2013 Senior Thesis Awards

Alison Espinosa-Setchko

Healing and Social Change

Inspired by and in collaboration with Tessa Hicks-Peterson’s course “Healing Ourselves and Healing Our Communities,” Alison Espinosa-Setchko ’13 is working in collaboration with Amber Neaves ’13 and Jacey Rubinstein ‘13, for her Senior Capstone Project to initiate a long-term, collaborative, community project. Together they are inviting the Claremont community (and beyond) to co-create an intentional community of care and solidarity committed to exploring creative approaches to personal and social healing and transformation. Their Capstone Project is a three-part initiative, with (1) community discussion and peer led workshops, (2) a series of lectures and workshops led by artists/activists/healers, and lastly (3) collective performance/community action.In an effort to expand the focus of Pitzer College, they aim to learn not only what ‘needs’ to be changed, but also explore ‘how to’ creatively imagine and effectively implement change in a manner that empowers individuals and the community, and that sees the crucial role of self-realization through creative expression.


Rachel Conrad

River Basin Engineering: Dammed at What Cost?

The private company Hidrotambo S.A. invested in and planned the San José del Tambo hydroelectric project to be built on the Dulcepamba River in southern Bolívar Province, Ecuador. The company has been pushing to construct their project ever since its investment, but it has been delayed due to human rights violations and protest by local communities. If/when completed, the project will block the inhabitants of the Dulcepamba River watershed—where 40,000 people reside and the vast majority are farmers—from over 90% of the watershed’s waters, for at least 50 years. The purpose of Rachel’s thesis is to tell the story of the San José del Tambo hydroelectric project and to connect this case to the forces at work behind river-basin engineering at the expense of local communities and food sovereignty across Ecuador. She will connect this extractive project to the political, legal, and economic roots and drivers behind community impacts of small-scale hydroelectric projects in Ecuador. Her thesis will hopefully serve as a detailed critique of the San José del Tambo project specifically, and also as a picture of the drivers behind this increasingly all-too-common problem. A narrative of this injustice, with new information gathered from interviews and research, will hopefully be valuable to the struggle.

2010 Senior Thesis Awards

Lizette Ceja-Urena

Policing in Immigrant Communities: El establecimiento de “una casería humana”

This thesis is a culmination of oral histories collected from Latina residents in the City of Mariposa regarding traffic enforcement checkpoints. This study interrogates the developing intersections of differential inclusion and forms of criminalization by exploring the experiences of a collective of primarily working-class Mexican immigrant women. Likewise, centering the activities of the women, this work considers how organizing is informed by race/ethnicity, citizenship status, class and gender. The organizing strategies practiced combined gendered and raced expectations of women with political activism, infusing inclusive community engagement. Inspired by these interviews, I locate these traffic enforcement strategies within a broader historic and contemporary context of (im)migration policies and anti-immigrant resurgence. An analysis of this community collective, contributes to our understanding of how Latinas, in their homes, schools, and communities, act in politicized and transformative way to exercise resistance and seek justice for their children and larger community. Key to this thesis is the relationship between policy, social institutions and people’s lived experiences in an effort to challenge the normative conceptualization of policy making that continually reinforce systemic forms of inequality.

Charlotte Pickett

Family Planning Across Borders: The Influence of Reproductive Health Education
and Services on the lives of immigrant populations

The collision of individual rights with government demographic priorities takes on new meaning when one considers programs and services available to immigrant populations. By comparing the experiences of Nicaraguan immigrants living in Costa Rica with Mexican immigrants living in California, this investigation illuminates both differences and patterns that arise as a result of globalization. Drawn from interviews conducted during study abroad, personal experience interning at a hospital in LA County, and a review of the literature, this research combined Charlotte's interests in medicine and Spanish language. Her thesis exposes reproductive health as a site of identity negotiation, inseparable from culture, politics, biology, and processes that connect both local and global interests.

2008 Senior Thesis Awards

Anna Spector

Anna Spector

Youth at Risk and Juvenile Detention: A Cross Cultural Comparative Study

Research was conducted at Ikago Center School of Industry, the first and only juvenile rehabilitation center in Molepolole, Botswana and at Camps Afflerbaugh-Paige High School for incarcerated juveniles in La Verne, California. This study examines how these two societies use detention as a means for dealing with the global at-risk youth population: young people who struggle with complexities including delinquency. Additional library research focuses on what factors contribute to the international at-risk youth population, the existing problems within juvenile justice systems and the treatment of youth, as well as alternative rehabilitation programs and theories that have proven to be successful. From the collected narratives of the young people in Botswana and Camps Afflerbaugh-Paige High School, their stories share insight into the lives of at-risk youth.

