7 reasons why Pitzer College’s LatinX Student Union is amazing!

LatinX Student Union is an affinity group on campus that is open to students who identify as Latino/a, Chicano/a, Hispanic and their allies. It is both a club and a safe space not only for students on Pitzer’s campus, but for students from any of the 5Cs. Below are just a few reasons why Pitzer’s LatinX Student Union is absolutely amazing!

1. We have our own room- If you ever find yourself in need of a nap, stop on by the LSU room. We’ve got beanbags and pillows for students who want to take a nap in between their classes!


2. Preview Pitzer Program Hosting- Interested in spending the night at Pitzer? Want to check out one of our club meetings? Then sign up for the Preview Pitzer Program! Students from our club host prospective students for an entire weekend, and they get to see firsthand what life is like as a Pitzer student.

Diversity Program

3. The Annual Rockabilly Festival- Do you like music? How about food trucks? Well boy do we have a treat for you. Every April, the LatinX Student Union puts on our annual Rockabilly Music Festival, where bands, vendors and car shows all come out for a day on the mounds. Come celebrate our 10th Anniversary with us in April 2017!


4. LSU’s Quinceñera- Did you have a quince? Well, we did! LatinX Student Union celebrated its 15th anniversary this past spring with a huge cultural celebration in honor of our growth throughout the years.


5. Bike Share Program- One great perk of being a member is that we have reserved bicycles through our college’s shared bike program. If you ever need to get somewhere quickly, then just grab one of our bike share bicycles and zip on to where you need to go!


6. Fun Retreat- Every year LatinX Student Union goes on a retreat to promote team bonding and expanding relationships. This year we traveled up to Barton Flats for two days of camping and fun!


7. Winner of the Leadership Award- This year, Pitzer College gave out awards to students and groups who embody our campus community core values, and guess who won the social responsibility award? Representatives from our club were so happy to be recognized for all the hard work our club does around Pitzer’s campus!


Posted by Natalia Duran ’19, Environmental Analysis

Natalia Duran

Fountain on Pitzer College campus

Faculty Spotlight: Elizabeth Affuso

Next up on the Spotlight series is Professor Elizabeth Affuso, interviewed by Kat ’18. Topics in this interview range from interdisciplinary youth culture to social media after the recession!

Elizabeth AffusoAffuso_faculty_013

Professor and Academic Director of Intercollegiate Media Studies

Field Group: Media Studies
Research Interests: Spectatorship, Fandom, Branding, Technology, Architecture, Moving image media art, and Reality television
Some Classes She’s Taught: Social/Media, Introduction to Media Studies
Little Known Fact: She graduated from NYU and worked in television advertising and film programming prior to working at Pitzer!

Kat Harhai: What makes Pitzer stand out from other institutions?

Elizabeth Affuso: Pitzer stands out in that it really is an institution that values many forms of community building and intellectual expression. Students are encouraged to pursue these practices in creative ways both in the classroom and in the larger campus environment.  For me, this practice is most visible in the murals on Mead Hall, which evolve and change in relationship to the campus community climate.


KH: How would you describe a Pitzer student?

EA: Pitzer students are intellectually curious, confident, creative, and political.

21412024022_b5b2a1a234_o“Pitzer students are intellectually curious, confident, creative, and political.”








KH: What are your relationships with students like?

EA: I have close relationships with many students, which is something that the Pitzer environment fosters.  It’s a small school, so often you have students in a variety of courses over their time here, which allows you to see them evolve.  Pitzer’s campus design also creates an intimacy between students and faculty, so that you see students not only in class, but also outside the classroom in the dining hall, at special events, and in the gym!


KH: What do you love about what you do?

EA: I feel very lucky to teach Media Studies because students have a lot of exposure to media texts outside the classroom and it’s fun to give them the tools to reframe these objects in theoretical/historical ways.  Additionally, contemporary culture is very media based and I think it’s important for everyone to have the tools of media literacy to navigate this 24/7 media environment regardless of the profession they end up working in.  

“I think it’s important for everyone to have the tools of media literacy to navigate this 24/7 media environment regardless of the profession they end up working in.”

KH: What is your favorite course to teach, or favorite course you have taught in the past?

EA: Introduction to Media Studies is my favorite course to teach because it is the first exposure many students have to field of Media Studies.


KH: One of Pitzer’s Core Values is interdisciplinary learning; how has this played into your research, academic focus, or learning objectives for your classes?

EA: I developed Youth Culture, my first year seminar, to be an interdisciplinary course. The course takes theoretical texts and objects of study from Media Studies, Literature, Music, Art, and Cultural Studies.  It was fun for me to be able to teach a course that brought in some of my areas of interest that are outside of my home discipline.


KH: What research are you doing here at Pitzer?

EA: I’m currently working on a book project that examines post-feminist consumer cultures in the digital era, especially as related to the sharing economies that developed in spaces like YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram after the recession. I think much of my interest in this topic stems from my conversations with students about how they exist in digital culture. These conversations also inspired me to develop Social/Media, a new course that I’m currently teaching.

Posted by Kat Harhai ’18, Environmental Analysis & Feminist Studies and Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor

Harhai, Kat    10868036_10152997844937755_6688470008344748156_n


Give Me Some Slack: Balancing Learning Inside and Outside of the Classroom

Pitzer engages students both inside and outside of the classroom. This has, and always will be, one of the main reasons I chose to attend Pitzer College. From the incredible research opportunities to the vast and dynamic professor and faculty relationships one can build, from the amalgam of study abroad programs to the engaging service projects in the area, Pitzer challenges students to learn everywhere. In this way Pitzer, institutionally, breaks down the classroom and gives students the world instead. Because, as Pitzer teaches us, the classroom and the world are really just one in the same.


So it makes sense that our campus is aesthetically intellectually engaging. One cannot look around Pitzer without confronting drought politics, environmental sustainability or politically charged artwork. Pitzer’s campus itself is a classroom.

An unlikely piece of Pitzer’s aesthetic that has taught me about college, about intellectual stimulation, about self and about balance is a slackline. I found this particular slackline hung by administration on the mounds on a typical warm fall evening. I was curious and entertained but mostly, I was confused. No one seemed to be particularly good at it and it wasn’t necessarily rewarding. The first sixty times (at least) I tried it, I fell off. And not a ‘stuck it smoothly landing’ fall, but a ‘toppled over, bruised legs, stubbed toes’ fall. The slackline wasn’t particularly friendly nor was it particularly welcoming. But I found it engaging, challenging and a little endearing – I was sold. I wanted to know what this piece of Pitzer’s campus had to teach me.

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While working at Pitzer last summer I promised myself that I would slackline for 20 minutes every day for 100 days. The first week I was horrible, the second just short of terrible, the third just bordering okay and the fourth mediocre at best. It took me weeks of focus, of time, of dedication to learn to walk all the way across and then more minutes, hours, days to learn to do it all backwards. The hours of time I spent on that slackline, flailing my arms about my head, taught me humility, affirmed my passion for driven, determined, good old hard work, and solidified the importance of focus. Slacklining helped me engage more in my classes, balance my co-curricular activities and be present with my peers.

Pitzer engages students both inside and outside of the classroom. This has, and always will be, one of the main reasons I chose to attend Pitzer College. Whether you choose to take part in a study abroad program, do research with a professor or spend one hundred days falling off of a slackline, know that Pitzer will challenge you to learn outside of the confines of a classroom. Whether you build strong ties with faculty, engage with a service project in the area or learn to balance a tightrope, expect to break down the classroom/world dichotomy and embrace that they are, in fact, one in the same.

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Posted by Briana Stansbury ’15, Double Major in English and World Literature/Gender & Feminist Studies


Alumni Spotlight: Emily Kawahara

Alright, folks, you know how this goes. Our third and final Alumni Spotlight for this season is Emily Kawahara ’12, a tennis-playing international traveler and philosophy guru. Keep reading to find out her Pitzer story and what she is up to now.

