Leaving the South

By Darien Corrales ’22

Beyond being accepted at Pomona, getting the chance to visit campus remains one of my most personal and cherished experiences. I applied to Pomona through QuestBridge, a program for high-achieving, low-income students to apply to colleges where their full financial need will be met. As part of the QuestBridge application, I had to rank schools from a list of elite institutions, a daunting process, enhanced by my inability to explore each environment beyond my online research. Granted, I am lucky to have been a finalist, and eventually a match, but setting foot on campus and walking through the place that would become my home for four years, felt purposeful.

Looking out airplane window at runwaylooking down at feet while seated on planeI was able to visit campus through the Spring Perspectives on Pomona (POP) program, which gives admitted students from underrepresented backgrounds a glimpse of everyday life at Pomona.  Getting off of the plane at LAX would mark my first time traveling West. Though I was nervous about what was to come, the first friendly face I saw was Tina’s (the person who oversees this blog!). I didn’t know it at the time, but I would step off that plane and into a group of my first friends on campus, a connection that would shape my first year. Exploring Pomona over the next few days would mark a lot of personal firsts. I will never be able to forget the initial taste of Boba, the first sight of Los Angeles, and the first experience of California atmosphere. The POP program follows a tight structure but allows for individual exploration and gives time for students to get familiar with people from many different backgrounds. Some of those people may choose not to enroll at Pomona, while others will accompany you through your academic, social, and professional journey.

Grand Central MarketSmith Campus CenterIndividual exploration also allows for time to get familiar with the campus. Google Maps is only able to capture so much. It was not until I was riding bikes with other admitted students that I was able to grasp the sense of community on campus. Within one ride, I was able to reach all five colleges, each with their individual architecture, environment, and atmosphere, prefacing the accessibility and connection between the 5Cs that I’d later experience as a student.

Looking at bicycle handlebars while ridingDarien with book in libraryI was able to come home to North Carolina after my campus visit with a sense of peace. Sometime during my visit, I had come to see Pomona as my future home. I had gotten the opportunity to experience real courses, meet my peers, and discover the place that would shape my future. I looked forward to high school graduation every day after that, and during the summer I was able to visit some of my POP friends in New York. I knew that when I arrived on campus in the fall, I would have friends, Boba, and Marston Quad waiting for me.