Contra Costa County students attending UC Berkeley or DVC are eligible to receive up to a $500 stipend to cover book costs this coming school year. (Photo courtesy of Christopher)

Back in the mid-1980s when Kevin Murray transferred from Diablo Valley College (DVC) to University of California, Berkeley, he experienced firsthand the sticker shock a hefty textbook bill can bring, a feeling most incoming Cal students experience as well.  

“Books are a big expense for most students, and even with scholarships, most kids are spending $400 to $500 a semester for books at Cal,” said Murray, now a successful Martinez-based realtor. 

That’s why he and his wife, Renee, who co-own the Web4Homes online realtor site, are offering up to $500 for a semester’s worth of books for either a Cal freshman from Contra Costa County or a DVC student transferring to the school.

To apply, students must submit a 500-word essay about what attending UC Berkeley/DVC means to them and their future; a 300-word paragraph describing the types of community service projects he or she has participated in; and 200 words on someone the student admires in his or her community.

“If we have some impressive applications, we might come up with funding for more than one winner,” the business owner said.

Murray, who earned a business degree at Cal, plans on evaluating scholarship applications in the spirit of his favorite professor at the school, George Concannon.   

“George admired brevity and directness,” Murray said of his professor. “He was the least politically correct professor in the Cal business school. And one of my proudest moments was when it was he who handed me my diploma in 1988.”

In addition to the textbook scholarship program, Murray enjoys helping students learn about one of his passions: the supposedly lost art of film photography. As a collector of vintage cameras himself, Murray stated that “college kids are really into film photography,” but the cameras aren’t always easy to find. So the realtor taps into his network, connecting collectors or dealers looking to off-load some inventory with college film photography classes across the country. He even knows where to get Polaroid film. 

Go online for more information on applying for the scholarship, or to view Murray’s vintage film camera collection.