On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, alum Angela Berry Roberson, ‘90, Senior Advisor of the Departmental Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Transportation, spoke with students about her experiences at Rice and her path to Washington, D.C.
With the support of her parents, Berry Roberson came to Rice with the intent of studying engineering. When she realized her passions were elsewhere, Berry Roberson decided to double major in political science and history. She recounted that one of the most meaningful experiences at Rice was meeting people from all different walks of life.
"That actually helped in my understanding that we are all different, but we are all the same, and it’s important to respect each other's cultures and perspectives,” said Berry Roberson. “Rice not only impacted me academically but also developmentally."
After graduation, Berry Roberson took a gap year to work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she found a love for environmental justice, advocacy, and helping people. She then attended law school at Georgetown University, an experience she credits Rice with preparing her for. Law School helped to refine Berry Roberson’s career path by instilling in her a desire to help those who are unable to help themselves with the laws that can affect change.
Throughout her career, Berry Roberson accepted positions that took her in different directions and allowed her to grow, having worked in the public and private sectors in every mode of transportation. Berry Roberson noted the time she accepted a program director position in Cleveland, Ohio, an unfamiliar territory for her.
“Sometimes you’ve got to zig to zag,” advised Berry Roberson. “Leave your comfort zone to try to better yourself and explore what you can do, and always know your value and know what you can do – especially as women, and especially as women of color.”
The key lesson from Berry Roberson was that she would not be where she is today had she not taken advantage of all the meaningful opportunities that came her way. In October 2023, Berry Roberson was sworn in to serve in her current position as the senior advisor in the Departmental Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"If you can find something that you're passionate about and make it a career, it's the best,” said Berry Roberson. “I love getting to do what I do. I know the impact that it has, and that is just so fulfilling."
The Frances Anne Moody-Dahlberg Gateway Program provides experiential and co-curricular opportunities for Social Sciences undergraduates to apply what they learn in the classroom to real life. Our internships and practica, research, international programs, and events are designed to lead our majors to a thoughtful path to career development and self-discovery. Thus, prior to graduation, social sciences students have an idea what it takes to build networks and become leaders in academia and the workforce.