On Being Part of an Underrepresented Group at Pomona

By Daniel Garcia ’21

On campus, I work for Dean Townes, the Associate Dean for Student Mentoring and Leadership, who oversees all of Pomona’s mentoring programs. We have 10 mentoring programs at Pomona that provide a current student mentor to first-year students from similar backgrounds. While the mentor programs are almost entirely student-run and organized, the team under Dean Townes supports them in finding resources, managing budgets, and solving operational conflicts. Some of these programs are Pomona-specific, like the FLI (First-Generation Low-Income) mentoring program. Other programs, like the South Asian Mentoring Program, are open to students from all five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, and some, like the Queer Mentoring Program, are open to all seven institutions in the Claremont Consortium (that includes Claremont Graduate University and Keck Graduate Institute).

FLI at 1vy-G, the inter-Ivy, First-Gen Conference
FLI at 1vy-G, the inter-Ivy, First-Gen Conference

I know that my FLI mentor was instrumental in my transition to Pomona, from leaving candy and a heartfelt note when I moved in alone on my first day, to taking me to Korean BBQ to unwind. I still talk to her and know that she will always be my mentor and friend even beyond Pomona. The FLI mentor program at Pomona is almost entirely student-run. We put in most of the labor ourselves, but that also makes our community entirely unique because we make the decisions about programming, about governing ourselves, and about activism. That being said, not all of the Claremont Colleges have the same level of organization in their FLI communities. However, I feel as though the Pomona FLI community, being so large and visible, informally interacts with and helps those inside and outside of Pomona in everyday life and conversation. Formally, I can see that Pomona’s and Claremont McKenna’s FLI communities have begun to grow closer, inviting each other to events, talking about common issues, and sharing tips and tricks on thriving in Claremont.

Interior of Queer Resource CenterThe other community that I’ve been most involved in is at the QRC (Queer Resource Center), which oversees the Queer Mentoring Program. Manny Diaz, Assistant Dean of Students and QRC Director, and Pharalyn Crozier, the Assistant Director of the QRC, as busy as they always are, seem to always find time for me when I need them. Pharalyn’s witty jokes, supportive nature, and endless energy are the most refreshing things I can ask for after being drained by writing academic papers. Manny has seen me cry, laugh, scream on a roller coaster at Six Flags, struggle to pick a sweater at H&M, pick out fall candles, and he still supports me when I need someone to talk to. The QRC has become a second home and the staff have become more than mentors: they’re like a family for me.

coffee mug and journal
Coffee & journaling keep me in check

Pomona students come from all over the world and, as a student body, we value bringing our whole selves to campus. No matter what your background, there’s a place for you here, a place for you to share your stories with people who understand you and a place to be welcomed. Chirp chirp!