Year of Graduation: 2012Davis SISS

Majors: 1. English and World Literature, emphasis in Creative Writing 2. Philosophy

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

High School: C.K. McClatchy High School

Current Job: International Student Intake Advisor at UC Davis

Pitzer Activities: Pomona-Pitzer Varsity Tennis for 4 years, APAC (Asian Pacific American Coalition) sponsor and head sponsor, Writing Center tutor, study abroad in Nepal

Fun Fact: 

Best friend of Mattie Ross (Assistant Director of Admission here at Pitzer and a member of the Class of 2012)

K: Thinking back to when you were a junior or senior in high school, what made you choose Pitzer?

E: So I did the whole Southern California trip with my mom, and we were on our way to Redlands, going on the 10, and we saw the sign for the Claremont Colleges. She mentioned that she had read about them in a college magazine. The first school we pulled up to happened to be Pitzer, and as soon as I got out of the car and stepped on campus I kind of knew. I don’t know what it was about it…maybe it was the landscape, maybe it was just a really perfect day in Claremont, but I got out of the car and just felt really at home. And then we went to the Office of Admission, talked with the admission counselor (I found out later that was actually my interview), and learned that they had a Creative Writing program, which I was definitely interested in. I was thinking about doing Philosophy but I wasn’t sure about it yet. The other thing was that I wanted to play tennis. I learned they had a Division III team – a top 10 team in the nation – and once I started reading a little bit more about the coach and what the team had done, it just seemed like a really great fit. I did an overnight stay with one of the girls on the team, Zoe. And I spent a lot of my stay with one of the girls another teammate, Alex Margolin, who was a senior when I was a freshman, and we’re still incredibly good friends. I’m actually going to be in her wedding next year. I kept in touch with her and all of the team throughout the application process…it was my first choice the entire time.

I don’t know what it was about it…maybe it was the landscape, maybe it was just a really perfect day in Claremont, but I got out of the car and just felt really at home.

K: What were the main things you got involved in and why did you involve yourself in those activities while at Pitzer?

E: Well the first one was definitely tennis. I had been playing since I was really young, and I knew I wanted to keep playing, but I knew that education was really important too, which is why I looked mainly at DIII schools. So I was on the team for all four years while I was there, and that took up almost all of my time. My freshman year I worked for the Office of Admission, giving campus tours, sitting at the front desk with Lesley, filing and all that. My sophomore year I was an overnight coordinator in the Office of Admission, and that was fun because I coordinated prospective student visits and spoke to students and parents about how great Pitzer is. I went abroad junior year, and when I came back I got a job at the Writing Center because I knew that I wanted to do something more along those lines. The other thing I was really involved with was APAC (the Asian Pacific American Coalition) – I was a sponsee my freshman year, and my sponsor was actually my teammate, Alex. My sophomore and junior year I was an APAC sponsor, and then my senior year I was the Head APAC sponsor. I also did the study abroad program in Nepal in the fall of 2010.

Pitzer AAPI Grad
Taken at the 5-C Asian American Pacific Islander graduation ceremony. Left to right: Chelsey Kitazawa ’12 (left), PZ prof Kathleen Yep, and Emily Kawahara ’12.
Emily spent a huge amount of her time while at Pitzer playing tennis.

You found the hidden message!


K: So what made you want to get involved in things like APAC and study abroad?

E: I’m half Japanese and half Scandinavian, and I’ve always really identified with my Japanese heritage and culture. When I got to Pitzer on move-in day, I had a bunch of APAC sponsors help me move in. They were all really welcoming and nice, and invited me to their meetings. It took me a little while actually to start going to the meetings, but then I started understanding how important it was to really get a sense of your identity, that’s really what college is all about. So I learned a lot about the culture that I thought I already knew. And I got to meet a bunch of people from all different backgrounds; some were first generation students, some have families that have been here for a long time but still, like me, stay true to their Asian culture even though they may not appear that way on the outside. That’s why APAC had a huge impact on me and was a lot of what I did.

Studying abroad was one of the selling points for Pitzer. I knew I wanted to go abroad; I had caught the travel bug in high school  when I participated in an ambassador program. I originally planned on going to France or Morocco. I went to the Study Abroad Office, got the paperwork for France and Morocco, and as I was leaving some other student came in that I had never met and struck up a conversation because everyone at Pitzer is so nice and always does that. They basically said, I don’t know where you are thinking about going, but you should go to Nepal. And I said that I didn’t even know where Nepal was. He said it will change your life – you have got to go to Nepal. So I put down the paperwork I got, and picked up the Nepal one. I didn’t even know where it was, I didn’t look it up or anything. I just applied. I ended up going, and by far it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That was awesome because that was the first time I really understood what college is about – the whole idea of taking that deliberate step into the unknown.  And that’s something I’ve tried to keep doing ever since I left.

“I didn’t even know where it was, I didn’t look it up or anything. I just applied. I ended up going, and by far it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Nepal Baujuu Nepal CATS

Nepal Climbing Elephant  Nepal The Girls

K: What are some other ways you stepped into the unknown while you were here are or after graduating? That’s something I think Pitzer students are really good at, or at least they find ways to do more of that than students at other colleges.

E: Definitely. Well after I got back from studying abroad, I knew I was interested in traveling abroad, living abroad, and putting myself in uncomfortable cross-cultural situations. So that’s why I had applied to a whole bunch of scholarships and grants for working and living abroad after graduating.  I was lucky enough to be offered a Fulbright, so I ended up doing a teaching Fulbright in Thailand. While I was on the Fulbright, I traveled quite a bit to different south Asian countries, and that’s actually why I am doing what I’m doing now. I found out I was interested in international education, and I knew I had to get that real world base understanding first before looking for a position where I could be a change maker.

I found out I was interested in international education, and I knew I had to get that real world base understanding first before looking for a position where I could be a change maker.

K: Can you describe what you do now?

E: I work for UC Davis, with the Services for International Students and Scholars. I am an International Student Intake Adviser, so I basically help students understand and stay within their legal status while they are in the U.S. It’s a lot of student advising. So if there’s a student here that wants to say, travel for a vacation, so not back to their home country and not somewhere in the U.S., they come in and talk to me about what they need to do to make sure they have the right travel documents and are in good standing, or that their U.S. Visa isn’t going to expire before they get back…From studying abroad and from working abroad, I know that there was a lot of paperwork, a lot of rules and regulations I wasn’t aware of, and a lot of those situations can be really uncomfortable situations because you just don’t know where the line is, or it’s in a language you’re not fluent in. So that first interaction can really either make or break their time here, or it can negatively affect the experience from the very beginning. I’m the first face or the first voice for international students, making sure information is clearly explained, so that students are understanding exactly what they need to stay legal here, because there are just so many crazy and complex rules. So that’s pretty much what I do now!

Davis GEM
Emily created a program at UC Davis called Global Engagement Mondays (GEM). Every Monday, international students, scholars, families, and domestic students and staff come together to discuss a variety of topics in a safe creative environment. Here Emily is leading a discussion on different forms of greetings and gestures.
Davis SISS
Halloween time at UC Davis!


K: So are you planning on staying in this field to continue to help international students in Higher Ed? Or do you have an idea of where you might want to go from here?

E: What I might want to do is go back and work for IIE or Fulbright, or work more at a policy level, but I really enjoy working in Higher Ed for now. I want to see what’s happening at the base level – what’s working and what’s not – and where students get confused. I want to understand what rules are put in place and why. And then maybe figure out what can be done to make it easier for students…I guess that kind of goes back to the Pitzer Core Value of Intercultural Understanding. You can’t have Intercultural Understanding if there are rules that people don’t know about; you can’t really have an environment to foster this understanding if people are uncomfortable when traveling abroad because they are afraid they might fall out of legal status. So I’m really happy where I’m starting, but I know there’s a whole ladder to climb, and there are a lot of other rules I won’t be made aware of until later. So hopefully I’ll be able to work more in the policy or government area in the future.

K: Let’s talk about how you’ve remained connected to Pitzer as an alumnae – are there ways you’ve managed to either come to campus or stay connected in other ways?

E: Yeah, I think tennis is really the main way. I feel that in playing a sport you’re part of a team for four years and for life; you want to know how they’re doing because each player is your teammate, whether or not you were actually on the team together, so I definitely stay updated on how the tennis team is. Now we can see videos of their final points (thanks to Jeremy and the Pomona-Pitzer Athletics Facebook page), which has been great. I was there a couple months ago now and watched some matches over spring break. I’m always excited any time I get the opportunity to go back to Pitzer. I got to go to the 50th Anniversary last year, and that was awesome. I try to keep updated as much as I can on everything that is happening there because it’s such a great college; you feel that sense of pride, even when you’re not there anymore.

