finding, sparking, or cultivating joy.  That can be supporting colleagues, simplifying a process or system, or helping students figure out how to achieve their goals.

What's the best class you've ever taken?
The best class I took was an African Theater class taught by beloved UC Berkeley professor, Dr. Ve’Ve’ Clark, who has transitioned in power.  A friend told me freshman year that Dr. Clark was a phenomenal professor and she was right!  I tried to take the only class that was available to me at the time as a freshman and it was an upper-division class.  Dr. Clark verified that I could handle the coursework and allowed me to remain in the class.  Being in the class with Dr. Clark and those upperclassmen was a motivating and supportive experience.  I was overjoyed to have content on the African Diaspora taught in Dr. Clark’s dynamic style.  I also learned so much by the upperclassmen in that class who embraced me as a little sister.

Most unusual job you ever had?
It was not quite a “paid” job, but I hosted a few episodes of a Berkeley public access television talk show.  My classmates and friends were film majors, tasked with producing a few episodes, and asked me to host.  I did not even realize that I should have been nervous!  I did it, and it was such a fun and enriching experience.  I never thought anyone would even see an episode until one day I was walking to class and a campus staff person recognized me from the show!

About me
I love music, culture, art, clothes, comics, movies, sports, museums, food, and generally most forms of creative expression.

What advice do you have for L&S students in general?
1. My advice is never be ruled by fear or the unknown. Ask questions, express what you would like, and be unapologetic about your right to be here. 

2. Know that drop deadlines are there for a reason.  It informs you that it is possible to change your mind about a class or a major.  A campus like UC Berkeley has so much to offer and you have so many options and opportunities you can take advantage of.