Danielle J. Brown

Danielle Brown

Intersecting Lines Will Meet at Some Point

A collection of poems; a meditation on the power of the written and spoken word as a means to challenge and question institutional thought, heteronormativity, colorism, and other social stigmas. My work hearkens back to the poetry of Nikki Giovanni, a Black feminist poet of the 1960s, and the performance poetry of Staceyann Chin, a queer feminist activist of mixed race. As community outreach is integral to my experience here at Pitzer, I've attended and performed at several public readings on and off campus; this past semester I've managed to attend readings by poet Staceyann Chin, Black queer filmmaker Cheryl Dunye, Pomona College's acclaimed poet, Claudia Rankine and Def Jam poet Ishle Yi Park. Having the unique experience of getting to know Ishle Yi Park was truly inspirational, as she taught me how performing my poems publicly is just as effective, if not more than the written word in mobilizing individuals. I intend to continue reading my poetry publicly and to distribute them in chapbook format.

Holly Carpenter

Holly Carpenter

The Mexico City Policy: Social and Environmental Consequences

My thesis has gone through a number of evolutions-narrowing the topic further and further in an attempt to reach a manageable undertaking. The final draft is entitled-The Mexico City Policy: Social and Environmental Consequences, and details just what this suggests. The Mexico City Policy is a ban on USAID foreign aid funding for NGOs that are in any way associated with abortion, and pertains highly to my interests in population and environmental issues. The thesis was complemented by my work at Planned Parenthood in Pomona, CA, where I volunteer weekly. It was a fascinating endeavor to write so much on a topic that deeply interests me, and I feel like it turned out well. Hopefully in future years I can use the knowledge gained from this thesis by working in the population aid field.

Jessica MacMartin

Jessica MacMartin

Un avance y una manera de exclusión: la educación intercultural bilingue en el Ecuador

My senior thesis is a continuation of the Directed Independent Study Project I completed while abroad in Ecuador Fall of 2006. This investigation and project looks at the state of intercultural bilingual education in Ecuador. Ecuador is a multi-faceted nation with a complex and tumultuous history. The indigenous peoples of Ecuador have been excluded for centuries but have recently been receiving the attention, power, and resources they deserve. Through the Indigenous Movement was born the program of intercultural bilingual education between Quichua and Spanish. This program created a bridge between these different cultures and sectors of Ecuadorian society. Through interviews, fieldwork, and extensive research in Ecuador as well as the United States, this investigation attempts to answer if intercultural bilingual education is truly an advancement, or simply another tool to perpetuate exclusion. This project was unique in that I expanded on my research from abroad, looking critically at that research and project and drawing further more informed conclusions. All in all, I believe that the program of intercultural bilingual education can be the catalyst for change to a more equal society, but only if it receives the attention and necessary changes to realize that potential.

Kirsten Brewer

Kirsten Brewer

Environmental Bilingual Education, or Educación Ambiental Bilingüe

My senior project, Environmental Bilingual Education, or Educación Ambiental Bilingüe, effectively integrates my two majors Environmental Studies and Spanish and Pitzer's core values of social responsibility. I travel twice weekly to Azusa, California: to assistant teach in a bilingual kindergarten and to tutor a student in her home. Writing my thesis I have learned of the value of native language instruction for young bilinguals. I am very proud that I have been able to offer support to this program and to their class teacher Maria Villegas, also a Pitzer grad.


Leah Newman

Leah Newman

What Now?: An Educational Video for the Young Men at the California Youth Authority

My project is an instructional video about reentry to society after youth incarceration to be shown in the classrooms at the Division of Juvenile Justice in Chino, CA. The project began by interviewing 5 wards at the Hemen G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility. From them we learned what was frightening about the prospect of reentry and why they had failed at past attempts to stay out of prison. We used what they said to create a video which includes sections on meeting positive influences, education options, interviewing, resume writing, job possibilities, cars and transportation, time management, money management, and the sealing of records. The video is entertaining while also addressing key concerns about reentry. It is intended to give realistic advice in order to help the young men survive in an overwhelming environment where there is often little support.

Randy Gomez

Randy Gomez

Senior Photography Exhibition

My thesis relates to CEC's learning objective of a global and local context because photography is a medium that can transcend different cultures and languages and my Senior Photography Exhibition's main purpose was this. Inviting local Day Labors I wanted to show that the immigrant experience can touch the lives of those who are not immigrants. Thus, my show was able to bring awareness to a global issue in the context of southern California. For this I opportunity I have CEC to thank!!!


Sarah Zellweger

Sarah Zellweger

India to Incarceration

Opportunities orchestrated through CEC introduced me to a variety of community organizations and intuitions—experiences that greatly shaped the creation of my major, Urban Studies. My CEC Senior Thesis centered upon the co-creation of a multicultural urban studies class at Camps Afflerbaugh-Paige, a juvenile detention high school located in La Verne, CA. Working with the young men to create curriculum my participatory action research sought to understand the significance of a multicultural paradigm in an incarcerated setting. We discussed an array of urban issues, using local-global comparisons that contextualized our writings and discussion. CEC truly is the heart and soul of Pitzer college, giving students freedom to turn the process of learning into active engagement.