Tennis Senior Year team Tennis Senior Year Nationals

K: What would you say was your biggest challenge while you were at Pitzer? And what helped you overcome it?

E: I’d say kind of like what we talked about before, just taking that big step – a deliberate big step into the unknown. When I went to Pitzer I knew I was going to be playing tennis, I knew I was going to be taking English or Literature classes, I had a pretty good focus on what I wanted to do, mainly Creative Writing…but I also learned to make the time to fit in other random things too. I had a pretty packed schedule between working and APAC and tennis and classes. The philosophy major was actually really random – I was interested in ethics and ended up taking a bunch of philosophy classes for fun, and in my junior year during office hours with one of my favorite professors, Julie Tannenbaum at Pomona, she asked me why I wasn’t majoring in philosophy. She knew I was only a couple classes short. One of the main reasons was that I didn’t want to take Logic, and another reason was that I was just really intimidated in every single class I took. I was really interested in the theories and how they were applied, but I would go and sit in the back and talk as minimally as I needed to. And she pretty much told me to suck it up and that I should just do it if it was something I cared about. I actually took a Seminar class with her that started out with 20 people, and by the second week I think we were down to maybe 4 or 5 – it was such a hard class that everyone just dropped it. Philosophy classes were generally mostly male, and I was the only girl left in that Seminar class. So she helped me make that deliberate step towards diving into an unknown by adding the philosophy major, and I feel that again it goes back to the Pitzer Core Values (by the way, Pitzer is so good at maintaining its mission throughout the entire time you’re there, from the moment you get there until the moment you leave)…I think I just learned how to do the things that I cared about without knowing exactly where it would lead – because a lot of people will talk and say things like “I like doing this, but I’m not really going to do anything about it”. I think that the education I got and my interactions with my professors really made me able to take a deliberate next step in solving a problem. If you have a plan, you need to stick to it, and rather than just telling everyone, you need to show it by action. I think that that wasn’t something I was as used to when I got to Pitzer.Fulbright Group

I think that the education I got and my interactions with my professors really made me able to take a deliberate next step in solving a problem.






K: Are there ways you’ve seen the Core Values play out in your life after college?

E: The Core Value of Intercultural Understanding has really guided me since graduating. After my Fulbright, I had a tough time coming back to America because reverse culture shock was way worse than culture shock. Then I had a hard time finding a job because I was torn between getting a job that I cared about and getting a job just because I needed to pay off my student loans. I knew that I wanted to have some sort of positive effect on the global community, and I knew that I wanted to get involved in international education…you can’t just walk in and say this is what I think needs to improve or this is what needs to be worked on. You need to start at the bottom. So I feel that I’ve always kept the end goal of promoting Intercultural Understanding in mind, and that’s why I like to think that what I do I do with a purpose. There’s a reason why I got the job at Davis, first in programming and outreach, and there’s a reason why I decided that within that department I wanted to switch over and do international student advising. So instead of doing the programming and outreach which I was really used to from being in APAC, I wanted to get more into the government and immigration policy side of it. I think Intercultural Understanding has kind of been my catch phrase since I was a senior and applying to Fulbright and all of those programs. It’s an important framework to keep in mind in this growing global community, and I think Pitzer does a really good job of introducing that. Especially being at Davis, there’s a huge population – way bigger than Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges – and unfortunately I think there are a lot of people that think that international students are taking up the places of California residents, or international students are taking all of these opportunities for Americans, and it’s really unfortunate because that’s one very shallow perspective of what’s happening. What’s really happening is you now have the opportunity, without even going abroad, to learn about cultures from all of the international students and scholars who are taking advantage of the available exchange programs. So I think that the idea of Intercultural Understanding has really stuck with me in everything I’ve done. I’ve even taken some programs I ran in APAC and altered them for trainings and workshops here at Davis.

K: Do you have any advice for current, prospective, or admitted Pitzer students about college in general?

E: I think it’s really important to be honest with what you want in your college, meaning what you want from your education but also from your experience as a whole. I appreciated Pitzer while I was there, but I don’t think I really truly appreciated it until after I left. Since graduating, I’ve met people who attended a variety of other colleges, and from discussions I’ve had with them, it’s clear that the education from Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges is something you can’t get anywhere else. We, as Claremont College alumni and students, have these opportunities that I think we sometimes take for granted – like the ability to study abroad on programs like the Nepal program, or Botswana or Costa Rica, on programs that aren’t exchanges. You are living with families and not just going to universities. I think just knowing that you have a choice in what you want to do is important. If it’s really important for you to go to a big school and be lost among that, or go to a small school and have that experience where it’s an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio…either way I think it’s super important to keep in mind that it’s really about the experience as a whole. I was applying for this graduate program recently, writing all of these essays, and I had to get letters of recommendation. I asked Kathy Yep, who I actually never had as a professor but she was just an amazing mentor for APAC and for life in general. I still talk to her, so I sent her a text super last minute and asked her for a letter of recommendation. My friends who went to bigger schools told me that there’s no way that three years out of college they could text a professor that they didn’t even have, or even one that they did have in college, to ask them for a letter of recommendation and expect to get anything back. There’s nothing wrong with going to a big school or going to a small school – there are so many great options out there, though I am super biased.

Nepal Trekking the Annapurna

Since graduating, I’ve met people who attended a variety of other colleges, and from discussions I’ve had with them, it’s clear that the education from Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges is something you can’t get anywhere else. We, as Claremont College alumni and students, have these opportunities that I think we sometimes take for granted – like the ability to study abroad on programs like the Nepal program, or Botswana or Costa Rica, on programs that aren’t exchanges.



K: What is it like working at a much larger university after going to such a small college? Do you think about that when you’re working there?

E: Definitely. I started in the summer, so there were only summer school students ere, and that was what about the number of students I was used to while at Pitzer. And when classes actually started in the fall and I saw how many students were here, I was incredibly overwhelmed. It’s pretty amazing as an adviser to hear some examples from students of their interactions with their professors or with other students. Even just the idea of being taught by a TA, or going to TA office hours, is hard to imagine. So it’s an incredibly different experience.

K: Do you have a favorite thing about Pitzer?

E: I think one of my favorite things about Pitzer was just how small it was. I had a 2:45 philosophy class and could take a nap until 2:44 and still get there before the professor. The class sizes were great, because you actually felt like the professors knew you. If you missed a class, they would email you and ask you where you were. Basically when I think about Pitzer in general I always get happy, because everything that happened there was great. Even the things that were tough because you’re going through a really interesting time in life, being what, 18-22. Some of the fondest memories I have were just from playing tennis, and the camaraderie I got from being on those teams all four years. Each year was incredibly different; teammates left and knew ones came in. But I think that being on the Pomona-Pitzer tennis courts was always really great. We sometimes would have 6 am breakfast at Frary to make early matches, and the teammates from Pitzer would all meet up right between Mead and Holden (which isn’t there anymore), and we’d walk through the mounds over to Pomona, and it was always silent. And that was always a really nice walk. I miss Holden, to be honest, because Holden was great – it was disgusting – but great. I lived there my sophomore year and then half of my junior year when I got back from study abroad, and it was disgusting but I loved it. I used to study late night all the time in CAPAS (Center for Asian Pacific American Students), and in Edmunds at Pomona with the team. Those were probably the best nights, just staying up all night with my friends…turns out trying to write a philosophy paper at 3 in the morning just kind of comes out as gibberish.

Fulbright TeachersFulbright HomeRoomTennis OjaiTennis Freshman NationalsPitzer Friends 2Pitzer FriendsFulbright Loi KratongFulbright Indo

If you like what you see, check out the Alumni Spotlight posts on Tim Campos ’10 and Mitchell Felton ’13!

Posted by Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor


Why We Chose Pitzer

Maybe you’ve already submitted your deposit, checked the box that says “Yes, I will be attending (fill in awesome college here)!”, and decked out your room and wardrobe with the big block letters representing the place you will call home for the next 4 years.

