Since January is the month for reflection and starting new goals for the year, I have decided to reflect on my time at Pomona as a low-income, first-generation student. It’s now been three years since my first year at Pomona and I feel extremely blessed for the time I have had here thus far. It’s not every day that a girl from the south side of Chicago gets to go to an elite college all the way on the other side of the country. Every day that I am on campus it amazes me, because even though it has been three years, I still cannot believe that I attend such a brilliant school. The opportunities that Pomona offers me are endless and I cannot stress enough how grateful I am that I go to such a academically rigorous school, for little to no cost, that also surrounds me with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. I really wish I could give that opportunity to other students out there because many do not get that shot.
One experience from last semester that I will never forget is my study abroad experience in Spain. Exploring different cultures, perfecting my Spanish, meeting new people–one thing I learned from that experience is that we cannot be the best citizens in this world unless we gain a bigger perspective of what the world is. Before studying abroad I had barely been out of the country, and now I can say I have been to five countries and have gotten to experience their different lifestyles. Before I went abroad I was so afraid of change because I was having so much fun at Pomona and it was like paradise to me. I thought, Why would I leave the incredible place that I chose to attend for a semester in a place that was more than 4,000 miles away? Now after I went, and saw, and conquered, it made me appreciate Pomona even more, and made me excited to what else the world has to offer.
Another experience I had in my sophomore year was my incredible internship with an online news show and magazine. It was an unpaid internship, but I was paid because Pomona has a great internship program that pays students for unpaid internships. I got to continue to develop my passion for journalism and to improve my writing skills by writing blogs for the company’s website. One thing Pomona believes in is undergraduates having the opportunity to research and have real world experiences, and for me, it was a pleasure getting to network with my supervisor and having the chance to build some more resume experience.
And, of course, freshmen year. It seems so long ago, but also just like yesterday. One of my favorite moments at Pomona was the experience of having my first year in college: the ability to make mistakes, to feel like each new day was a day for exploring, and the excitement of everything that was coming next. I do remember vividly being a part of the school’s hosting program, where we hosted a bunch of students who were interested in attending Pomona. One thing I love doing is giving advice to those younger than me, especially those in similar situations. Getting to host these girls, who were so bright and brilliant, and helping them navigate their way through college applications and decisions was for sure one of the best aspects of my first year. I was privileged enough to have constant support from my high school during my college applications, but a lot of students, especially first-generation and low-income, do not have a lot of resources. If I can be that for them, I’ll take every opportunity that comes to do so.
There are so many memories I have from my two-and-a-half years at Pomona, yet not enough space to write about all of them. Obviously working with Quest has been gratifying, getting to make some of my best friends has been gratifying, and getting a scholarly education has been wonderful. I cannot believe that next year will be my last year at Pomona.
My advice to everyone in college, especially students in their first year, would be to make every moment last, grasp every opportunity there is, and have the time of your life because it goes by way too fast. Reflecting is important, but living in the moment is just as important.