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Cecil Skateboarding

Bryan Stevenson on Change

PCM-summer2016text58-web2_Page_11_Image_0001“For change, you have to get proximate. You have to change the narratives that are behind the problems that you’re trying to address—there’s a narrative behind the issues that we are dealing with. You have to be hopeful—that’s my third piece of advice. You cannot change things if you are hopeless about what you can do. That’s absolutely vital. And you have to be willing to do uncomfortable things. I don’t think anything changes when you only do what’s comfortable and convenient.”

—Acclaimed lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, spoke at Bridges Auditorium and conducted a master class at Pomona as part of the three-day Pomona College Criminal Justice Symposium held on campus in March.

The Accolades of Spring

As usual, springtime at Pomona brought news of a flurry of highly competitive student and graduate awards, including:


16 Fulbright Awards

7 Research Fellowships

  • Benjamin Cohen ’16 (Ukraine)
  • Madeleine Colvin ’16 (China)
  • Amelia DeSnoo ’16 (China)
  • Nathalie Folkerts ’16 (United Kingdom)
  • Alexandra Goss ’16 (declined in favor of Watson Fellowship)
  • Elisabeth Hanson ’16 (France)
  • Marek Zorawski ’16 (Poland)

9 English Teaching Assistantships

  • Angeli Bi ’16 (Colombia)
  • Jamila Espinosa ’16 (Portugal)
  • Mia Hahn ’16 (Taiwan)
  • Janet Herrera ’16 (Peru)
  • Nana-Korantema Koranteng ’16 (Bahrain)
  • Thuy Tien Le ’16 (South Korea)
  • Edmund Pacleb ’16 (Indonesia)
  • Isaac Levy-Rubinett ’16 (Colombia)
  • Duong (Cody) Thach ’16 (Vietnam)

2 Watson Fellowships

  • Harrison Goodall ’16 (Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, India)
  • Alexandra Goss ’16 (Argentina, Bolivia, Morocco, United Kingdom)

2 Downing Scholarships

  • Fiker Tadesse Bekele ’16
  • Conner Samuel Kummerlow ’16

3 Goldwater Scholarships

  • Tanner Byer ’17
  • Ziv Epstein ’17
  • Nathan Sandford ’17

2 Boren Scholarships

  • Dallon Asnes ’18 (India)
  • Eli Tanenbaum ’18 (Jordan)

President Oxtoby Plans to Step Down in 2017

President David Oxtoby portraitPresident David Oxtoby has announced plans to step down as president of Pomona College at the end of June 2017, bringing to a close what will then be a 14-year tenure. He informed the Board of Trustees of his plans at their February meeting to give the institution ample time to conduct a search for his successor.

“I am very proud of Pomona College and grateful for the years spent here, and for the successful conclusion of Campaign Pomona: Daring Minds,” he said in an email to the college community. “While I am considering opportunities I might pursue, my highest priority will remain leading this amazing institution in the months ahead. I am confident that the leadership and expertise of our faculty, the experience of our staff, the determination and talent of our students, and the time we have to partner together on shared goals will make this a smooth transition and allow us to remain focused on the critical work at hand. We also have so much to enjoy and learn each day on our campus and in our classrooms. I appreciate the support I received from Board members and I am committed to continuing to advance the College’s key priorities and the successful operations of the institution.”

Board Chair Sam Glick ’04 said the College will make plans to celebrate President Oxtoby’s many contributions to the College at an appropriate time. Meanwhile, he said, the Board will begin the task of choosing the 10th president of Pomona College. “Selecting a new leader is the highest duty a governing body has—a duty that my colleagues on the Board and I intend to carry out with humility and careful deliberation.” Glick said.

10-Minute Theatre

Students performing on stageFamily Weekend this year featured the world premiere of five new plays—each no more than 10 minutes long. The plays, written by members of the 5-college community around the theme of self-discovery, were all part of the eighth annual 10-Minute Play Festival, sponsored by Pomona’s Department of Theatre and Dance, organized by Carolyn Ratteray, visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance, who said the plays ranged “from the silly to the absurd, as well as the moving and the heartfelt.” At right, Peter Brown ’15 directs a group of Pomona actors in “While Away,” his play about three siblings dealing with the aftermath of their grandmother’s death, simultaneously bonding and fighting over her less-than-perfect legacy. Pictured, from left, are Rachel Tils ’19, Brown, Barbara Peisch ’19 and Ben Hogoboom ’19.

Michael J. Fox on Optimism

Professor Nicole Weekes and Michael J. Fox in conversation on-stage

“I just feel like if you throw a penny in the air a hundred times, at least 51 times it’s going to come up heads. It’s not that I’m blind to the possibilities. I’m not reckless, and I don’t put my family in jeopardy because—’Don’t worry. It’ll be okay. It’s just a bear. It’ll be okay. We’ll make friends.’ I can be pragmatic and realistic too, but I do believe that if we let it happen, it’ll happen the right way. And the times it doesn’t make you grateful for the times it does.”

—Actor, author and activist Michael J. Fox
in conversation with Neuroscience Professor Nicole Weekes
at Bridges Auditorium, Feb. 12, 2016


Tend Your Garden

A three-month agricultural calendarSpring is here, and the Organic Farm is bustling, as Pomona students welcome the season by following Voltaire’s advice to “tend your garden.” According to Farm Manager Scott Fleeman, March harvests have already included kale, collards, broccoli, Swiss chard, radishes, snap peas, fava beans, bunching onions and tangerines, as well as the first artichokes. Here’s a partial harvest schedule for the rest of the spring:

Treasured Map

Professors Robert Gaines and Jade Star Lackey lean over the map

Professors Robert Gaines and Jade Star Lackey examine the restored map.