Or maybe you’re still deciding. Maybe it’s coming down to the wire (that dreadful May 1 deadline is quickly approaching), and you are being pushed to make what seems like the biggest decision of your life. Should I choose the big school far from home with amazing research facilities? Should I go for the place that I stayed at last summer for that amazing summer camp? What about my parent’s alma mater that they are really pushing for? If you are in a place where you need to make this decision, I must tell you, that is a wonderful place to be. I mean it sucks and is super stressful, but hey, at least you get to make the choice!

So congratulations. If you were admitted to Pitzer College for the Class of 2019, that means we would love to see you on campus in the fall. We think you are the next agents of change to enter the world and make an immense impact. I asked some students currently attending Pitzer (and at this moment really in the thick of things before finals) to tell me why they chose Pitzer in the end. It was a piece of cake for some to answer, but others did not hesitate to take their time and really reflect. I am hoping their words help you in your decision-making process. Of course, each answer is specific to that student’s situation, but perhaps you can relate.


“When visiting Pitzer for ASD, against my 17 year old will, I found myself one night completely engulfed in a conversation exploring the intersection of love and existentialism. Three Pitzer seniors were passionately engaged in figuring out how the two coalesced and they wanted my ideas. I chose Pitzer because that conversation demonstrated a Pitzer student’s capacity to pursue knowledge outside of the classroom for knowledge’s sake. I chose Pitzer because that conversation demonstrated the passion and commitment to community building that I longed for in an institution.”

– Briana Stansbury ’15


“From the moment I found out about Pitzer College, I instantly fell in love with the campus, academics, and its different approach to higher education—it became my dream school. I chose Pitzer because I wanted to be surrounded by a group of students and faculty who were passionate about social justice and were willing to support me in every possible way. I never liked the idea of attending a large University where students did not have the opportunity to interact with their professors…even in my first-year at Pitzer I have had the pleasure of establishing strong relationships with my professors.”

– Adriana Ceron ’18

Nice job! You found the hidden message.


“I was sold on the supportive community of Pitzer. Being a first gen student, I felt like I needed to be somewhere where I would feel comfortable and not be afraid to share my story. The consortium aspect was another thing that caught my attention when I visited Pitzer for the first time.”

– Andrew Buitron ’15

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

Nice job! You found the hidden message.


“I came to Pitzer because…

of the strong Asian American studies and ethnic studies department.

of the Preview Pitzer Program.

of the emphasis professors had on dialogue in the classroom.”

– Kristen Park ’17


“I chose to attend Pitzer for several reasons. The consortium of schools provides many unique opportunities to take new courses, learn new fields, and customize your own academic program. Combined with the core values and the critically compassionate culture of the campus, Pitzer is a wonderful school with incredible atmosphere, and a great set of opportunities for students to engage in.”

– Loring Thomas ’17

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

carlos 2

“An easy answer is ‘just go to Pitzer College’. When I began my college search, I knew I wanted to be somewhere where people were passionate about examining the ‘ethical implications of knowledge and their individual responsibility in making the world better’ as well as eager to ‘challenge traditional ways of learning.’ I chose to attend Pitzer College because I knew that it was the appropriate place to further expand my horizons – Pitzer students are rather unafraid to display their ambitions. Furthermore, I chose to attend Pitzer because it valued intercultural understanding, much of which is embodied in our exceptional study abroad programs.”

– Carlos Perrett ’18


Casey Venturelli Tour Guide

“I chose Pitzer because my mom kept nudging the core values in my face and trying to convince me it was the right place for me. That sounds a little harsh, but stay with me here. I didn’t believe her at first, convinced I was meant to go far away from home to a school “where I could travel”. Near the end of my decision-making process, I had decided I would move to Scotland, go to university, and be a European traveler. I went back into my journal from that semester, reading back on the past three months of my life. Subconsciously, I had written over and over again that I believed I would end up at Pitzer, and that it seemed like the most ideal place for me. My mind had been telling me different things, but I realized what my decision had to be. I came to Pitzer, finding a student body that I connect with on every level. I have found a place with many different perspectives, and some of the most creative minds I have ever encountered. The way each Pitzer student looks at the world is unique and truly fascinating, teaching me so much both within the classroom, and in every interaction I have. I was attracted to the flexibility in curriculum, leading me to design my own major, and take an interdisciplinary approach to my educational trajectory. I have found my home here, found my passion, and could not be happier that I listened to my mom. You know what they say, ‘Mother knows best’.”

– Casey Venturelli ’16

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

IMG_8028“I’m from Arizona, where the only in-state options are very large universities; however, I wanted a smaller school. I found Pitzer and was immediately drawn in by the core values, which align with my own. When I visited campus, I was amazed by how friendly the students were to me and each other and I wanted to be a part of a community like that. The more I learned about Pitzer – the small class sizes, the professor-student relationships, the campus life, and not to mention the beautiful Southern California weather – the more I wanted to be a student here. I ended up applying Early Decision and the rest is history…”

– Natalie Honan ’17

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

charlie-DSC_2310“I chose Pitzer because of the incredible balance between being a small liberal arts college and having the limitless amount of resources within the Claremont Consortium.  More importantly, I was drawn to how my experience would not only be personalized at Pitzer, but that I would have a say in my education and its sequential outcomes.  As a senior, I am leaving here knowing that the past 4 years, from the small seminar-styled classrooms to the experiential learning programs, is unlike any other college student’s because of Pitzer’s commitment to its students and to the core values.”

– Charlie Yates ’15

Nice job! You found the hidden message.

All of us here at Pitzer College wish you the best in choosing your college. Please let us know if you have any questions at all as you make your decision! We are happy to help.

Posted by Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor


19 ASD Highlights as described by Pitzer Students


Get it…19 reasons for the Class of 2019…!


For those who made to Admitted Student Day either on April 10 or April 17, you may agree with some or all of these! If you couldn’t make it to campus, hopefully hearing from some current Pitzer students will help provide some insight into why Pitzer might be a great place to call home.



  1. Definitely loved Cecil the Sagehen dancing during the registration and welcome. – Joey ’16
  2. I really enjoyed meeting the new students at lunch! – Jessa ’17
  3. I had a great time talking with prospective parents during the tour I gave. – Jessa ’17
  4. Seeing students relax on our wonderful hammocks was awesome. – Jessa ’17
  5. I enjoyed letting the admitted students get a taste of what each living situation on campus would be like through the residence hall tour. Their amazement by how unique our residence halls are was priceless. – Joey ’16
  6. I loved decking the campus out in orange and white for Admitted Student Day! We had a lot of fun blowing up balloons and prepping for the arrival of all the admits. – Kat ’18IMG_6185
  7. Having lunch with admitted students was enjoyable, especially because of the engaging questions that they asked, and just getting to know many of the people who are going to be joining us on campus next year. – Loring ’17
  8. Being able to introduce students to some of the central features of life at Pitzer, like our dining halls, was fun to do. – Loring ’17
  9. Giving a tour to the students and parents was great. It was interesting to see the different questions that parents and students asked, as we were able to explore different paths than the normal tours, especially with guests who were so engaged with the campus. – Loring ’17
  10. My favorite part of ASD was getting to interact with the admitted students and their eager parents at breakfast when they just arrived. Hearing first impressions of the campus from first time visitors was really fun. – Natalie ’17IMG_8031
  11. It was exciting to sit on a panel in front of parents with curious questions about the student experience at Pitzer. After being asked what I don’t like about Pitzer several times by parents, I still can’t think of an answer to that question. – Josue ’16
  12. I loved watching junior staff members carry many clumps of balloons onto the mounds in a train, one after another. They turned into a dragon of balloons! – Casey ’16
  13. I really liked being one of the first faces the accepted students saw in the morning. I tend to overdue it on the energy, but I felt like I could be as excited as possible to wake up the sleepy students and get them eager for the day. – Casey ’16DSC_5098
  14. Serving on the student panel for Admitted Student day brought flashbacks to when I was a prospective student. It definitely was my favorite portion of the program, partly because it allowed me to honestly answer sincere questions that prospective students had about our social and academic life on our campus. – Carlos ’18
  15. What I loved most about ASD was sitting on the parent/guardian panel and really being able to engage with the people that, often times, have helped grow, sway and influence the students we’ve accepted here at Pitzer. Feeling their second hand excitement for their students is rejuvenating and reminds me, every year, how lucky Pitzer is to have such an involved, excited and passionate community that reaches far beyond just our student body. – Briana ’15
  16. Gotta say I loved dancing next to Cecil! – Alex ’15IMG_7828
  17. I loved hearing all the awesome questions prospective students and parents had to ask on the tours! – Alex ’15
  18. I definitely enjoyed showing off the chicken coop to the next generation of friendly farmers! – Alex ’15
  19. Overall, it was a great day to show a great school to a lot of great admitted students! – Joey ’16




What were some highlights for you? Let us know in the Comments!

