Elizabeth Witte Stokes ’68
Esther Wagner was the one who made the difference in my getting into Pitzer. She liked one of the recommendations that I received and she encouraged the Office of Admission to accept my application.
Ruth Munroe was my professor for several psychology classes. On a personal basis, she influenced me the most with her practical and helpful advice.
I loved being on campus in the beginning. Everyone knew everyone. It created a special bond and when we go back to reunions, we feel the bonds, which is why a high percentage of us attend our reunions. It was a special time for us.
From my perspective, I was always the quiet shy person. I came from a high school with 4,280 students where I used to put an IBM (ID) number on every school form. At Pitzer, all of the professors knew me even if I did not have a class with them.
I was the first student to arrive on campus in September 1964. Charlotte Elmott, who was the first dean of the College, greeted me.
I loved the creating process—the town meetings. I was not involved in student government at Pitzer, but the town meetings and observing how a group process is supposed to work influenced me later.
I didn’t just jump in and start groups. I learned a tremendous amount about how volunteer organizations work from my years in the Westport Young Woman’s League—every year but the first year in a different board position. I also held board positions with the co-op nursery school, the PTOs and the swim team.
I started the Weston/Westport Advocates for the Gifted and Talented in about 1983; the Weston Education Foundation in 1993; and the Connecticut Consortium of Education Foundations in 2000.
I didn’t start any of these groups alone, but I was the one to do the research and to get other people involved. I was founding chairman or president of each. I am still on the board of the Weston Education Foundation and am still the president of CTCEF (www.ctcef.org). I am good at and enjoy the creative process, figuring out the vision and getting people fired up about doing things.
Taking classes from some of the same professors is a point of overlap in our Pitzer experiences. Both Christine and I took classes from Ellin Ringler- Henderson and Ruth Munroe. I took at least one class from Ron Macaulay and he was Christine’s adviser.
Christine Stokes Deihl ’92
Two things emerged from my decision to attend Pitzer: I moved to California from out East, where I still am today, and the study abroad experience changed me quite a bit.
Today, I live in the Bay Area and work in marketing at CargoSmart Limited in San Jose. I majored in psychology at Pitzer and earned an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.
I was married this past summer. And yes, it would be great if a son or daughter of mine were to go to Pitzer. What I miss the most about Pitzer is learning. I love learning and being able to constantly learn is a luxury. It is great to be in school full time.
Ellin Ringler-Henderson had a large influence during my Pitzer years. She was the one who suggested I go further from home to study abroad. At first, I was planning on going to England or somewhere in Western Europe.
My study abroad experience took place in Bali where I was immersed in a different culture. I learned how to be open to different cultures. My independent study was in Balinese cooking and I wrote a cookbook. I love the spicy sauces!
I went back to Bali five years later. I was amazed to see all of the infrastructure development—paved roads, sidewalks and more. I also had the opportunity to visit my host family.
On subsequent trips abroad, I have tried to make an effort to go off the beaten path. I applied what I learned from my study abroad experience to discover cultures by immersing myself and not acting like a typical tourist.
For the past two years, I have been the program director for the nonprofit group WIT-NC (Women in International Trade - Northern California), which is part of an international organization, OWIT. WIT-NC’s mission to provide monthly programs, training, and education in global trade to trade professionals in the Bay Area, ties in with my early international experience from my Pitzer days.
Jonathan Stokes ’98
My mom, sister and I are all involved with volunteer projects, which we probably owe to Pitzer. I served on the Pitzer Alumni Board for five years and spearheaded the creation of the Pitzer young alumni program, GOLD.
I greatly benefited from the extracurricular activities at The Claremont Colleges. Without a Box steered me toward my current pursuit of comedy writing. Here in Hollywood, I’ve performed improv with fellow Without a Box alumni Steve Harwood, Richie Molyneux, Wendy Molyneux and Dana Dubois. There are about eleven of us “Boxers” here in Los Angeles who are working, or trying to work, in comedy. I have agents and managers, but it’s a long uphill haul! I long for the day when Pitzer has enough alumni in entertainment to be a resource to promising graduates. I hope that Pitzer’s growing Media Studies department trains its graduates to stick together—Hollywood is a battlefield!
Other Pitzer activities I benefited from were Student Senate and the Claremont Shades a cappella group. Students don’t realize that Pitzer students started most 5C groups, like Without a Box and Shades. I think it’s that grassroots spirit Pitzer instills in us.
As for professors I enjoyed, Al Wachtel is a fascinating teacher and an excellent scholar. And whenever I go to an alumni event, in whatever city across America, I always look forward to seeing the ubiquitous Barry Sanders.