Marcia Breslin Cantillana was born in Santiago, Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship. Growing up in an environment of extreme political violence, censorship, and social unrest, she developed a deeply held belief in the sanctity of human rights, social inclusion, and self expression. After college and the end of the Pinochet regime, Marcia left Chile to pursue a dance career that was always driven by these core beliefs.
As Marcia was beginning to retire from performing, she enrolled in community college and eventually transferred to UC Berkeley to pursue a degree in History. After graduation, she began working for the Transfer, Re-entry, and Student Parent Center, where she discovered a passion for serving students through programs that foster equity and inclusion. Marcia followed this passion in her eleven years as an admissions officer in the Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Admissions. During this time, Marcia had the opportunity to complete a Fellowship at the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), while also supporting mentorship programs housed by Stiles Hall and the Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence (CE3).
Currently, Marcia is thrilled to be a new member of ESS as a Student Engagement Manager. Since dance has always been a passion of hers, she also teaches ballet at the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, where she continues to be driven by the foundational principles of equity and inclusion in the arts.
What exciting projects are you working on?
I’m currently working to create a new BMC cohort to support students who face academic struggles. In partnership with EOP, I hope to launch the Resilience Family Program in Spring 2023. This student cohort will receive peer mentoring and professional staff support to nurture wellness and academic success. My goal is to support the Resilience Family in building an even deeper sense of community and belonging into the Berkeley Engineering experience.
What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?
Higher education changed my life, and that’s why I feel so passionate about mentoring programs. I truly believe that guidance and support can have a positive impact on students’ experiences, on their personal and educational outcomes. We all have so many different backgrounds; when we are willing to share and learn from each other, we give ourselves a real opportunity to be better.
Besides your work, what’s something that you’re passionate about?
I love my family! I love traveling, the ocean, and the outdoors. I also feel passionate about animal rights and the health of our planet and its ecosystems.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would learn more languages! And how to play the violin, surf and snowboard.