Photo Credit: Laurie Babcock and Kristen Park

Posted by Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor


Finding Your Place at Pitzer

April is a tumultuous month of self-reflection and future planning – for juniors, it’s the time to begin the journey of college applications, and for seniors, it’s the time to decide where to spend the next four year. Pitzer offers an exceptional education for students who are serious about their role as an agent of change. I first started working at Pitzer three years ago and was instantly impressed by the openness of our students, who weren’t afraid to challenge, question and seek alternative answers to some of our most pressing societal issues. The education here is focused on freedom – the ability to use your education to make a difference in diverse communities by following an academic path guided by your interests and our dedicated faculty. Students actively seek out opportunities to roll up their sleeves and get involved in their local and global community. It’s what sets Pitzer apart from other institutions; the heartfelt drive of our students to think deeply about critical issues of privilege, social status and culture. It’s embedded in the curriculum at Pitzer and found in the mindset of our students.

Students are also connected through an unmatched commitment to social justice and responsibility. Our students embody diversity in a multiplicity of avenues – they study everything from Anthropology to Zoology; they are artists, social entrepreneurs, biologists, philosophers, computer scientists, and environmentalists. However, the foundation of their academic inquiry revolves around the question of how they will use their knowledge gained in their classes and their action research work to impact diverse communities. I’m always impressed when I talk with students to learn how they push the conversation forward in the classroom, while participating in our Student Senate or with their peers; they are never satisfied with easy answers or traditional solutions.


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You probably could be easily swayed by the stunning native plants and sustainable landscaping, near perfect sunny weather, the beautiful and poignant murals, and friendly students, faculty and staff (of course, all compelling reasons to spend four years at Pitzer!).  Yet, deciding where to go to college should focus on the character and values of the institution – values matter.  This is where you will spend four defining years. This will be home and your peers and faculty will serve as your second family.

How do you find the school where you can find your place and know that your values match with theirs? Take the time to talk with students on campus, look deeper at the course curriculum, sit in on a class, participate in an evening lecture or athletic event, or sit it in the middle of the campus coffee shop or dining hall listening to every day conversations.  Feel the energy and the pulse of the campus! If you cannot make it to campus, talk with an Admission counselor who can help guide and connect you virtually to community members who can share their experiences.

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You have the potential to be one of our next Fulbright Winners, or perhaps you will start your own NGO, go to medical school, work at the United Nations, or write a novel – perhaps a combination of the above.  Those who opt to attend Pitzer will enjoy the benefits of four years of education firmly grounded in the concepts and philosophies of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, interdisciplinary learning, intercultural understanding and student engagement. These values are what matter most to our community and interconnected world. And that’s at the heart of what I love about Pitzer. Our students are engaged in the messy, real life work of making a difference. I hope you will discover in your own way what makes Pitzer so very special.

Photo credit: Pitzer College and Robert Little

Posted by Jamila Everett, Interim Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid


Spring Break Adventures

It is now the end of the first week back from spring break, so let’s take a moment to reflect on how some Pitzer students spent this coveted week. We asked several Pitzer students how they spent their break, and here is what they had to say:


“I went camping in the Grand Canyon and Zion with a jillion people.” Abigail ’15


“I drove up to Tahoe with some of my close friends to stay in a cabin. There was snow! OMG” China ’17


“I spent time with my family in Texas. I missed my cousins so much.” Carly ’18


“I sampled wine in Napa with my first year suitemate. We also road bikes through the countryside.” Joey ’16


“I went to Vegas and partied with Lil’ Jon.” Emily ’15


“I camped and backpacked through New Mexico on a POA  (Pitzer Outdoor Activities) trip with my best friend and two other Pitzer friends that joined on through the club meeting.” Casey ’16

“My father and I took a road trip on the Pacific side of Costa Rica from the Nicaraguan border to the Panamanian. The landscape was very diverse and it was an amazing trip.” Anna ’15


“I traveled to Ecuador with Pitzer on the Global/Local Mentorship program. I had never been to South America and I don’t speak Spanish but my host family was super nice.” Hriman ’17


“My Dad and I were chillin’ in the Bahamas on a boat.” Jacob ‘18


“I went to visit my girlfriend in Portland. She goes to Reed. ”  Robert ‘18

“I went home to Denver, Colorado for this Spring Break to cuddle with my puppies. And celebrated my 20th birthday, so I got to spend it with my family and best friend from home.” Jessa Stein ’17


“First I stayed at Pitzer and starved because the dining halls were closed, then I went camping at Sequoia to hike around the big redwood trees.” Michelle ’18

“I went back home to Seattle to see my family. Went on some beautiful hikes, saw some live jazz, and spent time with my twin sister who goes to a different college.” Naomi ’16

“I plopped down on the beach in Puerto Peñasco for five full days of sun and Settlers of Catan” Mary ’15

“Over spring break I travelled to Ecuador with the Institute for Global/Local Action & Study. While in Ecuador I participated in a series of lectures, made several site visits, and stayed with a host family. My participation in this program will also grant me the opportunity to be a part of Research Action Team that will work on a local project of my choice upon returning to school.” Carlos ‘18

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Posted by Jada Jones ’17, Economics & Lily Harris ’17, Neuroscience

Jada Jones Tour Guide Lily Harris Overnight Coordinator

Alumni Spotlight: Mitchell Felton

Now that the haze of reading season has cleared, it is time for another Alumni Spotlight. This time we hear from Mitchell Felton, a recent graduate from Pitzer and apparently a fan of pandas.

(If you missed the first post in the Alumni Spotlight Series, click here to read the interview with Tim Campos.)

Here’s the low-down on Mitchell:

panda abroad

Year of Graduation: 2013

Major(s): Asian Studies with a focus on History

Home: From Hong Kong originally (where he attended Chinese International School), though he went to high school at Bullard High School in Fresno

Current Job: Campus Constituents Gift and Engagement Officer, Office of Development, University of San Francisco

Pitzer Activities: (Once again, an overwhelming amount) Admission Fellow, Admission Office Junior Staff Member, Senate Member on the Student-Alumni Relations Committee, President/Secretary/Member of the 5-C Circle K International Club, Secretary/Member of the Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC), Member of the Student Investment Committee, Member of Dining with Democracy, First-Year Mentor, Member of the Senior Class Gift Committee

Fun Facts:

  1. He is a self-proclaimed boba connoisseur.
  2. He currently is the VP for Alumni Giving on the Pitzer Alumni Board.
  3. Podge’s is his favorite place to eat in the Village, but nothing beats the Grove House.
  4. He won a donut eating competition.
  5. He has a wooden bow tie, one of the many members of his growing bow tie collection.

Katie: What made you choose Pitzer College?

Mitchell: I was really attracted to the core values, specifically (at the time it was called) student autonomy as well as intercultural understanding. I really liked the fact that so many students studied abroad and that there were so many options. In terms of student autonomy, I really liked and appreciated the fact that you had the option to design your own major, that there was no strict set of courses you had to take. Rather, there was the option to take many courses which overlapped with multiple disciplines, allowing for a truly interdisciplinary experience. And I appreciate the fact that students have a vote, equal to their faculty and staff counterparts on almost any committee at Pitzer, including the hiring and tenure committee. Lastly, the fact that Pitzer was SAT optional was a big selling point. It meant a lot to me that a college was willing to look at me as an applicant more by my actual course work rather than just some test scores.

“In terms of student autonomy, I really liked and appreciated the fact that you had the option to design your own major, that there was no strict set of courses you had to take. Rather, there was the option to take many courses which overlapped with multiple disciplines, allowing for a truly interdisciplinary experience.”

K: What is one of your favorite Pitzer classroom experiences?

