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Master of Real Estate Development + Design

Courtney Bell

Dear MRED+D Class of 2020,

As we wrap up our year it is surreal to reflect on my time at CED. I feel like I just got here. It was only eleven months ago that we dove head first into our summer semester and it felt like we had the campus to ourselves. We all took leaps of faith coming to UC Berkeley for a brand-new program; leaving our homes, our families, our spouses and friends for an experience with a fair amount of unknowns. We left paychecks and routines that were certainly more guaranteed and predictable. Still, we all arrived ready and eager for the challenge.

It was on the very first day that the bonding began – almost as if the process of becoming close friends was one of the program requirements. At the end now, I can happily say I didn’t just meet 24 classmates, I made 24 friends. My experience this year would not have been nearly as fulfilling without each and every one of you.

There have been times in my life where I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into or what was around the next corner, but those experiences have always ended up being the most rewarding. Diving head first into something, even when you don’t feel quite ready, is a sure path to growth.

Our year in the MRED+D program taught us so much more than just the technical real estate skills we signed up for; it also taught us how to deal with uncertainty. It not only forced us to be productive in the face of changing rules and requirements, but it taught us to thrive in it. In addition to being resilient, we’ve learned finance and design skills that have rounded out our talents and strengths. We’ve worked through the iterative development and design process and understand how one can strengthen the other. As we learned from our professors and guest speakers and heard at countless industry events, real estate development takes guts and stamina.

Navigating the uncharted waters of a new program is not unlike navigating a real estate development project. There is no exact recipe to follow, and there is no guarantee the rules won’t change along the way. Instead you must lean on those around you, trust your instincts and use your stamina to get to the finish line. As MRED+D graduates, we are uniquely positioned for this work. We have been challenged, we have competed, and we have all pushed each other to be our best.

Right now, the working world doesn’t look like the one we left eleven months ago. While some may be feeling anxious about its unprecedented state and not feeling quite prepared to re-enter it – we can trust in our already proven ability to navigate the uncertain and come out stronger on the other side.

Courtney Bell – MRED+D ‘20