Brian Patrick Gialketsis (1995-2019) was a beloved part of the SERC/TGIF community at UC Berkeley. An avid environmentalist his whole life, Brian worked towards a more sustainable, environmentally and socially just world. He was a loving cat dad, blossoming disc jockey, music festival queen, social media aficionado, and an incredible mentor, colleague, and friend to all. As a student at UC Berkeley, Brian pursued his passion for the environment, by working on a TGIF grant to advance zero waste on campus with Cal Zero Waste. It was through this grant, he began his career in sustainability and higher education. In 2015, Brian was hired as a TGIF Program Associate and supported the team with social media and the TGIF referendum campaign renewal, helping the program successfully renew for an additional ten years. Brian graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017, and began his career as TGIF and Sustainability Initiatives Coordinator. In his role as TGIF Coordinator, Brian centered environmental justice to be an integral part of TGIF, and successfully piloted TGIF’s first Environmental Justice Grant Cycle, taking on the necessary work of institutionalizing environmental justice at SERC/TGIF.
“ It’s no surprise that Brian was drawn to other great thinkers grappling with the power of language–as you will hear, he cites Nietzsche and Foucault and Bourdieu not just in his academic papers, but in his life. His attempt to understand words, and this power they possess, infused his approach to so many of his other passions, from the music he made and concerts he attended, to the endless grant proposals and panel presentations he wrote to spread his message about social and environmental justice.”
“We know Brian loved words because Brian’s words are everywhere. Brian wrote like he was running out of time. He loved stories, and he loved the magic of storytelling. He knew it was important for us to tell our stories, no matter how difficult it might be to do so. His facebook page is chock full of observations both silly and sublime. His instagram and snapchat stories were ever present features of so many of our digital lives. Brian lived his life fully and he never stopped telling about it.”
– Aaron C. Smyth, Friend and Colleague
“When his spirits were down and his identity shaken, he self-reflected and explored the depths of his soul and mind, strengthening the virtue of resilience he so admired. Like the dragonfly he adored, Brian lived life in techno-color, agile and fast. He, like the dragonfly, was the symbol of “courage, strength, and happiness.”
– Ramona Nadaff, Brian’s Rhetoric Professor
“He was the lungs as he gave us the air, the fuel we needed, the love we needed to move forward, and where lungs are the entity that allows oxygen to pass, and carbon dioxide to be removed ; he removed fear, worry, the bad emissions for our team, and passed that along for us to see things with joy, love, humor and life. He was one who always lived his best life and found joy in all that came to him and inspired us to do the same.”
– Sharon Daraphohndeth
Quotes from Brian:
“Self care is an act of resilience. This is something I’ve learned and continue to learn the hard way in a myriad of settings and stories of my life. Our identities matter, and our ability to cross cultural lines, particularly when it pushes us into uncomfortable circumstances, allows us to grow and thrive.”
“Moving forward, I would like to be more intentional about where I choose to place my energy and time and to also ensure that I don’t burn myself out by continuing to be a “yes” person. While taking on new initiatives and projects has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally, I don’t want to grow at the expense of my sustainable emotional and physical health.”
“These events where thousands attend to share a musical / bodily experience of revelry seem to be a gateway to the community and sense of primordial unity that Nietzsche discusses. This aerial drone footage is from a Coachella 2015 DJ Set by Kaskade, which I was lucky enough to be at in person (and towards the front of, too). Hope you enjoy if you haven’t seen it yet!”
-Blog post, Philosophy of Music, March 3rd, 2016
To honor Brian, TGIF/SERC started the Brian Gialketsis SERQueer Scholarship to support queer-identifying environmentalists at UC Berkeley. Please read more about our scholarship here.