M: One of my favorite classroom experiences was in Contemporary Central Asia with Professor Azamat Junisbai during my freshman year. First of all, Azamat is a pretty cool guy to begin with. Second, how much do you currently know about Central Asia? After this course you’ll know anything and everything you need to know about it! This class only had about ten people, so it was pretty small, which provided for a great discussion of the readings and current events in the region. We were able to analyze many different facets of life and history in Central Asia through in-class discussions and outside readings…one time we had a movie night, where we watched a movie from the region (I voted for Borat, but we went with something a little more traditional), and Azamat brought in some really delicious, homemade snacks from Kazakhstan. This class was one of the first of many very small classes that I had in Claremont, and I really liked the fact that we got to know the professor and learn the material on a much deeper level than your typical lecture style class would. I still keep in touch with Azamat even six years after taking his class.

dinner at professors house
Mitchell and classmates enjoying dumplings at a prof’s house.

Another class that I took that I have very fond (and sometimes painful- because of how difficult the class was) memories of was my Advanced Chinese class at Pomona. The class was also very small with only eight people in it. We were a very tight-knit group of students, we got to know each other pretty well, and our Chinese abilities improved a lot because of it. One time our professor invited us over to her house where she cooked us dinner and we all made dumplings together! This professor, also had a sense of humor, and always cracked jokes with us. When we were taking our final I said to her, “Oh my God, Yao Lao Shi (professor’s name), this final is so hard!” Her response (keep in mind that English is not her native language), without even blinking an eye was, “God can’t save you now!”

K: What has been your career path after Pitzer?

M: I am currently working at the University of San Francisco in their Development (code for Fundraising) Office. In my role, I focus on all of our on campus fundraising from students (through the Senior Class Gift), faculty, and staff. As part of this, I handle all of the mail solicitations for these groups, I meet one-on-one with faculty, staff and alumni to talk with them about their USF experience about getting them more involved in the school, and I raise money for things like student scholarships and academic programs. I also get to work very closely with the Student Philanthropy Committee, a group of students who are passionate about helping others and helping to educate the USF community on the importance of donations. I really enjoy my job because I get to work closely with so many students, faculty, and staff, and every day is different and poses new and unique challenges. I was attracted to USF because of the similarities in mission to Pitzer’s. I knew I wanted to stay in higher education after I graduated, and both schools focus heavily on social justice and serving others, trying to educate students who want to go out and change the world.

K: How did Pitzer prepare you for life after college?

M: Pitzer helped me build connections and skills to make those connections after college. I would also say, as cheesy as it is, Pitzer helped me to be more of a critical thinker, allowing me to succeed in my work in an efficient and thorough fashion.

K: How have you remained connected to Pitzer as an alumnus?

I am very active in the alumni network. Not only do I sit on the Alumni Board, but I also lead the pillar for alumni giving within the Alumni Board. (Our board has four pillars that have main responsibilities with regards to engaging our alumni). On top of this, I host alumni events in the SF Bay Area. I don’t interview prospective students but would like to if the option became available. I have met with prospective students in the bay in the past at the request of the Admission office. I visit campus four times a year for alumni board meetings and then once or twice additionally for personal trips.

Reunion (2)
At Alumni Weekend, catching up with fellow Pitzer alumni.

K: How do you see Pitzer growing or changing in the next 10 years?

M: I can see Pitzer becoming more focused, and excelling even further in the areas it currently excels in, and becoming a leader in those areas. I think with the recent divestment in fossil fuels and the beginning of the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability we can really see Pitzer growing and excelling in the environmental sciences. I also see the Pitzer student body becoming more diverse.


K: What advice would you give to current Pitzer students and prospective Pitzer students about college and the process of finding the right college for you?

M: I think today, just like the current job market for millennials, it is more about finding the school that has a similar mission to your own, or has a mission that resonates with you. If you are interested in Pitzer, apply because you love the mission and the values that we expound, not for its ranking or access to the other colleges. I also recommend that you, if you can, sit in on classes, spend the night on campus, visit with the Admission staff, so that you can get the best sense of the community and be able to make a well-informed decision come May. For students who decide to matriculate to Pitzer, make sure you get involved in as many things as possible. Claremont has so much to offer that by your senior year, you will regret having not gotten involved sooner. Plus, four years whizzes by!

“If you are interested in Pitzer, apply because you love the mission and the values that we expound, not for its ranking or access to the other colleges.”

K: How have Pitzer’s core values continued to play a role in your life after college?

M: The core value of student engagement I believe still plays the biggest role in my life after Pitzer. I have continued to stay engaged with Pitzer by joining the alumni board, and I have also used that to further my career and work in development at USF.

K: What was your favorite thing about Pitzer (if you can choose)?

M: The people. When I was in Claremont and giving tours for the Admission Office, people always asked which school was the friendliest. I always said (I’m not biased or anything) “People say Pitzer has the friendliest people”. I was usually validated by a random student passing by. And it is absolutely true – it is hard to walk through campus without saying hello to at least one person, whether it be someone from your OA (Orientation Adventure), or a staff or faculty member. People at Pitzer are just awesome; not only are they friendly, but they are always doing really cool things  and are very genuine. One of the things I loved about the people is there never was this need to feel like you had to “one up” everyone else, no one pressured you into doing things you were not comfortable with, they let you be you and allowed you to flourish as you wanted to. My other favorite thing about Pitzer was the food! The dining hall food is definitely top notch – it doesn’t get better than what they serve at Pitzer’s dining hall. Believe me, I work at a University that uses the same catering company… I wish it was close to being as good as Pitzer. The Grove House is simply AMAZING as is the Shake Down. Seriously, if you have a chance to eat at either, DO IT. In my opinion, they rival some of the restaurants in the Village.

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“One of the things I loved about the people is there never was this need to feel like you had to ‘one up’ everyone else, no one pressured you into doing things you were not comfortable with, they let you be you and allowed you to flourish as you wanted to.”

K: What would you say was the biggest takeaway from your Pitzer education?

M: To be more conscious of the world that we live in, and to consider all angles/approaches to a solution. I think that while I may not fit some of Pitzer’s Core Values as some of my peers might, Pitzer really taught me to be more thoughtful and aware of others in the world, and how to take into consideration and be respectful of people’s different backgrounds. For example, had I not gone to Pitzer, I probably would not have learned about the environmental impacts of unsustainable food sourcing, or things like PGP’s (Preferred Gender Pronouns) or heteronormativity, etc.

K: What are some of your fondest memories from your time at Pitzer?

mentor training (2)
Shenanigans as a residence hall mentor.

M: I have a few very fond memories of Pitzer, the first was when I was a first year mentor. The  RA and I used to take the whole floor out to do weekly In-n-Out runs. We borrowed a couple of the Pitzer Vans and booked it down Foothill to In-n-Out. It was a great time for the hall to get together, take a study break and hang out. My other very fond memory was during my junior year for Admitted Students Day in the Admission Office; I organized a flash mob that many students, faculty, and staff participated in, including the President (who danced and jumped in heels), our VP for Admissions, and our Dean of Students.

Turns out there is a video of said flash mob:


Thank you to Mitchell for answering my questions and providing a great Pitzer alum perspective! Coming up next month, our third and final Alumni Spotlight…who will be featured? I guess you’ll have to wait and see!

Posted by Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor


Alumni Spotlight: Tim Campos

Here in the Office of Admission, we tend to focus on prospective students – helping them learn about our institution and generally attempting to make the college application process less scary than it seems. We get to work with current students as they help guide tours, coordinate overnight stays, and interview prospective students in the office. But once in a while we should take a moment to connect with our wide network of Pitzer alumni, who have entered the world with their toolbox of globally-minded thoughts and engaging, defining experiences attained during their time at Pitzer.

I reached out to Pitzer Class of 2010 graduate Tim Campos for an opportunity to share his Pitzer and post-Pitzer success story. He was incredibly generous to sit down with me for a lunch in the Village and discuss how Pitzer has shaped him.

I asked him many questions and made it difficult for him to eat his lunch (sorry about that, Tim), but as the conversation went on I became more and more impressed with his connection to Pitzer’s core values, and how he has been able to positively impact the community that helped him grow. Below I have summarized and transcribed bits of our conversation that you may find enjoyable or enlightening. Happy reading!

