Famulener, Diggs Prepare for Life after Cal

Nov. 11, 2003

BERKELEY - If there were a succinct way to characterize Conor Famulener and A.J. Diggs, it would be to say that both are opportunists.

Coming out of high school, neither Famulener nor Diggs were offered scholarships to attend Cal. In fact, neither was asked to join the basketball team. Instead, both were told to get into Cal on their own merit, and should they accomplish that feat, they would be given the chance to walk on to the team.

But, of course, the invitation was not stamped with any sort of guarantee.

'All I could offer was the opportunity,' said associated head coach Louis Reynaud, 'and they made the most of the opportunity.'

Not only were Famulener and Diggs offered spots on the team as freshmen, they also earned themselves scholarships in their junior years.

Now in their final year on the team and at Cal, the two former walk-ons continue to lead and achieve through their commitment and diligence. This past summer, the seniors extended these characteristics beyond the walls of Haas Pavilion, as they looked to the possibilities in store for life after basketball.

Famulener always thought being a commercial real estate agent was a lucrative profession. Influenced by his roommate's dad, who got to make his own hours and coach his son's little league team, Famulener was intrigued to learn more about making it a career.

Alternating days between workouts with the team, Famulener got himself an internship with CB Richard Ellis. While the internship was unpaid, it afforded Famulener the chance to learn whether or not the self-motivated profession was a perfect fit for him.

In addition to being given day-to-day tasks, Famulener sat in on numerous meetings and asked as many questions as possible in order to get a firm grasp of what the job entailed. By the end of summer, he had accomplished his goal.

'I definitely realized that's what I want to do with the rest of my life,' Famulener said. 'It more than exceeded my expectations and I just fell in love with it. It really takes a load off my back, going into my senior year, knowing that I know what I want to do.'

Channeling his enthusiasm and internship experience, he also used the summer to establish more connections within the Bay Area. Looking at the profiles of agents on a number of real estate websites, Famulener contacted all those who were Cal alumni and set up over 15 interviews to talk about possible job opportunities.

Whereas he initially walked into the interviews unsure of what lingo to use and what questions to ask, by the end, Famulener was, once again, passing with flying colors.

'I started to really impress people and myself as well,' he said.

It took a little more prodding for Diggs to decide how to spend his summer. With the rest of his teammates - including the new freshmen - staying behind in Berkeley to work out and get acquainted, jetting to the other side of the country to take grad-level courses wasn't high on Diggs' summer to-do list.

But his mother made a convincing case for the latter, strongly advocating Diggs to look into the Public Policy International Affairs fellowship program at Princeton.

'For my size, the way I've come to Cal, and all the things I've been through, she told me there are other options than basketball,' Diggs said.

As Diggs researched the highly-competitive and prestigious program that has helped pave the way for underrepresented students in the realm of public policy, he realized the windows of opportunity it would open up for him.

'Once I started learning about the program and learned what I'd get from it in the future, it was a no-brainer for me,' he said.

Only a week after his last final ended, Diggs packed his bags and headed for Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs to begin a rigorous seven-week program.

With four classes - a policy seminar on consolidating democracy in Iraq, another policy seminar on inequalities in education, a statistics class and an economics class - Diggs and his 32 peers in the program lived and breathed public policy. In addition, the PPIA students often interacted with numerous influential individuals, including ambassadors and mayors of cities, who further impressed upon them their potential to diversify the policy-making process.

For the sociology major, PPIA gave him new focus for the future - attaining a joint master's degree in public policy and business administration.

'It was a great program because it kind of gave me a kick in the butt and told me these are the necessary steps you need to take to get ready for graduate school,' he said.

While both Famulener and Diggs' experiences over the summer pointed them in the direction they eventually intend to pursue, their plans following the completion of their final season and year at Cal are nowhere close to set in stone.

All that remains certain is that neither of them will be working desk jobs or starting grad studies right away.

'I don't want to start next year, working 9 to 5 for the rest of my life, because I'm going to be doing it eventually,' Famulener said.

Instead, the two are taking it one day at a time and will let this year's season dictate what becomes of them next year. Both Famulener and Diggs have expressed ambitions of playing professionally overseas, but neither has given it much thought beyond that, instead putting their individual goals and future plans on hold for the time being.

'Right now I'm just focusing on the season,' Famulener said. 'Every day I come to work out and think what else can I do today. I don't want to regret anything tomorrow and I just ask myself what I can do to make myself better today, and what can I do to make the team better. As long as I take it on a day-to-day basis, it'll pay off.'

And with this outlook that has gotten these two seniors to where they are today, their goals for the year should be well within reach. Beating Arizona. Winning the Pac-10 Championship. Being the first class of seniors to go the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. Finishing their college careers with a trip to the Alamo Dome.

By Seoyoung Alison Kim

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