Two centuries ago, surveyor and geologist William Smith completed the ambitious task of mapping the geology of an entire nation. His detailed, hand-colored geological maps of England and Wales, published in 1815, changed the course of geology and remain among the field’s most treasured artifacts. (One of the remaining maps was recently made available for sale in Great Britain for £150,000.)

So it’s something of a feather in the cap of Pomona’s Geology Department that it is the proud owner of not one, but two of the historic maps. And with the bicentennial of the map’s release last year, one of them was brought out of safekeeping in the Special Collections of Honnold-Mudd Library to be restored.

“Because of the bicentennial, we felt it was the right time to renovate the map,” says Geology Professor and Chair of the Geology Department Jade Star Lackey. “It’s a great piece of history that we think all geology majors should be able to come and see.”

Because of the map’s size (more than two and a half meters wide), the restorers had to set up an aluminum platform over the top of the map to work from. Even so, the conservation process took nearly two months, including dry cleaning front and back, removal of a damaged cloth backing, wet cleaning, lining with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste, and mending tears.

The result is impressive to behold, not just for the brilliant and colorful detail in drawing and watercolor, but also for the rich history and monumental shift it caused in the field of geology.

“The map is a turning point of understanding that the pattern of nature has an order, that resources like coal or limestone are not just randomly scattered about the surface of the Earth,” says Geology Professor Robert Gaines. “This map actually makes predictions about what’s going on underground, and it suggests there is a recognizable order.”

I Speak Karaoke

A singing silhouette with many countries' flags Song requests for a recent Karaoke Klub Nite included: Vicente Fernandez’s “El Rey” in Spanish, Aamir Khan’s “Mitwa” in Hindi, Les Cowboys Fringants’ “En Berne” in Canadian French, and a few Demi Lovato and Celine Dion songs thrown in for good measure.

The once-per-semester celebration brings together international and domestic students to belt out songs in Hindi, Spanish, French, English and other languages.

“International students can sing the songs they really love from back home without feeling guilty about it,” says ISMP Head Mentor Chihiro Tamefusa ’16, who says the discomfort comes from singing in another language that others might not understand. But at karaoke night, she says, everyone can sing whatever song they want. “International students can feel comfortable singing, and for non-international students who are learning a language, they can practice and learn more,” she adds.

Hosted by the International Student Mentoring Program (ISMP) and Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages, the event is open to all students from The Claremont Colleges.

“It is an incredibly fun environment with international and American students singing songs they don’t know in languages they don’t speak,” says Lazaros Chalkias ’16, an ISMP member.

An Observer in Paris


“Massive, exciting, chaotic and a bit overwhelming.” That’s how Olivia Voorhis ’16 described her time as an official observer of COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change held last December in Paris, where delegates of 195 countries came together to try once again to negotiate a global climate agreement.

In halls she describes as “the size of jet hangers,” she encountered languages and dress from around the globe and attended dozens of lectures and panels and a range of side events. “There were thousands upon thousands of people, from scientists and researchers to activists, media and government representatives,” she says.

In all, she spent a week in Paris, focusing mainly on ways in which World Wide Views, a global citizen consultation initiative, might become a more effective part of the international policy-making process.

She doubts that the COP21 agreement, which was signed after she left Paris, will achieve everything environmentalists had hoped for, but she believes the conference is a step forward becasue it focused global attention on the problems. “I think the global community left COP21 with admirable goals,” she says, “but now comes the extremely difficult and politically contentious work of implementation.”

Language & Relationships

Student Ani Alyce Schug ’17 works with housekeeping staff members Rosario Osorio and Beatriz Tovar on an English lesson

Student Ani Alyce Schug ’17 (center) works with housekeeping staff members Rosario Osorio and Beatriz Tovar on an English lesson.

Mastering a second language is no easy feat, but it gets easier when you have help. At Pomona College, employees wishing to learn or improve their English have been getting assistance from students for more than 10 years now.

Employees gain language skills and students learn teaching skills, but at the core of the program are the relationships developed between students and the employees who often work in the background in housekeeping, dining services and grounds and are integral in keeping the College running smoothly.

Math major Luis Antonio Espino ’18, a student coordinator for the program, joined for very personal reasons. “As a first-generation immigrant, I grew up being a translator for my parents,” he says. “I dealt with the troubles of having to go to the doctor and seeing my parents struggle through that. That was one of the reasons I was interested in the doing the ESL program.”

Espino says that while in college, students are encouraged to develop strong ties with faculty, but he sees connecting with staff members as equally important. “One of the goals is to bridge that gap and have students recognize everyone’s equal worth,” he says.

Ani Alyce Schug ’17, a politics major who studies Arabic, Spanish and Swahili and grew up speaking Armenian, is in her second year as a student coordinator for the program, which is run by the Draper Center for Community Partnerships.

“It’s one of my favorite parts of being at Pomona,” says Schug, adding that while the majority of employees choose to learn English, some are looking for help in areas such as computers and GED prep.

“This is my first time taking ESL classes,” says Rosario Osorio, who emigrated from Mexico 12 years ago and now works in housekeeping. “We, unfortunately, arrive to this country to work and don’t have the financial means to go to school and take classes because we must immediately find work, and we have children to raise. But thanks to students at Pomona, we have this opportunity and we should take advantage of it.”