First, here are the basics about Tim:

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Year of Graduation: 2010

Major(s): Sociology and Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies

Minor: Studio Art

Hometown: Claremont, CA

Pitzer Activities: (honestly too many to list, but…) President of the Latino/a Student Union (LSU), Mentor within Chicano/a Latino/a Student Affairs (CLSA), Community Coordinator for on- and off-campus activities, one of the founders of the annual Rockabilly Festival, member of the Student Senate Diversity Committee, member of the Senior Gift Committee, and an admission junior staff extraordinaire (aka a tour guide, diversity intern, and admission fellow)

Current Job: Marketing Coordinator at HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, a fully integrated architecture, construction, and interior design firm  

Our conversation revolved around both his participation in the Pitzer community as a student, as well as how he has remained connected as an alumni.

Katie: How did you decide on Sociology and Chicano/a – Latino/a Studies as your majors?

Tim:  I had originally planned to pursue the premed track. Upon arriving at Pitzer I was convinced that pursing a premed track and eventually becoming a doctor was what I wanted. But I quickly realized that my passion was not in science, let alone medicine, but helping my community. Taking my first introductory sociology course at Pitzer was the pivotal moment that persuaded me to pursue a major in the social sciences. Sociology courses taught by Professor José Calderón and Professor Phil Zuckerman were certainly some of the best. As for Chicano/Latino Studies, I knew coming into Pitzer that Ethnic Studies would somehow find its way into my course curriculum.

K: So tell me more about starting the Rockabilly Festival at Pitzer. (Note to the readers: The Rockabilly Festival remains one of the largest annual cultural events at Pitzer, drawing over a thousand attendees, both Claremont College students and community members. To find out more about this festival, watch the video below.)

T: The concept for the Rockabilly Festival really originated with Professor Adrian Pantoja.  Professor Pantoja and the Latina/o Student Union had already been collaborating on a few campus events and he was our advisor at the time. With his passion for car culture and specifically how it intersects with Latino/a culture here in the greater Los Angeles area, members of LSU were quick to collaborate and the rest was history. The festival incorporated a car exhibition, as well as an art show and concert featuring rockabilly bands from all over Southern California. While the College already had musical festivals like the popular Kohoutek music festival, we wanted a festival that was open and inclusive, while speaking to the Latino/a community at Pitzer, the Claremont Colleges, and beyond. Today, the Rockabilly Festival is certainly known throughout the Claremont College and Inland Empire communities. This year the group (LSU) will be celebrating the festival’s eighth year. All of the organizing efforts and behind-the-scenes work over years of planning the festival actually provided the foundation to my senior thesis, which focused on the intersection of Latino and rockabilly cultures.

“We wanted a festival that was open and inclusive, while speaking to the Latino/a community at Pitzer, the Claremont Colleges, and beyond.”

K: That’s great. It sounds like a very interesting thesis! And since then, what has been your career path after Pitzer?

T: As an Admission Fellow in my senior year at Pitzer, I realized that higher education was an avenue I wanted to explore professionally. I recall having the opportunity to travel to Portland, Oregon and conduct interviews with prospective students over winter break of that same year. That particular experience solidified my decision to pursue higher education at the administrative level. So in the spring, I applied to several admission counselor openings and one just happened to open up at Pitzer. Two weeks after graduating, I began my career exploration as an admission counselor at Pitzer, recruiting students, reading applications and representing the College while helping cultivate diversity initiatives on campus through my work with the Preview Pitzer Program. Aside from that, I also managed social media and assisted with communications and marketing initiatives. I realized though that I was missing a more creative environment as an artist, so I switched careers and became a marketing coordinator for HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, which is a fully integrated architecture, construction, and interior design firm in Claremont and Pasadena. As marketing coordinator, I am responsible for the coordination of key marketing projects including advertising, community relations, online marketing, copywriting, and execution of other relevant initiatives. Currently, I am pursuing a Master of Communication Management (M.C.M.) at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. And who knows, upon completion of the program I may find myself back in the world of higher education, but most certainly in a career combining leadership, communication, and marketing.

K: So how would you say Pitzer prepared you for life after college?

T:  Pitzer prepared me both professionally and personally. There were a handful of influential Latino mentors that I credit for nurturing my leadership and personal growth while at Pitzer.  My advisor and professor, José Calderón, instilled in me a sense of taking what I had learned in the classroom and applying theory to practice in creating change in my local community. Professor Calderón would always say, “Remember brother, don’t let your studies interfere with your education.” Former VP and Dean of Admission, Angel Perez, has probably been one of the most influential figures in my life thus far, both as an undergraduate student and professionally. Being a first generation Latino male, it was awe-inspiring to have mentors like José Calderón and Angel Perez because knowing there were similarities in our experiences made my time at Pitzer much more rewarding.

“There were a handful of influential Latino mentors that I credit for nurturing my leadership and personal growth while at Pitzer.

K: Would you advise anybody going to college (or going to Pitzer) to study abroad?

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Studying abroad is an incredibly important component to many Pitzer students’ educational journeys. Photo courtesy of Pitzer College.

T:  Studying abroad during the summer of my junior year at Pitzer was another pivotal moment for me personally. While in Costa Rica, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and gain a greater intercultural understanding from what I was so accustomed, as someone born and raised in Southern California. So yes, to answer your original question, I think students looking to go to Pitzer should be open to going abroad. Study abroad should be on the top of their list… While other universities offer traditional study abroad programs, our programs incorporate the [core] values so well into the curriculum, while focusing on global/local initiatives.  Upon returning, our programs encourage students to question how they can apply the experience to their local community, while examining the cross-cultural connections.

While in Costa Rica, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and gain a greater intercultural understanding from what I was so accustomed, as someone born and raised in Southern California.

K: Definitely. So this is a little different since you worked at Pitzer for three years after graduating, but since then, what are some ways you have stayed connected with Pitzer since graduating?

T: Even if I hadn’t worked at Pitzer post-graduation, I would have still stayed connected to the College. Since I was heavily involved in various leadership roles as a student, it would have been difficult not to come back and be involved in some aspect.  I have stayed connected to Pitzer through my leadership on the Alumni Board. As one of the governing bodies on the board, I work collectively with fellow board members to enhance areas such as Alumni Reunion Weekend, the Alumni Volunteer Network, Young Alumni programming, and more recently the Annual Fund. As an Alumni Board, we create programming and networking opportunities; enhance the educational, cultural, social and professional lives of recent graduates, while maintaining a connection between alumni and the College.  And aside from my responsibilities on the board, I look for opportunities to come back to campus and share my experiences with current students or prospective students for that matter when my schedule permits.

Since I was heavily involved in various leadership roles as a student, it would have been difficult not to come back and be involved in some aspect.

K: And what are some things you do on the Alumni Board specifically?

T: My involvement on the Board has evolved over the years…when I first started on the Board I really focused on young alumni engagement. And now I’ve transitioned into working more on the development pillar, more specifically the Annual Fund and increasing alumni participation. In my role, I am essentially reconnecting with alumni, and re-engaging them with the Pitzer community, while informing them of new campus initiatives.

K: With your experience and how you’ve seen Pitzer change since you’ve graduated, do you see it growing more in a certain way in the next 5 or 10 years?

T: Pitzer has definitely made a name for itself in the last decade and with the recent 50 Forward Campaign, we hit a milestone. I think for us here at the College it’s nice to be in a position where we can no longer say, “well, we’re young”. No, we are 50, proud, and we are moving our community forward. Pitzer has become one of the leading liberal arts institutions in America. In my mind, Pitzer College is an innovative and creative think tank. We are producing more and more socially conscious agents of change who are prepared with the resources and passion to leave Pitzer and transform the world. I think in the next ten years I’d like to see Pitzer really push that number of 75% of students that go abroad to be in the 90s, or maybe 100%. But I really want Pitzer in the next 10 years to be the leading institution, so that when someone thinks, “we are looking for an institution that’s going to be innovative and pushes us out of our comfort zone”, the institution that people think of is Pitzer.

We are producing more and more socially conscious agents of change who are prepared with the resources and passion to leave Pitzer and transform the world.

K: I agree; that would be a great position to be in! And I think it’s on its way. So thinking back to your time as a student, and now your time as an alumnus, what kind of advice would you give to either current or prospective Pitzer students?

