On a Serious Note: Diversity and an Eye-Opening Experience

Usually I write about fun things, positivity, and innocent, overwhelmingly lighthearted observations of life, but today’s post is a little different. I deviate from my typical style today to talk about the culturally and socially diverse environment around me, especially at Pomona. You see, I am very fortunate to have everything that I have and I often do not appreciate it enough. I truly realized my underappreciation during one of the events of the organization Bright Prospect, a nonprofit that helps kids get “to and through college”. Bright Prospect is full of caring, incredible people who provide hardworking students with encouragement, tutoring, and aid with finding scholarships, writing applications, and finding the right college for them.

Recently, as part of my internship with Bright Prospect, I had the privilege of attending one of several “College Decision Days”, ceremonies during which the students of Bright Prospect announce where they will be attending college. For a lot of these kids, college was not a given — it was a dream barricaded by financial hardships, personal insecurities, and a dearth of outside support. A powerful and prevalent feeling of pride on the behalf of the latino community filled the gym, and several speeches were all in Spanish (note: my years of Spanish classes finally paid off!). We in the audience went on to hear the touching testimonies of over 30 students as they confided how rough the road was or how, without Bright Prospect, they would never have gone to college. Tears were shed, tissues exhausted, and hearts warmed.

I had always known I was going to college, and I luckily ended up here at Pomona, amongst many other incredible people. The Claremont universities are relatively diverse — whether it be in color or socioeconomic standing. We, myself included, try to support and understand each other regardless of these differences. The key word here being try. I’m not saying my life has been perfect, and I may have had my own hardships growing up, but I have always had the support and love of my parents and a financially stable household. I have not been the target of racial discrimination or felt powerless because of my circumstances. But many of the students of Bright Prospect did not have these same luxuries. And here in Claremont, there are many people who did, and still do, not have these luxuries.

I want to be part of the move to create a safe space for everyone. I want to do my best to try and understand what my classmates have been through and what I can do to support them through the obstacles that may arise in their futures. I want to remember every day that I am lucky. I want to appreciate that and let it be known that here in Claremont, there are many students like me and many like the students from Bright Prospect. The students at Pomona work hard so that our campus can offer many multifaceted forms of support and encouragement for a diversity of students struggling with different hardships.

We take part in the Dream 5K run to raise money for undocumented/DACAmented seniors at Pomona High School — to assist them financially in the pursuit of higher education. We walk to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT, to create a safe space that shows survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse that they are not alone. We have the 5C Mental Health Alliance  to promote dialogue about mental illness and wellness at the Claremont Colleges. We have the Asian American Mentor Program to build a community among individuals who self-identify as Asian, Pacific Islander, Asian American, multiethnic, and/or multiracial — and other mentoring programs besides. We participate in projects like What I Be to encourage openness and to support one another, even as we struggle with our insecurities.

I am not my neediness - What I Be Project
I am not my neediness – What I Be Project by Steve Rosenfield

Just like me, Pomona is not perfect, but we are trying our best to make it better.