From such destinations as Copenhagen, Paris and Seoul in the fall to those and others including Amman, Jordan, and Yaoundé, Cameroon, in the spring, Pomona students dotted the globe as study abroad continued to rebound this academic year.
About 150 students studied in more than two dozen countries in what is now known as study away, which includes U.S. opportunities now managed by the Office of International and Domestic Programs. This spring also marked the relaunch of Pomona College’s international programs in Cambridge, England; Cape Town, South Africa; and the one led by Anthropology Professor Arlen Chase in Caracol, Belize.
One twist: A large number of seniors studied abroad after earlier plans were disrupted by the pandemic shutdown of programs in fall 2020 and spring 2021, followed by their gradual resumption.
“I know that in our fall 2022 class, I think around 35% of them were seniors and normally we would have maybe one senior,” says Nicole Desjardins Gowdy, senior director of international and domestic programs, noting some students also took gap semesters or years to preserve their chance to study internationally.
About half of Pomona students study abroad by the time they graduate, typically in their junior year. To ensure equal access, the College charges the same fees for a semester or year away as for studying on campus and extends financial aid allowances for that time.
International study also can offer expanded opportunities for academic achievement. Kiya Henderson ’23 recently received the Forum on Education Abroad’s prestigious Award for Academic Achievement Abroad for her paper, “A Retrospective Analysis of Maternal Mortality in Kisumu, Kenya from March 2021 to March 2022,” based on research while studying in the School for International Training’s program in global health and human rights in Kenya. It was the second time in three years that a Pomona student has won the honor from the international organization.
“One thing that can be surprising is how much you grow as a person in study away,” Gowdy says of international experiences. When students return, she says she sometimes notices a difference even in their physical appearance. “They’re carrying themselves in a new way. They’re more confident. They’ve had experience navigating different environments and worldviews,” she says.
Pomona’s study abroad program is marking its 50th anniversary at the College, which established an office and named the first director of international programs in 1973.