T: For prospective students first – it doesn’t matter where you end up, college-wise. What matters is what college is going to make you grow, and meet your needs. You’re going to be at a place for four years; you want to make sure you’re going to be happy for four years. Ask yourself, “Am I going to grow?” All the other aspects are great and worth considering, but at the end of the day are you going to grow and be happy with your decision? For current students – take advantage of all the opportunities that Pitzer offers. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to rattle the cage a bit. That’s what Pitzer was founded on…students eager to engage and question everything. I think that’s ok; it’s healthy. It indicates that students are not only interested but they are also aware of what’s going on around their community. Don’t be afraid to utilize the resources of the Claremont Colleges. We are part of a consortium for a reason.

It doesn’t matter where you end up, college-wise. What matters is what college is going to make you grow, and meet your needs. You’re going to be at a place for four years, you want to make sure you’re going to be happy for four years.”

K: What kind of things did you partake in on the 5C scale? (Note to the readers: 5C is jargon for taking place at all five undergraduate Claremont Colleges.)

T: Well, being a Chicano/a – Latino/a studies major, which is 5-college, I was able to take courses across all of the various Claremont Colleges. Aside from academics, I was highly involved within the Claremont College community. As previously mentioned, I was a Chicano/Latino Student Affairs mentor for first-year students. Additionally, I was part of the Cesar Chavez Celebration Committee and helped organize programming throughout that month of celebration. I was part of the 5-college Latino graduation committee and a 5-college Latina/o Leaders Coalition. But back to academic resources, I really took advantage of the arts at Scripps, [specifically] the digital art program, which spawned an interest in digital art and design.

K: So how would you say Pitzer’s five core values have stuck with you after college in what you do and how you live your life?

T: Pitzer has allowed me to question my own practices and pay more attention to my carbon footprint. From the type of car I drive… to knowing where my food comes from and eating local…it was great to be a part of a place that encouraged sustainable practices. Pitzer values are not forced. You come to Pitzer because in your college search process you looked for an institution that provide similar values or would push you to challenge your own values and beliefs through positive dialogue.  Aside from sustainability, I can say with confidence that all of the core values have stuck with me post-Pitzer. I always aligned with the core values, but Pitzer only amplified those values with a stronger foundation and sense of pride.

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Pitzer continues to improve the campus’s carbon footprint with additions like the new Holden Garden.

Pitzer has allowed me to question my own practices and pay more attention to my carbon footprint. From the type of car I drive… to knowing where my food comes from and eating local…it was great to be a part of a place that encouraged sustainable practices.

K: Are there other parts of your life that connect you with Social Responsibility?

T: Yes, for example, connecting with a non-profit in Los Angles called HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles), where I assisted in the college application process through facilitation of mock application review and personal statement writing workshops. I am always eager to assist first-generation college-bound students through the college application process. As a first-generation Latino college student myself, I understand the importance of having access to resources and mentors. Speaking of mentors, I plan to establish a mentorship program at Pitzer that would pair current Latina/o students with Latina/o alumni.

K: Is there something that is your favorite thing about Pitzer?

T: That’s such a hard question… As an artist I love the art policy on campus, and the murals, along with the native drought-tolerant landscape and rich architectural history. But in all seriousness, the core of my Pitzer experience is rooted in shared experiences with fellow classmates and the extraordinary teachings and mentorship of Latina/o faculty members like professors Jose Calderon, Adrian Pantoja, and Maria Soldatenko. These same faculty members (and countless others) truly care about the students.

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A class with Professor Roberta Espinoza held in the outdoor classroom. Photo courtesy of Pitzer College.

“The core of my Pitzer experience is rooted in shared experiences with fellow classmates and the extraordinary teachings and mentorship of Latina/o faculty members.”

K: I think we’ve talked about this throughout the lunch, but what are some of the big takeaways from your Pitzer education, either academic or social?

T: Academically, I feel Pitzer really prepared me for a writing intensive and rigorous graduate program. I’m at a graduate program that has a lot of writing, and I did a lot of writing at Pitzer…so many research and reaction papers – 15 or 20 page papers. The First-Year Seminar, and the writing intensity of it, to my senior thesis, really prepared me for my graduate coursework. I mentioned this already, but being in the Pitzer community really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and also see my potential as a leader. Pitzer faculty and staff encouraged and fostered my leadership throughout my years.

K: And this probably is a tough question to answer too, but looking back at your four years there, were there certain memories that you really appreciate or enjoy, or things that you are thankful for?

T: Yeah, definitely. I was just at Family Weekend a few days ago, and I was able to sit down with some alumni after the alumni panel that I moderated. We were there in the dining hall, and I just felt like I was back for a Saturday morning meal having brunch with friends. It’s the little things like that I do miss. Just connecting with friends, with fellow Pitzer students on campus, over a meal.  We form such a close-knit community on campus that you become part of a family… whether it’s a classroom experience or social experience, just to be able to have that sit-down time and communicate and share with friends and fellow classmates, that’s something you don’t get every day and something I do miss.

Stay tuned for more alumni spotlights ~ next up is Mitchell Felton, Class of 2013!

Posted by Katie Shepherd, Admission Counselor


The Student Senate

One of the many things I love about going to Pitzer is being involved with Student Senate. It has been a wonderful environment to foster friendship, leadership and learn about the college’s governance. This year I hold two positions; I sit on the Campus Life Committee and am a student representative for the Alumni Board. Both positions are great and I love the groups I get to be a part of.

CLC is responsible for allocating many thousands of dollars each year to fund a variety of on campus programs. Being a voting member on this committee is so fun and we are able to bring really great events to campus. The Alumni Board is also something I’m very happy to be involved with. Last weekend we had our retreat with all our members and it was so lovely to meet some Pitzer Alumni. I think sometimes when we are here it is hard to remember that we belong to a much larger community then who is just currently on campus.

Student Senate has allowed me to engage with Pitzer and the larger community in a way that is so unique. I am proud to be part of school that gives students so much power to become involved on their campus. It has been a really integral part of my Pitzer experience.  If you’re interested in learning more about Student Senate take a look at our website!

Posted by Anna Pleskunas ’15, Philosophy and Art

Anna Pleskunas Tour Guide

The Heart of Pitzer’s Campus

It’s More than Just a Delicious Cookie.

You may have heard the story of how the grove House came to Pitzer’s campus in 1970. How Pitzer students fought for it’s preservation, and purchased the home in auction for $1. You might have heard exclamations of joy and passion over the mouth-watering food the kitchen puts out. Even a tantilizing description of an oozing fried egg sandwich and warm, gooey, double chocolate mocha cookie for lunch. All of this is true, but the Grove House is so much more than just that. it is a home. It is a refuge. It is a center of community, connection, and activity.

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Vintage pic of the Grove House

As a first-year student in college, I had difficulty finding comfort in a time of immense transition. I often felt isolated, even though I had the most lovely suite of girls who remain my best friends to this day. I sought comfort in the outdoors, as I was familiar with Southern California, having grown up in Santa Barbara, but this often took me off campus. One of the first Thursdays of school, a bi-monthly event entitled Story Slam, was held in the living room of the Grove House. Modeled after “The Moth”, story slam brings students together to share stories of any nature. A theme is presented for each evening, and anyone can choose whether they would like to share or not. SUddenly, I felt a sense of connection to a large group of Pitzer students, many of which I did not even know their name. I began spending more time in this home, trying out the infamous sandwich combinations, writing essays upstairs in the Womyn’s Center, reading on the porch, and making connections with new people each day as we shared this incredible space with one another.

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Another vintage pic of the living room inside the house

Since these first months, I have spent increasingly more time in this home. I now work in the kitchen, serving breakfast two mornings a week. I am an active member of the Grove House Committee, the club that plans logistics of the events that happen in the house, and works to preserve the 112 year old home. Many of my other various club meetings happen in the house, and I continue to do my work in the nooks throughout the downstairs and upstairs of the house.  When prospective students ask, “Why Pitzer?”, the importance of this community center is always the first thing I speak of. This community has given me constant support during my two years here, and I can attribute a large part of my personal growth to the people and activities the community has connected me with.

Posted by Casey Venturelli ’16, Dance and Sociology

Casey Venturelli Tour Guide